Cropredy Village

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The history of Cropredy village

The village of Cropredy, on the River Cherwell, has its roots in Anglo-Saxon times and its name is thought to be derived from the Old English word "croppe" - meaning hill and "ridig" - small stream. The village and its manor were mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) and before the Reformation it was part of the estate held by the Bishop of Lincoln.

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin dominates the village and dates from the 13th Century with additions in the 14th and 15th centuries. There is however evidence of an earlier Church on the same site. The South Chapel is dedicated to St. Fremund who according to legend was the son of Offa of Mercia.

The church and the manor were originally governed by authorities at Lincoln Cathedral, with administration being conducted from a manor house in 'Church Street' (now known as Red Lion Street). 

By 1109 about a fifth of the parish had been let as a separate manor with a second manor house on the 'Long Causeway' (now known as Station Road).  In 1524 this manor was conveyed to Brasenose College in Oxford to support the construction and maintenance of their new college.

The Public House in the centre of the village still bears the name 'Brasenose Arms' and was originally 3 copyhold cottages, one of which was used as a forge in 1572. Cropredy's other Public House, 'The Red Lion' retains its thatched roof and also has a long history. It has been passed down through the same family from the time of the Civil War to the 1900's.

Originally the village was mainly a farming community but following the Enclosure Act in 1775 most farmers built new houses outside the village.  Their empty properties were converted for use by a variety of local trades people. Red Lion Street contains some of the earliest remaining houses built originally of timber and thatch, with stone walls added later. In this street lived tailors, saddlers, coal merchants, masons, carpenters and cordwainers (shoemakers).

The picturesque Oxford Canal and the River Cherwell run in parallel on the south east border of the village. The Canal opened in 1790 and there is evidence of a former coal wharf, corn granary and brickworks, all of which used barges to transport their goods. The Toll Office still stands by the narrow section of the canal where an oak beam was lowered until the tonnage had been established and the tolls paid. There were stables behind the Red Lion public house where the barge horses were fed, watered and rested overnight. Today the Canal is mainly used for tourism with pleasure narrow boats to be seen all year round. The recent construction of a marina to the north of Cropredy has enhanced Cropredy's reputation as a canal-side village.

The (former) Great Western Railway runs on the north western side of the village and in 1852 a station was opened for the use of both passengers and freight. A busy goods siding and yard was used for handling a variety of supplies for coal merchants, Cropredy mill, local farmers, builders and other tradesmen. In the 1930's the return fare to Banbury was sixpence!  However, with the increase in road transport, the passenger service ceased first, followed by the freight service when British Railways closed the station in 1956.

The former village Post Office used to be a Methodist Chapel. It was replaced by the adjacent Chapel and Schoolroom which was constructed by village mason Thomas Cherry. Amazingly the foundation stone was laid on the 18th April 1881 and the chapel was officially opened on the 26th August 1881.  

The remains of a medieval preaching cross can be seen near to the Village Green. This is now very much weathered and is known locally as the 'Cup and Saucer' which it resembles.

Cropredy is perhaps most well known for two outstanding events - one Ancient and one Modern.  During the Civil War, on the 29th June 1644, the riverside site was the venue for what became known as 'The Battle of Cropredy Bridge'. Here the Royalists under King Charles put the Roundhead army, led by General Waller, to flight although general opinion has always held that the 'result' proved indecisive. Go HERE for a short account of the action. In recent times there have been two re-enactments staged by the Sealed Knot Society and village residents - both highly successful events. The Battlefields Trust have provided an 'interpretation panel' describing and showing the general features of the Battle. It is situated on the grass verge adjacent to the footpath by the river bridge, (see below).

In 1976 Fairport Convention were invited to play at the village fete which was being held that year at Prescote Manor, the home of the late Richard Crossman MP and the late Mrs Anne Crossman, a short distance from Cropredy Lock.  Several hundred people attended and the Cropredy Music Festival as it has come to be known was born. Today over 20,000 fans flock annually in early August for the three day event, now held on a large site close to the Sports Field. The village naturally benefits financially and residents go out of their way to welcome those attending, whether camping and staying over or just present for the day. Many organisations provide al fresco breakfasts and the Scouts do a marvelous job preparing for the Festival and cleaning up afterwards. Since 2005 the Festival has been under new management and is now renamed 'Fairport's Cropredy Convention' 

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Cropredy is rare among villages in that it still retains its Curfew. The following extract from 'The Town of Cropredy 1570-1640' by Pamela Keegan explains why the custom has continued:  Time keeping was difficult when no-one had clocks. At first they relied on the scratch dial which was hopeless on cloudy days. When Roger Lupton was the priest (1487-1528) he lost his way returning from Chacombe in a fog and only the sound of the Cropredy Bell tolling helped him to reach home safely.

In gratitude he made an Indenture on the 26th of August 1512 in which he placed £6-13s-4d in the care of the Cropredy and Bourton Churchwardens to be invested in land which was to pay one person to daily wind up the faceless clock. He was also to ring the bell daily both in winter and summer at four in the morning the "grettest or myddell bell by the space of a quarter of an houre and toll daily the Aves bell at six in the morning, at twelve noon and at four in the afternoon, and to toll in winter at seven in the night three tolls and immediately after the tolling to ring the curfew between eight and nine at night". Failure to get this seen to would mean the Churchwardens had to forfeit 6s-8d to the vicar every month the curfew was left unrung.  Nowadays we ring the curfew by tolling the Tenor Bell (the biggest) for five minutes after the clock has struck eight on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. We are sure that everyone, including the bellringers, is grateful that we don't have to do as much ringing as in the early 1500s, especially that 4.00am bell which was rung for fifteen minutes!

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