Iffley is a village in Oxfordshire, England, within the boundaries of the city of Oxford, between Cowley and the estates of Rose Hill and Donnington, and in proximity to the River Thames (Isis). Its most notable feature is its original and largely unchanged Norman church, St Mary the Virgin, which has a modern stained glass Nativity window designed by John Piper. The church is listed Grade I.
The ending of the name of this village near Oxford, means "cleared ground": the Old English term for that was "ley" — just up the road from modern Iffley, the town of Cowley also preserves the Old English ending and meaning in its name.
No records of the foundation of Iffley have been found, but the reason for its founding is clear from the location: Iffley has a little hill, and so is the first place downriver from Oxford from which traffic on the Thames might be surveyed, and controlled — and where people might be safe from floods:
During the 12th century Oxford townsmen built a watermill at Iffley, which was bought by Lincoln College, Oxford in 1445: the mill burned in 1908, having survived for nearly 800 years. Products ground at the Iffley mill included malt, barley, corn, and other cereals — for a brief time during the 15th century it was a fulling mill. The mill,
In 1156 Iffley was among the holdings of the Norman family of St. Remy, until about 1200. They established Iffley as a parish, and built the parish church, "in size and decorative splendour out of all proportion to the place". The manor was owned by many, thereafter. The Archdeacons of Oxford were given the right to appoint the parish priest in 1279: they held this until 1965, when the power was given to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford.