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|
The toponym derives from the Old English Blocc's Ham (the home of Blocc) from the 6th century, when a Saxon settlement was built 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.
The Church of England parish church of Our Lady 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). The earliest surviving parts of St. Mary's building are 12th century but only fragments remain from this period. Parts of the nave are 13th century. In the 14th century St. Mary's was altered and ornamented with a great deal of fine stonecarving. In the 15th century the Perpendicular Gothic Milcombe chapel was added. Fragments of Mediaeval wall paintings survive inside St. Mary's, including a Doom painting over the chancel arch and Saint Christopher over the north doorway. Remnants of 14th century stained glass survive in some of the windows.
In 1864–66 the Gothic Revival architect G.E. Street restored St. Mary's. In 1868 Edward Burne-Jones created a stained glass window of St. Christopher in the chancel and in 1869 William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Philip Webb created the east window. The church tower has a ring of eight bells, including one cast in about 1570 and a tenor bell cast in 1648. St. Mary's benefice is now combined with those of Milcombe and South Newington.
In 1067 William the Conqueror granted St Mary's church and rectory estate to Westminster Abbey. In the 12th century Henry II granted patronage of the church to Godstow Abbey, which led Westminster Abbey to complain to the Pope. However, the Papacy allowed Godstow to retain the church provided it made an annual payment to Westminster Abbey. With Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s Bloxham parish church returned to the patronage of the Crown, which granted it to Eton College in 1547.
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.
The Domesday survey of 1086 recorded Blochesham as having six mills and trading in wool and corn. After the Norman Conquest Bloxham continued to expand, and a poll tax register in 1377 recorded a population of 403. At this time the north and south of the village were quite separate, called in Anglo-Norman le Crowhead Ville and le Downe End.
The royal manor of Bloxham was divided in 1155. 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 was passed to Amaury de St. Amand, becoming known as Saint Amand’s, and was subsequently sold to Thomas Wykeham and was reunited with Bloxham Beauchamp when inherited by Baron Saye and Sele, known as Bloxham Fiennes. 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.
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 yeoman’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.
Bloxham Grove Mill is a small post mill about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of the village, on a hill overlooking Sor Brook and Bodicote village. It was recorded as "derelict" in 1969 but had been restored by 1991.
The main road between Banbury and Chipping Norton passes through Bloxham. In 1770 it 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.
In the 19th 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.
All Saints School (Bloxham School) was founded in 1853. It closed for a period, but the Rev. P.R. Edgerton re-opened 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 Hob Hill, above the Pig Sty playing fields, so called after their use during the Second World War to provide meat for the school.
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.
Social and economic history
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 wellbeing 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 last 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 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.
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. The late 19th century saw an expansion of residential housing to the north of the village in Strawberry Terrace and along the Banbury Road.
The agricultural depression of the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to a decline in the 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 effect of the Enclosure of land and the decline in the wool market. However the industrial boom in Banbury brought prosperity back to Bloxham.
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.
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 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 but the village plans to purchase the site and re-open it as a community free house early in 2014.
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.
- Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 477.
- "Oxfordshire Limited Edition". The Oxford Times (Newsquest).
- Walker 1975, p. 11.
- Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, pp. 477–479.
- Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, pp. 478–480.
- "Bloxham". Diocese of Oxford for Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers, Banbury Branch. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- Lobel & Crossley 1969, pp. 53–85.
- "Our Roots and History". Bloxham Baptist Church. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, pp. 481–482.
- "Bloxham Village Museum". Bloxham Village Museum. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- Grove "Search Results". The Mills Archive. The Mills Archive. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
- 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]
- "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 2013-12-29.
- Leonard, Ian (19 August 2012). "Bloxham Football Club". Bloxham Football Club. Retrieved 24 August 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