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 closed until SATURDAY 1 APRIL and then will be open on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays 2.00 - 4.30 pm until the end of September
 
ADMISSION FREE

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

We plan to celebrate the OPENING OF THE WASHPOOL on Saturday 20 May 12-2pm – with a demonstration using local sheep. There will also be a talk from an expert on Cotswold sheepwashes, and an exhibition of hurdle making. Washed down with locally brewed cider and a selection of local bread and cheese, everyone is welcome.

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

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

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

  • "Beautiful setting, very peaceful & informative"

  • "Great building, well restored. Charming!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • "A fine chance discovery"

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

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