The Story of Deddington






to my daughter,
Muriel Jones.
Our First President.


Note : This Village History was written for a competition held by the Oxfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes. Dr. Marrett, Rector of Exeter College, Oxford, the Judge, awarded First prize to Shipton-under-Wychwood, Second prize to Headington Quarry, Deddington and Churchill he bracketed together with Quarry as "all extremely good and only a little behind the first in interest and general quality."


Chapter 1. Old Deddington.
Chapter 2. The Parish Church.
Chapter 3. Streets and Houses.
Chapter 4. Trades and Callings.
Chapter 5. Deddington Folk (Parts I and II)
Chapter 6. Deddington Fairs.
Chapter 7. Inns and Coaching Days.
Chapter 8. Sports and Pastimes.
Chapter 9. Milestones.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS - (click HERE for Figures listed)

Fig 1. Bird's Eye Map of Deddington.
Fig 2. Stone Effigy in Church.
Fig 3. Interior of Church (East End).
Fig 4. Interior of Church (West End).
Fig 5. Castle House.
Fig 6. Nathaniel Stilgoe.
Fig 7. The Pavilion.
Fig 8. John Knibbs.


I.   List of Clergy from Early Times
II.  Measurements of Church and Weight of Bells
III. Armorial Glass in Church (1574)
IV.  Old Deed relating to Deddington (1607).
V.   Deed relating to the Dissolution of the Guild of the Holy
      Trinity (1635).
VI.  Will of Anthony Stilgoe (1606).
VII. Extracts from Diary of the Rev. W. Cotton Risley.
VIII.List of Field Names.
IX.  List of Birds in the Locality.


Dear Deddingtonians and Fellow Institute Members,

In presenting to you this story of our village, I make no claim to original research. Already short historical notes had been written—the Rev. E. Marshall's Deddington (issued in the Trans-actions of the North Oxfordshire Archaeological Society, 1879) and Mr. William Wing's Supplement to the same, are the best known. Mr. T. A. Manchip (late headmaster of Deddington School) and Mr. Thomas Smith had also added much historical and local lore to such facts as Mr. Marshall's scholarship had accumulated. But these records are far from being accessible to the general villager, and even the printed pamphlets of Marshall and Wing are becoming rare. My intention is that ultimately, in some simple form, what I have been able to gather my be easily obtainable to pass from hand to hand to be added to in their turn.

My efforts, however, especially concerning the more ancient past, would have been the merest adaptation—I doubt indeed if the dry bones of history would have stirred at all—had it not been for the help of Mr. Henry Edward Stilgoe*, C.B.E., F.S.A., the distinguished Chief Engineer to the Metropolitan Water Board, whose family has been identified with Deddington for many centuries. The loan of old Deeds ; the gift of photographs for illustration ; above all, access to the immensely valuable and interesting notes he has collected about the place and people ; the latter source of information, indeed, forms the life and soul of this narrative in any fresh historical sense. Beyond incorporating in it such knowledge as was already gathered, my own ambition was humble but it was clear. I aimed at supplying a link between the more remote past dealt with by others, and the present day. In this respect I have been fortunate, for our oldest inhabitant, William Hirons, a centenarian who died early this year, lived to impart to me a great deal that would otherwise have been lost. Others, too, with clear recollections of the last half century and longer have kindly helped me, in addition to aid from our Women's Institute.

Thanks are due to the Vicar, the Rev. Maurice Frost, for his photography of often difficult prints, etc., for lending books and for help in searching parish registers and so on. Mr. T. Smith has also been most kind with loans of photographs, books and cuttings, and with many a helpful interview.
If, dear Deddingtonians, this story makes the old life hum again for you as for me, it will bring home this meaning too. The old bygone folk lit the torch of progress, which we hold for a little while and then pass on. If it is to burn brightly in our generation we must work for the realisation of those words of Blake, which the Women's Institutes have adopted as their hymn—not to rest till we have built Jerusalem (the new Jerusalem) 'in England's green and pleasant land.'

Deddington.November, 1932.

* Editor's Notes:

HES - as he is familiarly known as in the family - made a major contribution to the book. Post publication he clearly read it closely and annotated his copy with corrections which were never published. Click HERE to see his hand written notes.