Blue Row

Blue Row

History of Blue Row Cottages, Swerford

This small row of cottages is sited on the east side of the church in Swerford. Blue Row was named for its original roof of blue slates, replaced with tiles in the 20th century. The row of originally 4 cottages was built in 1806 right next to the Church and the Norman Motte and Bailey. John Powell, the mason, who built Blue Row, and did much of the local restoration, probably owned the plot of land in 1802. (He’s buried in the churchyard next door.) Blue Row has its own web site covering as much of its history as we have researched so far. . This has further information on Swerford, and more links.

Past, present and future residents of Blue Row have been and always will be fascinated by the adjacent Norman Motte and Bailey, for which the council kindly provided a sign post opposite number 3 Blue Row in the 1990s. Generations of children born and brought up in Blue Row must have played on the banks of the castle, without much regard for the long history of the site. Many of the former residents of Blue Row are buried in the churchyard.

As fact, we do know from records in the Oxfordshire archives that in 1806 “The cottages [Blue Row] and messuage# were built by John Powell deceased on a piece of ground bought by John Powell from William Atkins the younger of Chipping Norton (mealman) in 1806 {Flick III/iv/6}

[#This messuage is believed to refer to Old Farm Cottage adjacent to Blue Row]

We also know that in 1855, John Powell left Blue Row to his son, also John, together with several other Swerford cottages. We also know who later owners were. But in many ways, the people actually living in Blue Row, until the late 1970s the tenants, are of much more interest. Some of them are referred to in the archive records, and many of the earlier residents can be tracked via the censuses from 1841 to 1901. (Some of the surnames are still the names of people in the village today.) There is also a very interesting link from the Blue Row History site to the Knibbs family history web site, Knibbs being the name of the residents of No. 2 Blue Row during the last half of the nineteenth century.

The big gap in our knowledge is, in fact the early part of the 20th century. Who are all these children photographed outside Blue Row by Frank Packer of Chipping Norton? Does anyone recognise them