The End of the Abbey
With the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, the abbey was handed over to the king in December 1538 and the magnificent buildings gradually fell into decay. The stones were raided to build many of the village houses. By 1657, only the ruined west end was still standing. Carved fragments of stone from the abbey can still be seen in many of the buildings in the village.
The Thames provided Eynsham with a trade route from as early as 1302. From the middle ages to the mid-19th century Eynsham wharf was an important connection to Oxford and London, sending and receiving goods such as coal, corn, salt and stone. Much of the stone used to build the Oxford colleges was shipped through Eynsham.
Tolls and Trains
The crossing of the river Thames at Swinford could be hazardous - John Wesley nearly drowned in 1764 - so the Earl of Abingdon built Swinford toll bridge, which opened in 1769. The earl and his successors were granted the tolls tax-free, for ever. With the coming of the mail coach, then the car, Eynsham became an important staging post on the route from London to South Wales (the story of Eynsham inns is recorded separately.) The toll is still collected - 5 pence from every car that crosses the river.
In 1861, the railway came to Eynsham, with the construction of a railway line to Witney. The station closed to passengers in 1962 and the line ceased operation in 1970.
Today Eynsham is a thriving community, with over 4,500 residents and around 2,000 people working here each day. Since the end of the 1940s the village has expanded rapidly with new housing and conversions, secondary and junior schools and, more recently, new facilities such as the Village Hall, Scout Hall and Sports Centre. But Eynsham still retains its individual charm and character - not to mention much of its ancient heritage, with many 16th and 17th century buildings clustered around its historic centre.
Above all, Eynsham has never lost its strong sense of community. It is not a museum piece, but a living, vibrant village. With a range of shops, businesses and leisure facilities, Eynsham remains what it has always been: a traditional Oxfordshire village - rooted in history, yet looking to the future; proud of its past and flourishing in the present.