Chinnor Parish

Domesday Book of 1086

Chinnor Tithe Map c.1840

The modern Civil Parish of Chinnor was formed in 1932 when the Ancient Parishes of Chinnor & Emmington were United.  The Ancient Parish of Chinnor covered 2,712 acres and like other Chiltern Parishes, was narrow & elongated in shape.  It lay mostly in the Plain at the Foot of the Hills, but its Southern end extended on to the Ridge.  Besides the Main Village of Chinnor, there were Hamlets in the Plain at Oakley, Henton & Wainhill (Wynnill) by the early Middle Ages, and others on the Ridge at ‘Up Hill‘, Red Lane & Spriggs Alley by the 18thC at least.  Wainhill has become Hempton Wainhill; ‘Up Hill‘ & Red Lane, which may never have had more than few Houses each, no longer exist.  Almost the last of Red Lane’s Pubs, the ‘Pheasant‘, was closed in 1955


The only natural Boundaries were the small Brook which used to form part of the Parish’s Northern Boundary with Emmington & the Cuttle Brook, a feeder of the River Thame, which has always formed part of the Eastern Boundary.  As the Cuttle was also the County Boundary with Bucks, Chinnor’s relations with the Bucks Market Town of Princes Risborough to the East have been as close as that with the Oxon Town of Thame to the North-west & possibly closer.

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The greater part of Chinnor lies in the Lower Chalk Belt at a height of between about 300-ft to 400-ft and is good Arable Land.  At the Southern end, where the Ground rises steeply from 500-ft to 800-ft, there is a Belt of Middle Chalk & of poorer Soil.  The Ridge is mostly covered in Beech Woods, which have always formed a valuable part of the Parish’s Economy.  The modern Venus Wood, for instance, was Vernice in 1840 & Fernor Wood in 1408, while Benell’s was recorded in 1521.   Sprigg’s Alley, 750-ft up on the Southern Boundary, is a Hill Settlement.  It is more often called Sprigg’s Holly locally from the many Ancient Holly Trees, well over a 100-yrs old.  It has an early 19thC Public House, the ‘Sir Charles Napier‘, and an Iron Mission Hall of 1889.  In recent years the Hamlet’s wide views of the Plain have attracted a small Residential Population.  The Hill part of the Parish has few Wells, but there are plenty of Springs at the foot of the Chalk Hills and in the Plain there is the Cuttle Brook and its small feeder, flowing across the Centre of the Parish, besides another Stream, which flows Northwards near the Sydenham Boundary and then along the Emmington Boundary.
OS Map 1899 Sth Oxon XLII.13 (Oakley, Chinnor, Wainhill)

Oakley End c.1910

The Oldest Road is the pre-Roman Trackway, the Icknield Way (or Upper Icknield Way), which runs at the Foot of the Chilterns.  Throughout the Middle Ages ‘Acklin Street‘ was a much-used, though dangerous Road, where robbery, rape & murder were not uncommon.  It was used by Sheep Drovers up to the 19thC and by local Farmers & Woodmen. The Parish was traversed from Medieval Times by 3 other Roads, 2 running Parallel to the Icknield Way, and a 3rd running from North to South. The more Southerly of the 2 East-west Roads is the modern Secondary Road which connects Chinnor with its Hamlet Oakley and the 6 other Villages lying at the Foot of the Chilterns on the way to Watlington.  The other one, the so-called Lower Icknield Way, used to run from near Watlington to Princes Risborough and crossed the North-end of Chinnor High Street.  It declined in importance during the 19thC and today, though it is still the only way to Princes Risborough, its Western-end Terminates at Chinnor Windmill just West of the Village.  The 3rd Chief Road was the High Wycombe to Thame Road, which approached the Village by Reading Way and continued straight on to the Emmington Boundary.  Part of this Road as well as a Minor Road from Chinnor to Thame, Burgidge Way, which ran East of Emmington & through Towersey, was Closed at the Inclosure of 1854 when the present Thame Road was constructed. 
At the “Royal Oak” I listened for a ½-hr to information & complaints about the heat, which was at the time about 90° in the shade, and then went out to make the most of the heat itself, which I could well do, having myself, as a good critic has pronounced, an unvarying temperature of about 45°F.  I left the “Bird in Hand” and a Squat, White Windmill on the left and entered a fine Green Road going straight South-west.  One of the hedges was high enough for shade, in the other some young chestnut trees were growing up.  After some distance the left half of the Road was rough and had a ditch along it; then a tiny stream flowed across, and the way lost its left hedge and went slightly raised between wheat & oats, poppy & tall, pale scabious.  After that I had clover & bird’s-foot trefoil & bedstraw & rest-harrow underfoot – corn on the left as far as Elms in masses, and behind these the Chilterns –corn on the right & ridges of Elms beyond.  Then another Rillet traversed the Road and cooled the feet.  In places the grass was very long.  Crossing the road to Kingston Blount the way was more used and rougher; as before it had corn on both hands – barley & oats speckled like a partridge. Then a 3 Rillet and then wheat, barley, oats, & beans in turn; on the other side of the way Wych-elms. There were always Elms, and here and there a Farm under them, beyond the corn on the left.  

