Watchfield Hill Road 1930s
1930s Hill Road, Watchfield.

Watchfield is situated about 4.5 miles south-west of Faringdon, close to Shrivenham, on what was the A420 Faringdon to Swindon road but like Faringdon it now has a bypass. The village is to the right or north of the old road. To the left is a large area of land occupied by the Defence Academy.

The name of the village was first recorded as Wacenesfel in 726. The village is mentioned as Wachenesfeld in the Domesday Book (1086). After many variations the current spelling appeared by 1731. The root of the name was possibly a personal name or from the Anglo-Saxon ‘wæcce/wæccan‘ meaning ‘wakefulness/watchfulness‘. The ending ‘feld‘ had the meaning ‘open land’.2

The Manor of Watchfield belonged to Abingdon Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Manor had various owners until it finally became part of Lord Barrington’s estate at the turn of the 19th Century. In 1787 an old chapel was demolished as it was in an advanced state of decay and the parishioners had to attend the mother church in Shrivenham. The present church, dedicated to St. Thomas, was erected in 1858.1

Public Houses: Eagle (1891/Lucy Williams), Royal Oak (1851/John Bowden – 1931/Wm J Salter).

More… Oxfordshire Villages website: http://www.oxfordshirevillages.co.uk/valevillages/watchfield.html


  1. Photo and text scanned directly from The Changing Faces of Faringdon and Surrounding Villages – Book 2 p71-72 by Rosemary Church, Jim Brown, Millie Bryan and Beryl Newman. Robert Boyd Publications 2001.
  2. The English Place-Name Society search page – https://epns.nottingham.ac.uk/search

Page first published 01-01-2023 | Last updated 28-02-2024 | Copyright © 2018-2024 Ian Lee | All rights reserved.