Lyford, Oxfordshire

Lyford is a village and civil parish on the River Ock about 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Wantage. Historically it was part of the ecclesiastical parish of Hanney.[1] Lyford was part of Berkshire until the 1974 boundary changes transferred the Vale of White Horse to Oxfordshire. The 2001 Census recorded the parish's population as 44.[2]


St Mary the Virgin parish church,
seen from the north
Location within Oxfordshire
Population44 (2001 Census)
OS grid referenceSU3994
Civil parish
  • Lyford
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townWantage
Postcode districtOX12
PoliceThames Valley
AmbulanceSouth Central
EU ParliamentSouth East England
UK Parliament

Lyford's toponym refers to a former ford the Ock, now replaced with a bridge on the road to Charney Bassett. "Ly" is derived from the Old English lin, meaning "flax". In 1034 it was recorded as Linford.[3]


There were two manor in Lyford: Lyford Manor and Lyford Grange.

Lyford Manor

The manor of Lyford dates from at least AD 944, when Edmund I granted six hides of land there to one Ælfheah. The manor was enlarged by a grant of a further two hides of land by Canute the Great in 1034. The Domesday Book of 1086 records Lyford as Linford.[1]

The present manor house was built in the latter part of the 16th century and extended in 1617.[4] It is a Grade II* listed building.[5]

Lyford Grange

Lyford Grange, just east of the village, was originally a moated manor house of Abingdon Abbey built in a quadrangle. The present house was built between 1430 and 1480. It is timber-framed, with a post-and-truss roof[6] including one queen post. It is a Grade II* listed building.[7]

In the reign of Elizabeth I the Grange belonged to a recusant family, the Yates, who harboured a community of Bridgettine nuns.[1] In 1581 the house was searched, three priests were eventually found and arrested by the government agent, George Eliot: Thomas Ford, John Colleton and the renowned Jesuit, Edmund Campion.[8] They were subsequently tried and martyred.[1][9] The Mass is held annually in the village in commemoration of this event.[9]

The raid and martyrdoms did not stop recusancy at Lyford. In 1690 an informer reported that a small estate in the parish had been reserved to build a nunnery "when Popish times should come".[1][10]

Parish church

The Church of England parish church of St Mary the Virgin was built as a chapelry of Hanney in the first half of the 13th century.[1] There is a Mass dial scratched on the south wall. The wooden bell-turret was added in the 15th century,[1] has a scissor-braced timber frame and three bells. The Perpendicular Gothic[11] clerestory was added either at the same time or early in the 16th century.[1] The church was restored in 1875 under the direction of the Gothic revival architect Ewan Christian. It is a Grade II* listed building.[12]

St Mary's parish is now part of the United Benefice of Cherbury with Gainfield.[13]

Rev. Michael Camilleri (circa 1814–1903), sometime vicar of Lyford, translated the New Testament into Maltese.

Social and economic history

In the early 1960s the digging of a soakaway in a cottage garden opposite the vicarage unearthed a small pottery bottle from the late 13th or early 14th century, and a bronze scale-pan.[14]

An open field system of farming continued in the parish until Parliament passed an Inclosure Act for Lyford in 1801.[1]


Oliver Ashcombe founded Lyford almshouses in 1611. The present quadrangle of brick-built almshouses and a chapel appear to be 18th century.[1][4] The quadrangle was completed as 20 houses, which were still tenanted as such in the early 1920s.[1] More recently they have been combined as eight larger units.[13]

Air crash

On 8 April 1945 an Avro Lancaster B.I Special bomber aircraft, HK788 of No. 9 Squadron RAF based at Bardney in Lincolnshire, had taken part in a raid on a benzole factory in mainland Europe. On its return flight the plane caught fire and crashed in a field barely 400 yards (370 m) south of the parish church and Manor Farm.[15]

All seven aircrew were killed. Six were members of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. The seventh was a warrant officer from the Royal Canadian Air Force. All are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves section of Botley Cemetery on the outskirts of Oxford.[15]

In October 2008 the widow of one of the crew provided a plaque commemorating the seven dead. It was installed in St Mary the Virgin parish church, where the actor Richard Briers attended the ceremony[16] and read Noël Coward's poem Lie in the Dark and Listen.[15][17]

See also


  1. Page & Ditchfield 1924, p. 285–294
  2. "Area selected: Vale of White Horse (Non-Metropolitan District)". Neighbourhood Statistics: Full Dataset View. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
  3. Arkell 1942, p. 6.
  4. Pevsner 1966, p. 173.
  5. Historic England. "Manor Farmhouse and attached wall  (Grade II*) (1048351)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  6. Fletcher 1968, p. 76.
  7. Historic England. "Lyford Grange  (Grade II*) (1283468)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  8. Ford, David Nash (2011). "The Arrest of St. Edmund Campion". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  9. Foley 1877, pp. 279, 280, 284
  10. "Original record of court proceedings (National Archive E126/14)". Anglo-American Legal Tradition website.
  11. Pevsner 1966, p. 172.
  12. Historic England. "Church of St Mary, The Green  (Grade II*) (1199327)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  13. Archbishops' Council. "Benefice of Cherbury with Gainfield". A Church Near You. Church of England. Archived from the original on 16 September 2009. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  14. Sturdy & Case 1963, p. 90.
  15. "07/08.04.1945 No, 9 Squadron Lancaster I HK788 WS-E F/O. Jeffs". Archive Report: Allied Forces. Aircrew Remembered. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  16. "Richard Briers". Latest News. Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  17. Coward, Noël. "Lie in the Dark and Listen". Poetry of Direct Personal Experience. Aircrew Remembered. Retrieved 13 November 2015.


This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.