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Chinnor Lower Icknield Way (Southside) No.s 20 & 22 Longthatch House, now 2 Dwellings. 18thC. Painted Stone uncoursed rubble to left; render, probably on Timber-framing to Right; Thatch Roof with Brick Dressings; Brick End Stacks to Left & Right. 2-Storey, 4-window Range. Plank Doors to Left & Right of centre. 2-light Casements to all openings.
Interiors: not inspected.

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Oak Cottage , 5 High Street (East side).
House – Probably mid-17thC with later alterations. Red Brick with random flared Headers in Flemish Bond; large Timber-framing with Brick Infill to 1st-Floor Left; 20thC Plain-Tile Roof (Formerly Thatched); Brick End Stack to Left, 20thC Brick Ridge Stack to Right of Centre. 2-Storey, 3-window Range.  Plank Door to Right with segmental Brick Head. 3-light Casements with Leaded-lights to all Openings, that to Ground-floor Centre has segmental Brick Head; except single-light Leaded Casement to 1st-Floor right. Queen-post Roof Truss to Left return.

Interior not inspected.

Chinnor High Street (East side) No.17 The Limes
. Early 18thC, with later alterations. Red Bick with flared headers in Flemish Bond; old plain-Tile Hipped Roof; Brick Stacks to rear. 2-Storey, 3-window Range. 4-pane horned Sashes to all Openings, those to Ground-floor with Cambered Brick Heads. Flat Brick Band between Ground & 1st Floor.  Dentil Course to Eaves. 4-panel part-glazed Door to Left Return.

Interior: not inspected.

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19 & 19a High Street

Chinnor High Street (East side) No.s 19 & 19a
House, now 2 Dwellings. Probably mid-17thC, with 18thC Brick Front. Red Brick with
flared Headers; old plain-Tile Roof, Hipped to Right, and having cross-Gable to Right; Brick Stacks to rear. Plank Door to left with segmental Brick Head. Plank Door to Left of cross-Wing to Right with segmental Brick Head and Gabled Hood. 3-light wood Casements to all Openings, those to Ground-floor have segmental Brick Heads. Flat Brick Band between Ground & 1st-Floors. Left Return: Timber-framing with Queen-post Roof Truss to Gable end.
Interiors: not inspected.

Two Minor Roads of Local importance were continuations of the Village High Street, which traversed the Common Field and went up into the Hills.  One of these was Closed in 1854; the other, Kidmore Way, was continued as a Bridleway.  Another was the present Road branching off to the West at the ‘Gooseneck‘ from the High Wycombe Road, and skirting the Woodland & Inclosures on the Plateau.  It is shown on Davis’s Map of 1797 Lined by a few Houses on the Hill.  In 1876 it was stated that the Parish’s Roads made of Local Flint were excellent.
OS Map 1881 – Chinnor, Henton, Ilmer, Longwick, Oakley,  Skittle Green
In Modern Times communications were improved by the Building of the Princes Risborough to Watlington Railway Line in 1872, which was taken over by the GWR. in 1884.  There was a Halt a ¼-mile South of Chinnor Village and another at Wainhill.  In 1957 British Railways closed the Line to Passengers.

Click to Enlarge

Richard Davis’s Map Of Oxfordshire 1797
Surveyed by a local man, Richard Davis of Lewknor and published in 1797.  This large Map consists of 16-sheets at an impressively detailed scale of 1:31,680 or 2-ins to 1-mile. No more than 200 Copies were ever made, the evidence is based on all sets of the Map having Manuscript Serial Numbers – this Image is part of No.34.  Very few complete copies survive.  In terms of what the Map shows, a clear break has been made from the Saxton-led Traditional County Map, as here far more detail than previously is featured.  Not only are County & Hundred Boundaries, Rivers & Streams, Towns & Villages, Parks, & Woodland depicted, but here we have Roads, Tracks, Hedges, indeed every Field can be seen, and relief is beautifully represented by the use of hachuresDavis was also Topographer to His Majesty, George III.
Ordinance Survey 1830 1st Series

