Newton Purcell

Newton Purcell is a village to the north of Bicester, about 4.5 miles southeast of Brackley.

The course of the Roman road that linked Alchester with Lactodurum (now Towcester) runs through the parish just east of the village. The main road through the village, the A4421, still follows its course. The Domesday Book of 1086 does not mention Newton Purcell. The manor was created in the 12th century as a ‘new tun’ for the Purcel family, mainly with land from the manors of Mixbury and Fringford. These manors had different overlords, and as a result the Purcels had feudal obligations to both.

Mixbury was part of the honour of St Valery, which later became part of the Honour of Wallingford. In 1213 Robert de St Valery gave the mesne lordship of Mixbury to the Augustinian Osney Abbey, and the Purcels and their successors had to pay the abbey rent until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. In 1475 the manor was still held by a Thomas Purcel, but it had left the family by 1523. The Purcels had a moated manor house which has not survived, but in the 1950s fragments of its moat and a mound where it stood were still visible just east of the village.

St Michael and All Angels Church
St Michael and All Angels Church

Architectural evidence suggests that the parish church of Saint Michael and All Angels was a Norman church built in the middle of the 12th century. The earliest documentary evidence of the church’s existence is slightly later, when Ralph Purcel granted the church to the Augustinian Bicester Priory in 1200. Little survives of this original church, except a 12th century Norman doorway and a 13th century piscina. In 1813 the church was repaired and most of its original features were destroyed. In 1875, the architect C.N. Beazley restored the building and added the vestry, bell turret and south porch. St. Michael’s rectory was built in 1844 and the parish is now part of the Shelswell benefice.

The parish was still being farmed under the open field system in 1679. There is no Act of Parliament for the parish’s enclosure, so it must have been done by agreement, probably before the end of the 17th century.

The village’s Church of England school was built in 1872 and enlarged in 1898. It was reorganised as a junior school in 1929 and was still open in 1954.

In 1899 the Great Central Railway completed its main line to London through the eastern part of the then Shelswell parish and built Finmere for Buckingham Station where the line crosses the main road, about half a miles northeast of Newton Purcell. Buckingham was almost five miles from the Great Central station, so the name was subsequently shortened to the more appropriate “Finmere”. British Railways closed Finmere station in 1963, and closed the section of the Great Central line through the station and parish in 1966.