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EVERDON – A POTTED HISTORY (BY MICHAEL MEGEARY - MAY 2010)

A ROMAN TRAVELLER IN THE AGE OF CONSTANTINE THE GREAT VENTURED WEST AFTER VISITING THE TEMPLE ON THE HILL AT WEEDON JUST OFF THE WATLING STREET. THE FURTHER WEST HE STRODE THE MORE HE ENTERED DENSE OAK WOODLAND SURROUNDING THE TRACK WAY, THEN THE HOME OF WOLVES, BEARS AND BOARS, BUT VERY FEW PEOPLE. THIS WAS WHERE THE LOCAL FARMING FOLK DID THEIR HUNTING. WHEN HE REACHED THE AREA WE NOW KNOW AS EVERDON PARISH, HE LOST HIS PURSE CONTAINING A GOOD DEAL OF COIN, THIS WASN'T FOUND FOR 1500 YEARS AND REMAINS THE ONLY EVIDENCE OF ROMAN ACTIVITY IN THE PARISH.

THE SAXONS MUST HAVE ARRIVED HERE BEFORE CHRISTIANITY BECAUSE THEY BURIED THEIR DEAD SOMEWHERE ON THE EDGE OF EVERDON STUBBS. IN A DOCUMENT KNOWN AS THE BADBY CHARTER DRAWN UP IN 944AD, THE COURSE OF EVERDON PARISH BOUNDARY IS DESCRIBED IN DETAIL AND REFERS TO THE BOUNDARY PASSING “THE HEATHEN BURIAL PLACE” IN THE VICINITY OF EVERDON STUBBS. THESE SAXONS PROBABLY STARTED CLEARING THE WILD WOOD FOR FARMLAND AND BY THE DATE OF THE CHARTER MOST OF THE WOODLAND WAS CLEARED, HOWEVER THEY LEFT A PIECE OF WOODLAND ON THE HIGHEST POINT IN THE PARISH AND ALWAYS REFERRED TO THE AREA AS “WILD BOAR HILL” OR EVERDON IN THE LANGUAGE OF OLD ENGLISH. THE VILLAGE THEN LAY ON A ROUTE TO AN IMPORTANT ROYAL SAXON ESTATE AT FAWSLEY.

AS WITH MOST ENGLISH VILLAGES, EVERDON APPEARS IN THE DOOMSDAY SURVEY OF 1086. THE ENTRY FOR THE VILLAGE DESCRIBES A THINLY POPULATED PARISH, WHOLLY INVOLVED IN FARMING BUT APPARENTLY WITHOUT A CHURCH. THE MOST INTERESTING INFORMATION FROM THE SURVEY IS THAT THE PARISH WOODLAND AREA THEN, WAS ABOUT THE SAME AS IT IS NOW.

THE TIME BETWEEN THE NORMAN CONQUEST (1066) AND BLACK DEATH (1348) WAS A PERIOD OF CONSIDERABLE POPULATION GROWTH, BOTH NATIONALLY AND LOCALLY. THIS MUST HAVE RESULTED IN THE BUILDING OF THE FIRST CHURCH, FOR THE FIRST PRIEST (ELIAS) IS RECORDED AS COMING IN 1218. NOTHING NOW REMAINS OF THIS CHURCH EXCEPT THE FONT CARVED FROM A PIECE OF MARBLE QUARRIED IN SUSSEX.

THE LANDS OF EVERDON HAD BEEN GRANTED TO AN ABBEY AT BERNAY IN NORMANDY AND THE ABBOT THERE DECIDED TO ESTABLISH A SMALL PRIORY IN THE VILLAGE TO OVERSEE THE HOLDING. THIS RESULTED IN THE REBUILDING OF THE VILLAGE CHURCH WHICH IS THE BUILDING WE SEE TODAY, CONSTRUCTION BEGINNING ABOUT 133O WITH STONE FOR THE TOWER BEING DRAWN FROM THE STILL TO BE SEEN PITS AT SNORSCOMB AND THE LIMESTONE USED ON THE WINDOW AND DOOR MASONRY FROM HELMDON NEAR BRACKLEY. IT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO KNOW THAT ACCORDING TO THE OLD PARISH RECORDS AT LEAST TWO MURDER VICTIMS ARE BURIED IN THE CHURCHYARD, NO DOUBT THE RESULT OF INTERNECINE

PARISH RIVALRIES*.

FOR POLITICAL REASONS KING HENRY V EXPROPRIATED THE PRIORY LANDS ABOUT 1420 AND HENRY VI GRANTED THE MANOR TO HIS FOUNDATION OF ETON COLLEGE IN 1440 (ETON STILL APPOINTED THE RECTORS OF THE PARISH UNTIL THE 1920'S).

THE REMAINS OF THE MONASTIC BUILDINGS COULD STILL BE SEEN IN 1720, DESCRIBED AS BEING LOCATED ADJACENT TO SOME OLD FISHPONDS.

THE DEPOPULATION OF THE PARISH CAUSED BY BLACK DEATH WAS NOT MADE GOOD UNTIL THE MID 18 TH CENTURY.

IN THE 1760'S THE PARISH WAS ENCLOSED AND THE POPULACE WAS FORCED TO BECOME WAGE EARNERS INSTEAD OF GROWING THEIR OWN FOOD. EVERDON'S GREATEST DISASTER OCCURRED ON THE 13 TH OF APRIL 1786 WHEN A PLUMBER WORKING ON THE CHURCH TOWER ROOF ACCIDENTALLY SET FIRE TO THE VILLAGE WITH THE LOSS OF 40 DWELLINGS. THE BUILDINGS APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN MADE GOOD QUICKLY AND THE PARISH POPULATION CONTINUED TO INCREASE UNTIL IT REACHED ITS PEAK IN THE LATE 19 TH CENTURY AT ABOUT 900 SOULS. OVERCROWDING IN VILLAGE COTTAGES MUST HAVE BEEN DREADFUL AS THE NUMBER OF DWELLINGS TODAY IS ABOUT THE SAME AS THEN. THE MEN OF THE VILLAGE DID HAVE THE CHOICE OF 6 PUBLIC HOUSES TO “RELAX” IN.

THE VILLAGE BY 1900 ALSO HAD AT LEAST 2 SHOPS, A POST OFFICE, A BUTCHER WITH HIS OWN SLAUGHTERHOUSE, 2 BAKEHOUSES, 2 WATER MILLS FOR CORN GRINDING, A SCHOOL AND 2 CHAPELS, A BLACKSMITH, A SADDLER, A CARRIER, AND ITS OWN RECTOR, IN FACT A SELF SUFFICIENT COMMUNITY.

IN THE 20 TH CENTURY AS ELSEWHERE FARM MECHANISATION REDUCED THE NEED FOR LABOUR AND THE POPULATION DECLINED, UNTIL TODAY WE HAVE ABOUT 350 RESIDENTS ABOUT THE SAME NUMBER AS IN THE MID. 18 TH CENTURY.

FROM A VISUAL POINT OF VIEW THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN APPEARANCE BETWEEN THE VILLAGE OF TODAY AND THAT OF 100 YEARS AGO IS THE LOSS OF THE STRAW THATCH ROOF COVERINGS AND THEIR REPLACEMENT WITH WELSH SLATE AND THE APPEARANCE OF PLASTIC WINDOWS.

Mick Megeary Everdon 2010

*January 10 1579

Buried

Laurence Hayle, servant to Sir Richard Knightley :- was slain at Snorscomb

January 26 1613,

Buried

Richard Ward murdered by Nicholas Elderton servant of Mrs. Spencer

 

 

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