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A lovely little stream runs through Shilton, called The Shill, so it may be
from this the village gets its name. It certainly owes its reputation for being
a very pretty place to its setting in a valley with the pond in the centre,
grass areas, red and white chestnut trees, a pump from which villagers used to
get their drinking and washing water, and a pump-stack where water barrels were
filled for farm use. Close by is a well complete with ornamental stone, a war
memorial, and spanning the stream as it leaves the pond is a very attractive
stone footbridge called The Arch.
The source of the stream rises somewhere near Westwell and runs through Signett
and Burford Bottoms (once called Mount Zion Bottom) before reaching Shilton.
In a dry season this stream almost disappears but a strong spring, called Wells
Head, rises just beyond a beautiful water-meadow, and this ensures the village
is never without a constant flow of water. Snowdrops and later kingcups grow in
profusion here in the spring. This is one of a dwindling number of ancient
unspoilt meadows. Luckily there are two common land banks, a small paddock and
a water meadow in the middle of the village which give it green lungs. Willow
trees on the banks of the stream add to its beauty.
In medieval times there was a Cistercian settlement consisting of a grange,
tithe barn, dovecote, fish pond and rabbit warren. The paddock is still called
Conyger after the latter. The main building was used as a stable around
1910-1940, and as a chick-rearing unit from 1948-1951, and converted to a
dwelling about 1970. The roof of the tithe barn was destroyed by fire years ago
and replaced with corrugated iron. This was made into a house at about the same
Shilton was once very much a farming community consisting of six farms, with
four farmyards right in the village. Cows were driven up the street and grazed
the grass banks whilst ducks and hens wandered in and out of the rickyards.
There was a baker, blacksmith, post office and for a time two shops, a band and
also cricket and football teams. Alas they are no more!
There is a story that Silly Shilton was an apt name that people used to
drive the fish under the bridge when it rained to keep them dry and put a pig on
a wall to see the band go by. Also, that someone was seen, having left the Rose
and Crown, trying to rake the reflection of a full moon from the pond believing
it to be a cheese.
The Norman church sits squarely on a hill overlooking the village the church
of the Holy Rood. It has a notable font with beautifully carved scenes from the
life of Christ on its four faces. There are several wool tombs in the
churchyard and a magnificent copper beech tree near the gate. On the opposite
side of the lane is the old school which closed in 1970 it is now a village
hall fulfilling many needs.
Also in Church Lane is the Baptist chapel built in 1830. It has a small band of
A footpath linking Shilton with Alvescot passes through the churchyard, and a
bridlepath from Shilton to Burford crosses the route of the old Akeman Street
and is a lovely walk. People who know this small Cotswold village well have a
tremendous love for, and loyalty to it. As the old jingle says
Bampton steeple wears a hat,
Witney steeple looks at that,
Burford steeples ready to fall,
Shilton tower beats them all.
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