Wheatley, Oxfordshire

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Wheatley is located in Oxfordshire
Location within Oxfordshire
Area4.39 km2 (1.69 sq mi)
Population3,913 (2011 census) (parish, including Littleworth)
• Density891/km2 (2,310/sq mi)
OS grid referenceSP5905
Civil parish
  • Wheatley
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townOxford
Postcode districtOX33
Dialling code01865
PoliceThames Valley
AmbulanceSouth Central
UK Parliament
WebsiteWheatley Parish Council
List of places
51°44′49″N 1°08′20″W / 51.747°N 1.139°W / 51.747; -1.139Coordinates: 51°44′49″N 1°08′20″W / 51.747°N 1.139°W / 51.747; -1.139

Wheatley is a village and civil parish in Oxfordshire, about 5 miles (8 km) east of Oxford. The parish includes the hamlet of Littleworth, which is immediately to the west of Wheatley village. The 2011 census recorded the parish population as 3,913.[1]


There was a Roman villa on Castle Hill, about 1 mile (1.6 km) southeast of the parish church. It was excavated in 1845, when Roman coins dating from AD 260 to 378 and fragments of Roman pottery and Roman tiles were found.


The village had its beginnings in the Anglo-Saxon era. It is in a valley running eastwards, the stream of which flows through the centre of the village to join the River Thame, a tributary of the River Thames. The stream used to be in the open, with stepping stones for people to cross it. However, it is now in a culvert that runs along under the High Street.

In 1883 a Saxon cemetery was excavated, and artefacts removed from it are housed in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. In the 13th century Wheatley was part of the property of Abingdon Abbey, and in 1279 was described as a hamlet of Cuddesdon.

Wheatley manor house was enlarged and improved in 1601, and bears an inscription on the front stating T.A. 1601, which stands for Thomas Archdale, the then owner. It still retains its original appearance whereas most of the other old cottages and buildings have been restored.


Candles lit in St Mary's parish church, Memorial Day, Wheatley

The Church of England parish church of St Mary the Virgin was built in the 18th century. Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, disliked the building and had it rebuilt in 1855–1857 to designs by the Oxford Diocesan architect, GE Street.[2] Its tower has a ring of six bells, four of which were cast in 1794 for the 18th-century church.[3] There is also a Russian bell from Troitsa,[clarification needed] thought to have been claimed as a spoil of war and given to the church early in the 20th century.

The Congregational church was built in 1842–43 on the site of the former tannery. It is now an United Reformed Church.[4]

Wheatley's Roman Catholic church is Our Lady of Lourdes in Crown Road. It is part of the parish of Corpus Christi, Headington.[5]

Wheatley Community Church is an evangelical church that formed in 2015. It meets weekly in the primary school.[6]

There was an independent church in the old Granary building at 30 Church Road.[citation needed]

All the churches in Wheatley are now in a Local Ecumenical Partnership which also includes the parish church of Saint Bartholomew in Holton.[7]

Economic and social history[edit]

One of Wheatley's main industries was quarrying limestone which was used for building Windsor Castle, Merton College, local cottages and ecclesiastical buildings, most of which were erected between the 13th and 18th centuries. Other occupations included faggot cutting and ochre cutting, the ochre being crushed at the windmill which still stands today.

There were two windmills on the hill southwest of the village. One was a post mill that burned down in 1875. The other, Wheatley Mill, is an octagonal tower mill that dates from before 1671. It has been rebuilt and re-equipped a number of times, including in 1763 after a fire and in 1784 when the Eagle Ironworks, Oxford supplied some of the machinery. The tower mill had fallen out of use by 1914, and lightning struck it in 1939.[8]

Wheatley once had ten pubs. A plaque on a gable of the King's Arms in Church Street says that it was built in 1756.

In 1719 the Stokenchurch Turnpike Act turned the main road into a turnpike. Stagecoaches between the Golden Cross in Oxford and London travelled via the Old Road over Shotover Plain to the west of the village. Many of Wheatley's inns had an upper entrance in Church Road and another in the High Street to accommodate the change of horses. The George coaching inn opposite the manor house is now a house with courtyards.

