Whether you’re new to South Oxfordshire or are simply looking for something to do after visiting Admiral Windows at our Chilton Garden Centre conservatory show-site, this brief introduction to Chilton village is for you. Chilton village can be accessed via footpaths from our Admiral office at Wyevale Garden Centre.
Chilton House, Townsend
Chilton Farm estate was run from Chilton House. The two timber framed central bays date from the 16th or 17th century. Note the superb brick infilling, which probably dates from 1871 when the house was reconstructed by the Lockinge Estate. The half-hipped tile-hung timber framed north bay on the left of the photograph above was added by Lockinge Estate at the beginning of the 20th century and given brick infills to match the central bays. Until recently, the upper storey of the north bay was also hung with tiles. When Chilton House was renovated in the 2000s, the first floor tiles were removed, exposing the magnificent brickwork infills and timber frame.
There was once a pond opposite Chilton House. Apparently, it was a rather sub-standard pond that kept drying up. It was filled in during the 1950s.
All Saints Church, Church Hill
The nave of All Saints’ church dates from the 12th Century. A south aisle was added in the 13th century, and the chancel was built in the 14th century. The tower and porch are 19th century additions, and a two storey rear extension was built in the 1970s. Due to concerns about the structural integrity of the tower, the All Saints church bells were silent from 1959 until 2000 when, with assistance from National Lottery funding, the tower received structural repairs and the bells were re-hung.
Village Pump, The Green
Following a drought in 1934, the council installed a deep borehole and a village pump. This author remembers drawing water from the pump well into the 1970s. The above-ground pump apparatus was restored in the early 2000s but the crank wheel is now fixed in position. Place Farm House is seen behind the pump.
In the 19th and early 20th century, Lockinge Estate built many houses around neighbouring villages and refurbished some of the old houses that had come into its ownership. Today, Lockinge Estate still owns much of Ardington village, and distinctive Lockinge design features can be found on many of the older houses in nearby villages including Chilton. The half-hipped north gable of Chilton House is a good example of a Lockinge feature, as is the original dormer window on a Main Street cottage shown above.
Post Office Store, Main Street
Another tile-hung half-hipped Lockinge Estate gable is seen on the old store. This gable end was a late 19th century extension to the original 17th century timber framed building. Until the middle of the 20th century, the store also contained a bakery. The flat front section on the left is a late addition – probably 1960s. This served as the shop front and entrance until the closure of the store in the early 2000s. Post Office Store is now a private house.
There used to be two village shops in Chilton – ‘Top Shop’ on South Row was a long-established hardware store. In 1851, its owners attached a small Methodist chapel to Top Shop. This store closed with the advent of decimalisation in the early 1970s. The site has since been redeveloped and, in 2019, nothing remains of either Top Shop or the chapel.
Didcot Newbury & Southampton Railway
The former Didcot Newbury & Southampton railway line passed through a deep cutting to the east of Chilton village. The three-arch bridge pictured above was second in a sequence of three bridges known to locomotive crews as ‘Faith, Hope and Charity’, as they marked a steep up gradient on heading south from Upton station. In 1880 when the line was constructed, 414,000 cubic yards of chalk and soil were excavated to create Chilton cutting. The spoil was re-used to construct the long embankment between Didcot and Upton – this now carries a cycle path.
On the north sides of the bridges, brickwork remains blackened from the exhausts of long-dead steam locomotives. Passenger services between Didcot and Newbury ceased in September 1962 and the line was closed to all traffic in 1966. By 1968, the track had been lifted. The trackbed under ‘Hope’ and ‘Charity’ bridges is now buried under landfill.
The next bridge towards Churn and Compton, ‘Charity’ bridge, is now completely buried. In the last few years, its parapets have been demolished.
The good news is that ‘Faith’ bridge remains intact. If you take the footpath toward Chilton from the George & Dragon in Upton, you’ll cross it. (This is easier than trying to direct you from Chilton!)
Chilton House (again)
We’ll finish this post on an upbeat note by showing another photo of the beautifully restored Chilton House, including its 18th century south bay.
To walk into Chilton village from the garden centre, cross the A34 via Jubilee Bridge. At the end of the path turn left along the road and then turn right onto another footpath. This emerges in Chilton village by All Saints Church. If you plan to leave your car at the garden centre, do be aware that the gates are locked 30 minutes after the garden centre closes. Our show-site staff will be happy to advise on alternative car parking nearby.
References and further reading
Chilton Parish Council; Dumbleton, F. (2000). Up in the Downs – A Portrait of Chilton, ISBN 0902 37611X
Karau, P.; Parsons, M.; Robertson, K. (1984). An illustrated history of the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway. Didcot: Wild Swan Publications, ISBN 10: 0906867045
Upton village website with photos of the DNSR station at Upton: http://www.uptonvillage.co.uk/photo-gallery/the-railway/
Images on this page are © Adrian Brown (2004, 2019)