Map of Chinnor shows the Village in 1797 Built around the 4-sides of a Rectangle about a mile in circuit. There were Cottages & Houses along Lower Icknield Way & the Thame Road, the Church occupied a commanding position above the Village on the Oakley Road (the modern Church Street), and the main concentration of Houses lay in High Street, the Eastern side of the Rectangle. The Gardens & Orchards Inclosed in the Rectangle may once have been a part of the Burgage Plots laid out in the early Middle Ages, when an attempt was made to Found a Town at Chinnor.  Records from the 17thC onwards show that the Land was Freehold & attached to individual Houses.  As late as 1881, though there were a number of scattered Buildings on all sides of the Rectangle, the High Street was still the most built-up Street. At its Southern end were Hill Farm, the Pound & the Stocks.  Farther North lay Upper Farm, the Post Office, a Red-Brick Reading Room (1878), an Independent Chapel (now the Congregational Church) and numerous Tradesmen’s Houses & Cottages.  Where the Street ran into the Lower Icknield Way were Lower Farm, the ‘Red Lion‘, the Unicorn, the Royal Oak Inn, a Smithy, and a Cluster of Houses.  There were few other Buildings on the Lower Icknield Way apart from the new School at the West End.

Laburnum Cottage Chinnor 1910

In the then Thame Road the main Buildings were the Smithy, the ‘Black Boy‘, the Methodist Chapel, another School & the ‘Bird In Hand’ Pub.  Two more of Chinnor‘s many Inns, the ‘Crown‘ & the ‘King’s Head‘, lay South of the Village on Station Road.


The 1959 Village has expanded considerably and there are many new 19th & 20thC Villas & Bungalows, particularly along the Lower Icknield Way and the Road to Oakley.  Many of the older Houses, however, still remain. Although Chinnor was Sacked & Burnt in 1643, and badly damaged by Fire in about 1685, when 108 persons received money from the Churchwardens on account of their Losses, some of the old Houses date from the early 17thC and even from the 16thC.  The ‘Home Hatch‘, for example, (illustrated by the Pub Sign seen above) formerly the ‘Chairmakers’ Arms‘, Public House is of late-16thC date.

16thC Chairmakers Arms

It is a Timber-framed House of 2-Storeys which was re-Fronted in Vitreous & Red Brick in the 18thC.  At the South end, its Roof is hipped & tiled.  It backs upon a Courtyard formed by flanking Out-buildings of Brick & Flint, the Roofs of which are Tiled, Weatherboarded, or Thatched.  The Shop adjoining No.28 High Street is another example of a partly Timber-framed Building.  It has Brick filling; its North Gable-end is Tile-hung, and it has 2 Gabled Dormer windows on the Road Front, but it was considerably altered in the early 19thC.  A small Tradesman’s House at the South-end of High Street, though re-Fronted in the 18thC, also retains a Timber-framed Wing with Brick filling at the back.  The Gable-ends of the house are Tile-hung and it has square central Chimney-stacks.  A group of early Buildings has survived near Hill Farm, at the South-end of the High Street.  There is a small L-Shaped House to the South and a couple of Cottages to the North: all have their upper part of Timber-framing with Brick filling and a Ground Floor of Brick.  There are also a number of other Cottages still standing which have been built of Timber, Plaster & Brick: 2 Thatched ones at the South end of High Street and 2 South-east of the ‘Red Lion‘ are well-preserved examples.

2-Bay Doveleat House on left was demolished for the Development of its Orchard

There was much Building in the 18thC as a consequence of increasing population and much modernisation of old Houses: a fair number of these Houses & Cottages survive.  Chequer-Brick or Brick & Flint were the materials chiefly used.  A Group of attractive Houses mainly of this Period forms No.20 to No.28 High Street: 2 Houses date from the early 18thC and have a Ragstone Plinth & a Cornice of moulded Wood, and 2 (Nos.26 & 28) are late-18thC Tradesmen’s Houses of good proportions. ‘Shop House‘ nearby has a North Front of 2-Bays with wide flanking angular Brick Bays.  Lower Farm, another 2-Storeyed Brick House of this Period, has a central Doorway & Fanlight above.

