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Cumnor, Berkshire

Historical Description

Cumnor, a village, a township, and a parish, in Berks. The village stands on the brow of a hill, 2 miles E of the river Isis, and 3½ WSW of Oxford, and has a post and money order office, under Oxford; telegraph office, Oxford. The township includes the village. The parish includes also the hamlets of Chawley, Deancourt, Fitchampstead, Henwood, Rockley, and Swinford. Acreage, 5962, of which 32 are water; population, 919. The manor belonged to Abingdon Abbey, was given at the dissolution to the last abbot, and passed in 1560 to Anthony Forster. The mansion on it was the scene of the murder of Amy Robsart, as related in Mickle's ballad of "Cumnor" and Sir Walter Scott's novel of "Kenilworth," but was really a low quadrangular edifice surrounding a small court, and not the spacious and towered structure depicted in these works, and it has entirely disappeared. The surface of the parish is hilly, and there is a mineral spring. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford; gross yearly value, £277 with residence. Patron, the Earl of Abingdon. The church is partly Norman, consists of nave, north aisle, south chapel, and chancel, with a western tower, and contains an altar-tomb of Anthony Forster, and brasses.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyBerkshire 
Ecclesiastical parishCumner St. Michael 
Poor Law unionAbingdon 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The registers all date from 1559.


Church of England

St. Michael (parish church)

The church of St. Michael is an edifice of stone, generally in the Transitional Norman style, with insertions and additions of a century later, and consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, a chapel at the east end of the south aisle, which served as a mortuary chapel for the abbey of Abingdon, north porch and a battlemented western tower containing a clock and 6 bells; the west doorway is Norman and the tower arch a fine example of Transitional work: against the north wall of the chancel is the rich canopied altar-tomb of Anthony Forster, c. 1572, and whose epitaph, of 32 verses, speaks highly of him as being amiable and accomplished; the tomb has at the back brasses of himself in armour, and his wife Ann (Williams), with several children and shields of arms: there are other brasses to Catherine (Williams), wife of Henry Staverton, gent. 1577; and to Deodatus Staverton, and his wife Edith (Williams), c. 1580; there is also a memorial to Benjamin Buckler D.D. sometime fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, vicar here and rector of Frilsham, 1755-80; he was editor of the "Stemmata Chicheleiana" and keeper of the university archives at Oxford, and was buried here 24th Dec. 1780: in the church is preserved a very fine example of a chained Bible, dated 1611, and said to have been used by the Oxford University Press in 1832-3 for producing an exact reprint of the authorised version: a list of vicars, in the church, commences in 1314, and has been continued to the present time: there is also a full-length statue in Caen stone of Queen Elizabeth, crowned, and bearing the orb and sceptre, said to have been erected by the Earl of Leicester, in the gardens of Old Cumnor Place: a handsome memorial has been erected to the late Sir William Wilson Hunter K.C.S.I., C.I.E. who died February 7th, 1900, aged 59: the church affords 300 sittings.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Cumnor was in Abingdon Registration District from 1837 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Cumnor from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Berkshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Cumnor are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Berkshire papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Berkshire 1532, 1566, and 1665-6 is available online.

DistrictVale of White Horse
RegionSouth East
Postal districtOX2
Post TownOxford