In his book ‘A Topographical Dictionary of England’ published in 1848, Samuel Lewis says of Fringford:
FRINGFORD (St. Michael), a parish, in the union of Bicester, hundred of Ploughley, county of Oxford, 3¼ miles (N. N. E.) from Bicester; containing 390 inhabitants. The living is a rectory, valued in the king’s books at £12. 16. 0½., and in the patronage of the Crown: the church is an ancient structure in the Norman style, of which the chancel has been rebuilt.
Things have changed somewhat since then and there are now around 600 people living here.
We have a church, a pub and a school but no shops.
Events are held in the village regularly and run by the PCC, Church Restoration Fund Committee and the Village Hall Committee.
Fringford is an ancient site and seems to have been inhabited for most of the past 2000 years. The name is thought to mean “ford of the people of Fera”, a Saxon tribe or family group, who were here well before the Norman Conquest. In 1993 traces of an earlier Romano-British settlement, from the late 2nd century to the 4th century, were found in Crosslands in the centre of the village. More recent evacuations in Farriers Close revealed a series of Iron Age Romano-British boundary ditches overlain by Saxon and medieval settlements.
The village lies in a loop of a tributary of the little Ouse, with Fringford Bridge on the north-west and the old cornmill and Fringford Mill Bridge to the east. Rectory Lane used to run from the village green down to the stream, where in the late 19th century there were still traces of a ford and a stone paved way up to Willaston. There may have been a second ford on the site of Fringford Bridge, which was used after the hamlet of Shelswell became depopulated in the 16 th century and its traffic diverted to Hethe and Cottisford. Towards the middle of the 19th century the present Fringford Bridge replaced the narrow single arch bridge, of which some traces still remain.
During the 18th century the population of the village increased from about 130 to 252. In 1762 under the Enclosure Award the main beneficiaries were Sir Fulke Greville, the owner of the manor, the rector, The Rev’d John Russell Greenhill, Anthony Addington of Hall Farm and Eton College. The college also owned most of Cottisford. In the 16th century there were still two manors in Fringford, the North manor on the site of the Old School and the South manor, probably on the site of Moat Farm. By 1762, both of the manor houses had disappeared.
In 1815 John Harrison, whose father had bought Shelswell Manor, acquired the lands of the North Manor. This made most of Fringford his property and the Tithe Award of 1848 shows he owned 50 of the 83 properties listed. The Harrisons and the Slater-Harrisons continued as “squires” of Fringford until the death of John Dewer-Harrison in 1967, when his goddaughter, Baroness Von Maltzahn, succeeded him as Lord of the Manor. The Addington Family have retained their local connection. They still own Hall Farm, although Anthony Addington left in the 18th century to become a fashionable London Doctor and included George III among his patients. His son Henry, became Speaker of the House of Commons, Prime Minister and the first Lord Sidmouth.
John Russell Greenhill (1756-1813) was rector for nearly 60 years, and for the following 80 years Fringford enjoyed the reigns of three wealthy, well-connected rectors: Henry Roundell (1814-52), Henry Fane de Salis (1852-73) and Cadwallader Coker (1873-94). They all made substantial contributions to the Church and parish. During the 19th century the village grew steadily, reaching a peak of 479 in 1871. By 1901 the population had fallen to 335.
Fringford in the 19th century is now forever associated with Flora Thompson’s ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’. In it she recalls her childhood in Juniper Hill (Lark Rise) and at school in Cottisford (Fordlow) before moving to Fringford (Candleford Green). In those days there were as many as seven farms in the parish, while today Waterloo Farm is the only active large-scale farm. In 1954 the population was still only 356. In recent years, following new housing developments, it has increased to about 600.
The “Butchers Arms” public house was definitely licensed by 1735 and may have been called the “Bricklayers Arms” in those days. There are no longer any shops or a post office in the village. A new Church of England primary school was built in 1973, when the old school was closed. School numbers have grown steadily in the last decade to about 115. The village hall was built by Henry Chinnery in 1900. It has been refurbished recently with Lottery money and is the centre for many activities. The Cricket Club is very active and celebrated its centenary in 2001. There has been a church on the present site since Saxon times, although the earliest part of the present church of St Michael and All Angel’s dates from the early 12th century.
The south door dates from this period as do the northern arches of the nave. On the south side of the nave, there are some men’s heads carved on one pillar making faces at some grotesque women’s heads on the opposite pillar. These seem to be a 13th century carver’s joke! The roughly carved medieval screen dates from the 16th century. The church was largely rebuilt in the 19th century by the three wealthy rectors who are all commemorated in the church. The new chancel was built, the north aisle was rebuilt, the present tower was built to replace the wooden belfry and the south aisle was enlarged. In 1905, the north chapel was rebuilt by the Chinnery family and two clearstory windows were added. The old rectory was also restored and enlarged.
There have been few alterations to the church since then. Not surprisingly restoration is now much-needed and funds are being raised for this purpose.
One of our villagers has undertaken research to find out more about soldiers from the village who fell in the Great War and who are commemorated on the war memorial in the church.
For more details go HERE