A haven for wildlife, rare plants, and history


    Waterstock is a beautiful and tranquil village in a conservation area in Oxford's green belt, and part of the parliamentary constituency of Henley and the Diocese of Oxford. It comprises a 15th century church, equestrian centre, and thirty-eight mostly pre-20th century houses along a single lane that includes one of the oldest cruck houses in England, circa 1295.


    Waterstock is a small, close-knit community of approximately 80 people of diverse but complementary ages, occupations, and lifestyles. Our youngest resident is a few months old and our oldest is more than 90.


    A settlement is known to have existed at Waterstock since at least the time of the Domesday Book. However, it's likely that its heritage goes back further because “Waterstoke” is Anglo-Saxon for “water place,” and items such as Trajan sestertii have been found in its fields.


    Waterstock village and its surrounding fields make up the Waterstock Conservation Area. The appraisal for the area recognised the importance of conserving and protecting the many 17th and 18th century and earlier farmhouses and cottages, the medieval ridge and furrow fields, its water meadows and wonderful open views from the village. The appraisal states that the appearance and character of the village is well preserved. However, as a designated government conservation area, it has to ensure this continues by observing additional measures (see guide from SODC) to protect it for the benefit of future generations.


    Waterstock’s location alongside the River Thame and its wide floodplain also makes it a magnet for wildlife. Thanks in large part to the efforts of organisations such as the River Thame Conservation Trust, Freshwater Habitats Trust, and BBOWT 33 hectares of land in Waterstock have been awarded full Local Wildlife Site status.


    A safe haven for a rich variety of native and migratory wildlife.

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    Full Local Wildlife Site status was granted in February 2019 following the submission of three years of continuous survey data. (Full BBC news story here.)

    Waterstock is also a Biodiversity Opportunity Area in the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership strategy.

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    Pim Young, Oxfordshire Wildlife Sites Project Officer, BBOWT: "Waterstock plays host to some of our most endangered breeding bird species such as curlew, and it also provides crucial wintering habitat for large numbers of birds."

    Sally Rowlands, Chair of the River Thame Conservation Trust: "Waterstock is a hidden jewel in the crown of the River Thame."


    British Trust for Ornithology: "[O]ne of the most exciting sites in Oxfordshire"

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    There are plans for a network of ponds to support great crested newts in partnership with the South Midlands Newt Conservation Partnership.

    Construction has recently started on a complex of wetland wader scrapes and reed bed habitats in partnership with the Freshwater Habitats Trust.

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    Dragonfly data, river fly monitoring data, and the last round of Environment Agency triennial fish surveys found Waterstock to be one of the richest stretches of the Thame in terms of diversity and health of fish populations.


    Waterstock has 11 recorded species of fish in the river, and more than 300 species of plants, including bee orchids and the rare great dodder.

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    Wading birds: Curlew, snipe, lapwing, jack snipe, green sandpiper and oystercatcher.
    Wintering Wildfowl: wigeon, teal, shoveler, gadwall, teal and pintail.
    Migrating birds: hawfinch, redstart, whinchat, wheatear, sand martin, yellow wagtail.
    Owls and Raptors: hobby, peregrine falcon, barn owl and tawny owl.
    Breeding passerines: spotted flycatcher, garden warbler, willow warbler, lesser whitethroat, kestrel, yellow wagtail.


    All filmed in Waterstock set on the banks of the River Thame.


    Filmed by Henry Manisty and edited by James Manisty.

    Rest, recreation, and relaxation in Waterstock

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    The Waterstock Dressage & Riding School provides livery, outdoor and indoor facilities, and horsemanship tuition to all ages and abilities. It is also a certified centre with the Pony Club of Great Britain.

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    Waterstock's public footpaths include the Oxfordshire Way, a nationally recognised walk and part of European walking route E2, and The Seven Shires Way, which circumnavigates the county boundary. There are footpaths leading to all neighbouring villages: Ickford, Tiddington, Great Milton, Wheatley, and Waterperry.

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    Olivia Fink, born and raised in Waterstock, studied glass at the Royal College of Art where she is now the glass technician for cast glass. This piece is being admired by Ivy, her 4 year old, outside her workshop
    in Waterstock.

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    Waterstock Golf Club's 6,500-yard, Par 72 parkland course has hosted B.B.O professional tournaments and County Junior Championships. There's also a floodlit driving range, and a golf academy.

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    Waterstock and its environs are home to otters, the globally endangered curlew, and more than 100 other bird and mammal species; 61 of which are on the UK's protected species list.

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    Each year we hold events like coffee mornings, cake sales, dog walks and other community events and fundraisers - as well as carol singing every Christmas Eve. In recent years this has included 'Beers & Boules', opera in the church with soprano Milly Forrest, and our annual ‘Call My Wine Bluff’ quiz.

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    From her pottery and workshop in a converted cowshed in Church Farmyard, Jane Hanson creates finely thrown stoneware. In addition to holding regular, well-attended classes, she exhibits and supports Art Weeks around the county.

