Welcome to the Churchill & Sarsden Heritage Centre

'Small, but perfectly formed' Country Life

Possibly the smallest museum in Oxfordshire, the Heritage Centre is placed in a stunning setting overlooking
the site of the ‘lost’ village of Churchill, destroyed by fire in 1684.

We are open from Saturday 1st April to Sunday 1st October 2023
2.30-4.30pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays
If you are unable to visit the Heritage Centre for any reason, we are always happy to try and answer any queries you might have in relation to family history (or anything else connected to the Heritage Centre).
There is a link below to more information about family history, and from there you can send us an email.


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Want to search your local family history?

Project ’22 – The Sale of the Sarsden Estate 1922

This interesting and well-researched exhibition continues throughout 2023

Project ’22 – The Sale of the Sarsden Estate 1922

The Churchill and Sarsden Heritage Centre have a big anniversary to celebrate in 2022

The Sarsden Estate owned practically the whole of the village of Churchill together with neighbouring land and property. Its sale in 1922 had a profound effect not only on Churchill, but also on nearby Sarsden, Chadlington and Lyneham, so a group of volunteers, led by Linda Devlin, have been researching the social and economic reasons for this important sale, and its impact on the owners and occupants of the various properties.

Unlike the sad fate of some country estates that were broken up and sold off after WW1, the story of the Sarsden Estate is largely a positive one.

The results of this research have revealed some lovely stories of the people who owned these properties and form the basis of our 2023 exhibition, which will feature photos, old postcards, deeds, and interviews. The findings are an important contribution to the history of our local area.



The building may be only 15' by 30' but its ancient walls contain state of the art technology, with touch screens telling the remarkable stories of two eminent sons of the village, Warren Hastings (1732-1818) and William Smith (1769-1839). 
The part played in the community by the village squire, James Langston (1796-1863), is also displayed on a new touch screen unit.
The old medieval village church fell into disrepair after the new All Saints' Church was built in 1826 in the centre of the village. Although the chancel was retained and used as a mortuary chapel and to house the memorials, its condition deteriorated and demolition was threatened in the 1980s. 
A Preservation Society was formed in 1988 to fight for its survival as the last medieval building in Churchill and, thanks to fund-raising and grants, over £30,000 was spent to restore the roof and building. 
The Heritage Centre opened in 2001 in the restored chancel.  In 2010, it was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to enable work on the maintenance of the building, enhance the displays and extend the projects of the centre.  The Centre is also being supported by grants from West Oxfordshire District Council and Friends of the Cotswolds, for which the management committee is extremely grateful.
The Centre re-opened in April 2011 with touch screen displays, new exhibits and exciting plans for wider public engagement.  The 2012 season attracted a record number of visitors and these numbers have gone up every year  as we continue to work on our audience strategy.  Our profile was boosted during 2015 as we worked in conjunction with the Oxford Museum of Natural History to celebrate the bicentenary of the publication of William Smith’s famous map.

From Our Guest Book

  • "Lovely spot, so grateful this part of the old church was saved."

  • "Great building, well restored. Charming!"

  • "Why haven't we been here earlier? We shall certainly return!"

  • "A little gem I didn't know existed."

  • "A fascinating visit. William Smith was a wonderful man! "

  • "Such a wonderful enterprise. The locality should be proud of it."

  • "Fantastic, absolutely first class. Most interesting and informative."

  • "Beautiful restoration, very nicely done! Unexpected hive of information."

  • "Congratulations to all on this initiative.  So well-organised and user-friendly."

  • "Very good new interactive displays, very comprehensive."

  • "Beautiful setting, very peaceful & informative"

  • "What a lovely treat to stumble upon. Thank you for preserving a part of our Heritage"

  • "A fine chance discovery"

  • "A fascinating display in a very beautiful setting."

  • "Excellent to have this centre as a focus for Churchill's history - especially in relation to William Smith."

Visiting the centre with children?