In addition to Chalgrove itself, the parish embraces the small settlement of Rofford and the former parish of Warpsgrove with which it merged in 1932.
The Domesday Book lists five mills operating on Chalgrove Brook, although only one survives today. It is found at the western end of the village on the appropriately-named 'Mill Lane' opposite The Manor. This mill was restored to working condition in 1998 - including turning the overshot water wheel around to become a high-breast one - and was used to grind corn on an open day in 1999.
The Brook flows on through Stadhampton and then to Chislehampton where it joins the River Thame, a tributary of the River Thames. During the 19th century a sluice gate was constructed at the eastern end of the village and from the original stream (the back brook) water was diverted to run alongside what is now the High Street. This artificially-created loop (the 'Front Brook') has become an attractive feature in Chalgrove. In the past, flooding was an issue with 22 houses seriously flooded during 1879. The brook's flow is now much reduced and the risk of flooding has declined with only a small section of the High Street now deemed to be at occasional risk.
The present village church, dating from the 12th century, was begun by monks from the Abbey of Bec, an important Benedictine abbey in Normandy. The 13th century saw a few developments including the establishment in the chancel of a series of wall paintings which have established the church as a Grade I listed building. Historians believe these wall-paintings were completed around 1320 possibly at the request of the de Barantyn family, who lived in one of the two manors in Chalgrove at the time. The paintings were lime washed over at the time of the English_Reformation and rediscovered in 1858 during renovation work commissioned by the Reverend Robert French Lawrence. Some of the paintings on the north wall are a little indistinct now due to their age and two of the paintings on the south wall were covered by marble memorials while the paintings lay hidden under the lime wash. Educational and devotional and in earthen colours, they depict a Tree of Jesse, the Last Judgement and the medieval legend of the Assumption of Mary. The church is thought to remain substantially as it was in 1500, although some records state that there was a spire on top of the tower until it came down in a violent storm in 1727. The tower contains a single-handed turret clock dated in part from 1699. The interior comprises a wide nave with two aisles separated by transitional Norman arcades with carved capitals and a chancel.
The second-oldest building in Chalgrove is The Manor. Standing partially on the site of an earlier building, originally the de Plessis manor / court-house, this late 14th / early 15th century manor-house was repaired and restored during the 1980s. The central hall, which was horizontally subdivided in the 16th century, contains a medieval oak screen on the ground floor, possibly from the 13th century house, late 16th century painted grey studding on the first floor and a finely-detailed arch-braced collar roof with double purlins with seating for a louvre. The carpentry in the roof is of exceptionally high quality and it is possible that the carpenters were the same as those who had been employed to construct the Royal Palace at Ewelme. The south wing parlour has 17th-century painted grained panels and the north wing contains a medieval annexe and garderobe chute outlet. The rear extensions are early 16th century.
During the Second World War, the government needed level ground for airfields. The standard three-runway Chalgrove Airfield was constructed in 1943, and in February 1944 the Americans moved in with a photo reconnaissance squadron of Lockheed P-38_Lightning aircraft. Three more squadrons joined in March to bring the station to full strength. These squadrons performed many low-level operations over France to provide valuable information prior to, and shortly after, the Normandy landings in June 1944.
In March 1945 the nearby USAAF PR squadrons at Mount Farm, Berinsfield, moved to Chalgrove with their P-51s and F-5s. Reconnaissance work continued over peacetime Europe in order to assess damage. The Americans left at the end of the year, and Chalgrove became a satellite of Benson airfield, until an agreement was reached with Martin Baker to use the airfield for testing new ejector seats. The first live ejection from a Martin-Baker ejector seat, fitted to a Gloster Meteor, was made over Chalgrove airfield in July 1946. Martin Baker still owns the airfield site but it is mostly used for ejector seat testing and the very few aircraft that use the airfield relate almost entirely to this work.
After a long period of stagnation, the population grew very rapidly from under 1,000 in 1961 to just over 3,000 by 1996 mainly due to a new housing estate being developed in the area known as 'Sixpenny Fields' between the village core and the more recent bypass, the B480. The road into this development is named after the most famous former vicar of the parish, Robert French Laurence.
More recently, Chalgrove is where an incredibly rare Roman silver coin (c.271 AD) was discovered - a base silver Roman coin known as a radiate of the emperor Domitian II. This was the first such coin found in Britain. The only other was found in France and was thought to be a fake until the discovery of the British coin proved the existence of the short-lived emperor. It is now believed that Chalgrove settlement may pre-date the Roman occupation: during the 1976 drought, aerial reconnaissance revealed filled-in moats and earthworks next to the back brook. Such features are often more easily identified in hot, dry conditions. Subsequent archaeological excavation at this location revealed the remains of an impressive medieval moated manor.
The village supports three public houses: 'The Lamb' (at the northern end of the village), 'The Red Lion' and 'The Crown' (both at the centre, on the High Street). The Red Lion is owned by the church and is vested in the Trustees of the Church Estate, but is leased out. There are six other shops, including two mini-markets, a florist, pharmacy, post office, newsagent and a garage.
An industrial estate (Monument Park) opposite the airfield, and on the far side of the bypass, supports a wide range of diverse businesses including serviced accommodation.
The village has one local Primary School
Regular local events include the May Day Festival and an annual music festival, held every year since 1988.
The village has expanded because of new in-migration which, because of the age profile, is providing further natural increase.
Barentin's manor; excavations of the moated manor at Harding's field, Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, 1976-9.(Brief Article)(Book Review)
Nov 01, 2005; 0947816623 Barentin's manor; excavations of the moated manor at Harding's field, Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, 1976-9. Page,...