Local History

Eydon is a small parish perched on a hill of around 1675 acres in south Northamptonshire. It lies on a the band of Jurassic limestone near the sources of the rivers Cherwell and Nene near Daventry, with the nearest towns being Banbury, Daventry, Towcester and Northampton.

 

The original spelling of the name was Aegas dun meaning 'the hill (dun) belonging to a Saxon named Aegas'. In the 1086 Domesday Book it was spelt as Egedone.

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The highest point of Eydon Hill is 587 feet with the village itself being built to the east of the crest of the hill with all the  roads leading out from the village sloping steeply downwards. Approximately two-thirds of the parish boundary is formed by the Cherwell and a tributary brook thus creating a water boundary around most of the village. A large bed of tawny brown ironstone lies close to the surface and was used for building the church and houses. A small part of the parish is woodland, with the rest being arable or pasture.

The earliest traces of humans living in Eydon are some worked flints that have been found on and near the village allotments, probably dating to the Bronze Age. Later traces reveal crops marks across two fields situated on the top of Eydon hill, captured on aerial photos. They show four rectangular enclosures, with fragments of ditched boundaries which are similar to Iron Age/Roman open settlements sited elsewhere in Northamptonshire.

Some Roman pottery fragments have been found in the village and there is documentary evidence of a Roman portway - a minor roadway (not stone surfaced) that led to a market town - running through the parish as well.

 

A Saxon village was here before the Domesday survey of 1086, but the village that we see today with its two long parallel streets with two cross lanes is clearly a planned village which was built at the same time probably in Medieval times around 11th or 12th century. The locally sourced ironstone was used to build some of the houses and gives the village its lovely warm look. 

There are also traces of the ridge and furrow oxen ploughing detectable in some of the parish's fields with the village using the open field system of farming until 1762 when the land was enclosed and hedged.

 

There was probably a timber framed church here in Saxon times too but St. Nicholas, as we see it today, was built at the south end of the village in the 12th century possibly next to a large village green. It has retained some of its original Norman stonework and still uses the original Norman font for baptising infants. It under went a Victorian 'restoration' in 1864 with completion and re-opening of the church on 1st June 1865.

The manor house, built to the south of the church has been rebuilt at least twice on slightly different sites and is Grade 1 listed.

 

In 1872 the Northampton and Banbury Junction Railway passed through the east of Eydon parish and in 1899 the Great Central Main Line to London Marylebone was built through the same part of the parish, passing about 640m northeast of the village. The nearest station for the village was at Woodford Halse.  British Railways closed the SMJR line in 1951, Woodford Halse station in 1963 and the GC main line in 1966.

 

Today Eydon is a friendly, quiet village. It still has a pub, The Royal Oak, St Nicholas' Church and a good community feeling with many organisations and clubs. Full details can be found on the Eydon Village website.

Sources

A Geographical Study of the Parish of Eydon, Northants. Gertrude Lines

Northamptonshire Place Names. Charles Whynne-Hammond

Domesday Book

General history of Northamptonshire. William Whellan

Big Marjorie and the Rector's Bull. EHRG

Poverty, Plots and the Palace. EHRG

Service, Sun and Settlement. EHRG

A Short History of St. Nicholas Church Eydon. Helen Doe

Geology, Generosity and Glimpses into Eydon's Past. EHRG