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 most have 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
Culture and events
A free monthly parish newsletter is combined with social venues and events in the village, such as the annual Guy Fawkes Night fireworks, a summer 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.
In November 2007 a public consultation was held on the proposed Parish Plan - a strategic document aiming to chart the hopes of the village for twenty years to come. Formal encouragement exists in civil parish and district planning policy to reopen a village shop, as yet unforthcoming.
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".
After his retirement in 1991, Robert Runcie, former archbishop of Canterbury, a former vicar of Cuddesdon and college principal, was granted a peerage as Baron Runcie of Cuddesdon to remain in the House of Lords.
Sir Edward Loughlin O'Malley, former Attorney General of Hong Kong, Chief Justice of the Straits Settlements and Chief Judge of the British Supreme Consular Court at Constantinople, purchased property in what had been Denton in 1892. He died at his residence, Denton House, and was buried in Cuddesdon in 1932.
- "Area: Cuddesdon and Denton CP (Parish): Parish Headcounts". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 562.
- Lobel 1957, pp. 96–116.
- Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 563.
- Chapman 2004[page needed]
- A History of the County of Oxford Vol 5 and http://www.bernieworld.net/Cemeteries/Murrisk/Murrisk%20Cemetery.htm Archived 5 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- 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