Part of Bloxham village, with the parish church spire in the background
Bloxham shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||3,132 (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|Website||Bloxham Parish Council|
Bloxham is a large village and civil parish in northern Oxfordshire on the edge of the Cotswolds, about 3 miles (5 km) southwest of Banbury. It is situated on the edge of a valley slope and overlooked by Hobb Hill. The A361 road passes through the village.
Under Roman rule between the 1st and 5th centuries AD there were several farms and a burial site in the Bloxham area. A site half a mile west of the present village was inhabited during that period a poor community engaged in agriculture. The name derives from the Old English Blocc's Ham (the home of Blocc) from the 6th century, when a Saxon settlement was built on the present site of the village, on the banks of a tributary of the Sor Brook. In 1086 the Domesday Book called the village Blochesham. Its name was subsequently recorded as Blocchesham in 1142, Blokesham in 1216, and finally Bloxham in 1316. In the late Anglo-Saxon period Bloxham was part of a large estate, belonging to the Earl of Mercia, stretching from the boundary with Tadmarton and Wigginton in the west to the River Cherwell. As the head[clarification needed] of a hundred it had clearly been important at least since the time of Edward the Elder.
Around the time of the Norman Conquest of England a group called the Bloxham Feoffees formed. The name, of Anglo-Norman origin, denotes someone invested with a fief, which was often heritable land or property but could be rights or revenue. Comprising between 8 and 16 local yeomen, the Feoffees were responsible for the well-being of the village community. In return for helping the poor and services such as repairing the bridges, they were bequeathed money and land by the Crown. Until the 20th century they continued their village maintenance despite being replaced by a parish council after the Local Government Act 1894, and even today they give financial assistance to Bloxham residents. The Feoffees own land in Grove Road (which is now rented to the Warriner School), the old allotment field in South Newington Road and the Old Court House.
The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded Blochesham as having six mills and trading in wool and corn. In the Middle Ages it was a large parish with 403 contributors to the poll tax of 1377, of whom 78 lived in neighbouring Milcombe. At this time, the village's north and south sections, separated by the brook, were distinct communities known in Anglo-Norman as 'le Crowehead Ville' and 'le Downe End'. Bloxham manor was in the possession of the Crown by 1067. King Stephen granted it to Waleran de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Worcester, but it returned to being a royal manor in the reign of Henry II. In 1155 Bloxham Manor was divided in two. In 1269 the half later known as Bloxham Beauchamp was given to Queen Eleanor, later being bestowed upon Edward III's chamberlain Roger de Beauchamp and sold in 1545 to Richard Fiennes, 6th Baron Saye and Sele. The other half, known as Bloxham Fiennes, was passed to Amaury de St. Amand, becoming known as Saint Amand's, and was subsequently sold to Thomas Wykeham and reunited with Bloxham Beauchamp when it was inherited by Baron Saye and Sele. Beauchamp Manor stood roughly on the site of Park Close and the Manor of St. Amand was on the area now occupied by Godswell House. Although neither manor remains, the dovecote of St. Amands is still visible next to Dovecote House. By the 15th century, St Mary's Church, Bloxham had become one of the grandest parish churches in southern England, demonstrating the wealth of the village during the Middle Ages.
The mediaeval street plan survives in the narrow winding alleys where some houses retain a mediaeval core hidden by later exteriors and alterations. Many of the present street names derive from families living in Bloxham in the early 16th century, e.g. Humber, Job and Budd Lane; although these may remain from mediaeval times they were not documented until 1700. Bloxham contains a large number of well-built yeomen's houses dating from this period, for example Bennetts, Seal Cottage and the Joiners Arms. Many have been comparatively little altered, retaining their original details and plans.