The Nelson – behind the Scout St George’s Day Parade

My grandmother, Mary Lacey was Landlady of the Nelson Pub probably around the last years of WW2, and/or shortly thereafter. So she was one of the last, given that the Pub closed in 1957. She was born Mary Bass, and was one of 8-children born in Chinnor. My mum had one lasting memory of the Pub that she told me about several times. She hated to Cook, and (candidly) wasn’t very good at it. One night a Patron asked her for Hot Chocolate. She made it (not sure if they had instant in those days!) and was told that she was a “Bonnie Wee Cook”! She never forgot it. My granddad, Geoff Lacey caught regular Flak from Gran until his dying day because during their Tenure he spent most of his time playing Dominoes, and was definitely not Landlord material in her opinion. – Linda Russell (July 2014)

The Old Nelson Pub High Street (closed c.1956)

The Last Landlords of this Pub were Gwen & Des Ginger my Mum & Dad. They were there from about 1953 to 1956, when it was sold as a house. My Grandparents lived over the Road in the High Street. Their name was Bass, and they were Uncle & Aunt to Mary Lacey, who were the Landlords before Mum & Dad, when the Laceys moved to Gillingham in Kent.
Deborah Luker (August 2019).

The Nelson was situated on the High Street. This Pub closed in the 1957s and sold as a complete package for about £1,000 and is now used as a Private House called ‘The Old Nelson‘.

Russell’s Close dates from the late 18thC.  It is built of Chequered Brick, has a hipped Roof covered in old Tiles & off-set Eaves. The Central Bay of its 3-Bay Front projects slightly and its central Doorway has an arched & radiating Fanlight under a Lattice Porch of Cast Iron with a Convex Roof.

The Crown & The Kings Head Station Road Chinnor c.1910

The 4-Flint Cottages opposite are of the same Period and so is Upper Farm with its Stone Doric Porch of 2 Columns & Entablature. The panels of its tall 6-panelled central door have elaborate double Mouldings and the rectangular Fanlight has a glazing pattern of interlaced Curves & Diamonds. Two of the Public Houses, the ‘Red Lion‘ at the North end of the High Street and the ‘Crown‘ at the Southern end of the Village on the Station Road, are 18thC Houses built of Brick.  The Manorial Courts used to be held at the ‘Crown‘ in the mid-18thC.

The White Shop is Ling’s Drapery & the Unicorn Pub is beyond, Elderdene House was pulled down – its Orchard was developed
The Unicorn Public House
Lower Road Chinnor

By the end of the Napoleonic War (1815) the Population had outgrown the Village and there was considerable Building activity.  The Congregational Church, a good example, dates from this Period.  It is Stonefaced, has wide Eaves, Round-headed windows, and a Graveyard separated from the Street by low Iron Railings.  A new Rectory was also Built.  The old one had been a distinguished Building and was memorable for having Housed for many years Isaac Newton’s Library, which had been bought by ‘Clink’ Prison Warden John Huggins, and sent to his son, Charles then Rector of Chinnor.  The House had been Built by Nathaniel Giles (Rector 1628–c.1644) with the advice, Hearne says, of his friend John Hampden.  In the late 17thC it comprised 22-Rooms, Outhouses, a Brick-walled Garden, a Kitchen Garden, Orchard, Barns, 2-Stables, and a large Courtyard with a Building on the South called the ‘Banqueting House’.  Robert Plot listed it among the Great Houses of Oxfordshire and described it as little inferior to the ‘structures of the minor Nobility’ in ‘greatness, commodiousness, or elegance of building’.   On the other hand, in the early 18thC the Rector of Waterstock declared that notwithstanding its ‘Strange Largeness’, it was the ‘most ill-contrived Parsonage House in England’.  It suffered during the Civil War, and in spite of over £100 worth of repairs was still in a dilapidated condition in 1670.  By 1688, however, the Rector considered it suitable for the Bishop’s Residence.  In 1811, after years of non-Residence by the Rectors, some £1,200 was spent on repairs, but in 1815 it was Demolished.  The new Rectory was built in High Street by Richard Pace of Lechlade.  It is a 2-Storeyed House with a hipped slate Roof & flat Eaves. The South-west front & entrance were altered in the 19thC.
When Isaac Newton died in 1727, he left behind a large Library of over 1700 Books.  The Library was 1st sold to John Huggins, an infamous Clink Prison Warden, who bought it for the behest of his son Charles who had recently become a Parish Priest and whom father John thought needed a decent Library. Unfortunately, as Charles must have soon found out, Newton’s Library was rather unfit for a proper Church of England Priest: not only did it contain many Books on Physics & Mathematics that Charles would have found incomprehensible, and a suspiciously large amount of Alchemical Titles (over 150 in total), the almost 500 Theological Books contained an interesting number of Heterodox Works that were openly anti-Trinitarian.  So far for pious Hero of Church & State Isaac Newton.  After Charles Huggins’s death, the Library was sold to the new Rector James Musgrave, who made a comprehensive list of all the Books he had received and added Shelfmarks to the Books themselves as well as his Bookplate, which he often pasted over Huggins’ Bookplate.  A later Dr James Musgrave, nephew of the former, re-catalogued the Library when it moves to Barnsley Park (Glos) – in the possession of the Wykeham-Musgraves of Thame Park) and added a 2nd System of Shelfmarks to the Books. Things went downhill in the 1920s, when the Library was Auctioned off piecemeal.  In 1919, the Wykeham-Musgraves could no longer support 2 Family Seats, and the Land at Thame Park had already been rented out.  An Auction of the contents of Thame Park House was held, and part of the Newton Collection of Books, by no means the larger part, was brought from Barnsley Park to Thame Park to be Auctioned off with the rest of the Domestic Contents.  Amazingly, as de Villamil reports, the fact that the Books were from the original Collection of Sir Isaac Newton was Lost on the Wykeham-MusgravesDr James Musgrave’s Will of 1778 had not mentioned the Newton connection with the Books.

