Littleworth is a rural parish close to Faringdon in Oxfordshire. It extends from the River Thames at its most northerly point, to the west is the boundary with agricultural land around Barcote and Carswell and the eastern boundary runs along the edge of Cromwell’s battery near Faringdon, reaching Wadley Manor in the south. At the time of the 2011 census 239 people lived in the parish, and there are around 100 houses – 65 in the village of Littleworth with the others close to the farms at Thrupp, Haremoor and Wadley. Much of Littleworth village is a Conservation Area.
Littleworth has been shaped by its history as an agricultural estate. People have lived in the parish for over 6,000 years, with evidence of farming from the Roman period. By the time of the Doomsday Book in 1086 the land was owned by the Crown, which in 1138 gave it to a medieval abbey. By the 1400’s the parish came back into the ownership of the King, who then granted it to Oriel College, Oxford. Oriel College managed it as a farming estate until 1922, when the land was sold to local farmers.
Sixty years ago the village itself had at least six working farms, and most of the villagers had connections with those farms. It also had a village school, shop and pub. Now, there is just one working farm, and villagers work elsewhere or are retired. The school and shop closed over fifty years ago, and the pub is now an Indian Restaurant. In spite of these changes, uniquely, Littleworth has kept its village values. It is a remarkably friendly, caring and welcoming community, and villagers feel privileged to live in it.
We hold a variety of regular and ad hoc village events through the year, including weekly keep fit classes in the village Reading Room or playing field, monthly whist drives and a ‘pop up pub’, a book club and the annual church fete. During the pandemic, we held a pop up ‘help yourself’ jumble sale over five days in the church, and at Christmas 2021 we used the church as a candlelit cinema to show The Snowman to the young and young-at-heart.
Our Church Building and History
Our church, The Church of the Holy Ascension, was built in 1839 on Norman foundations, with the chancel added in 1876. The Church founder was Edward Bouverie Pusey, who had often ridden his horse through the village, and regarded it as ‘a dirty and lawless place, with the peasantry almost in a heathen state’. At this time, villagers who wanted to attend church walked the two miles along the footpath known as Church Path across the fields to Faringdon. Coffins were also carried along this path for funerals. Oriel College, in Oxford, had recently bought the Littleworth Estate, and were prepared to contribute to the building of a church, but only if it was ‘a handsome building’. Thus, we gained a church which was really much too large for our population. Currently we hold fortnightly services, and there are 8 parishioners on the church electoral roll.
The south side of the nave roof was leaking, and thanks to a grant for the full cost from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund it was re-roofed in 2017. Our churchyard wall was also collapsing and has recently been thoroughly repaired, thanks to funds raised from many years of community fundraising events, and grants from the Oxford Historic Churches Trust, the Allchurches Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation. We are keen to see the use of the church building maximised and are currently working on improving access.