Like many other villages, Ambrosden’s history can be traced back to Saxon times. Although some people believe that Ambrosden was named after Ambrosius Aurelianus, a 5th century British-Roman military leader who supposedly encamped close to the present site of Ambrosden to help the neighbouring military garrison at Alchester in conflicts with the Anglo-Saxons, historians believe the name actually came from the Old English for “Ambre’s hill”.

The course of Akeman Street, a Roman road which linked Watling Street with the Fosse Way, passes through the parish just to the north of the village. Roman pottery has been found in the area and, when the scholar and antiquarian White Kennett was Vicar of Ambrosden (1685-1708), ancient Danish remains were found in the area too.

St Mary the Virgin Church
St Mary the Virgin Church

The parish church of St. Mary the Virgin has been refurbished many times over the centuries. Although the door dates from Norman times the west tower is Early English Gothic and the remainder of the church was rebuilt in the 14th century in the Decorated Gothic style.

Near St. Mary’s are remnants of the older village, but much of Ambrosden now consists of MOD housing built in the 1950s for the Royal Army Ordnance Corps’ Central Ordnance Depot at Graven Hill and St George’s Barracks at Arncott. The depot’s internal railway system, known as the Bicester Military Railway, passes Ambrosden and links the Graven Hill depot with other depot sites at Arncott and Piddington.

During the reign of King Edward the Confessor a lady called Elviva held the manor of Ambrosden. The Domesday Book then records that by 1086 she had been replaced by Hugh d’Ivry, butler of William the Conqueror and brother of Roger d’Ivry, who owned several manors in Oxfordshire.

Sir Edward Turner, 2nd Baronet
Sir Edward Turner, 2nd Baronet, in 1762

In 1729 the manor was bought by Edward Turner, who had already bought one of the manors of Bicester from Sir Stephen Glynne in 1728. In 1733 Turner was made the first of the Turner and Page-Turner baronets of Ambrosden. In around 1740 Sir Edward Turner, 2nd Baronet, replaced the Glynnes’ manor house with a large square house of eleven bays. The architect was Sanderson Miller, who also designed ornamental buildings in the grounds. A landscaped park with lakes and statues was laid out around the house and the drive to the house was along an avenue of trees.

Sir Edward died in 1766 and Sir Gregory Page-Turner, 3rd Baronet, considered the house too large. So, in 1768, he had the entire house demolished.

Ambrosden Old Park, where Ambrosden House had been demolished, was sometimes used for horse-racing. In 1829 Jackson’s Oxford Journal complained that a race meeting in the park attracted a thousand “idlers” characterized by “dullness and stupidity” and was marred by “brutal and disgraceful fighting” despite the presence of several members of the gentry.

Ambrosden remained with the Page-Turner baronets until 1874 when Sir Edward Henry Page-Turner, 6th Baronet, died childless. He left all his estates to his nephew, Frederick Augustus Blaydes. The Blaydes took the Page-Turner name and coat of arms in 1903, but eventually sold the estate in 1930.