Towards a time line for the Parish of Brightwell cum Sotwell

(all dates and comments open to correction)


  • 2 Million BP, Start of most recent glaciation
  • 10,000 BP, retreat of ice from Oxfordshire
  • 6,000-4,000BP, Neolithic period, start of agricultural revolution
  • 1,000 BC, Bronze Age settlement on south side of Clumps and on Brightwell Barrow.
  • 600-500BC, Early Iron Age Hill Fort constructed on the Clumps
  • 55-54 BC, Caesar invades Britain
  • 45 BC, Julian calendar introduced by Caesar
  • 43 AD, Roman occupation of Britain commences
  • 100AD? Roman Road built across Parish to connect Dorchester with Silchester.
  • 200AD? Roman pottery in Mackney
  • 390-410AD, Romans leave Britain
  • 420AD, Saxons called the Gewisse begin settling the Thames Valley
  • 635AD, Birinus missionary of Pope Honorius I brings Christianity to the pagans, baptising King Cynegils in the Thames at Dorchester
  • 640AD, Cynegils establishes a cathedral church at Dorchester
  • 660AD, The Thames Valley conquered and becomes part of the Kingdom of Mercia
  • 793AD, Viking invasions start with the sacking of Lindisfarne
  • c800AD, After 140 years of war West Saxons and Mercians seek a peace
  • c820AD, The lands between the River Thames and the Chalk Downs returned to Wessex
  • 854AD, King Aethelwulf assigns Beorhtanwille to Winchester Cathedral
  • and grants 30 hides (c3,600 acres) at Brihtanwille to the Bishop of Winchester
  • 880AD, Wallingford constructed as a King Alfred planned town on Brightwell Parish land
  • 947AD, King Eadred re-assigns 10 hides of land called Brihtanwell to a theign named Aethelgeard
  • 950AD? Beorhttanwille divided between Stottanwille and Beorhtanwille
  • 957AD, First mention of Sotwell - King Eadwig re-assigns 15 hides to Aethelgeard
  • 963AD, Aethelwold Abbot of Abingdon elevated to Bishop of Winchester recovers church lands
  • 1006, Wallingford sacked by Vikings
  • 1066 , Norman Conquest, Winchester Cathedral holds 20 hides at Brightwell most probably with Mackney, Winchester Abbey holds 10 hides at Sotwell, 5 hides most probably lost as Clapcot
  • 1067, Work commences on the building of Wallingford Castle
  • 1086, Domesday Book shows Sotwell and its mill held by Hugh of Port, Lord of Basing. Brightwell with 48 families and its church remains with Winchester Cathedral
  • 1122, Chapel of Sotwell given to St Frideswides Oxford
  • 1152, Stephen and Matilda Civil War siege castle built near site of St Agatha’s Church and demolished a year later.
  • 1153 Foundation of St Agatha’s Church, which is dedicated to a 3rd Century Sicilian martyr, one of few in England
  • 1155, Charter granted by Henry II to Wallingford.
  • 1158, Chapel at Sotwell named as a dependency of St Lucians in Wallingford
  • 1200? Tower added to St Agatha’s church
  • 1349, Black Death in Parish, Rector Peter le Dene died.
  • 1480, Richard Mayhew President of Magdalen College becomes Rector of Brightwell
  • 1500? Woodleys built.
  • 1507, Robert Forde murders John Skolffyld in St Agathas church
  • 1550? Prince Arthur visits Mackney and stays in Sotwell House
  • 1580? Smalls House, built in Mackney.
  • 1605, Work started on Brightwell Manor.
  • 1634, Dr Thomas Godwin, former Headmaster of Abingdon School
  • becomes Rector of Brightwell.
  • 1645, Dr Edward Hyde Rector of Brightwell dismissed for being a Royalist.
  • 1646, Siege of Wallingford Castle by Parliamentary forces
  • 1652, Wallingford Castle demolished by order of Oliver Cromwell.
  • 1666, Plague in Wallingford.
  • 1676, Bishop of Salisbury’s census showed 234 inhabitants of Brightwell
  • 1698, Wellsprings House built.
  • 1712, Francis Bernard born in Brightwell, became Governor of Massachusetts in 1760 introducing taxes which started riots leading to Boston Tea Party
  • 1717, Rector of Brightwell, Anthony Alsop, sued for breach of promise. 1726, Dame School starts at Slade End
  • 1752, Gregorian calendar introduced in England: year starts on 1 January and 2 September becomes 14 September.
  • 1781, George III visits the Red Lion after stag hunt
  • 1764, Shillingford Bridge Act allows construction of stone bridge to replace previous one of wood and stone
  • 1790? Thomas Wintle, Rector of Brightwell, leads beating the bounds of the parish.
  • 1796, Tower of St Agatha’s Church collapses to be rebuilt in 1802.
  • 1801, Turnpike Act of 1752 allows construction of Wallingford to Wantage turnpike across Parish.
  • 1801, Population of Brightwell 491
  • 1811, Enclosure Act implemented in Brightwell Parish.
  • 1815, Nave of St Agatha’s reroofed
  • 1821, Population of Brightwell reaches 546
  • 1834, Wallingford becomes a municipal borough
  • 1841, First school built for pupils in Parish
  • 1842, Enclosure Act implemented in Sotwell Parish
  • 1840, Great Western Railway reaches Didcot.
  • 1848, Standard time adopted by railways across Great Britain
  • 1858, St Agatha’s Church restoration to accord with the specifications of the Cambridge Camden Society
  • 1866, Railway reaches Wallingford.
  • 1866, First allotments opened on glebe land by St Agatha’s Church
