Middleton Cheney: 3 Churches, 1 Admiral and a Dolphin

Middleton Cheney lies 3 miles outside of Banbury and some 115 miles from the nearest coastline. It is home to three churches, an Admiral and the Dolphin pub!

Whilst other village pubs seem to be related to country life and times (The Hare & Hounds, The Plough and The George & Dragon…) I have not been able to discover why the local is called the Dolphin!  However there are recorded tales of a  Vice Admiral Holland who was born in the village and joined the Royal Navy in 1901. He spent the First World War on the HMS Excellent and in 1937  became an aid to King George V1. In 1941 he was killed in action leading the Battlecruiser Squadron against the German battleship The Bismarck.

Home to 3 church going communities, first research unearthed a wonderful extract from the Banbury Historical Society newsletter (1996; volume 13, number 6/7) which documents memories from a Mrs. Annie Jarvis (ne Seeney) who was ‘possibly the first child born in Middleton Cheney in 1900!’. Annie was named Mabel Annie Seeney and was the third child of Frederick and Elizabeth who lived at The Rectory.  Annie remembers that for over fifty years her Mum looked after the alter and her Dad rang the bells at All Saints’ Church in the village. She recalls that her father worked in the fields at the farm every morning and at five to twelve he would cycle back to the church and ring the dinner bell in the middle of the day so everyone knew it was lunchtime! On Pancake Day Annie he rang the bells from 11.30 – 12.00 so that the mothers knew to start cooking pancakes! At the end of December, Annie recounts that her Dad would climb up the bell tower and wrap the bells to ring the old year out with a ‘muffled peal’. Then, at midnight on New Year’s Eve Annie’s Dad would climb up the bell tower once more, take off the covers and ring the New Year in!



One comment

  1. great post title! the research that you have found about the bellringer is delightful, I love both the references to pancake day and new years eve, what evocative memories. We seem to be following – by coincidence – similar paths in terms of our research. The church that was once considered the heart of the village, seems to have become so for us too. Whenever I arrive at one of the places on the route I seem to gravitate towards it as a starting point. Similarly it is clear that we are both making connections between the village environment and its inhabitants.


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