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    Helen MacRithchie's textile work focuses upon the detail found in nature and science. This summer, during lockdown, Helen concentrated on the natural dyeing of wool fabric and yarn using the vegetation from 35 different trees and plants in Waterstock, creating a series of works entitled “On my doorstep”. The work will hopefully be exhibited in 2021.


    Newsletters and Parish notices and governance

    Please find links to Waterstock's Certificate of Exemption, Annual Governance Statement, and...
    After this year’s washout, Michael Tyces’s May magazine contribution began appropriately with...
    The wet weather the past month has been atrocious. This, combined with heavy traffic diverted...
    More Posts


    Saxons name the village 'Waterstoke'. Prior to this it had been known as 'Stoch' or 'Stoches'. 'Stoc' in Old English means 'special place', i.e. one for a specific purpose. Debris from Iron Age and Romano-British settlements have been found in the neighbouring villages of Tiddington and Albury.

    1086. WILLIAM I

    Domesday Book records Waterstock Mill as worth 9 shillings and five pence. The village’s population included five serfs.
    1190. RICHARD I
    First record of Waterstock church.
    1235. HENRY III
    Waterstock Estate founded by the Bruleys, which lasts until the mid 20th century.
    1279 HENRY III
    Population 200, its highest recorded level and almost three times today’s.
    1295. EDWARD I
    Orchard End built. Reputed to be sixth oldest occupied house in England. As late as the end of the nineteenth century Orchard End is referred to as a “row of cottages” and a photograph shows a family at each of its three front doors.
    1480. EDWARD IV
    Camilla Cottage built.

    1502. HENRY VII

    William Orchard, English master-mason who designed Magdalen College, Oxford and the chancel of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, designs Waterstock's parish church.

    1590. ELIZABETH I
    Original timber frame section of Home Farm built, since much extended down to modern times.

    1616. JAMES I

    Charles Croke appointed Rector of Waterstock.

    1630. CHARLES I

    In John Taylor's Thame to Thame-isis the author describes the Thame's fall to the Thames - which passes Waterstock - as a journey to the dismantled shrine of St Birinus, 'creeping south under Wheatley Bridge like a pilgrim all along'.

    1631. CHARLES I
    Creation of the Ambrose Bennett Foundation for the poor of Waterstock, which is still operating.
    1646. CHARLES I
    Parliamentary General Ireton at Waterstock House. Wheatley Bridge was the boundary with the King, who held Oxford. The Crokes of Waterstock House (memorial in St Leonard's Church) were strong Parliamentarians. In The King's Smuggler, John Fox's biography of Jane Whorwood, Waterstock gets a number of mentions. In particular, Fox claims that the Duke of York's French tutor came to the quarter of Henry Ireton, Oliver Cromwell's son-in-law, at Waterstock House begging terms for the king.

    1666. CHARLES II
    Waterstock gives £2.5s.6d. to "ye relief of distressed inhabitants of London impoverished by ye latest dreadful fire." (Great Fire of London).
    1670. CHARLES II
    Waterstock gives £1.7s.8d. for "ye redeeming of slaves out of Turkey." (Probably British, captured by pirates).
    1676. CHARLES II
    Adult population of 55. Less than a third of 1279 and similar to ~60 of present day.

    1693. MARY II

    Waterstock Mill rebuilt.

    1695. WILLIAM III
    Old Waterstock House pulled down and replaced with a brick house by Sir Henry Ashhurst. The English Counties Delineated notes that "In the old [manor] house...were many arms in painted glass; amongst them, that of William Waynfleet, Bishop of Winchester, probably put up in memory of a visit he paid to Waterstock."

    1773. GEORGE III

    William Green, a carpenter from Waterstock, is commissioned to build 20 butchers' shops in the new Oxford Covered Market.

    1777. GEORGE III

    John Gutch appointed Rector of Waterstock.

    1790. GEORGE III
    Bow Bridge built as part of a private carriageway between Waterstock and Waterperry houses by Diana Ashhurst. The path later became a famous right of way legal case, and then part of the Oxfordshire Way. Park Farm House and Old Rectory newly built or restored.

    1799. GEORGE III

    Sir William Henry Ashurst retires to Waterstock permanently. A renowned judge, he was also the father of William Henry Ashurst, who was deeply involved in his era's radical politics. The Ashursts' family archive can be found at The Bodleian.

    1805. GEORGE III
    Village school opens (now 'Old School House') in 1808, with ten pupils recorded. Closed in 1916.
    1826. GEORGE IV
    Sir John Goss, Composer of "Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven", wrote the tune “Waterstock,” which is used for the village's traditional hymn (see front inside cover of prayer books in St Leonard's). Goss probably had a connection with the village, perhaps through the Ashhursts.

    1837. GEORGE IV

    The English Counties Delineated notes that Waterstock contains 26 houses and 132 inhabitants.