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Chinnor Lower Road (North side)  Nos.57 & 57a Thameside  House & attached Barn

House, now Offices.  Late 17thC to right, now forming subsidiary Wing to early 19thC House to Left, and having 18thC cross-Wing to rear.  Roughcast, probably on Brick; old plain-Tile Roof to Right; Slate Roof to Left. 2-Storey, 2-window Range to Left; 2-window Range of Single-Storey & Attic to Right.  6-panel Door to Right of early 19thC House, having Overlight & 19thC wrought-Iron Porch.  Tripartite unhorned Sashes to 1st-Floor. 2 late 20thC Casements with Leaded lights to Ground-floor of late 17thC portion.  Raking Dormer with 3-light Casement having leaded lights. Right return: large Timber-framing with Brick infill.
Interior: not inspected. Early 18thC cross-Wing to Rear of Red Brick with flared Headers in Flemish bond; old plain-Tile Roof. 2-Storey, 2-window Range. Attached low Barn to end of subsidiary cross-Wing.

Chinnor Lower Road Southside No.35 Lower Farmhouse
. Probably early-18thC, late-18thC addition to left. Rendered plinth; old plain-Tile Roof, half-Hipped to Left; rendered Brick End Stack to Right, Ridge Stack to Left of Centre. 2-Storey, 3-window Range. 4-panel Door to Right of Centre, with Overlight & Gabled Hood. 12-pane unhorned Sashes to Centre & Right. 3-light Casement to Left.  Flat Brick band between Ground & 1st-Floors to Centre & Right. 12-pane unhorned Sashes to 1st-Floor Centre & Right.  16-Pane unhorned Sash to 1st-Floor Left.

Interior not inspected. Included for group value.

Red Lion with its Pudding Like Mounting Stone (now under the Pavement) by its Sign
Doveleat House with 2-Bay Front was demolished and the Orchard developed

The Red Lion Public House – Late 17thC, with later alterations. Red Brick with random flared headers in Flemish Bond; 20thC plain-Tile Roof, Hipped to Left; Brick End Stack to Right, Ridge Stack to Left, and to Right of Centre.  2-Storey, 4-window Range.  Sash Door to left of Centre.  20thC Metal 3-light Casements to Ground-floor, except 19thC 2-light Casement to Left. Flat Brick Band between Ground & 1st-Floors, except to Left.  19thC 3-light Casements to 1st-Floor, blind Panel to 1st-Floor Left.
Interior: chamfered Beams to Ground-floor; open Fireplace to Ground-floor Right.

The Expansion of the Village was probably at its greatest about 1851 when there were 274-Houses, and there was a contraction in the 2nd-half of the Century.  Neat groups of 19thC Tradesmen’s Houses survive: they are built in Gothic style of Red Brick with Yellow Brick Dressings and have Gabled Attics & Slate Roofs. The establishment of the Chinnor Cement Works led to renewed expansion in the 20thC and by 1957 Houses had been Built along the Icknield Way, Thame Road & Church Street, and outside the original Rectangle, particularly on the Oakley Road, where an almost continuous Ribbon of Bungalows & detached Villas now connects Chinnor with its Hamlet.  There are Council Houses at Chinnor Grove.