The village lock-up, built in 1834, is a stone building in the shape of a hexagonal pyramid,[9] near the edge of the former quarry. It has a heavy padlocked door and the floor space is about 6 feet (1.8 m) square with a headroom of about 8 feet (2.4 m). In the 19th century it was used to lock up drunks overnight before sending them to the Oxford court. More recently it has been opened every May Day. For a small charge visitors can be locked up for five minutes or so, and given a certificate to prove it.

Wheatley railway station was opened in 1864 as part of an extension of the Wycombe Railway from Thame to Oxford. The railway linked the village to Oxford, Princes Risborough, High Wycombe and Maidenhead. British Railways closed the line and Wheatley station in 1963. Kelham Hall Drive and Kimber Close have been built on the site of the station.

Shotover Park was the home of Lt Col Sir John Miller, who was Crown Equerry to Queen Elizabeth II. In 1888 his grandmother gave the building called the Merry Bells to the villagers as a temperance hotel as she was saddened to see so much hardship caused by drunkenness. Today the building houses a public library and is a social centre of the village. Ironically, it now has a licence to serve alcoholic drinks.[citation needed]

In the 20th century the Lady Spencer Churchill teacher training college was built on the north side of Wheatley. In 1976 the college merged with Oxford Polytechnic, which has since become Oxford Brookes University. This Wheatley campus is due to close in 2021 and to be replaced by housing.

In 1974 the M40 motorway was extended from High Wycombe to Junction 8 at Chilworth, about 2 12 miles (4 km) east of Wheatley, giving the village a fast road link to London. In 1990 the M40 extension was completed, giving Wheatley a fast road link to Birmingham. The extension includes Junction 8A and Oxford Services about 1 12 miles (2.4 km) east of the village.

In 2020 Wheatley was awarded Fairtrade Village status as part of the Fairtrade Town initiative.[10]


Wheatley has a Church of England county primary school[11] and a County Council secondary school.[12]

Wheatley has regular bus services. Thames Travel route 46 links Wheatley and Littleworth with Cowley via Horspath.[13] Arriva Beds & Bucks routes 280 and X8 link Wheatley with Oxford via Headington, and with Aylesbury via Thame and Haddenham.[14] Oxford Bus Company route U1 links Wheatley with Harcourt Hill via Oxford.[15]

The Kings Arms pub

Wheatley has a post office, an Asda superstore with a petrol filling station, a Co-Op pharmacy, several shops in the High Street, and numerous village societies, including the Wheatley Society and a Village Produce Association which holds an annual show.[citation needed]

Wheatley has a few pubs, including:

  • The Cricketers Arms, Littleworth[16]
  • The King's Arms, Church Road[17]
  • The King and Queen, High Street[citation needed]
  • The Sun Cafe + Bar, Church Road[18]

Wheatley has a Rugby Union Football Club that with two senior teams. Its First XV plays in the Berks/Bucks & Oxon Premier League.[19] The club also offers junior rugby from ages seven onwards.


  1. ^ "Wheatley Parish". nomis. Durham University for the Office of National Statistics. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  2. ^ Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 837.
  3. ^ Walker, Mark (3 December 2013). "Wheatley S Mary V". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Wheatley United Reformed Church History" (PDF). Wheatley URC. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  5. ^ "The Chapel Our Lady of Lourdes Wheatley". The Catholic Church of Corpus Christi. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  6. ^ "Wheatley Community Church". Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  7. ^ Wheatley Area Churches[dead link]
  8. ^ Historic England. "Wheatley Windmill  (Grade II) (1369287)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Lock Up  (Grade II) (1047479)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  10. ^ "Fairtrade Communities Map". Fairtrade Foundation. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  11. ^ Wheatley CE Primary School
  12. ^ Wheatley Park School
  13. ^ "46". Thames Travel. 4 January 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  14. ^ "280 from Oxford City Centre Railway Station to Aylesbury Bus Stn". Arriva. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  15. ^ "BrookesBus". Oxford Bus Company. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  16. ^ "The Cricketers Pub Restaurant". Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  17. ^ Krasteva, Gergana (14 December 2020). "Kings Arms pub in Wheatley reopens after fire". Oxford Mail. Newsquest Oxfordshire. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  18. ^ "The Sun Cafe + Bar".
  19. ^ "Wheatley RUFC".


External links[edit]