History

Originally Water Eaton was a separate civil parish until 1932, when it was merged with its neighbour Gosford.

The village of Gosford was centred around the manor of Gosford, which was granted to the Knights Hospitaller in 1142, who held it until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. During the 16th century Gosford was administered with Water Eaton.

In the 17th century "Mr. Richard Washington, gent" (died 1670) maintained a school at Gosford. In 1838 a penny post station was opened in Gosford. There was a full post office by 1847 that remained until 1853.

Water Eaton” meaning “farm by a river” refers to the Grade II listed Manor House which is located beside the River Cherwell.

Water Eaton manor house was built for Sir Edward Frere in 1586 but reduced in size at a later date. A square dovecote survives to the northeast of the house. The Gothic Revival architect G.F. Bodley restored the house in 1890 and made it his home. A Perpendicular Gothic Church of England chapel was built to the north of the manor house in 1610 and restored in 1884. St. Frideswide's Farmhouse is a 16th-century Tudor stone house, and towards the end of that century was a home of the Lenthall family. The house was extended in the 17th or 18th and 20th centuries.

At the end of the First English Civil War in June 1646 the Articles of Surrender for the siege of Oxford were finally agreed in Water Eaton.

In 1850 the Buckinghamshire Railway between Bletchley and Oxford was opened through the parish. In 1905 Oxford Road Halt was opened 1 mile west of the manor house. The halt was short-lived, being closed down in 1926.

In 1940 a grain silo and rail siding were built on the south side of the former halt. The silo has been disused since the 1980s but remained a landmark visible over a wide area. The silo was demolished in October 2013. [Kidlington: Manors and other estates, 1990]

Gosford Hill Farm was the home of Oxford Zoo between 1931 and 1937 (where Thames Valley Police HQ now stands). Zoo fans regularly caught special buses from the city centre to see star attractions, including Rosie the elephant and Hanno the lion. Wolves were also housed at the zoo - and the escape of three of them in 1937.

Insp Barnett, of the City Police, shot the first wolf near the police houses in Banbury Road on the same day the wolves escaped. Robert Collett, of Hampton Poyle, shot the second wolf the same evening at his father's farm. But the third wolf survived for several days, after allegedly killing 13 sheep at a farm near North Oxford Golf Club. It finally died when Oxford Mail photographer Johnny Johnson took up the chase, and shot it in Summertown. He commandeered a bike from a cyclist on the A40 and rode up to the house where children were yelling "there's the wolf, there's the wolf", before shooting the animal dead from 30 yards. [The Little Book of Oxfordshire, 2012]

To read more about the history of Kidlington, Gosford and Water Eaton please visit the Kidlington and District Historical Society or A History of the County of Oxford, other publications and websites are also available.