Upper High Street c.1910 looking South

Of the Hamlets, Oakley has now become an extension of Chinnor, and its large Modern Store gives it a suburban appearance.  A group of 16th & 17thC houses, however, remains near the 19thC ‘Wheatsheaf Pub.  The lower part of one is constructed of Flint with Brick dressings, while the 2nd-Storey is Timber-framed with Brick Filling.  The Roof is Thatched & the North-west Front has a large spreading Chimney with Steps.  Another rather earlier Cottage is built of similar materials, but is of 1-Storey and has hipped Dormer windows. The oldest Cottage, a 16thC one of 2-Storeys, is all Timber-framed with Brick filling and its Thatched Roof is half-hipped.  It has a central Chimney with squared Shafts.

Upper High Street & West Down Looking South c.1910
Almost the last of Red Lane’s Pubs on Chinnor Hill, the ‘Pheasant‘, was closed in 1955 now Pheasant Cottage

 OS Map1899 Sth Oxon XLII.9 (Henton)
On the summit of Chinnor Hill, a northern spur of the Chilterns 800-ft. in Altitude, and rising 300-ft from the Icknield Way which runs at its Northern Base, a pair of twin Barrows enclosed in one Ditch, 200-ft circumference and 6-ft high respectively. Another on Hill Summit in Chinnor Wood, 175-ft  circumference & 4-ft high

Robert Plot ‘s Illustrator’s Map of Oxfordshire 1676

Chinnor & Henton Parish Plan
Chinnor suffered much from the Civil War.  In 1642 Essex had 500 Mounted Musketeers & some Troops of Horse Stationed there, preparatory to Launching an Attack on the Royalist Forces either at Brill or Oxford.  In 1643 when Sir Samuel Luke’s Troops were in the Village they were disastrously Defeated by one of Prince Rupert’s sudden Sallies from Oxford in the early morning of 18th June.  The Royalists set Fire to the Village and later in the same year a Royal Emissary was sent to Chinnor to collect Taxes.  According to Luke, he took the ‘clothes & linen‘ of those who did not Contribute.  Some of these incidents have been treated in 2-minor Historical Novels, Fairleigh Hall (1883) by the Rev Augustus David Crake & To Right the Wrong (1892) by Ada Ellen Bayly (‘Edna Lyall’).


The Parish has been associated with some Noteworthy men.  In the Middle Ages the Knightly Families of Malyns & Sapey were Residents and the Rectory was often occupied by men of more than average Ability.  One of them, Nathaniel Giles, was the Royalist friend of John Hampden, whom he attended at his Deathbed after the Battle of Chalgrove Field.


No Mill is recorded in Domesday, but Chinnor Manor had a Mill, which had been transferred to Henton Manor by 1279 and in 1336 a Windmill belonging to the Ferrers Manor was recorded.  By 1289 Henton also had a Windmill and so had Wainhill.  The Wainhill Mill is 1st recorded in the early 13thC when Master Adam de Chinnor owned it.  About 1270 the Millers were William and his son Henry, and by 1295 Henry was Miller and in a position to make a Grant of 2- Messuages.  Competition from this Mill or the Henton Windmill may have led to the decay of the Henton Watermill, for although half a Watermill was conveyed with half the Henton Manor in about 1290, by 1303 there was no Mill.  In that year the Lord Leased the void Plot of Ground on which it had stood to the Miller John le Romayn.  He was to rebuild the Mill & House at his own Expense, Timber being provided, and after the 1st 2-yrs, he was to pay a Rent of 20s a year.  The Mill was probably working in 1425, but by 1468 it was described as a Ruin.

Chinnor Post Mill

This large Post Mill was built in 1789.  It was reputedly moved from Chatham, Kent.  It had a Brick Roundhouse hiding a 6-Quarter-bar Trestle Support Base.  The Mill had Patent Sails, Ladder & Fantail and was in working order up to 1938.  The Mill was dismantled in 1960.  It is now being fully restored.

Towards the end of the 19thC, Businesses were opened which provided a comparatively large amount of non-Agricultural Employment.  Spencer Jackson, Engineer & Iron & Brass Founder, was Operating before 1887, and Siareys, Sawmill & Timber Merchants, by 1903.  This last Firm was still thriving in 1957.

Brenda Bridgeman (née Siarey) had an old black & white Film of Woodland Work in 1942-43, featuring the Siarey Family Sawmill in Chinnor, Oxon.

The Sawmill was on Station Road in Chinnor (hence Timber Way). Nearly all the Buildings are now gone and the area has been redeveloped, but both the Chilterns Conservation Board & the Chiltern Woodlands Project are now based in the old Sawmill Office.

The original Film ran to about 12-mins. It has been edited into 5 short Clips from 1942 which show the hard Manual Labour needed to fell & extract Timber & convert it at the Sawmill into Planks.

Siarey’s had ceased to use Rail Freight by the beginning of 1961 and in the early 1970s the Station Building at Chinnor was demolished & the Platform broken up.