    1858. VICTORIA I
    St Leonard's church and clock are thoroughly repaired and renovated by Wyatts the builders.
    1861. VICTORIA I
    Population 147.
    1862. VICTORIA I
    Tiddington Station opens on new Wycombe to Oxford line, taking 15 acres of the Waterstock Estate at £200 per acre.

    1877. VICTORIA I

    Waterstock is recognised for its excellent trees by 'Notes and Queries', a long-running scholarly journal.

    1910. GEORGE V

    On 9 June, hail the size of walnuts (20-30mm in diameter) fell to a depth of 90-120cm near obstructions and approximately 10cm in open ground. Plants were reduced to bare stalks, and the vegetation and glass in the Rectory garden were almost totally destroyed. You can see pictures here.

    1913. GEORGE V
    Rev. Carr moves from the Lake District into the Old Rectory as Rector of Waterstock. With him is his daughter Lucie, the Lucie of Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggywinkle story who was always losing handkerchiefs.
    1924. GEORGE V
    Light railway built North of the village (The Willows) to take gravel to Railway at Tiddington. Closed in 1927.

    1935. GEORGE V

    H. J. Massingham, a prominent 20th century ruralist writer, mentions Waterstock in 'Through The Wilderness' as "pure English country." Massingham was one of the twelve members of the Kinship in Husbandry, an organisation which later merged with two other bodies to form the Soil Association.
    1954. ELIZABETH IIWaterstock Estate broken up. Lars and Diana Sederholm found the world-famous Waterstock House Training Centre. Over the next three decades it becomes a home for aspiring and international riders alike in three-day eventing and showjumping. Pupils come from more than thirty nations to train at Waterstock, and Lars coaches Olympic teams from four different countries. Alumni include: Caroline Bradley, Yogi Breisner, William Fox-Pitt, David O’Connor, Michael Whitaker, and Richard Walker. Read more about Lars in his obituary.

    1974. ELIZABETH II
    M40 London to Waterstock Motorway opens. Waterstock now commutable to London.
    1977. ELIZABETH II
    Major celebrations of Queen’s 25th Anniversary with a street party, games, fancy dress, and then a variety show (all villagers) and dinner in the big barn at Park Farmyard. It was entirely funded by weekly (!) raffles of wine and cigarettes. Similar large scale events were also held for Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding and other occasions.

    1986. ELIZABETH II

    The Headington Shark is installed on 9 August. The original owner of the Headington Shark, Bill Heine, was a Waterstock resident for many decades.

    1989. ELIZABETH II

    Waterstock Golf Club founded

    1994. ELIZABETH II

    In Will Self's second collection of short stories, Grey Area, the landscapes of Waterstock briefly feature in 'Chest'.

    2000. ELIZABETH II
    Major Millenium celebrations with a party moving from house to house and the creation of a Millenium Window by public subscription in St Leonard's church. The entire village is designated as a Conservation Area by the District Council. The Village Appraisal is published, and notes that if the inhabitants of the village from past centuries were to come back today they would be struck more by how little had changed than by how much was different.

    2001. ELIZABETH II

    In the fourth series of Midsomer Murders, Waterstock is the location for 'Who Killed Cock Robin?'

    2010. ELIZABETH II

    Waterstock features as a location in Carola Dunn's Regency romance/time travel novel, 'Byron's Child'

    2020. ELIZABETH II

    A rare gold and ivory denture is found in Waterstock. The false teeth are thought to date to between 1800 and 1850.


    For a more complete history, please visit British History Online.

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    In recent years, a figure from a mid 13th century Limoges cross (pictured above), an Andrew Archer silver spoon from between 1697-1720, an 18th century man's gold posy ring, several Edward I Jettons, Elizabeth I and Edward VI sixpences, Georgian fob seals, and crotal bells have been found in Waterstock's fields.

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    Waterstock seems to have had a parish church since at least 1190. The current Church of England parish church of Saint Leonard was built at the end of the 15th century. The nave and chancel were rebuilt in 1790, and in 1858 the Gothic Revival architect G.E. Street restored the building.

    Remnants of mediaeval window glass were recovered after the English Reformation and have been inserted above the armorial Ashurst window. As well as regular church services, weddings, meetings, and concerts are held.

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    Waterstock has three rare Grimsley grave markers. They are made of very dense, smooth pinkish orange clay which now looks a cream colour.


    St Leonard's is the burial place of the early-17th-century Puritan writer William 'Eternity' Tipping, the violinist Manoug Parikian, and his wife Diana Parikian, the antiquarian bookseller

  • Waterstock Parish Plan and other documents

    If you would like to read the Waterstock Parish Plan or any other village documents, please get in touch using the contact page.


    If you'd like to learn more about Waterstock, please get in touch.


    Or to contact the Church's Safeguarding Officer, Rosalind Portman: rosalindportman@gmail.com