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The Green Bledington.jpg
The green at Bledington
Grid reference: SP247226
Location: 51°54’11"N, 1°38’48"W
Population: 506  (2011)
Post town: Chipping Norton
Postcode: OX7
Dialling code: 01608
Local Government
Council: Cotswold
The Cotswolds

Bledington is a village in the very west of Gloucestershire, close by the Oxfordshire border. It is amongst the Cotswold Hills, about four miles south-east of Stow-on-the-Wold and six miles south-west of Chipping Norton.

The population of the civil parish in 2014 was estimated to be 490.

Bledington lies in the Evenlode valley, and forms part of the GloucestershireOxfordshire boundary and stands on the Oxfordshire Way.

The village is built round a rectangle of streets, with the church in the south corner, and the green, with most of the older houses near it, on the north-west side. The village green is a large unenclosed stretch of grass, with a stream running through it. He are found the parish church and the pub, The Kings Head.

Parish church

Church of Saint Leonard

The parish church, St Leonard, stands in the heart of the village. It dates from the 12th century and was extended in the 15th.

The church is of Cotswold stone and has an embattled west tower. It was lavishly rebuilt in the 15th century, though it retains earlier parts, and the 15th-century painted glass surviving in some of the windows is a notable feature.[1] The earliest known reference to a church in Bledington is in a confirmation dated 1175 by the Pope to Winchcombe Abbey of all its churches. The east and west walls of the nave are said to be from this era.

The chancel, the nave arcade of three bays, and the south porch were built in the 13th century, and some new windows were added in the 14th century. Subsequently, a three-stage tower was erected: the west wall of the nave serves as the base of the west wall of the tower and arches within the nave support the other walls of the tower.

The Reformation efforts under King Edward VI ensured that by 1650 St Leonards had lost its rood screen and window statues: the hidden remains of the earlier wall decorations are now partially visible, including a stretch of masonry pattern enriched with rosettes and heart-shaped petals dating from the 14th-century on the west wall of the chancel and a late mediæval figure, in black outline, of a crowned female saint with long hair on the east wall of the nave.[1]

The building was in a very poor state by the mid 19th century.[2] It was restored in 1881[3] by J. E. K. Cutts[4] and again by F.E. Howard around 1923.

The tub-shaped font is 12th-century. Beside the 20th-century pulpit is an ancient wrought-iron hourglass stand.

There are five 17th-century bells and a sixth dated 1811. One bell cast in 1639 bears the inscription We are the bells of Bledington and Charles is our King.

About the village

The village hall, which stands near the centre of the village, is a converted 18th century barn of rubble with a Cotswold stone roof. A trust was formed and the building was bought in 1920 for the use of the people of Bledington and Foscot hamlet.[5] It was renovated and re-roofed in 2016.

The King's Head

There were two "alehouses" in 1775, and there were still two inns in 1870, but by 1889 the 16th-century King's Head was the only survivor. Overlooking the village green, it is a traditional village pub with dining and accommodation. It stands at the lowest part of the village and along with other low-lying houses can suffer from flooding.

The Steward's House in Chapel Lane, is reputed to have been built as a house for Winchcombe Abbey's manorial steward, though the current house dates from the 17th century.[6]

Manor Farm, possibly built on the site of a rest-house used by the monks of Winchcombe, has a 17th-century to early 18th-century 'T' shaped early core but was considerably enlarged c. 1900 by Guy Dawber and by more recent extensions.[1][7]

There are several brick buildings dating from the 19th century when there was a brickworks in the parish. These include 'The Old Vicarage', erected c. 1845 and extended in 1865 and 1915, with stone dressings and a hipped slate roof,[1] as well as some groups of cottages, a few substantial houses on the road to Kingham, several barns, as well as the school and the former Methodist chapel.

