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Tetsworth StGiles.JPG
St. Giles' parish church
Tetsworth is located in Oxfordshire
Location within Oxfordshire
Area10.60 km2 (4.09 sq mi)
Population693 (2011 census)[1]
• Density65/km2 (170/sq mi)
OS grid referenceSP6801
Civil parish
  • Tetsworth
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townThame
Postcode districtOX9
Dialling code01844
PoliceThames Valley
AmbulanceSouth Central
EU ParliamentSouth East England
UK Parliament
WebsiteTetsworth Parish Council
List of places
51°42′36″N 1°00′32″W / 51.710°N 1.009°W / 51.710; -1.009Coordinates: 51°42′36″N 1°00′32″W / 51.710°N 1.009°W / 51.710; -1.009

Tetsworth is a village and civil parish about 3 miles (5 km) south of Thame in Oxfordshire.


At the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Tetsworth did not exist as a separate manor.[2] In the 12th century, benefactors gave land in the area to the Cistercian Thame Abbey and these lands were brought together as an estate under the abbey's control.[2] By about 1225 the abbey held 20 virgates of land at Tetsworth, initially called the Grange but from 1365 called a manor.[2] In 1539 Thame Abbey was suppressed under the Dissolution of the Monasteries and surrendered all its properties to the Crown.[2]

In 1542 the Crown granted the manor of Thame to Robert King, Bishop of Oxford.[2] In 1547 King leased Thame to Sir John Williams but the lease was terminated, and in 1558 or 1560 the Diocese sold Tetsworth.[2] By 1589 the Crown held the manor again and was in the process of selling it to Christopher Petty of Tetsworth and his son Charnell.[2] Tetsworth remained in the Petty family until Christopher's great-grandson, also called Christopher, inherited it in 1674.[2] He was described as a man of "unthriftiness, folly, and extravagance" who dissipated his family fortune, sold parts of the estate in 1680 and the whole of the remaining manor to Thomas Phillips of Ickford in 1683.[2] Thomas's grandson Henry Phillips sold Tetsworth to Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon, in 1756.[2] Montagu Bertie, 5th Earl of Abingdon, sold the manor again in 1810.[2]

Parish church[edit]

The Church of England parish church of Saint Giles was originally Saxon. It was largely rebuilt in the 12th century[2] in the Norman, with some fine features including the tympanum over the south door.[3] The chancel was rebuilt in the 13th century, and in the 15th century new Perpendicular Gothic windows were inserted in the nave. St. Giles was a prebendal chapel of the parish of Thame until 1841, when Tetsworth was made a separate ecclesiastical parish.

The first incumbent of the new parish was Rev. John W. Peers, a member of the Peers family of Chiselhampton House. In 1846 Peers had a vicarage built and in 1851 he proposed to demolish the parish church and replace it with a new one. The Oxford diocesan architect, G. E. Street reported that parts of the old church building were "of very considerable merit, and in good preservation", the chancel was "very perfect" and it would be "very inadvisable" to allow their demolition. Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford also opposed Peers' proposal. Nevertheless Peers demolished the old church, and in 1855 the new one was completed and Bishop Wilberforce consecrated it.[2]

The architect John Billing designed the new church in the Early English Gothic style. Sherwood and Pevsner described the new building as "a clumsy design" and the bell-tower as "excessively heavy".[3]

By the end of the 18th century the old church had a ring of six bells.[4] They were re-hung in the new church, and Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry re-cast them all in 1936.[5]


In the 19th century Tetsworth was an "open village" without such strong control from a squire and parson as other more "closed" villages.[6] It was therefore more open to population migration and religious and social pluralism.[7] For this reason Tetsworth was nicknamed "Botany Bay"[7] after the settlement in New South Wales.

There was a nonconformist congregation in Tetsworth by the early years of the 19th century and built a chapel in 1823. The chapel seems to have been a mixture of Baptist, Congregational and Wesleyan elements. In 1842 it joined the local Congregational Association but five years later it appointed a Baptist pastor and the Congregational Association withdrew its support. Subsequently the chapel had Wesleyan pastors but in 1864 it was readmitted to the local Congregational Association. In 1890 a new chapel was built and the old one became the Sunday School. In the 20th century the congregation dwindled until in 1958 it had only four members.[2]

Economic and social history[edit]

The Old Red Lion public house

By 1502 Tetsworth had two inns, The Crown and The Swan.[2] The current Swan Hotel was built in the 17th century and remodelled in about 1700. It is now a restaurant and antiques centre.[8] Other public houses in Tetsworth have come and gone over the centuries.[2] The Old Red Lion[9] was in existence by 1838[2] and is still trading. Tetsworth also has a Sports and Social Club.

In 1847 Rev. John Peers and other subscribers paid for a Church of England school to be built in the centre of the village. It later became a National School. In 1938 it was reorganised as a junior school, with secondary pupils attending schools in Thame.[2] It is now a County Primary School.[10]


  1. ^ "Area: Tetsworth CP (Parish): Parish Headcounts". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Lobel, 1962, pages 147-160
  3. ^ a b Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 805.
  4. ^ Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers, South Oxfordshire Branch Archived 26 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Davies, Peter (21 May 2007). "Tetsworth S Giles". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  6. ^ Emery 1974, pp. 172–173.
  7. ^ a b Emery 1974, p. 173.
  8. ^ The Swan Antiques Centre and Restaurant
  9. ^ Old Red Lion Archived 15 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Tetsworth Primary School


External links[edit]

Media related to Tetsworth at Wikimedia Commons