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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 time.

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 faithful worshippers.

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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