Bledington Community Shop and Café

In late 2019, after 10 years of fundraising by the local community, Bledington's community-owned shop and café replaced Bledington's village shop that closed in 2006. Bledington Shop and Café is owned by more than 360 residents of Bledington through Bledington Community Shop Ltd, an industrial and provident society. The Post Office part of the old shop now operates in the King's Head two mornings each week.


There were 22 households in the manor in the Domesday Book of 1086, giving a population of about 100, but with no freemen and no priest (and, by implication, no church).[8] By this time, about half (7 hides) of the 1,539 acres of land in the parish were under cultivation. The first mention of the parish church is in 1175 (see below). Bledington was still small and poor enough to be coupled with Sherbourne in 1303 as forming a knight's fee for the wedding of Edward I's daughter.[9]

The Black Death beginning in 1348 slew a third of the villagers,[10]:50 and the loss of income prompted the Abbot of Winchcombe to apply to the King and the Bishop of Worcester for permission to appropriate the rectory in 1402, subordinating the resulting vicarage to the abbey and benefitting from the proceeds of the glebe and tithes.[11] In 1546, following the Dissolution, the rectory, including farm, tithes and offerings, was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford.[12] The dean and chapter remained among the principal landowners in Bledington in the 19th century, but by the mid-20th century most of their land had been sold piecemeal and only part of Village Farm was still owned by them.

In March 1553, the manor was acquired from the Crown for £897.13s.1½d by Thomas Leigh, a wealthy London merchant. Before the sale, a detailed survey of the manor was undertaken which reveals that there was pasturage for 870 sheep and 124 oxen. Arable land was being used for wheat, barley and pulse together with some hemp for spinning.[10]

By 1600, Leigh's descendants had begun to sell parts of the estate, principally to its tenants, but these freeholds did not represent contiguous areas of land.

In 1770, six open fields were enclosed, a total of 1,343 acres, with sixteen landowners receiving allotments. Although there was a certain amount of exchanging of land after enclosure, on the whole, the lands belonging to each farm remained scattered. At a second enclosure in 1831 an area of 179 acres was divided between nine proprietors.[13] In the 19th century, only Bledington Ground, and Village Farm remained large farms. The arable land produced wheat, oats, and barley,[14] and by the late 19th century turnips and cider apples were also being grown. By the mid-20th century, this industry had stopped owing to the cost of labour and lack of facilities for making cider locally, but the orchards were still a prominent feature of the landscape.


The Bledington Music Festival is an annual classical music event which takes place over three summer evenings in June and features top class performers from all over the world. The Festival was established in 2000.

Bledington and Foscot News is a magazine containing local news and events, is distributed monthly and is subsidised by local donations.[15]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Bledington)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Nikolaus Pevsner: Pevsner Architectural Guides
  2. The Church Builder (1876) Vol. lvii: 'St Leonard's Church, Bledington, Gloucestershire' (page 204)}}
  3. Kelly's Directory of the County of Gloucester (13th ed.). London: Kelly's Directories Ltd. 1914. p. 51. 
  4. Cutts, J Edward K: 'Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society' Vol. vii (1883): 'Bledington Church' pages 81–86
  5. A History of the County of Gloucester - Volume 6 : Bledington (Victoria County History): British History Online
  6. National Heritage List 1154568: The Stewards House and Manor Cottage (Bledington)
  7. National Heritage List 1089810: Manor Farm (Bledington)
  8. "Gloucestershire, Page 8". Retrieved 23 Aug 2017. 
  9. Inquisitions and assessments relating to feudal aids, with other analogous documents preserved in the Public record office; A.D. 1284-1431. ii. London: HMSO. 1900. pp. 252. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Ashby, M.K. (1974). The Changing English Village. Kington: The Roundwood Press. ISBN 0900093358. 
  11. Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office: Henry IV, Vol II. London: HMSO. 1905. pp. 491. 
  12. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII. xxi(2) Sep 1546 - Jan 1547. London: HMSO. 1910. pp. 334. 
  13. Gloucestershire Records Office. Q/RI 26
  14. "Acreage Returns, 1801", Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society. lxvii: 175
  15. village website