Town or village? Although it could easily be a small town with its High Street, "town" square, shops, narrow streets lined with old houses and its modern residential areas and schools, Eynsham is in fact a large village. Which is fortunate because it means I am able to include pictures of Eynsham on this website!
Eynsham is a bustling village with a pleasant centre and grey stone cottages and other buildings. The parish church is to one side of The Square which, together with High Street, is on the southern side of the village.
The older and more attractive part of the village is around The Square and High Street, Church Street and Acre end Street. In The Square ouside the historic Bartholomew Room is a reconstruction of the original cross which dated from around 1350.
Eynsham grew up near the historically important ford of Swinford on the River Thames flood plain. There is a lot of evidence of the village's importance in Saxon times. It was one of four towns captured from the Britons by the Saxons in AD 571, and evidence has been found of 6th and 7th century Saxon buildings about three quarters of a mile north of the present parish church.
There is some evidence that Eynsham had an early minster, probably founded in the 7th or 8th centuries. A Benedictine abbey was later constructed on the site of the early minster and by the medieval period Eynsham Abbey was one of the largest in the area. It was dissolved at the Reformation in 1538 and only a few remains are still visible.
The CoE parish church is the Church of St. Leonard and dates from the 13th century, although the nave and tower date from the 15th century. A footpath next to the church leads to a large, peaceful and very attractive churchyard. Next to the churchyard of St. Leonard's is the much smaller, and much newer, RC Church of St. Peter which was completed in the 1960s although the seeds were sown for it in 1895. St. Peter's Church and St. Leonard's churchyard are on the site of the abbey.
Swinford ford (mentioned above) was replaced by a toll bridge in the 18th century when, apparently, King George III's coach and horses almost foundered in the river. an Act of Parliament was granted to the owner, Lord Abingdon, giving the right to build a bridge and charge a toll on everything that passed over. The toll is still levied today, but only for mechanical vehicles.
Close to Swinford Bridge is Eynsham Lock, built in 1928.
As part of the Woodland Trust's 200th 'Woods on your Doorstep' millennium project, the Trust has planted a new 5.5 hectares (13 acres) native woodland on the north side of the village which they have named Eynsham Wood.
Eynsham is about 5 miles east of Witney immediately south of, and bypassed by, the A40 trunk road.