What's New


Family Research Resources

A new section has been added to the Links page, with pointers to resources for family history research, including a new resource offering advice on how to interview elderly relatives for family history/genealogical researeh.

SC Primary School

SC Primary School 58

Recently (mid-late 2023) some former pupils who attended Sutton Courtenay Primary School in the 1950s have kindly shared some of their old school photographs.   These have been included in the Gallery - see Sutton Courtenay Primary School

Where possiblle names have been added for the children shown in the photographs.  Anyone who can add to, or indeed correct, the names is welcome to contact the Webmaster

Additions to Archive - April 2023

The Society has recently (April 2023) been fortunate to receive two contributions to the SCLHS Archive from long-time SC resident Jonathan Blinman.  The items concerned are:

(a) a visitors book apparently from The Manor covering the period 1910-1917 and containing some lovely photographs of the grounds and some fascinating material relating to the social life at the Manor during this period.  Thanks to the Oxfordshire History Centre, the Society has had the main contents of the visitors book digitised.  These can be seen in the OHC PictureOxon archive and via the Archive page below. Meanwhile the Society has also arranged to store the original visitors book with the SCLHS Archive Box in the River Room at All Saints’ Church, where it can be viewed by arrangement with the parish office or John Talbot or Mary Thompson for the Society. For more detailed information about the contents of the visitors book, see the Archive page

(b) a description of the airborne “invasion” of Sutton Courtenay in 1944 (courtesy of Jonathan Blinman presented in the form of a letter to his grandson) is available here.

The Society is always pleased to receive offers of items which shed light of the history or particular events in the village for the SCLHS Archive.  Contact: enquiries@sclhs.org.uk.

Origins of the Society

LocalHistory-WkEnd 1-7-07g

Sutton Courtenay resident, Helen Kendrick, has recently kindly donated some photographs taken of the Local History Weekend exhibitions in July 2007 which gave rise to the formation of the SuttonCourtenay Local History Society in 2008.  

For more information about the origins of the Society and more photographs of the exhibitions click here

SC - River & Mills

In response to a enquiry from a visitor to the Society's website, former Chair of the Society, Mary Thompson, has prepared a summary of the roles the River Thames and the three mills which, at one time or another, it powered have played in the history of Sutton Courtenay.

old paper mill s

 Paper Mill c 1883

Mary’s summary is reproduced below for members’ information:

Sutton Courtenay and the River Thames and Mills

Note by Mary Thompson, former Chair SCLHS - March 2023

The river Thames has played an important role in the history of Sutton Courtenay from prehistoric times.  There is evidence of early settlements with the river not only providing a necessary water supply but as a means of transport of goods by boat and barge which were distributed from the wharf. 

The waters of the Thames were harnessed to provide power for several mills.  The Domesday record of 1086 reveals there were three mills at Sutton, Upper Mill and Lower Mill on the Ginge, and a mill on the Thames itself.  A millstream, weirs and causeway were constructed in Saxon times.  The Thames mill would originally have been used for grinding corn but in later years it became a paper mill.

The mill achieved national importance in 1697 when the Bank of England, founded in 1694, granted Sutton Mill the right to produce the paper for bank notes, as the Bank had fallen victim to forgery of its notes.  An Act of Parliament was passed making this a capital offence.  The special paper produced by Sutton Mill was harder to forge, but in due course the counterfeiters were at work again so that the Mill lost the contract in 1724.

Paper production continued, however, and the Mill thrived.  The Mill House was built for the foreman of the mill in 1741. Paper was still being produced towards the end of the 19th century until the mill closed in 1881.  Many villagers worked at the mill, sorting the rags from which paper was made in those days.  This was dirty, unpleasant work.  A visitor to the village complained of the unpleasant smell and the black smoke from the tall chimney of the mill which spoilt the area.

Over the years various Sutton Courtenay family members owned the mill but one of the most interesting owners was John Thomas Norris .  He was born in 1804 and took over the mill on his father’s death in 1853.  John Norris had a printing business in Aldersgate, London, which provided an outlet for the products of the mill.  Norris divided his time between London and the Mill House at Sutton Courtenay.  He was popular in the village when, in l850, he addressed a meeting in the village to protest against an article written in the newspaper the Morning Chronicle, which described the inhabitants as “depraved, drinking, living together before marriage and playing games on Sundays!”

