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 30th March to Sunday 29th September 2024
2.30-4.30pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays
If you are unable to visit the Heritage Centre for any reason, we are always happy to try and answer any queries you might have in relation to family history (or anything else connected to the Heritage Centre).
There is a link below to more information about family history, and from there you can send us an email.

 
ADMISSION FREE

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We have been working on a new exhibition for some time – the Heritage Centre has always boasted of its three important ‘sons’ but now it is time for the women of the village to be celebrated.  Each in her own way has changed lives both in Churchill and in the wider world.

OUR Four remarkable women

 A sixteenth-century noblewoman
Elizabeth Bourne (1549-1599)
Who controversially petitioned for divorce from her philandering husband and left letters which are now considered a most significant and valuable historical source of early modern literature and inform a greater understanding of women’s negotiations for legal autonomy in the sixteenth century.

A seventeenth-century eccentric
Anne Walter (Unknown – 1707)
Who lived in fear of being murdered but left a trust which is still providing grants for education purposes.

A nineteenth-century grocer
Emily Jennings (1814-1885)
Whose legacy launched a village charity.

A twentieth-century High Sheriff
Judy Hutchinson (1916-1989)
Whose secret war work has never been fully acknowledged.

 

The photograph on this poster is of Judy Hutchinson but the other images merely represent women of the period.

 A History of Churchill | Hidden Gems in the Cotswolds 
A History of Churchill | Hidden Gems in the Cotswolds

Watch Now

This YouTube video has been recorded by The Cotswold Explorer/Robin Shuckburgh @The Cotswold Explorer 2024
It’s a fascinating potted history of Churchill in which he refers to the Heritage Centre as ‘a perfect Cotswold gem’, and he ‘can’t recommend this place highly enough’. A visit to Churchill is well worth making, he says, for the Heritage Centre alone, but there are plenty of other things of interest in Churchill – including an excellent pub, The Chequers . . . 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 touchscreen 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 touchscreen 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

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

  • "A fine chance discovery"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • "Beautiful setting, very peaceful & informative"

  • "Great building, well restored. Charming!"

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