A Jam Factory had been Established by 1920.  Modern Technical Developments led to new Enterprises such as the 3 Motor-Engineering Works and an Electrical Engineer’s Shop.  Another Business, S T Good & Co, Joiners, was established by 1939.

Photograph of cement works in Chinnor, Oxfordshire [c.1930s-1980s] by John Piper 1903-1992

Chinnor Cement Works with Lime Kilns in the Background
These Businesses have been largely responsible for the rise in Chinnor’s Population in recent times.  An analysis of the Registers indicates that a definite increase had begun as early as the 2nd half of the 17thC, and the 262 Adults recorded in the Compton Census of 1676 suggest that Chinnor may already have been an Overpopulated Parish and so suffering from a scarcity of Land.  On the other hand, for the 1662 Hearth Tax only 42 householders were listed for Chinnor & 16 for Henton, a total of 58, and in 1665 this figure had dropped to 32 including 2 discharged on grounds of Poverty in Chinnor & 12 in Henton.  It is difficult to reconcile these figures with those of the Compton Census unless either Tax evasion on a large scale, perhaps because of real inability to meet the Tax, or the existence of many householders who were so Poor that they did not come within the scope of the Tax, is postulated.  Both conditions, of course, may have been present.  The 18thC Returns by the Rectors record a great increase in the number of houses & families: there were said to be 80 in 1738 & 160 in 1768.  The 1st Figure, owing to the scattered nature of the Settlements in the Parish, is probably inaccurate, but unusually careful Returns were made by James Musgrave.  He noted in his account book (1751–59) that there were 159 families: 94 at Chinnor, 22 at Henton, 18 at Oakley, 6 at Wainhill, and 19 ‘upon the Hill‘, at Redland End, Sunley Bank & Sprigg’s Alley.  In 1771 he reported a further increase to 174, of which 111 were at Chinnor.  His figures for the outlying houses on the Ridge seem incomplete: he specifies 6 ‘upon the Hill‘ and 8 at Sprigg’s Alley, a total of 14 and omits Redland End & Sunley Bank mentioned in his previous Estimate.  By 1801 the Official Census Figure was 862.

The Parish experienced the usual 19thC rapid increase: Population rose from 862 in 1801 to 1,308 in 1841, and the rise is reflected in an increase in House-building.  There was a temporary drop in the next decade, for which the outbreak of pestilential Fever in 1840 to 1841 was in part responsible.  After the peak figure of 1,379 had been reached in 1871 there was a fall to 1,002 but the addition of Emmington to the Parish caused an increase to 1,162 in 1931, and numbers have been rising since.  At the Census of 1951, there were 1,467 persons.

Parish Government
In the absence of Parish Records little can be said about this subject. Manorial Courts met down to the 18thC, though infrequently; in 1740 & 1761, for example, only 2 Meetings were Recorded.  Some miscellaneous information has survived which illustrates the growing problem of Poor Relief.  The Rectors in their Visitation Returns occasionally made definite reference to Poverty & Overcrowding: from 1759 to 1811 they reported fewer houses than Families.  Houses were consequently divided into Tenements or Cottages, and several people, contrary to the Regulations of the Manor, built ‘Hovels‘ on the Waste.  The Poor Rate rose rapidly after 1756: the Rector’s contribution for a half-year in 1756 was £13-6s-2d; in 1759 it was £18-10s-6d.  The high cost of Poor Relief and the increasing Population perhaps accounted for some decrease in Private Charity: Rector Charles Huggins had given 60-Poor People a 6d Loaf every St Thomas’s Day, (21st December) but Dr Musgrave ceased to do so.  The old Custom, however, that every Poor Family could have a Sheaf of Wheat at the Harvest if it asked the Tithingman for it on the Field was allowed to go on.  A Petition, signed by the Rector (1750–78), the Parish Officers & 13 Leading Husbandmen, asking that the Licence of the Chequers Alehouse should not be renewed illustrates another aspect of the problem: it stated not only that the House was one of ill-Fame, but that it served the purpose of introducing Strangers to the Parish; the Strangers were charged such exorbitant Rents that they were likely to become a Burden on the Rates; Parish Rates were so enlarged that unless they were reduced ‘many industrious & regular Husbandmen with large families must necessarily sink under their Weight‘. The ‘multitude‘ of existing Alehouses was in any case ‘a check to Industry & Good Order‘.  By 1776 the problem of the Poor had become all-important.  The Parish spent £461 on Relief in that year-double the sum paid by Aston Rowant. In the following years, the Chinnor Poor Rate continued abnormally high.  Arthur Young gave the Country average rate as 4s to 4s-6d in the £1, round about 1800, while the Chinnor Rate was normally 7s to 9s & reached as high as 12s to 14s.  In 1803 there were 63 ‘Poor‘ Adults & 57 ‘Poor‘ Children in the Parish.  It was also reported that 54-Children were learning Lacemaking & Sewing, the 1st always an indication of Poverty as their Labour was exploited to Supplement the Family’s earnings.  Low Agricultural Wages & Unemployment accounted for the continuance of the Industry though on a decreasing scale into the 20thC. Labourers’ Wives & 86 children were among the 268 Lacemakers recorded in 1851.

