Ashbury, Oxfordshire

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St Mary the Virgin, Ashbury - - 1365151.jpg
St Mary the Virgin parish church
Ashbury is located in Oxfordshire
 Ashbury shown within Oxfordshire
Population 506 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference SU2685
Civil parish Ashbury
District Vale of White Horse
Shire county Oxfordshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Swindon
Postcode district SN6
Dialling code 01793
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Wantage
Website Ashbury Parish News
List of places

Coordinates: 51°33′50″N 1°37′08″W / 51.564°N 1.619°W / 51.564; -1.619

Ashbury is a village and civil parish in the Vale of White Horse. It was part of Berkshire until the 1974 boundary changes transferred it to Oxfordshire. The village is about 7 miles (11 km) east of Swindon in neighbouring Wiltshire. The parish includes the hamlets of Idstone and Kingstone Winslow. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 506.[1]


The Neolithic burial site of Wayland's Smithy is in the parish 1 mile (1.6 km) east of the village.


15th-century manor house
Ashbury War Memorial

The earliest known record of Ashbury is from AD 840, when King Æthelwulf of Wessex granted land at Aisshedoune to his minister Duda.[2] In subsequent charters the toponym evolved as Æcesbyrig in AD 856, Aysshedoune in AD 947, Æcesburuh in AD 953 and 960 and Eissesberie in the 11th century.[2]

After AD 953 the manor of Ashbury was granted to Glastonbury Abbey, which then held it until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.[2] A deer park was established for the Abbey in the south of the parish.[3] It is bounded by an ancient embankment enclosing a rounded area characteristic of Medieval parks.[4] It may equate to the Aysshen Wood recorded in a terrier of the parish in 1519 as covering 415 acres (168 ha).[2] The former deer park is now the Upper Wood of Ashdown Park.

Ashbury Manor House was built in the 15th century.[2][5] The brick upper storey of its porch was added in 1697, which is also the likely date that the chimneys were added.[2][5] The house is a Grade II* listed building.[6]

Ashdown House, built in about 1660, is in the parish about 2 miles (3 km) south of the village. It is a Grade I listed building.[7]

The first free school in the United Kingdom was founded in Ashbury by the curate Thomas Stock in 1777 in collaboration with his colleague Robert Raikes.[citation needed] There are monuments to Thomas Stock in St Mary’s Church.


Church of England[edit]

The Church of England parish church of Saint Mary was originally Norman but was rebuilt in the 13th century.[8] In the 20th century the artist Martin Travers converted the north transept into a chapel of Saint Hubert in memory of Evelyn, Countess Craven who had lived at Ashdown House in the parish. The church is a Grade I listed building.[9]

The west tower has a ring of six bells. Henry III Bagley of Chacombe, Northamptonshire cast the second, third and fourth bells in 1733. W&J Taylor cast the fifth and tenor bells in 1845, probably at the bell-foundry they had in Oxford at the time. Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry cast the treble bell in 1873. The church has also a Sanctus bell that James Wells of Aldbourne, Wiltshire cast in 1800.[10]

St Mary's parish is now part of the Benefice of Shrivenham and Ashbury, which includes also the parishes of Bourton, Compton Beauchamp, Fernham, Longcot and Watchfield.[11]


Ashbury has a former Methodist chapel in Chapel Lane.[12] It is now a private home.

Mission Hall[edit]

Ashbury Mission Hall was a "tin tabernacle" building of corrugated iron opened in 1908.[12] It was replaced in 1972–73 with the present Ashbury Evangelical Free Church.[12]


Former parish school, now the Village Hall

Ashbury has a public house, the Rose and Crown Hotel,[13] a 16th-century coaching inn controlled by Arkell's Brewery.[14] The village had a sub-Post Office, but it is now closed.

The Church of England primary school in Ashbury serves both Ashbury and Compton Beauchamp.[15] The present school was built in the latter part of the 20th century. The previous school building is now the village hall.

Ashbury has a cricket club.[16]



External links[edit]