Welcome to Kidlington & District Historical Society
The village of Kidlington is four and a half miles north of Oxford City and four miles from Woodstock and Blenheim Palace. It lies between the River Cherwell on the east and the Oxford Canal on the west. Until the enclosures of 1818 the southern part of the parish consisted of a large area of common land and the village was known as Kidlington-on-the-Green. Many of the older houses faced onto this green. There was also a `Town Green’ running along much of the present Mill Street.
Compared with a population of 1,300 in 1901, Kidlington and adjoining Gosford’s population is now 17,500. Until this century Kidlington was very much a rural community but in 1928 land along the main trunk road through the village was sold for housing and just prior to World War 11, building of the Garden City estate was started in the south of the parish. Since 1945 many other estates have been built and although proud to remain a village, cottages in the centre of the village have given way to shops and offices.
However, the village has a long history going back before Roman times when it was recorded that the parish was crossed throughout its whole length by a road known as the `Portway’. Historians and old maps have shown a Roman road entering the parish by a ford at Hampton Poyle, continuing down the present Church Street and then crossing the `Crofts’, an area now bounded by Evans Lane, Mill Street, Brasenose Drive, Green Road and the footpath from Green Road to Gosford Turn. It then ran along the Oxford Road into Oxford where it was known as `Portstrete’. However, although some finds of Roman pottery and coins have been found in the vicinity and a Roman well discovered near the church in 1840, a report published in 1999 by Eberhard Sauer based on excavations by the Oxford Universiy suggests that the Roman road from Oxford continued through Kidlington following the modern Oxford/Banbury Roads before joining Akeman Street and not crossing the River Cherwell at Kidlington.
The Domesday Survey of 1086 included an entry for `Chedelintone’. The mill was recorded as valued at 30 shillings and land in the parish is recorded as `meadow 3 furlongs in length and 2 wide; pasture 4 furlongs in length and 3 wide; woodland 3 furlongs in length and 3 wide’.
The fine parish church of St.Mary the Virgin dates from 1220 and is known for its fine medieval glass and ancient woodwork. The slender spire, known as `Our lady’s Needle’ is a well-loved landmark. The tower contains a fine peal of eight bells. However, this was not the first church in the parish. We know that an older church existed in 1074 when William the Conqueror instructed Robert D’Oiley, one of his knights, to build a castle in Oxford and within it to erect a chapel dedicated to St.George and to establish a fraternity of secular priests. To this chapel of St.George was awarded six churches, including Kidlington. This early church probably consisted of a nave with an apse at the east end. Whether it was built of wood or stone, we do not know, but no masonry seems to be included in the present church.
Behind the church is an area of archaeological interest. The site was once surrounded by a three-sided moat. Two sides still remain and recently remains of a causeway have been found passing through the site. Three fields here were known as Upper, Middle and Lower Bury, indicating the possible existence of the fortified site or a manor house. When the churchyard was extended in the 1970s, pieces of pottery and roofing tile were noted among the spoil heaps. Was this the original site of the village?