Information about Education at Chinnor at an early date is scarce, but a Schoolmaster, Christopher Chapman, is mentioned in 1700.  Later in the Century, in 1738, the Rector was paying for children to be taught reading & the Catechism, and by the 2nd half of the Century the Nonconformists had become active in the Parish: the Methodist Preacher Eustace had opened a small School by 1768, and here in 1808 30 to 40 boys were taught reading, writing & accounts, each boy paying 6d a week.  The Private Schoolmaster, Joseph Paul, who built the Congregational Chapel in 1805, may have taught here.  The Rector reported in 1808 that every child in the Parish was sent to school and paid for his own Schooling.  He added that he had had to close the 2 Sunday Schools started in 1794; the Parents did not wish their children to attend, because they were confined to School all the rest of the week.  However, a Church of England Sunday School was established in 1811 and it continued for over 40-yrs.

In 1815 there were 4 Nonconformist Schools, one of which was a Boarding School; and there were 3 Lacemaking Schools for girls, where a few young boys also were taught to read.  There had been as early as 1803 a School of Industry (Workhouse) where 41 children were taught Lacemaking & Sewing.  In spite of these numerous small Fee-paying Schools, there was no adequate provision for the Education of Poor children and the Incumbent was pessimistic about his chances of establishing a Church School; the Farmers, who were all Rack-renters, would not pay for one, and the Poor were unwilling to send their children to School and forgo the money earned by them.

In 1818 2 Boys’ Schools were officially recorded and a 3rd was opened in 1830.  By 1833 there were 50 Pupils in this last School, and there were 2 other Schools for 56 girls. All the children were paid for by their Parents.  Mrs Rebecca Mason is known to have had a ‘Ladies Seminary‘ in 1854, but no record has been found of any other Private School.

By 1841 a British School had been opened by James Rutherford, the Congregational Minister (1841–4).  In 1885 a new building was erected next to the Chapel and 115 children were attending this School in 1890.  In 1893 £62 was raised for adding Classrooms for Infants, but the School was closed at the end of the year.

Work on a Church of England School was eventually begun in 1857.  Magdalen College had voted £100 for a Building in 1848 and it voted another £115 in 1859.  The New School was built at a cost of £800 from designs by G E Street; Funds were also provided by John Fletcher, Landlord of the Crown Inn.  The School was opened in 1860,  it had 115 Pupils in 1887, and was enlarged to hold 260 in 1892, Magdalen College contributing £100 towards the cost.  The School became Controlled in 1948 & in 1954 it had 264 Pupils, many children coming by Bus from other Villages.  It was attended by children of all ages until the new Secondary Modern School should be completed at Thame.


In 1665 Bishop Paul, Rector of Chinnor, left £10 for Land to benefit 8 Poor persons chosen by the Rector at the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul (25th January).  By Will proved in 1672 Mary Swaine of Chinnor left £5, the income from which was to be distributed every year in sixpences to 12 of the Poorest people at the Font of Chinnor Church; she also left £5 towards the upkeep of the Church.  Several years later the £10 was spent on Church Plate, but the Churchwardens promised to continue to distribute the Charity on Lady Day (25th March).  A 3rd Charity was founded by Richard Munday the elder, a Yeoman of Henton, who in his Will made in 1683 left £100 to the Parish Officers, especially for use in binding Poor Children out as Apprentices.

No later Record has been found of the 1st Charity, but the other 2 were distributed during the 18thC until at least 1771.  No later mention has been found of them, and in 1811 it was stated that some Benefactions, presumably the above, had been expended many years ago on Cottages for the Poor.

By an Award of 1850 of the Inclosure Commissioners, 9 acres were assigned to the Churchwardens as Allotments for the Poor.  A Rent-charge of £13-10s issuing out of this was Purchased in 1927 by the War Memorial Committee.

Reproduced from VCH Oxfordshire XVIII (2016), available Online at

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