*  Welcome to my Crowell Village webpage. Crowell is a tiny village in Oxfordshire, located on the B4009 between Chinnor and Kingston Blount near to Thame, the main part of the village is at the foot of the Chiltern Hills with part of the parish extending up onto Crowell Hill. This is just a ‘personal webpage’ and is not an official website for the village.


*  My interest in Crowell village stems from researching my family tree and in particular my ‘Bowler’ family line. My branch of the Bowler family lived in Crowell from the beginning of the 1820’s to around the end of the 19th century. From November 1863 until April 1883 the Bowler family were running the only pub in the village, The Catherine Wheel. The Catherine Wheel still survives as the local pub but has been renamed The Shepherds Crook (sometime in the 1990’s)



The Shepherds Crook, previously The Catherine Wheel (photos 2005)


The Shepherds Crook (photo 2014)



The above photos show the pub as it was in 2005 and as it is today following the refurbishment in 2013. The present building dates from around 1859/60 when the previous building was destroyed by fire, the pub was rebuilt in time to be recorded on the 1861 census. It is not clear who rebuilt the pub but the landlord at the time, Jesse Stevens, is also recorded in the census as a bricklayer so may well have been involved its rebuilding. Local resident James Harding may also have played a significant part in the rebuilding; in an 1863 trade directory he is listed as ‘Carpenter and Builder’, the only carpenter or builder listed in the village at that time.  His stepson Frederick Bowler also took over as landlord of the pub in 1863. It is of course equally possible outside craftsmen / labour was used to rebuild the Catherine wheel. A list of landlords of the Catherine Wheel that I have found in various sources can be viewed here.


*  Close to the pub stands the parish church, The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.



St Mary’s Crowell (photos - left 2008 and right 2005)


St Mary’s is still in regular use and is linked with the nearby parishes of Chinnor, Sydenham and Aston Rowant. The original registers are held at Oxfordshire Record Office, a note at the beginning of the register records:-

“The Revd, Tho. Phelps planted a Yew tree in the Church yard at Crowell March 12th 1830” There is still a Yew tree close to the church entrance, possibly the one planted by Reverend Phelps?

The current building dates mostly from 1878 when a major restoration took place although a lot of the original materials were used in the reconstruction. An 1852 directory describes the earlier church as ‘a small ancient building having a nave and spire, with a low wooden tower, in, which are three bells’. Kelly’s 1915 directory describes the new church The Church of St Mary is a small building of flint, chiefly in the Decorated style, and lined inside with chalk, and consists of chancel, nave, south porch and a modern stone bell-cote containing one bell: the chancel which is decorated and appears to have been shortened at an early period, retains two sedilia and a blocked low-side window: the doorways are Norman and the font Transitional: there is a brass to Sir John Payne, parson, 1469 with a demi-effigy and eight English verses: the church was partially rebuilt in 1878 at a cost of £1,300 and affords 102 sittings’.

St Mary’s is also home to Crowell’s World War 1 memorial, which lists the names of 2 soldiers from Crowell who were killed in World War 1. Herbert George WIXON killed 1915 and Corp. Harry WITNEY killed 1918, both were in the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry.


WW1 memorial in St Mary’s church (photo 2009)


A second brass plaque in St Mary’s commemorates Henry Hamp HILL also killed in World War 1, who I think came from nearby Kingston Blount, which may explain why he is not mentioned on the main plaque, Henry is also shown on the Aston Rowant war memorial.

Parish website:- http://chinnorunitedchurches.co.uk/churches/nativity-of-the-blessed-virgin-crowell


*       A list of men from Crowell who served in WW1 produced by Rev V Collier is held at the Oxfordshire Record Office, a transcript of the names is available here.


*       A transcription of various trade directory entries for Crowell can be found here.


*       A major event in Crowell’s history was a fire in July 1859. The Times 1st August 1859 edition carried an article on the fire, it reported ‘as many as 13 houses and cottages, including the Wheel public house, were burnt to the ground.’  ‘About 70 persons, including men, women and children are thrown into distress by this fire’. A transcript of some reports of the fire can be found here.

            While the fire must have had a dramatic effect of the village and its residents it does not appear to have had much effect on the number of people living in the village, the figures below are take from census data.

























            Figures taken from Online Historical Population Reports at www.histpop.org


            The population actually rises between 1861 and 1871 while the biggest decline occurs between 1871 and 1881 with a slow but steady decline continuing into the 20th century.


*       Thomas Ellwood (1639 to 1713), religious controversialist and Quaker was born in Crowell and baptised there 15th October 1639 the son of Walter Ellwood and Elizabeth Portman. Ellwood House where Thomas was born still stands in the village (see photo below).


*       Crowell as a surname:- the 1881 census of England recorded 49 people with the surname Crowell, none of them in the Village or even in Oxfordshire. A search of the Electoral Roll in May 2007 listed 35 instances of the name. The 1901 census index produced 70 individuals with the name. The book Surnames of the United Kingdom by Henry Harrison published 1912 has this to say ‘CROWELL (Eng.) Bel. To Crowell (Oxon) = the Crow-Well, ie the well or spring frequented by crows [O.E. crawe + wielle]’ 


This also suggests an origin for the name in a Well or Spring where Crows gather. I would be interested to hear if you have any other suggestions as to the origin of the name?


Crowell in Oxfordshire is not the only village to use the name, there is a ‘Crowell’ in Texas, its website can be found at:- www.crowelltex.com/


*       Photos, new:-


Elwood House (photo 2007) and a Red Kite, a frequent sight in the area (photo 2008)




A plaque in the church and the entrance gate to the churchyard (photos 2009)




2 more plaques inside St Mary’s (photos 2009)



Photos, old. These old photos of Crowell were kindly sent to me by a current resident of the village, thought to date from the 1940’s / 50’ they give a nice glimpse of the village in times gone by:-









     Transcripts of a few newspaper articles relating to Crowell can be found here.



     Contact Bob:-   webmaster<no-spam>@bowler.me.uk  

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     More information on my Bowler family research




Thank You for visiting my website, I hope you have found the information of interest, I would be pleased to hear have any additions or corrections to the information listed here or just to pass on your comments…..Bob



Site last updated October 2020

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