History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
You would think that the reason for the village name is obvious, given the impressive church and its location on a hilltop, visible for miles around. You'd be wrong. The first part of the name comes from Old English 'cyrc', which loosely translates as barrow, burial ground, or hill. There are barrow mounds in the area of the village, so it would seem that there was a settlement here in pre-Roman times. An alternative linguistic theory is that the name is simply a combination of the Old English and Saxon terms for hill, giving us 'hill hill'. Churchill was mentioned in the Domesday Book.
The history of Churchill changed dramatically on 30 July 1684, when a devastating fire swept through the village. Twenty timber houses burned down and four people died. Blame for the fire fell on a baker who was trying to avoid the chimney tax. The old village site was abandoned and the village moved to the crown of the hill. When the villagers rebuilt their homes, it was in stone rather than timber - a case of wisdom in hindsight! All that remains of the old church at Churchill is the chancel, which now serves as the Churchill and Sarsden Heritage Centre.
William Smith, the 'Father of English Geology', was born in Churchill in 1787. Smith was the first to create a geological map of the entire country. A memorial to Smith, erected in 1891, is at the top of Hastings Hill. The memorial is made of stones found in nearby Sarsgrove Wood.
Another native of Churchill was Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of India and an associate of Clive of India. A commemorative tablet marks the house on Hastings Hill where he was born.
I've driven through Churchill more times than I can recall, and, honestly, every time I see the dominating tower looming into view I feel my heart lift, and I think, 'I could live here'. The church dominates the village like no other place I can recall. The combination of the ornate tower, the lovely Cotswold stone cottages, and the picture-postcard pub across the road is one of the most idyllic sights in the Cotswolds.
Address: B4450, Churchill, Cotswolds, Oxfordshire, England
Attraction Type: Village
Location: On the B4450 south west of Chipping Norton
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Chipping Norton, St Mary's Church - 2.4 miles (Historic Church)
Bledington, St Leonards - 2.8 miles (Historic Church)
Adlestrop, St Mary Magdalene - 2.9 miles (Historic Church)
Lower Oddington, St Nicholas Church - 3.1 miles (Historic Church)
Chadlington, St Nicholas Church - 3.4 miles (Historic Church)
Little Rollright, St Philip - 3.5 miles (Historic Church)
Chastleton House - 3.7 miles (Historic House)
Shorthampton, All Saints - 3.9 miles (Historic Church)
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