All Saints' parish church
Cuddesdon shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||502 (parish, including Denton) (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Civil parish||Cuddesdon and Denton|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|Website||Cuddesdon and Denton Community Website|
Cuddesdon's toponym is derived from the Old English Cuddes Dune meaning "Cudde's Hill" or the "Hill of Cuthwine". When Oxfordshire was administered in hundreds, Cuddesdon parish was in the hundred of Bullingdon.
Cuddesdon was an Anglo-Saxon linear village along what is now High Street, but since the 19th century Church of England additions on the northern edge of the village and 20th century residential developments (principally Bishop's Wood and Parkside), it has become a nuclear settlement centred on The Green.
Since the 1950s many facilities and businesses in Cuddesdon, as in similar English villages, have closed and mostly been converted into housing for an increasingly commuter population. These include the petrol station, the shop, the school, the mill, the second public house and various farm buildings. Thus the village has turned from a compact community into what is largely a dormitory village.
The parish is bounded by the River Thame to the east and southeast, its tributary Cuddesdon Brook to the north, by the road between Wheatley and Garsington to the west and by field boundaries to the southwest. The village is on a hill that overlooks south Oxfordshire, northern Berkshire, the Aylesbury Vale in central Buckinghamshire and a small part of west Bedfordshire. There are views of both the Chiltern Hills and the North Wessex Downs AONB stretching from Ivinghoe Beacon in the east to Didcot Power Station in the west.
The village today
There is a free monthly parish newsletter and a reasonably active social life in the village, with annual Guy Fawkes Night fireworks, a village fête and various groups that meet regularly such as the film club. Most social activities are organised or co-ordinated by the Parish Council or its subsidiaries.
The Church of England parish church of All Saints, the Bat and Ball inn, the Village Hall, Ripon College Cuddesdon and the farms are all still active. There has also been much talk of reopening a village shop, but a solution is as yet unforthcoming.
In November 2007 a public consultation was held on the proposed Parish Plan - a strategic document that promises to chart the hopes of the village for twenty years to come.
Cuddesdon Palace was completed by 1634 for John Bancroft, who was Bishop of Oxford from 1632 until 1641. In 1644 during the English Civil War Royalist forces burned the palace to render it unusable by the Parliamentarian forces besieging Oxford. In 1676 John Fell was made Bishop of Oxford and in 1679 he commissioned the complete rebuilding of the palace. In 1846 Bishop Samuel Wilberforce had the chapel of Saints Peter and Paul added to the Palace. It was designed by the Gothic Revival architect Benjamin Ferrey.
Successive Bishops of Oxford resided at the palace until Thomas Banks Strong retired in 1937. For the duration of the Second World War Queen Anne's Bounty was evacuated from London and occupied the palace. Thereafter, The Society of the Salutation of Mary the Virgin occupied the palace from 1946 until 1949. In the 1960s the palace was in private use for a few years, but it burnt down before the end of that decade. The bishop's chapel escaped the fire and survives today.
Due to the extent of past and present church connections, the village is also known as the "Holy Hill". It has been suggested that in Cuddesdon "the presence of the Church has been more strongly felt than perhaps anywhere else in England".
- Chapman, Mark (2004). God's Holy Hill: A History of Christianity in Cuddesdon. Chipping Norton: The Wychwood Press. ISBN 1-902279-20-4.
- Lobel, Mary D, ed. (1957). A History of the County of Oxford. Victoria County History. 5: Bullingdon Hundred. pp. 96–116.
- Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). Oxfordshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 562–565. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
Media related to Cuddesdon at Wikimedia Commons