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Eynsham StLeonard SE.JPG
St Leonard's parish church
Eynsham is located in Oxfordshire
Location within Oxfordshire
Population4,648 (parish, including Barnard Gate) (2011 Census)
OS grid referenceSP4309
Civil parish
  • Eynsham
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townWitney
Postcode districtOX29
Dialling code01865
PoliceThames Valley
AmbulanceSouth Central
UK Parliament
WebsiteEynsham 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 English village and civil parish in Oxfordshire, about 5 miles (8 km) north-west of Oxford and east of Witney. The 2011 Census recorded a parish population of 4,648.[1] It was estimated at 5,077 in 2018.[2]


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 (3000–300 BCE) for a rectilinear enclosure edging a 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 571 CE. Evidence has been found of 6th–7th-century Saxon buildings[3] at New Wintles Farm,[4] about three-quarters of a mile (1 km) from the present parish church. There is evidence that Eynsham had an early minster, probably founded in the 7th or 8th centuries.[3] The name appears in 864 CE 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.[5] The Domesday Book of 1086 includes a paragraph on the settlement, then known as Eglesham.[6]

By 1302 Eynsham had a wharf handling cargo that included hay, straw, malt, grain and timber, beside the later Talbot Inn on Wharf Stream, a tributary of the Thames.

By the medieval period Eynsham Abbey was among the largest in the area. It succumbed to the Reformation in 1538 and few remains can still be seen. After the dissolution, its estates were granted to Sir George Darcy.[6]

By 1790 a newly completed Oxford Canal was trading with Eynsham Wharf, mainly to sell coal from the Midlands.[7] From 1792 the Oxford Canal employed a wharfinger at Eynsham[8] and in 1800 bought the lease of the wharf.[9] It consolidated its position by buying the Talbot Inn in 1845 and the freehold of Eynsham Wharf in 1849,[10] perhaps in response to the Railway mania that was taking traffic from canals and navigations.

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

Map of the village

The village suffered several fires in its history.[11] Among the worst was one on Whit Monday morning in 1629,[11] which destroyed 12 houses[12] and another in 1681 destroying 20.[11] By the early 19th century the parish had its own fire engine, in a parish fire station on the ground floor of the early 18th-century Bartholomew Room up to 1949.[13]

The Bartholomew Room was built in 1703 from an endowment of John Liam Bartholomew in 1701 to found a parish charity school.[13] Its lower storey was arcaded, presumably as market premises,[13] but the arcades were walled up in the later 19th century.[13] While some parts of the ground floor continued to serve as the fire station; others were turned into a village gaol.[13] From 1928, a local Roman Catholic congregation used the upper room for its services.[14] In 1983 the parish council bought and restored the building.[13]


Swinford Bridge over the Thames

By the mid-18th century, Swinford had a ferry, but the main road was in poor condition. 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 became a turnpike in 1751, the road via Eynsham and Swinford ferry was included as a branch.[13] 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.[13]

Eynsham was a major coaching stop on the LondonFishguard road.[citation needed] Since 1922 this has been numbered as the A40. In 1936 a bypass for the main road was built north of the village and the road over Swinford bridge renumbered as B4044.


The Witney Railway between Witney and Yarnton opened through Eynsham parish in 1861. The 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 and in 1970 to goods traffic. The track was dismantled. The station has since been demolished and a business park built there.

In February 2015 the Witney Oxford Transport Group proposed reopening the station as an alternative to improving the A40 road as proposed by Oxfordshire County Council. The case centred on the severe traffic congestion on the roads to and from Oxford.[15]


Local industries include gravel extraction and a factory for superconducting magnets, Siemens Magnet Technology Ltd.[16]


Church of England[edit]

The Church of England parish church, St Leonard's, was built the 13th century. In the 15th, the nave was rebuilt, a clerestory and north aisle were added and a west tower was built.[17] There are Mass dials on the south wall. The building was restored three times: by William Wilkinson in 1856, Harry Drinkwater in 1892[17] and over eight years in the 1980s.[citation needed]

The west tower has a ring of six bells. James Keene of Woodstock cast the third in 1653. Richard Keene cast the fifth in 1673. John Taylor & Co of Loughborough cast or recast the treble, second, fourth and tenor bells in 1895. The church also has a Sanctus bell that Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry cast in 1924.[18]

St Leonard's is a Grade II* listed building.[19]

Eynsham Baptist Church


The Baptist church in Lombard Street was opened in either 1808[20] or 1818.[21]

Roman Catholic[edit]

In 1895 Herbert May founded a Roman Catholic mission at his home, Newland Lodge.[14] The lodge burnt down in 1897, after which Mass was said at the Railway Inn until May had a new house built for him.[14] The mission closed when May moved to Oxford.[14] In 1928 the Roman Catholic parish of Witney leased the upper storey of the Bartholomew Room, making it St Peter's Chapel.[14] Building of a new Roman Catholic church began in the 1930s but was delayed by the Second World War and completed only in 1967.[14]


Eynsham Primary School[22] is a community primary school. Eynsham's Bartholomew School[23] is the county secondary school for the district. As a specialist technology college, it draws pupils mainly from primaries at Eynsham, Standlake, Stanton Harcourt, Freeland, Cassington and Hanborough.[24]

Eynsham Football Club plays in the Oxfordshire Senior League Division One.[25] Eynsham Sports and Social Club plays in Witney and District Football League Division Three and its reserve team in Division Four.[26] Eynsham Cricket Club[27] plays in Oxfordshire Cricket Association League Division Three.[28]

Eynsham has a Women's Institute[29] and a Morris dancing troupe.[30]

Notable residents[edit]

In order of birth:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Eynsham Parish (1170217937)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  2. ^ City Population site. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b Blair 1994, p. 63.
  4. ^ Rowley 1978, p. 97.
  5. ^  Godden, Malcolm (1885–1900). "Ælfric of Eynsham". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  6. ^ a b Eynsham. Interesting and notable dates in the village history.
  7. ^ Compton 1976, p. 58.
  8. ^ Compton 1976, p. 59.
  9. ^ Compton 1976, p. 60.
  10. ^ Compton 1976, p. 117.
  11. ^ a b c Crossley & Elrington 1999, pp. 110–115.
  12. ^ Emery 1974, p. 118.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Crossley & Elrington 1999, pp. 98–110.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Crossley & Elrington 1999, pp. 152–153.
  15. ^ Elvery, Martin (5 February 2015). "Campaigners want new railway station at Yarnton to ease A40 congestion in West Oxfordshire". Witney Gazette. Newsquest. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  16. ^ Company site. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  17. ^ a b Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 600.
  18. ^ Davies, Peter (5 November 2016). "Eynsham S Leonard". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  19. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Leonard  (Grade II*) (1048964)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  20. ^ Crossley & Elrington 1990, pp. 153–154.
  21. ^ Historic England. "Eynsham Baptist Church  (Grade II) (1048984)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  22. ^ Eynsham Primary School Archived 4 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Bartholomew School.
  24. ^ Bartholomew School.
  25. ^ Oxfordshire Senior Football League website.
  26. ^ Witney and District Football League.
  27. ^ Eynsham Cricket Club
  28. ^ Oxfordshire Cricket Association.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "Oxfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes". Archived from the original on 7 September 2003. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  30. ^ Eynsham Morris.


External links[edit]