Early modern period
The village was one of those involved in a 1549 rising against the religious reforms introduced by Cranmer: John Wade, Bloxham's vicar, was identified as a ringleader and threatened with being hanged from his own church tower, but was later pardoned. From the 17th century Nonconformism prospered and was closely associated with the dissenting movement in Banbury. During the English Civil War the Fiennes family of Bloxham was strongly Parliamentarian and the area had a reputation as a Puritan stronghold. There are suggestions that houses in Sycamore Terrace were used as barracks during this time, but this is unsubstantiated. It is believed that Oliver Cromwell's Puritan soldiers were responsible for damage to the lavishly decorated interior of St Mary's Church as they passed through Bloxham.
In the 17th century many houses such as those in Sycamore Terrace were used as weavers' cottages. From the Middle Ages the area around Banbury was known for weaving a distinct type of cloth called "Plush" or "Shag". The fabric was made of wool or worsted and linen, the finer types also incorporating silk or mohair; the material was used in a wide variety of ways from horse girths to furnishing fabrics.
In 1770 the main road between Banbury and Chipping Norton, which passes through Bloxham, was made into a turnpike. In 1815 the turnpike's trustees straightened the main road to follow its current course. They bought two cottages on the brook and demolished them to make the High Street bridge. The main road ceased to be a turnpike in 1871. In 1922 it was classified as the A361 road.
The agricultural depression of the late 18th and early 19th centuries led to a decline in population and some emigration. This period saw a marked increase in poor relief, mainly as a result of successive poor laws including the Speenhamland system, which exacerbated the effects of the Enclosure of land and the decline in the wool market. However the industrial boom in Banbury brought prosperity back to Bloxham. The 19th century saw the demolition of institutions for the poor such as the Almshouses next to the parish church, the Workhouse, the pest house, which stood near the railway line and the poor-houses on the green. All Saints' School, a Church of England public school now known as Bloxham School, was founded in 1853. It closed for a period, but the Rev. P.R. Edgerton reopened it in 1860. In 1896 All Saints joined the Woodard Corporation. The main school building, designed in the neo-Gothic style by George Edmund Street, dominates the north of the village. The headmaster's house is on top of Hobb Hill, above the Pig Sty playing fields, so called after their use during the Second World War to provide meat for the school. The late 19th century saw an expansion of residential housing to the north of the village in Strawberry Terrace and along the Banbury Road.
In 1875 the Banbury and Cheltenham Direct Railway opened a railway station on the south side of Bloxham. The B&CDR contracted the Great Western Railway to operate the line and station in return for a share of the receipts. The GWR took over the smaller company in 1897. British Railways closed Bloxham station in 1951 and closed the railway completely in 1964. Houses in Bloxham in Hyde Grove, Orchard Grove and on the south side of Colesbourne Road occupy the site of the former Bloxham railway station and trackbed.
In 1960 the countryside to the east and north of Bloxham was threatened by a proposal to quarry iron ore from the marlstone. A huge united effort went into fighting the works at the Oxfordshire Ironstone Enquiry. The argument that the area was not one of natural beauty resulted in some photographs being commissioned of the area at this time. The protest was successful, uniting the area in appreciation of its countryside.
Production versions of the rare Jaguar XJ220 supercar were produced at Wykham Mill in Bloxham from 1992 until 1994. The Ford Motor Company transferred the factory to Aston Martin for production of the DB7 from 1994 until the factory's closure in 2004. Wykham Mill is now Vantage Business Park, named after the DB7 V12 Vantage which was the last Aston Martin model to be built there.
The Church of England parish church of St Mary's, Bloxham is one of the grandest in England. Its 14th century tower and spire is a local landmark and said to be the highest in Oxfordshire, at 198 feet (60 m). Originally under the patronage of The Crown, it was granted to Eton College in 1547 following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The earliest surviving parts of St. Mary's building are 12th century, although most of the present building is from the 14th and 15th centuries. It is notable for its intricate stone carving, dating from the 14th century, and some surviving wall paintings. In the 15th century the Perpendicular Gothic Milcombe chapel was added. The church was extensively renovated by the Gothic Revival architect G.E. Street between 1864 and 1866. St. Mary's benefice is now combined with those of Milcombe and South Newington.
