Swerford Today

Swerford Today

Welcome to the swerford.org website, financed by the Parish Council and intended to cover all the activities in the Parish.

Swerford itself goes back before the Norman conquest of 1066, being listed in the Doomsday Book, although there is no hard archeological evidence predating the Church and the Castle Mound of around 1250.

Unusually the village is not centred on one green. There are two quite distinct halves to the village “Chapel End” and “Church End”, separated by about 400 metres and each has its own green.

Church End, which is the western half nestles around the church while Chapel End is built around and between what were half a dozen farms which together worked most of the arable land in the valley of the River Swere.  Only one house, which used to be a pub as well as a farmstead, lies by the river, all the others are strung out along the line of fresh water springs some 100 metres up the southern side of the valley.

In numerical terms both village halves are tiny, there are perhaps 35 dwellings in Chapel End and 30 in Church End, together with the 15 or so dwellings scattered over the rest of the Parish, often marking the sites of what had been working farms, comprise the 80 odd dwellings that make up the Swerford Parish. The total acreage of the Parish is only some 600 acres.

Agriculture was the mainstay of employment through to mid-Victorian times, when the population peaked at about 420 persons. Now through mechanisation that self same acreage is worked by two farmers plus some contract assistance for specialised activities.

The population steadily declined from its Victorian peak, not just though a reduction in agriculture but because the conditions in the village quite fell behind expectations. It was only in the period 1950 to 1970 that firstly electricity, then piped water and finally piped sewerage were installed. The school closed in the mid 1930’s, the pub closed in the 1960’s and all the shops had gone by 1970. The school was bought by the Parish Council in 1990 and is now the well maintained village hall, all the other buildings have become residences. The population has now steadied at around 150.

Modern rail and road links to London, Oxford and the Midlands, the M40 being completed in about 1990, together with the development of the internet has enabled residents to access work across most of Southern England or to work from home some or all of the week.

In 1990 the village was designated a Conservation Area. The Structure Plan for West Oxford District, of which Swerford is a part calls for no new additional housing developments in a defined list of hamlets/villages. The impact of both the Plan and the Conservation Area status has therefore considerably limited development in the village.

Swerford is very popular as a second home destination, particularly from London, and houses are also let as holiday accommodation on a sporadic or full-time basis. There can therefore be quite a difference in the numbers of people around between mid-week in Winter and weekend in Summer!