Churchill at War

Both World and Civil Wars

The English Civil War: 1642-49

King Charles I made Oxford his headquarters during the war and had the support of the college and ecclesiastical hierarchies who donated much of their silver plate to finance his cause. Charles himself stayed some time at Christ Church College while his Queen and her entourage occupied Merton College. Broughton Castle, on the way to Banbury, was a Parliamentary stronghold but the nearby houses of Chastleton and Sarsden, where the king’s musician John Wilson spent the war, were Royalist. The Walter family at Sarsden was heavily fined after Cromwell’s victory. The first battle of the civil war, Edgehill, took place just north of Banbury in 1642. Two years later there was a major skirmish a few miles south at Cropredy Bridge. Both were a score draw.

War Memorial Refurbishment

The Village War Memorial was cleaned and refurbished in 2014, to mark the centenary of the start of World War I. The whole exercise was entirely funded by donations from people living in the villages of Churchill and Sarsden.

World War I: 1914-18

Around seventy men from Churchill joined the arm forces during the first world war, many of them brothers. Eleven of them died either in the fighting or in war-related events and are commemorated on the village war memorial. They are Hubert Betteridge, Percy Cooper, William Keen, Cecil Peachey, Wilfred Peachey, John Perrott, Ernest Webb, Frank Webb, Archie Widdows, Alfred Betteridge and Lewis Cooper.


Many joined the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, including Percy Cooper who died in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) when the lst Battalion was virtually wiped out fighting the Turks. His brother Lewis died in 1917 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Two ships, the Imo and the Mont Blanc carrying explosives, collided in the harbour. A tremendous explosion followed, killing nearly two thousand people including Lewis and injuring nine thousand others.


During the war the village school headmaster, William Anson, arranged for photographs of men in the armed services to be displayed in the church porch, to encourage parishioners to remember them in their prayers.

World War II: 1939-45

RAF Chipping Norton had a short life. Just to the south-east of the town and three miles from Churchill, it was opened in 1940 and closed in 1945, during which time it mostly served as a Flying Training School. It has since reverted to agricultural use. Locally there were many such airfields, mostly now disused. These included Moreton, Enstone, Kidlington, Heyford and Rissington.


The village war memorial commemorates five local men who died in the war – Albert Bryon, Richard Horlock, Christopher Spencer, Albert Watkins and Donald Hamilton MC. Bryon, Watkins and Hamilton are buried in Churchill churchyard.

RAF Chipping Norton
RAF Chipping Norton