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Eynsham StLeonard SE.JPG
St Leonard's parish church
Eynsham is located in Oxfordshire
Eynsham shown within Oxfordshire
Population 4,648 (parish, including Barnard Gate) (2011 Census)
OS grid reference SP4309
Civil parish
  • Eynsham
Shire county
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
Website Eynsham Online!
List of places
51°46′52″N 1°22′30″W / 51.781°N 1.375°W / 51.781; -1.375Coordinates: 51°46′52″N 1°22′30″W / 51.781°N 1.375°W / 51.781; -1.375

Eynsham /ˈɛnʃəm/ is an expanding village and civil parish about 5 miles (8 km) north-west of Oxford and roughly 5 miles (8 km) east of Witney, in Oxfordshire, England. The 2011 Census recorded the parish population as 4,648.[1]


Bartholomew Room in The Square

Eynsham grew up near the historically important ford of Swinford on the River Thames flood plain. Excavations have shown that the site was used in the Bronze Age for a rectilinear enclosure on the edge of the gravel terrace.[citation needed]

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records Eynsham as Egonesham and describes it as one of four towns that the Saxons captured from the Britons in AD 571. Evidence has been found of 6th and 7th century Saxon buildings[2] at New Wintles Farm,[3] about 34 mile (1.2 km) north of the present parish church. There is some evidence that Eynsham had an early minster, probably founded in the 7th or 8th centuries.[2] The name is recorded in AD 864 (in the dative) as Egenes homme = "Ægen's enclosure or river-meadow".

In 1005 Aethelmar, kinsman of Aethelred II founded a Benedictine abbey on the site of the earlier minster. The first abbot was Ælfric of Eynsham, a prolific writer in Old English.[4] By the medieval period Eynsham Abbey was one of the largest in the area, but it was dissolved at the Reformation in 1538 and only a few remains are still visible. The Church of England parish church of Saint Leonard dates from the 13th century.[5] The church, which has a canonical sundial on the south wall, has been restored three times: by William Wilkinson in 1856 and H.G.W. Drinkwater in 1892[5] and most recently through the fundraising efforts of the whole community over a period of eight years in the 1980s.

By 1302 Eynsham had a wharf handling freight including hay, straw, malt, grain and timber. It was beside the Talbot Inn on Wharf Stream, a tributary of the Thames. By 1790 the newly completed Oxford Canal was trading with Eynsham Wharf, primarily to sell coal from the Midlands.[6] From 1792 the Oxford Canal employed a wharfinger at Eynsham[7] and in 1800 it bought the lease of the wharf.[8] The Oxford Canal consolidated its position at Eynsham by buying the Talbot Inn in 1845 and the freehold of Eynsham Wharf in 1849,[9] perhaps in response to the Railway Mania that was beginning to take traffic from canals and navigations.

Eynsham Lock is on the Thames just above the confluence with Wharf Stream. This was the last flash lock on the Thames, and was not rebuilt as a pound lock until 1928.

The village suffered a number of fires in its history.[10] Two of the most serious were one on the morning of Whit Monday 1629[10] that destroyed 12 houses[11] and another in 1681 that destroyed 20 houses.[10] By the early part of the 19th century the parish had its own fire engine, and from then until 1949 the ground floor of the early 18th century Bartholomew Room served as the parish fire station.[12]

The Bartholomew Room was built in 1703; the result of an endowment from a John Bartholomew in 1701 to found a charity school for the parish.[12] Its lower storey was arcaded, presumably for it to be a market building.[12] The arcades were walled up in the latter part of the 19th century.[12] While part of the ground floor continued to serve as the fire station, another part was made into the village lockup.[12] From 1928 the local Roman Catholic congregation used the upper room as its church.[13] In 1983 the parish council bought the building and had it restored.[12]

The fortunes of the main road through Eynsham have fluctuated. By the middle of the 18th century Swinford had a ferry, but the road was in poor condition. The heavier road traffic between Oxford and Witney preferred to pass further north via Bladon, where the better-maintained OxfordWoodstock and Witney – Woodstock roads met. When the latter was made into a turnpike in 1751, the road via Eynsham and Swinford ferry was included as a branch of it.[12] In 1769 the Earl of Abingdon opened Swinford Toll Bridge to replace the ferry. The Witney – Woodstock road ceased to be a turnpike in 1869 but the Witney – Oxford road remained one until 1877.[12]

Eynsham was an important coaching stop on the LondonFishguard trunk road.[citation needed] Since 1922 this has been classified as the A40 road. In 1936 a bypass for the main road was built north of the village, and the road over Swinford bridge was reclassified as the B4044.

The Witney Railway between Witney and Yarnton was built through Eynsham parish and opened in 1861. Eynsham railway station was on the south side of the village. The Great Western Railway took over the line in 1890 and enlarged Eynsham station in 1944. British Railways closed the line to passenger trains in 1962. In 1970 the line closed to freight traffic and was dismantled.

In 1895 Herbert May founded a Roman Catholic mission at his home, Newland Lodge.[13] The lodge burnt down in 1897, after which Mass was said at the Railway Inn until May had a new house built for him.[13] The mission closed when May moved to Oxford.[13] In 1928 the Roman Catholic parish of Witney leased the upper storey of the Bartholomew Room, making it St. Peter's Chapel.[13] Building of a new Roman Catholic church was begun in the 1930s but was delayed by the Second World War and not completed until 1967.[13]


The Witney Railway opened Witney's first station in 1861, linking the town to Yarnton where the line joined the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway. In 1873 the East Gloucestershire Railway opened from a new station, linking Witney with Lechlade and Fairford. The Great Western Railway operated services on both lines and eventually took them over. In 1962 British Railways closed the EGR completely and withdrew passenger services from the Witney Railway. In 1970 British Railways closed the Witney Railway completely and it was dismantled.[citation needed]

Reopening the railway[edit]

In February 2015, the Witney Oxford Transport Group proposed the reopening of the station as an alternative to improvements to the A40 road proposed by Oxfordshire County Council.[14]

There is a strong case to reopen the railway given the severe traffic congestion on the roads to and from Oxford. [15]


Local industries include gravel extraction and the large superconducting magnet factory, Siemens Magnet Technology Ltd. There is also a business park on the village outskirts.

Eynsham Primary School[16] is a community primary school. Bartholomew School[17] in Eynsham is the county secondary school for the village and surrounding area. As a specialist technology college, it draws its pupils mainly from the primary schools of Eynsham, Standlake, Stanton Harcourt, Freeland, Cassington and Hanborough.[18]

Eynsham Football Club plays in Witney and District Football League Division One.[19] Eynsham Sports and Social Club plays in Witney and District Football League Division Three and its reserve team plays in Division Four.[20] Eynsham Cricket Club[21] plays in Oxfordshire Cricket Association League Division Three.[22]

Eynsham has a Women's Institute[23] and a Morris dancing side.[24]

Notable residents[edit]

In order of birth:


See also[edit]


Sources and further reading[edit]

External links[edit]