Wheatley shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||3,905 (parish, including Littleworth) (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|Website||Wheatley Parish Council|
There was a Roman villa on Castle Hill, about 1 mile (1.6 km) southeast of the parish church. It was excavated in 1845, when Roman coins dating from AD 260 to 378 and fragments of Roman pottery and Roman tiles were found.
The village had its beginnings in the Anglo-Saxon era. It is in a valley running eastwards, the stream of which flows through the centre of the village to join the River Thame. The stream used to be in the open, with stepping stones for people to cross it. However, it is now in a culvert that runs along under the High Street.
In 1883 a Saxon cemetery was excavated, and artefacts removed from it are housed in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. In the 13th century Wheatley was part of the property of the Abbey of Abingdon and in 1279 was described as a hamlet of Cuddesdon.
Wheatley manor house was enlarged and improved in 1601, and bears an inscription on the front stating T.A. 1601, which stands for Thomas Archdale, the then owner. It still retains its original appearance whereas most of the other old cottages and buildings have been restored.
The Church of England parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin was built in the 18th century. Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, disliked the building and had it rebuilt in 1855-1857 by the Oxford Diocesan architect, G. E. Street. Its tower has a peal of six bells, four of which came from the former 18th century church. There is also a Russian bell from Troitsa,[clarification needed] thought to have been claimed as a spoil of war and given to the church early in the 20th century.
The Congregational church was built in 1842–1843 on the site of the old tannery. It is now an United Reformed Church. Wheatley's Roman Catholic church is Our Lady of Lourdes in Crown Road. It is part of the parish of Corpus Christi, Headington. There was once also an independent church in the old Granary building at 30 Church Road. Many Wheatley residents talk of having attended Sunday School at the 'mission', which is how a generation usually identify the church.
One of Wheatley's main industries was quarrying limestone which was used for building Windsor Castle, Merton College, local cottages and ecclesiastical buildings, most of which were erected between the 13th and 18th centuries. Other occupations included faggot cutting and ochre cutting, the ochre being crushed at the windmill which still stands today.
There were two windmills on the hill southwest of the village. One was a post mill which burnt down in 1875. The other, Littleworth Mill, is a tower mill that dates from before 1671. It has been rebuilt and re-equipped a number of times, including in 1784 when the Eagle Ironworks, Oxford supplied some of the machinery. The tower mill had fallen out of use by 1915, but since 1977 the Wheatley Mill Restoration Society has been restoring it.
Wheatley once had ten public houses. A plaque on a gable of the King's Arms in Church Street says that it was built in 1756.
In 1719 the Stokenchurch Turnpike Act turned the main road into a turnpike. Stagecoaches between the Golden Cross in Oxford and London travelled via the Old Road over Shotover Plain to the west of the village. Many of Wheatley's inns had an upper entrance in Church Road and another in the High Street to accommodate the change of horses. The George coaching inn opposite the manor house is now a house with courtyards and a gift shop.
The village lock-up, built in 1834, is a pyramid-shaped stone structure standing near the edge of the former quarry site. It has a heavy padlocked door and the floor space is about 6 feet (1.8 m) square with a headroom of about 8 feet (2.4 m). In the 19th century it was used to lock up drunks overnight before sending them to the Oxford court. More recently it has been opened every May Day. For a small charge visitors can be locked up for five minutes or so, and given a certificate to prove it.
Wheatley railway station was opened in 1864 as part of an extension of the Wycombe Railway from Thame to Oxford. The railway linked the village to Oxford, Princes Risborough, High Wycombe and Maidenhead. British Railways closed the line and Wheatley station in 1963. Kelham Hall Drive and Kimber Close have been built on the site of the station.
Shotover House is the home of Lt Col Sir John Miller, who was Crown Equerry to Queen Elizabeth II. In 1888 his grandmother gave the building known as the Merry Bells to the villagers for use as a temperance hotel as she was saddened to see so much hardship caused by drunkenness. Today the building houses a new public library and is a significant social centre of the village; ironically, it now has a licence to serve alcoholic beverages.
In the 20th century the Lady Spencer Churchill teacher training college was built on the north side of Wheatley. In 1976 the college merged with Oxford Polytechnic, which has since become Oxford Brookes University.
In 1974 the M40 motorway was extended from High Wycombe to Junction 8 at Chilworth, about 2.5 miles (4 km) east of Wheatley, giving the village a fast road link to London. In 1990 the M40 extension was completed, giving Wheatley a fast road link to Birmingham. The extension includes Junction 8A and Oxford Services about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of the village.
Wheatley has regular bus services. Arriva The Shires runs route 280 between Oxford and Aylesbury via Headington, Wheatley and Thame. Heyfordian Travel provides routes 103 and 104 linking Wheatley and nearby villages with Cowley and Oxford.
Wheatley has a post office, a branch of Barclays bank, an Asda supermarket, a Co-Op pharmacy, several shops in the High Street, and numerous village societies, including the Wheatley Society and a Village Produce Association which holds an annual show.
Wheatley has a number of pubs, including:
- The King and Queen, High Street
- The King's Arms, Church Street (Greene King Brewery)
- The Cricketers Arms, Littleworth
- The Railway Hotel, Ladder Hill (Fuller's)
- The Sun Inn, Church Road
- The Plough Inn, London Road
Wheatley has a Rugby Union Football Club that plays in the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Premier League.
- "Area: Wheatley CP (Parish): Parish Headcounts". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 837
- Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers, Oxford City Branch
- Wheatley Area Churches
- Wheatley Mill, UK.
- Wheatley Church of England Primary School
- Wheatley Park School
- Arriva Buses
- Heyfordian Travel
- The Railway Hotel
- Wheatley RUFC
Sources and further reading
- Hassall, W.O., ed. (1956). "Wheatley Records 956-1956". Oxford Record Series (Banbury: Oxfordshire Record Society). XXXVII: 27–30.
- Lobel, Mary D, ed. (1957). A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5: Bullingdon Hundred. Victoria County History. pp. 96–116.
- Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). Oxfordshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 837–838. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
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