Stanton Harcourt

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Stanton Harcourt
Stanton Harcourt cottages.jpg
Cottages at the junction of Steady's Lane
Stanton Harcourt is located in Oxfordshire
Stanton Harcourt
Stanton Harcourt
 Stanton Harcourt shown within Oxfordshire
Population 919 (2001 census)[1]
OS grid reference SP4105
Civil parish Stanton Harcourt
District West Oxfordshire
Shire county Oxfordshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WITNEY
Postcode district OX29
Dialling code 01865
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Witney
Website Stanton Harcourt Parish Council
List of places

Coordinates: 51°44′56″N 1°24′07″W / 51.749°N 1.402°W / 51.749; -1.402

Stanton Harcourt is a village and civil parish in Oxfordshire about 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Witney and about 6 miles (10 km) west of Oxford.


Within the parish of Stanton Harcourt is a series of paleochannel deposits buried beneath the second (Summertown-Radley) gravel terrace of the river Thames. These deposits, which have been attributed to Marine isotope stages, were the subject of archaeological and palaeontological research directed by Kate Scott and Christine Buckingham.[2] Evidence was found for the co-existence of species of elephant and mammoth during interglacial conditions, disproving the widely held view that mammoths were an exclusively cold-adapted species.[3]

An episode of the Channel 4 television programme Time Team featured the excavations at Stanton Harcourt.[citation needed]


Stanton is derived from the Old English for "farmstead by the stones",[4] probably after the prehistoric stone circle known as the Devil's Quoits, formerly southwest of the village.[5]

The Domesday Book of 1086 records that the manor was held by Odo, Bishop of Bayeux.[6] It became called Stanton Harcourt after Robert de Harcourt of Bosworth, Leicestershire inherited lands of his father-in-law at Stanton in 1191.[6] The manor remains in the Harcourt family to the present day.[citation needed]

Parish church[edit]

The earliest known record of the Church of England parish church of Saint Michael dates from 1135, and the Norman[7] nave and lower parts of the bell tower are certainly 12th century.[8] In the 13th century the chancel, chancel arch and tower arches were rebuilt[7] and the transepts and stair turret were added.[8] In the 15th century the upper part of the belltower was completed, the Perpendicular Gothic west window of the nave and north and south windows of the transepts were inserted[9] and the pitch of the roof was lowered.[8] The Harcourt chapel was added on the south side of the chancel, possibly by the master mason William Orchard.[8][9][when?]

Pope's Tower in the grounds of the Manor House was built at around the same time, probably also built by William Orchard.[10] The tower is named after the poet Alexander Pope who stayed here in 1717–18, when he used its upper room to translate the fifth volume of Homer's Iliad.[citation needed] In the summer of 1718 he also wrote the epitaph[citation needed] to a young couple, John Hewett and Sarah Drew, who were struck by lightning and killed in the parish. The poem is carved on a stone monument on the outside of the south wall of the nave.

RAF Stanton Harcourt[edit]

During the Second World War there was a Royal Air Force airfield at Stanton Harcourt. Amongst other things, it is notable for having been a transit point for Winston Churchill and for being a starting point for a bomber raid on the German small battleship (or battlecruiser) Scharnhorst. The airstrips are, for the most part, now gone, but some of the original buildings remain including a Turret Trainer, crew room and various other miscellaneous buildings. The hangars have been converted into office and industrial units.


Stanton Harcourt has two public houses: The Harcourt Arms[11] and The Fox. A planning application[12] to convert The Fox to a private dwelling was refused in 2012, but was subsequently granted [13] and the former pub is now a private dwelling. The 'Fox Field' behind the property is owned by the Parish Council. It has been renamed the 'Jubilee Field' and the intention is to install play equipment. Trees and hedging have been provided by the Woodland Trust[14] and planted by volunteers.

The parish has a primary school.[15]

Stanton Harcourt has a history of Morris dancing going back to the 19th century. Following a lapse, the traditions have been revived, and are kept up to today.[16]

Notable people[edit]


Sources and further reading[edit]

External links[edit]