There has been a Baptist congregation in Bloxham since 1682. The current Baptist church was built in 1862 and enlarged in 2001. A Methodist chapel was built about 1870 but it is now a theatre belonging to Bloxham School. Bloxham School has a large Church of England chapel that is used for school services.
Amenities and tourism
Bloxham has two County schools. Bloxham Church of England primary school in Tadmarton Road is for pupils 5–11 years old. The Warriner School in Banbury Road is a technology college for pupils 11–16 years old.
Bloxham had several public houses, two of which remain in business:
- The Elephant & Castle, a 17th-century former coaching inn in Humber Street (Hook Norton Brewery).
- The Hawk and Partridge, opposite the church, which ceased trading in 2006 and is now a private house.
- The Joiners Arms, a 16th-century building in Old Bridge Road (a gastropub).
- The Red Lion, on the High Street, was closed by its owners, Fuller's in summer 2013. The village planned to purchase the site and re-open it as a community free house early in 2014 but as of September 2014 the campaign was still ongoing.
Bloxham has several shops on the High Street, including a post office, hairdressing salon, pharmacy, convenience store, newsagents and a fish and chip shop. Other amenities include a filling station, a GP's practice and a Dental practice.
- "Area: Bloxham CP (Parish): Parish Headcounts". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- Sidey 2008, p. 16.
- O.A.S. Rep. (1929), 229–32; W. F. J. Knight, 'A Romano-British Site at Bloxham', Oxoniensia, iii. 41–56
- Lobel & Crossley 1969, pp. 53–85.
- A. Vere Woodman, "The Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Rising of 1549", Oxoniensia, XXII, 82-83
- "Ironstone Enquiry". Deddington OnLine.
- "Business booms at former car plant". Banbury Guardian (Johnston Press). 15 May 2004.[dead link]
- Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 477.
- "Oxfordshire Limited Edition". The Oxford Times (Newsquest).
- Walker 1975, p. 11.
- Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, pp. 477–479.
- "Our Roots and History". Bloxham Baptist Church. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "Bloxham Church of England Primary School". Bloxham Church of England Primary School. 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "The Warriner School". The Warriner School. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- "The Elephant & Castle". The Elephant and Castle. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- "The Joiners' Arms Bloxham". The Joiners' Arms, (Bloxham) Ltd. 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- "Red Lion Appeal". Retrieved 2014-10-28.
- "Red Lion Hub Update". Retrieved 2014-10-28.
- Leonard, Ian (19 August 2012). "Bloxham Football Club". Bloxham Football Club. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, pp. 481–482.
- "Bloxham Village Museum". Bloxham Village Museum. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
Sources and further reading
- "End of line for 007's super car". Banbury Guardian (Johnston Press). 5 December 2003.
- Bloxham Conservation Area. Bodicote: Cherwell District Council.
- Healy, Tim. "Lofty ambitions". Oxfordshire Limited Edition (Newsquest Oxfordshire). — article about the parish church of Our Lady
- Lobel, Mary D.; Crossley, Alan, eds. (1969). "Bloxham". A History of the County of Oxford. Victoria County History 9. pp. 53–85.
- Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). Oxfordshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 477–483. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
- Sidey, Michael J. (2008). Appeal against Oxfordshire PCT decision with regard to the rurality of Bloxham.
- Walker, George Graham (1975). Churches of the Banbury Area. Kineton: Roundwood Press. ISBN 0-900093-52-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bloxham.|
- Bloxham Village Website — The Bloxham Village community website, established 1999.
- Bloxham Film Society
- Bloxham Village — guide on Banbury-Cross Website
- Bloxham Village Museum
- Walks Near Bloxham
- Bloxham Broadsheet — Monthly news-sheet and recent archive