Shutford is a village and civil parish about west of Banbury in Oxfordshire. The village is about above sea level. In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Shutford like this:
SHUTFORD, a chapelry in Swalcliffe parish, Oxford; 5 miles W of Banbury r. station. It has a postal pillar-box under Banbury. Acres, 640. Real property, £2,840. Pop., 386. Houses, 98. The living is annexed to Swalcliffe. The church was repaired in 1841. There are chapels for Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists.
The name Shutford is derived from Scytta's Ford. In the fourteenth century the village was quite large. 20 people were assessed for tax in 1327. In 1377 there were 86. A fire in 1701 destroyed 24 houses. Some houses were rebuilt and modernised. In 1774 71 houses were recorded. In the middle ages there were 3 manors in Shutford. The manor house appears to have been built in the 16th century. In the Civil War, Viscount Saye and Sele supported the Parliamentarians. Plush and shag weaving was established in 1747 and became the village's main claim to fame.
Iron Age barrows in the neighbouring villiages of Sibford Gower and Swalcliffe, as well as the remains of an extensive Romano-British settlement, suggest that the area was inhabited from an early time. Shutford was not mentioned in the Domesday Book but was recorded as a settlement in the twelfth century under the name schiteford.
Nearby Madmarston Hill, a late iron age hill camp, is the earliest known settlement in the (Banbury) hundred. It was probably occupied from the 2nd century B.C. until the 1st century A.D. when it appears to have been deserted, except for a brief period in the 4th century. The site was extensively excavated in 1957-58.
Shutford also lies close to what is now known as Swalcliffe Lea and was one of the largest Roman occupation sites in the county, covering 50 acres. The site was occupied throughout the Roman period and possibly earlier. The settlement which was quite large in the 1st century A.D. seems to have declined in the second but flourished again in the late third and fourth centuries. From the 14th to the 17th centuries a medieval hamlet called the Lea stood on the site all traces of which have now disappeared. The site was excavated by the Oxford University Archaeological Society in 1958. A villa in the field to the south east of the township site and immediately to the east of Lower Lea farmhouse was excavated in 2000.
The Manor House
The manor house was built in the last quarter of the 16th century and is the main house of the former East Shutford parish. Built by Sir Richard Fiennes, the MP for Banbury, between 1580 and 1600. A distinguishing feature is the tall staircase tower. Although the Fiennes family never lived at the Manor it is said that just before the outbreak of the Civil War the Parliamentarian Lord Saye and Sele drilled soldiers in the upper storey of the house (then one large room).
From about 1750 Shutford was part of the Banbury area's plush industry. Banbury was the centre for dyeing, marketing and distributing, but yarn was sent out to surrounding villages where it was woven. In 1841 two thirds of all plush weavers in the country lived in the Banbury area and, of these, about a quarter where in Shutford. By 1850 the industry in the rest of the Banbury area was declining under competition from power loom weavers in Coventry. However, Shutford remained in the plush trade by concentrating on the skilled manufacture of high quality plush for liveries, upholstery and furnishings. By 1910 the only handwoven livery plush manufacturer in the world, Wrench's, based in Shutford supplied plush for the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia in 1896, produced decorations at Windsor Castle for Queen Victoria and specially made liveries for royal courts all over Europe and for the embassies of China, Japan, Persia and the United States.ref name=Emery178/> Despite a disastrous fire at he factory in 1913, the industry was revived and enjoyed a degree of prosperity between the wars. After the Second World War, however, with supply, demand and labour problems, the owners decided to reluctantly sell up in 1948.
Property and street names such as Weavers Row, Weavers Cottage and The Weavers Shop give an indication of the village's illustrious past.