  • 1866, Library starts in village
  • 1868, Ecclesiastical parish of Brightwell with Sotwell created.
  • 1868, School condemned inadequate by inspectors
  • 1870, New Village School opens in what is now the Village Hall.
  • 1870s, The Button and Loop, the Black Duck and the Old Swan Inn all close.
  • 1873, Edward Fairthorne constructs new road to connect Brightwell with Sotwell around the south side of the Sotwell House moat
  • 1874, Clock tower added to school
  • 1875? Shillingford Bridge Hotel opens
  • 1878, Toll Gate at Slade End abolished
  • 1880, Greenwich Mean Time legally adopted across Great Britain
  • 1880, J Haldane-Stewart Memorial opens
  • 1881, Census records 726 inhabitants of the Parish
  • 1884, St James’s Church rebuilt.
  • 1884, Further restoration of St Agatha’s Church
  • 1885, Mission Hall opens to become later the Brightwell Free Church
  • 1885, Infants School starts in Stewart Memorial.
  • 1887, Jubilee Path opens along Brightwell Street
  • 1890? Red House built for Edward Fairthorne
  • 1897, Recreation Ground opens to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
  • 1903, New organ installed in St Agatha’s Church in a newly built organ loft.
  • 1911, Swan Allotments given to village by Rev. T Betteridge
  • 1914, Edward Prince of Wales visits Red Lion after beagling
  • 1914, WWI starts
  • 1915? Soldiers from the City of London Yeomanry billeted in village.
  • 1918, WWI finishes, 26 men from the parish killed in action.
  • 1920? War Memorial erected
  • 1920? Roads paved
  • 1920? Home for boys from East London opened by the Frothblowers in what is now Blackstone House.
  • 1920? First Private cars
  • 1922 Radio broadcasts start
  • 1930? Bus service starts
  • 1930? Refuse collection starts by District Council
  • 1934, Clapcot added to Parish in exchange with Wallingford for part of Wantage Road.
  • 1934, Dean Inge retires from St Pauls Cathedral to live in Brightwell Manor
  • 1934, Dr Edward Bach comes to live in Mt Vernon
  • 1935, Phone box installed outside Moat Cottage.
  • 1935, Dr Bach dies
  • 1939, Television broadcasts start
  • 1939, WWII commences
  • 1941? Brightwell WI adopt a minesweeper
  • 1945, WWII terminates, 20 men and 1 woman killed
  • 1947, Mains electricity enters village.
  • 1948, Sinodun Players formed in Sotwell
  • 1948, Brightwell joined to Sotwell under the provisions of the 1933 Local Government Act
  • 1949, Work on Greenmere Estate starts
  • 1948, National Health Service inaugurated
  • 1949, Mains water enters village
  • 1952-53 Changes to Village School - see note below
  • 1954, Dean Inge dies
  • 1958, Village connected to mains drainage
  • 1960 Swan Inn closes
  • 1961, Part of Village School moves to new site at Greenmere
  • 1965, Sir Percy Waterfield dies
  • 1965? Work on Monks Mead starts
  • 1973, Bypass opens around village
  • 1974, Parish moves from Berkshire to Oxfordshire following the reorganization of local government
  • 1974, SODC replaces Wallingford District |Council
  • 1975, Village School moves completely to a new site adjacent to Greenmere.
  • 1976, First edition of “The Villager” published.
  • 1976, Village Hall opens in the building vacated by the school
  • 1977, Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee celebrated over a week of events
  • 1977, Work on Kings Orchard Estate starts
  • 1977, Community Association launched.
  • 1979, Visit of Chairman Hua Guofeng, Premier of the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China to Sherwood Farm
  • 1980, Parish Council acquires Kings Meadow
  • 1981, Village Weekend celebrated in a series of events
  • 1985, Kew’s Bakery closes
  • 1991, Lynch’s Shop closes
  • 1993, Wallingford bypass opens
  • 1994, Mains gas enters village
  • 1995, Mobile phones start
  • 1997, Fire destroys Pavilion on the Rec.
  • 1999, Wallingford Team Ministry starts
  • 2000, Parish celebrates new Millennium in a series of events
  • 2000, Village Hall extended to make the Stewart Room
  • 2000, Millennium Wood planted
  • 2000, Sir William Glock dies
  • 2001, Census records a population of 1530 in Parish living in 574 dwellings
  • 2001, Fire in the thatch between the Red Lion and Thatch End closes the pub
  • 2002, Village Post Office and Stores closes
  • 2002, Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee celebrated over a weekend of events
  • 2002, Red Lion reopens
  • 2002, Extension to the school completed
  • 2003, Jubilee Pavilion opens on Rec.
  • 2004, Post Office reopens in Red Lion
  • 2004, Village website created
  • 2004, WI reformed
  • 2005, Village connected to Broadband
  • 2007, Post Office moves to Stewart Room in Village Hall
  • 2009, Wheelie bin system for refuse collections starts
  • 2010, Village Stores opens in new premises adjoining the Village Hall
  • 2011, Earth Trust buys North Farm
  • 2011, Census records 1496 inhabitants in the Parish
  • 2013, Extension to St Agatha’s Church opens
  • 2014, Community Orchard planted
  • 2015, Parish boundary altered to east edge of Wallingford bypass.


