Bix & Lower and Middle Assendon
three hamlets in the Oxfordshire Chilterns make up the
parish of Bix and Assendon, the origins of which can be
traced back to two Saxon settlements, Bixa Brand and Bixa
Gibwin/Gibwyn. The origin of the name Bix is most likely
to have been box shrub, a type of evergreen which grows
in the parish.
Byxe Brand was the Saxon settlement situated in the area
around the ruins of the ancient parish church of St James
at Bix Bottom, now a delightfully quiet area well off
the beaten track along a road which leads to the Warburg
Nature Reserve. The church was originally a tiny Norman
Church, its arch is only slightly over a metre wide, built
on a Saxon site. The ruins of the old church can still
be seen and remain as consecrated grounds. Maintenance
of the ruins is paid for by English Heritage.
The Hamlet of 'modern' Bix is close to the location of Byxe/Bixa Gibwin/Gibwyn. There
appears now to be little evidence of historic Bix and
the hamlet comprises mainly up-market houses spread around
three sides of an open grassed common and out along the
roads to Lower and Middle Assendon. The 'new' parish church
of St James was built in the centre of the village in
There are 22 listed buildings in and around Bix, including
the two chapels at Henley Cemetery and the ruins and other
buildings at Bix Bottom. One of these listed buildings
is the former public house, The Fox, which is prominently
situated on the A4130. This is now a private dwelling.
interesting feature in the village is a victorian brick-lined
open water tank which was constructed c.1895. The tank
was derelict for some sixty years becoming overgrown,
broken up, lost to view and obviously serving no purpose.
However, in 1998 it was spotted and investigated, and
slowly its story was established and restoration of the
tank began. Restoration was completed in 2002. The water
is obtained using a hand pump and the most likely uses
were for watering horses and as a refill water station
for the steam engines as well as being the domestic water
supply for the village.
Leading from Bix are three narrow lanes which wind down
steep hills towards Bix Hall and Lower and Middle Assendon.
Assendon, in particular, has some attractive old cottages.
The names were first recorded in 800 AD as Assundene which
was thought to derive from the Saxon word "denu", meaning
a long, narrow, winding valley, and "assa", meaning an
ass; together this was translated as the Valley of the
Wild Ass. Assundene changed to Afsington and then to Assendene.
This was the name of the hamlets until the early 20th
century, when the modern name of Assendon came into use.
The Golden Ball pub in Lower Assendon has been featured in an episode of the popular TV series Midsomer
Bix is about 2.5 miles north-west of Henley-on-Thames just off the A4130.
The hamlets of Lower and Middle Assendon are in the low-lying
Stonor Valley on the B480 which leads to Watlington.