Norris was MP for Abingdon from 1857-1865 and also a JP for Berkshire.  In 1865 he lost the election and his business world also collapsed. He was made bankrupt and retired to Sutton Courtenay.  Norris died in l870 and was buried in the churchyard.  The paper mill was later advertised for lease but there were no takers and it closed in 1881. The mill and the tall chimney were gradually demolished. 

Archive Box & Maps

The Society has recently (2021-23) brought together and organised material accumulated since its establishment representing an archive of information about Sutton Courtenay’s history, people and environs.  This material is stored in an Archive Box located in the River Room at All Saints’ Church.  Access to the material may be obtained by contacting either the Church Office or the Society’s Chair.  For more details see the Archive page.

Among the material collected were two interesting historical maps of Sutton Courtenay and its environs.  These have recently been donated and lodged with the Oxfordshire History Centre (OHC) where they will be available for viewing by appointment at the OHC and eventually online as part of the OHC’s online collections.  For more details see the Archive page

SC Primary School

Three school photographs dating from the 1950s have recently been added to the Society’s archive.  The relevant Gallery page can be accessed here.  

The Society is grateful to Pauline Philbrook née West and Carol Lidbetter née Hyatt for sharing these photographs.

[Carol Lidbetter has also shared two photos of street parties held in Town Close and Frilsham Street to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.  These may be found on the “Events” page.]

Memories of Sutton Courtenay

The following article appeared in the October 2022 edition of the Sutton Courtenay News:

Memories of Sutton Courtenay

Sutton Courtenay Local History Society is launching a new project “Memories of Sutton Courtenay”. We already have a collection of photos, maps, articles, books and memoirs which we are currently cataloguing and archiving and we’re keen to add more!

You can browse some of our collected material on the Society’s website at https://sclhs.org.uk/archive.html

If you have any photographs of the village which you would be willing to donate we would be very pleased to receive them. Photos might be of people, buildings, work, play, events or anything else connected to the village. They don’t have to be very old, things move on so fast even photos from a few years ago will show something which will be of interest to future generations.

Would you be interested in providing an oral or written history of your life in the village?  We’re keen to collect these too. We can arrange to have oral histories recorded or written memoirs would also be welcome.

Of course if you have anything else you think we might be interested in e.g. books, maps, artefacts etc., please let us know!

If you would like to contribute to “Memories of Sutton Courtenay” please get in touch using our email address enquiries@sclhs.org.uk or by telephoning 01235 848162

We are hoping to have regular articles in the Sutton Courtenay News featuring the history of the village. For example, Queen Elizabeth II never visited the village (as far as we know!) but her father King George VI did in 1941 to visit a Home Guard training camp, photo below donated by Rose Woodward whose father is one of the soldiers in the picture.

King George VI - Visit SC 9-41

John Talbot

Sutton Courtenay Local History Society

OLHA e-Bulletins

The latest e-bulletin from the Oxfordshire Local History Association for September 2022 can be read via this URL.

Past issues can be found here.

The OLHA’s e-bulletins contain articles and information of relevance to those interested in local and family history in Oxfordshire.  All members of local history societies and groups which are members of OLHA are themselves members of OLHA automatically, and the e-bulletins are for everyone.

OLHA May 2022


Morris dancers on Oxford’s Broad Street on May morning

The latest e-bulletin from the Oxfordshire Local History Association for May 2022 can be read via this URL.

Reminder: The OLHA’s AGM and spring study day will be held this coming Saturday (7th May 2022) in Bampton Village Hall in Bampton near Witney, on the theme “ Oxfordshire : World War Two at Home."  For further information and booking details click here.

The OLHA’s e-bulletin contains articles and information of relevance to those interested in local and family history in Oxfordshire.  All members of local history societies and groups which are members of OLHA are themselves members of OLHA automatically, and this e-bulletin is for everyone.

For enquiries about this site contact the Webmaster