SS Peter and Paul parish church
Aston Rowant shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||815 (parish, including Kingston Blount) (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Civil parish||Aston Rowant|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|Website||Aston Rowant Parish Council|
Aston Rowant is a village and civil parish about 4.5 miles (7 km) south of Thame in South Oxfordshire, England. The parish includes the villages of Aston Rowant and Kingston Blount, and adjoins Buckinghamshire to the southeast.
Aston Rowant is close to the ancient Lower Icknield Way.
Aston Rowant was a large strip parish, extending about 6 miles (10 km) from the southern edge of Thame Park in the northwest to Beacon's Bottom in the Chilterns to the southeast. It used to include the village of Stokenchurch, which was made a separate parish in 1844 and transferred to Buckinghamshire in 1896.
In 1055 the Diocese of Winchester held the manor of Aston Rowant. Bishop Stigand of Winchester had promised to grant Aston Rowant to the Benedictine Abingdon Abbey but failed to do so. Just before the Norman conquest of England a Saxon called Wulfstan held the manor. The Domesday Book records that in 1086 Aston Rowant belonged to Miles Crispin, son-in-law of Robert D'Oyly. Crispin died in 1107 and his widow Maud was married to Brien FitzCount. FitzCount and Maud supported the Empress Matilda during the Anarchy, and when King Stephen defeated Matilda both FitzCount and Maud entered religious houses. Stephen gave their estates to Henry, Duke of Normandy, thus making Aston Rowant part of the Honour of Wallingford. Aston Rowant later became part of the Honour of Ewelme.
The oldest parts of the Church of England parish church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul are the north and south walls of the nave, which are Norman and from around 1100. The chancel was rebuilt late in the 13th century in the Decorated Gothic style. The Decorated Gothic bell tower and north and south aisles were added in the 14th century. In the 15th century natural light in the church was increased by the addition of a window in the north wall and a clerestory above the nave, both of which are Perpendicular Gothic.
The church tower had a spire until 1811, when some of the stonework of the tower parapet fell off and the spire was removed during the tower repairs. In 1831 the Perpendicular Gothic roof of the nave was replaced with a new flat one. The chancel was renovated in 1850 and its present east window was inserted in 1856. In 1874 the north aisle was extended westwards by one bay to provide a chamber in which an organ was installed. The architect E.G. Bruton restored the building in 1884.
The tower has a ring of six bells. The oldest is the fourth bell, which Roger Landen of Wokingham, Berkshire cast in about 1450. Ellis I Knight of Reading cast the second, third and tenor bells in 1625. John Warner and Sons of Cripplegate, London cast the fifth bell in 1873 and the Whitechapel Bell Foundry cast the present treble bell in 1975, completing the current ring of six.
Social and economic history
The village school was founded in or before 1833 as a National School for girls, and in 1844 its present premises were built and it became a mixed school. In 1931 it was reorganised as a junior school and in 1951 it became a Church of England school.
The Watlington and Princes Risborough Railway was built in 1872 and opened Aston Rowant railway station about 0.5 miles (800 m) from the village. The Great Western Railway operated the line until nationalisation in 1948. British Railways withdrew passenger services in 1957 and closed Aston Rowant goods yard in 1961. The track has since been dismantled.
The railway station appears in four feature films:
- The Captive Heart (1946)
- My Brother Jonathan (1947)
- My Brother's Keeper (1948)
- Portrait of Clare (1950)
Excerpts of these films can be found at The Watlington Branch Line YouTube Playlist.
Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve, on the Chiltern escarpment, is partly in the parish.
- "Area: Aston Rowant CP (Parish): Parish Headcounts". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- Lobel 1969, pp. 16-43.
- Page 1925, pp. 96–101.
- Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 427.
- Baldwin, Sid (10 December 2011). "Bell Founders". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- Davies, Peter (11 December 2006). "Aston Rowant SS Peter & Paul". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- Aston Rowant Primary School
- Aston Rowant Cricket Club
- The Oxford Times Cherwell Cricket League
- Lobel, Mary D, ed. (1964). "Aston Rowant". A History of the County of Oxford. Victoria County History. 8: Lewknor and Pyrton Hundreds. pp. 16–43.
- Page, W.H., ed. (1925). "Stokenchurch". A History of the County of Buckingham. Victoria County History 3. Institute of Historical Research. pp. 96–101. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
- Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). Oxfordshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 426–427. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
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