The village of Wendlebury lies about 2 miles southwest of Bicester, next to Junction 9 of the M40.

Before the Norman conquest of England a man called Asgar held the manor. But, after the Conquest, William the Conqueror granted Wendlebury to Geoffrey de Mandeville. The manor remained with his heirs, including his grandson of the same name whom King Stephen made 1st Earl of Essex in about 1140. The de Mandeville lineage ended with the death of William FitzGeoffrey de Mandeville, 3rd Earl of Essex, in 1227, and its lands, including Wendlebury, passed to Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford, in 1236. Henry III made Humphrey Earl of Essex in 1239. Wendlebury then remained with the Earls of Hereford and Essex until the death of Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford in 1373.

The manor of Wendlebury then consisted of two knight’s fees. After the 7th Earl’s death the manor was divided, with one fee passing to the Earl’s elder daughter Eleanor de Bohun, wife of Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester. There is no known record to indicate whether the other fee passed to Eleanor’s younger sister Mary de Bohun, wife of Henry Bolingbroke, but Eleanor’s half seems to have passed to Eleanor’s daughter, Anne of Gloucester. In 1403 it belonged to Anne’s second husband, Edmund Stafford, 5th Earl of Stafford. But there is no known record of the overlordship of Wendlebury after 1403, so it seems to have lapsed.

In 1279 Thame Abbey held five virgates of land at Wendlebury. The abbey seems to have disposed of this land before 1317 as an inventory of its estates then makes no mention of Wendlebury. Rewley Abbey was founded in 1281 and by 1293 held eight virgates of arable land plus 20 acres of meadow at Wendlebury. Rewley retained the estate until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when it passed to Thomas Pope of Wroxton Abbey.

St Giles’ Church
St Giles’ Church

The earliest known record of the parish church of Saint Giles is from early in the 13th century. It was cruciform until 1639 when the south transept was found to be so unsafe that it was demolished.

In 1757 the remainder of the building was found to be unsafe and in March 1761 everything but the bell tower was demolished. But by September a new nave, chancel and two transepts had been completed, incorporating general building materials, early Decorated Gothic windows, and a Perpendicular Gothic doorway, from the old church.

But the foundations continued to give trouble and in 1902 the mediaeval tower and 18th-century south transept were demolished. At the same time the architect John Oldrid Scott restored the remainder of the building, renewed the roof and installed new seating.

The tower had three bells: two cast in the 16th century and the third in 1695. Since the demolition of the tower these have stood in the west end of the nave. The west gable of the nave now has a bell-cot with one bell.

The Lion public house was built in the 17th century and seems to have been trading as an inn by 1732. In 1790 a farmer from Merton started a brewery in the village but the business failed and in 1809 was put up for sale. A Bicester brewer bought it in 1820.

An open field system of farming continued in the parish until 1801, when its common lands were enclosed by Act of Parliament. 1,160 acres of land were enclosed, of which 500 acres were awarded to the lord of the manor, Thomas Coker.

A National School was opened in 1850 and new school buildings for it were completed in 1863. In 1927 it was reorganised as a junior school, with pupils of secondary school age going to Bicester. It became a controlled school in 1952, but has since closed.

The Oxford and Bletchley Railway, completed in 1851, passed through the parish. The London and North Western Railway opened Wendlebury Halt, southeast of the village, in 1905. The Railways Act 1921 made the L&NWR part of the new London, Midland and Scottish Railway, which closed Wendlebury Halt in 1926.