Chinnor and the Doomsday book

Chinnor was a settlement recorded in in Domesday Book in the hundred of Lewknor in the county of Oxfordshire.

The Domesday Book was commissioned by King William 1 and was a detailed survey of land holdings and resources in England in 1086. Chinnor was in the largest 40% of settlements recorded in Domesday. Then Chinnor was a village of 32 households, (26 villagers, 2 small holders and 4 slaves), with an annual value of £10 and taxable value 13 geld units, very large. Our Lord in 1066 and 1086 was Leofwin of Nuneham and he was designated Tenant-in-Chief in 1086.

Ploughland: 11 ploughlands, 2 lords plough teams, 8 men’s plough teams.  Also 20 acres of meadow and 5 x 3 furlongs of woodland.

Folio from open Domesday.

A good story begins

Once upon a time - that is how all nice stories start, but this story of mine starts at the precise time of 1890

There was a quiet sleepy little village nestling at the foot of the Chilterns, with a population of round about 800 people who quietly went on with their daily round of tasks.

There seemed to be no definite squire as in some parishes.  The big house, almost centrally situated was occupied by a family named North, and descendants of that family still own the house. The centre of activity was around the  church and the rectory.  From kitchens of the rectory poor family menus were daily supplemented by soup, stews, custards and milk puddings.  No needy person was turned away without help. At the time Reverend Howman was the rector, and the staff employed to minister to the household needs of the Rev. and Mrs. Howman an their daughter, were a cook, a parlour maid, a gardener, and an odd job man, whose duties included tending the cow that was kept in the grounds.  My own mother was a cook at the rectory receiving the magnificent salary of £12. per year.  What a bold venture to take on the duties of a wife, with a husband earning ten shillings a week, with sometimes a few 'perks' such as vegetables from the garden, mil, an wood.  The first cottage my parents rented was rented to them for 9d per week, and despite what must have been a struggling life, my mother reached the ripe old age of 92.

The full article reproduced from the Chinnor Guide some years ago can be found in the document library below

Mysteries buried in the hills

It would be easy just to take for granted the Chiltern Hills above Chinnor, but they still contain a host of ancient, hidden features tucked away out of sight. These range from the remains of Neolithic barrows located on, or close to, the ridge, to sunken ways, old chalk pits, the old Westdown Steps and artefacts like Bledlow Cross lower down the slope. Read more on the mysteries buried in the hills from the document library

Sarsen stones

Several sarsen stones have been identified in Chinnor although not all of them are still in place or visible. It seems that they were originally located on the four corners of the original village rectangle ie by the Red Lion the Crown, lower Icknield way and lower road.

They were widespread, and used as marker stones along road side verges.

When the words ‘sarsen stones’ are mentioned, people tend to think, initially, of Stone Henge and the circle of upright stones.  However, these stones are found in a number of locations in southern England particularly Wiltshire, but have been found as far away as Ireland, Wales and Brittany.  They are made up of sand sized quart grains and are cemented together by interlocking mosaic o quartz crystals and are from the Palaeocene era. It is a dense hard rock many times harder than granite and very durable and used for building. They were seen s the supreme gift of mother earth and the ancients believed that the stones were alive taking a breath every 100 years or so.

From the Middle Ages the word sarsen from the word Saracen meaning anything non-Christian or strange: another interpretation suggests the meaning is a ‘troublesome stone’.  Sarsen stones were seen as stones of timing and endurance providing a solid energy and grounding effect during meditation. The stone gives a protective vibration and encourages resistance to things which no longer serve us. They were also gifted with powers of balance, clarity and energy promoting health and spiritual wellbeing.

Chinnor known as......

The place with the cement works, isn’t it? Is the usual comment of non-residents hearing the name of our village?  If they spare us that, and we are not ashamed of our cement works, after all the Romans worked the chalk, on the same site, they go on to inform us that we ar an ‘exploded’ village, a ramshackle affair of building estates, unplanned confusions of ‘cul de sacs’, Groves, Drives and Druids Walks, and there is no future for us.  But all these people could be wrong.  We have had a glorious past in Chinnor, if not a particularly great one.  We might well have a considerable future.

An excerpt from Kevin FitzGerald's article first published in December 1983 in the then Chinnor Review.  You can read the full article in the document library below.

Many things have changed since the article was written including the demise of the Rugby Cement Works, the area is now a small housing estate known as Old Kiln Lakes.  The quarries, or lakes remain and the area is a nature reserve visited by many to watch the birds and wildlife of the area.

Sir Isaac Newton

The famous library of Sir Isaac Newton, was, unbeknown to many, in the Rectory of Chinnor.  How it arrived there appears to be a bit of a mystery.  Read more about Sir Isaac Newton's Library from the document library below.