History of Shipton-u-Wychwood
Shipton-under-Wychwood is a village in the Evenlode valley about 4 miles north of Burford, on the A361 in Oxfordshire. Its name refers to the fact that it used to be under the boughs of the ancient Royal Forest of Wychwood. Langley Lodge, on the east side of Shipton was the site of a Royal hunting Lodge. Some remnants of the forest remain, but for the most part this is open Oxfordshire farmland.
Shipton was originally a royal manor, mentioned in the Domesday Book as having six mills, and until the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth included the villages of Langley, Milton, Lyneham, Leafield and Ramsden. It had an early minster church from which the priests served the many outlying villages and hamlets.
It became a civil parish in 1894, still including Langley and is now a conservation area. Farming was on the open field system until as late as 1851 when the open fields were enclosed. During the agricultural depression of the late nineteenth century many agricultural labourers emigrated. On the village green, next to the war memorial, there is a memorial to the seventeen members of the Hedges and Townsend families from Shipton, who lost their lives in the South Atlantic in a fire on the emigrant ship, the Cospatrick on its way to New Zealand.
The Parish Church of St. Mary, in the centre of the village has a tower built in about 1230, a 15th century stone pulpit and font and a Tudor wall monument. Shipton was a prebend of Salisbury Cathedral; that is a canon of the cathedral drew an income from land in the parish, and the Prebendal House, next to the church, was the centre of a working farm. It is now a care home.
The village has three historic public houses: the Shaven Crown Hotel, The Wychwood Inn and the Lamb Inn. The Shaven Crown Hotel overlooking the village green was once a guest house run by the monks of nearby Bruern Abbey. It is claimed to have had a licence since 1384 but the present building is mainly 15th century. The Lamb Inn is 16th century.
Shipton Court on the south side of the village was built for the Lacy family in 1603. It was bought and remodelled in 1663 by the Reade family, who retained it until 1868. Frederick Pepper, who bought the house in 1900, added both a new residential wing and a service wing to the property. The estate was broken up in the late 1940s.
William Langland, the conjectured author of Piers Plowman, is thought to have been a tenant in Shipton-under-Wychwood where he died around 1385. The playwright, Christopher Fry, was a resident of Shipton during the 1940s and 50s.
The building of a substantial number of new homes in Shipton since 1946 has turned what was once a small agricultural village into a largely residential area with many people travelling out of the village to work, but with a certain amount of local industry. The population has risen sharply since 1951, from a figure of about 750 to 1,093 in the 1981 census and to around 1,250 today. There were about 225 households in 1951 rising to around 600 today. The parish remains a very active and integrated community and those of us who live here feel we are privileged to do so.