Welcome to the Churchill & Sarsden Heritage Centre

'Small, but perfectly formed' Country Life

Possibly the smallest museum in Oxfordshire, the Heritage Centre is placed in a stunning setting overlooking
the site of the ‘lost’ village of Churchill, destroyed by fire in 1684.

We are open on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays 2.00 - 4.30 pm until the end of September
 
ADMISSION FREE

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The History of Cotswold Sheepwashing and the Restoration of the Sarsden Washpool 

Exhibition April-September 2017

The older inhabitants of the village can remember seeing the Sarsden washpool in action, but it has been overgrown and overlooked now for many years. Happily Rupert and Amanda Ponsonby, who live at Sarsden Glebe, have been working hard to restore the pool, and research its history. There is also a connection with William Smith, who would have been able to watch the sheep being washed from his home, and in 1818 was asked to prepare an irrigation and drainage scheme lower down the Sars Brook - of interest because there are so few physical remains of Smith’s work in Oxfordshire.

The Sarsden washpool is easily seen from the road
In the middle of Churchill village with Chipping Norton behind you and the pub on your right, leave the church on your left and go down the hill – signposted to Sarsden and Merriscourt.
The washpool is on the left hand side of the bridge over the Sars Brook at the bottom of the hill.
P1010043

 

£40,000 ROOF APPEAL

to restore the integrity of the roof structure

and treat the beetle damage to the

internal structural beams

 THE PROBLEM

 Following the recent winter storms, some of the slates became dislodged and will have to be replaced.  The roofer employed to carry out this work discovered that the battens used to attach the slates are completely rotten and need replacement.  There is also a considerable amount of beetle damage, and splits and defects in the timbers which need to be addressed.

HISTORY OF THE HERITAGE CENTRE

THE EARTH AND THE EMPIRE: WHAT A COTSWOLD VILLAGE GAVE TO THE WORLD

The building may be only 15' by 30' but its ancient walls contain state of the art technology, with touch screens telling the remarkable stories of two eminent sons of the village, Warren Hastings (1732-1818) and William Smith (1769-1839). 
The part played in the community by the village squire, James Langston (1796-1863), is also displayed on a new touch screen unit.
 
The old medieval village church fell into disrepair after the new All Saints' Church was built in 1826 in the centre of the village. Although the chancel was retained and used as a mortuary chapel and to house the memorials, its condition deteriorated and demolition was threatened in the 1980s. 
A Preservation Society was formed in 1988 to fight for its survival as the last medieval building in Churchill and, thanks to fund-raising and grants, over £30,000 was spent to restore the roof and building. 
The Heritage Centre opened in 2001 in the restored chancel.  In 2010, it was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to enable work on the maintenance of the building, enhance the displays and extend the projects of the centre.  The Centre is also being supported by grants from West Oxfordshire District Council and Friends of the Cotswolds, for which the management committee is extremely grateful.
The Centre re-opened in April 2011 with touch screen displays, new exhibits and exciting plans for wider public engagement.  The 2012 season attracted a record number of visitors and these numbers have gone up every year  as we continue to work on our audience strategy.  Our profile was boosted during 2015 as we worked in conjunction with the Oxford Museum of Natural History to celebrate the bicentenary of the publication of William Smith’s famous map.

From Our Guest Book

  • "Excellent to have this centre as a focus for Churchill's history - especially in relation to William Smith."

  • "Beautiful setting, very peaceful & informative"

  • "Great building, well restored. Charming!"

  • "Fantastic, absolutely first class. Most interesting and informative."

  • "A fascinating visit. William Smith was a wonderful man! "

  • "Congratulations to all on this initiative.  So well-organised and user-friendly."

  • "A fascinating display in a very beautiful setting."

  • "Very good new interactive displays, very comprehensive."

  • "A little gem I didn't know existed."

  • "What a lovely treat to stumble upon. Thank you for preserving a part of our Heritage"

  • "Lovely spot, so grateful this part of the old church was saved."

  • "A fine chance discovery"

  • "Beautiful restoration, very nicely done! Unexpected hive of information."

  • "Such a wonderful enterprise. The locality should be proud of it."

  • "Why haven't we been here earlier? We shall certainly return!"

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