Wheatley, Oxfordshire


Wheatley, Oxfordshire

Wheatley village lies six miles east of Oxford, in Oxfordshire, England, in a valley at right angles to the river Thame. A stream once flowed through the centre of the village and had to be crossed by stepping stones, but this is now contained in a culvert and covered with a road surface which forms the High Street, where most of the shops are to be found.

People have lived here since Saxon times and finds from a Saxon cemetery which was discovered in 1883 are housed in the Ashmolean Museum. A Roman villa was unearthed in 1845, and although nothing remains now, fragments of pottery, tiles and coins dating from AD 260 to 378 have been found. During the 13th century Wheatley was part of the property of the Abbey of Abingdon and in 1279 was described as a hamlet of Cuddesdon.

One of the main occupations for Wheatley people was stone quarrying and the stone was used for building Windsor Castle, Merton College, local cottages and ecclesiastical buildings, most of which were erected between the 13th and 18th centuries. Quarrying stone would have been thirsty work and gallons of ale would have been consumed at the ten public houses in the village. The quarry was notorious for its bull baiting and cock fighting activities and no doubt the men's meagre wages were squandered on placing bets on the unfortunate animals. Other occupations included faggot cutting and ochre cutting, the ochre being crushed at the windmill which is still standing today.

The manor house was enlarged and improved in 1601, and bears a plaque on the front stating "T.A. 1601", which stands for Thomas Archdale, the owner at that time. It still retains its original appearance whereas most of the other old cottages and buildings have been restored. The George coaching inn stands opposite the manor and has been turned into a charming residence with courtyards and gift shop.

Stage coaches travelled from Oxford from the Golden Cross in the Cornmarket to London via the Old Road which crossed Shotover Plain, and the descent into Wheatley was a favourite haunt of highwaymen. Many of the inns had an upper entrance in Church Road and another in the High Street to accommodate the change of horses.

The railway arrived in 1862 and linked Wheatley with Oxford, High Wycombe and London. However, new roads were built, the railway closed and passengers are now served by local buses to Oxford, Thame and Aylesbury.

The village lock-up, built in 1834, is a pyramid-shaped stone structure standing near the edge of the old quarry site. It has a heavy padlocked door and the floor space is about six feet square with a headroom of about eight feet. During 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.

Shotover Park is an area of outstanding beauty and in its midst stands Shotover House, home of Lt Col Sir John Miller, who was Crown Equerry to the Queen. In 1888 his grandmother gave the building known as the Merry Bells to the villagers for use as a temperance hotel as she was saddened to see so much hardship caused by drunkenness. Today the building houses a new library and is the chief social centre of the village.

St Mary's church was designed by G. E. Street and consecrated in 1857. The tower of this church contains a ring of six bells, four of which came from the older chapel, now demolished. There is also a Russian bell from Troitsa, thought to be claimed as a spoil of war and given to the church in the early C20th. The Congregational church was built in 1842–43 and stands on the site of the old tannery. The village also has a Roman Catholic church and an independant church, The Granary (House of Prayer) housed in the old mission hall - a former grain store.

During the past 50 years Wheatley has expanded and the population has risen from 900 in the 1880s to around 4,000. There are several shops, excellent schools, a post office, a bank and numerous village societies catering for everybody's needs, including the Wheatley Society and a Village Produce Association which holds a well supported annual show.

The village lies close to the M40 London to Birmingham motorway.

Wheatley also has a stunning Windmill on Windmill Lane

Wheatley is the site of a campus of Oxford Brookes University easily distinguishable by a large high-rise tower. Other educational institutions in the town include Oxford School of Reflexology and Oxford House School of English as well as the secondary school Wheatley Park School and the Wheatley Primary School.

Wheatley is also known for the Cotswold Morris Dance tradition that originated in the village.

External links

* [http://www.oxfordforums.com/ Wheatley Village Forum]
* [http://www.wheatfields.net/ Art gallery]
* [http://www.wheatley.oxon.sch.uk/ Wheatley Primary School]
* [hhtp://www.wheatleymill.co.uk/Home
* [http://www.efekt.net/ Net Efekt :: Media Neutral Design]
* [http://www.brookes.ac.uk/ Oxford Brookes University]
* [http://www.therapy-school.co.uk/ Oxford School of Reflexology]
* [http://www.wheatleyareachurches.org/ Wheatley Area Churches]
* [http://www.oxfordgreenbelt.net Oxford Green Belt Network]
* [http://www.horspath.org.uk Horspath Village]
*oscoor gbx|SP600056


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