Note on the Village School

(From "Aspects of History" by Fred Heyworth)


"There were changes afoot too, in the village school. In the post war
period certain strict guidelines had been laid down by the Government to
improve the standards of school buildings maintained by voluntary
bodies. It was rather reluctantly agreed that the church (in the village
that is) would be unable to find the money required to satisfy the new
requirements of the State, and in 1952 the school became a 'Voluntary
Controlled School' which in effect meant the Authority would be wholly
responsible for improvements and maintenance of the building whilst the
church relinquished many of the privileges it had held since the Rev.
Marmaduke Thompson built the first school-room back in l84l. The 1944
Act had stipulated "Secondary Education for all" and eventually the
Authority decreed that in 1953 Brightwell should become a Primary
School. As there was no Secondary Modern School in Wallingford at this
time the children over eleven were transported to Didcot. This continued
until 1957 when Blackstone School was opened and the children then went
there."



Compiled by John Rodda with the help of Tony Debney Leon Cobb, Bill Horsfield, Sally Dugan, Tony Bath, Judy Dewey, Rosemary Greasby, Angus Dart and others. Material for the Time Line has been gleaned from a range of sources including: booklets on the churches of St Agatha and St.James written by Rev. Mark Spurrell and Rev. Trevor Twentyman and from Vi Smith’s ”A stroll through Brightwell cum Sotwell”


July 2015.

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