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Ewelme village seen from the south
Ewelme shown within Oxfordshire
|Area||11.50 km2 (4.44 sq mi)|
|Population||1,048 (2011 Census)|
|– density||91/km2 (240/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|Website||Ewelme community website|
Ewelme is a village and civil parish in the Chiltern Hills in South Oxfordshire, 2.5 miles (4 km) north-east of the market town of Wallingford. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 1,048.
To the east of the village is Cow Common and to the west, Benson Airfield, the north-eastern corner of which is within the parish boundary.
The toponym is derived from Ae-whylme, Old English for "waters whelming". It refers to the spring just north of the village, which forms the King's Pool that feeds the Ewelme Brook. The brook flows past Fifield Manor and then through nearby Benson before joining the River Thames. It formed the basis of Ewelme's watercress beds, which provided much local employment until well into the 20th Century. Before inclosure in 1863, there was no clear boundary between the parishes of Ewelme, Benson and Berrick Salome where they shared large open fields. Ewelme Parish was within the Hundred of Benson in 1086, later renamed the Hundred of Ewelme.
Almshouses and school
William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk and his wife Alice de la Pole established the school and cloistered almshouses from their profits from the East Anglian wool trade in 1437. Alice was the daughter of Thomas Chaucer, Speaker of the House of Commons and granddaughter of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer. As lords of the manor, she and her father had both lived at Ewelme Palace which once stood in the village. The author Cynthia Harnett featured the school and church prominently in her children's novel The Writing on the Hearth. The action in the book is set around the time the school was built. Ewelme School is said to be the oldest school building in the UK still in use as a local authority school.
The almshouses are officially called "The Two Chaplains and Thirteen Poor Men of Ewelme in the County of Oxford". The thirteen almsmen have now been reduced to eight, but the building is still run as a charity by the Ewelme Trust.
Under James I the original purpose of the position of Master of Ewelme Hospital was diverted in 1617 to support the Regius Professorship of Physic at the University of Oxford; this was confirmed in 1628 by the attachment of the stipend to the chair. At the same time the rectorship of Ewelme was made to support the same university's Regius Professor of Divinity, who then served as Rector of the parish.
Thomas Chaucer and Alice de la Pole are buried in the Church of England parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin adjoining the almshouses. Thomas, who died in 1434, was the son of Geoffrey the Poet and Philippa Roet, whose sister married John of Gaunt, son of Edward III. The tomb chest of Thomas and that of his wife Matilda Burghersh are topped with memorial brasses showing him in plate armour and her in mantle, veil and wimple with their respective crests (his a unicorn and hers a lion) at their feet.
Alice's alabaster tomb, almost undamaged by time, consists of a canopy of panelled stone, below which is the recumbent effigy of the Duchess on top of the tomb chest which contains her remains; the space beneath the chest encloses her sculpted cadaver, which is viewed through elaborate reticulated arches. Her effigy was examined by Queen Victoria's commissioners in order to discover how a lady should wear the insignia of the Order of the Garter.
Her second and third husbands were the Thomas Montagu, 4th Earl of Salisbury and the William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, Lord Chamberlain of England. Her six-year-old step-great-granddaughter, Anne Beauchamp, 15th Countess of Warwick, also died at Ewelme, but was buried at Reading Abbey.
Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927), author of Three Men In A Boat, lived at Gould's Grove just southeast of Ewelme. He and his wife Ettie (died 1938) are buried in St. Mary's churchyard; their tombstone reads "For we are labourers together with God".
Scenes in the 2012 film Les Misérables were filmed at the parish church of Ewelme.
The village is dominated by the nearby buildings belonging to Benson Airfield.
Ewelme Cricket Club was founded in 1933.
Since 2006 Ewelme has hosted the annual Chiltern Chase, a charity run of two multi-terrain (cross-country) courses: one of 3 miles (5 km) and the other of 6 miles (10 km). Both races start and finish on Cow Common. Normally two charities benefit equally from the proceeds of the event.
- "Area: Ewelme (Parish): Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
- Legh, 1999, page not cited
- http://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/sites/default/files/work-in-progress/ewelme_intro.pdf VCH Oxfordshire Texts in Progress: EWELME. Victoria County History. Accessed 10 August 2015.
- http://opendomesday.org/place/SU6491/ewelme/ Open Domesday Map: Ewelme
- GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Ewelme in South Oxfordshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time. URL: http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/place/9651. Date accessed: 10 August 2015
- Rowley, 1978, page 118
- Ewelme C of E Primary School
- Page 1907, p. 156.
- "Chapter 5, Ewelme under the Stuarts, and during the Civil War. Commonwealth and Restoration.". Ewelme – a Romantic Village its Past and Present. Its People and its History. Fords Farm.
- Ewelme Village Store
- Ewelme Cricket Club
- Chiltern Chase
Sources and further reading
- Goodall, John A.A. (2001). God's House at Ewelme. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. pp. not cited. ISBN 0-7546-0047-5.
- Legh, John (1999). The Story of Ewelme Watercress. The Friends of Ewelme Watercress Beds. ISBN 0-9537637-0-6.
- Mileson, Stephen; Brooks, Stuart (2014). "A Multi-Phase Anglo-Saxon Site at Ewelme". Oxoniensia (Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society) 79: 1–29. ISSN 0308-5562.
- Page, W.H., ed. (1907). A History of the County of Oxford. Victoria County History. 2: Ecclesiastical History, etc. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co. p. 156.
- Rowley, Trevor (1978). Villages in the Landscape. Archaeology in the Field Series. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd. p. 118. ISBN 0-460-04166-5.
- Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 595–600. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
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