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 from Saturday 26 March to Sunday 25 September on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays 2.00 - 4.30 pm
 
ADMISSION FREE

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william smith

2016 Exhibition
William Smith: The Family Man

We continue to celebrate the life of William Smith, Father of English Geology, who was born in Churchill, with an exhibition entitled William Smith: The Family Man.  After his sister’s death he brought up her children and instilled in them his love of geology – the eldest, John Phillips, eventually became the first keeper of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History who are curating this exhibition.  Anne, the only daughter, was her brother’s companion and constant support for 33 years.

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • "Great building, well restored. Charming!"

Visiting the centre with children?