Chapels in the present-
The present church is the third on this site, though the two earlier ones had the status of “chapels of ease”. They were used for communion, but baptisms, marriages and burials were conducted at Shipton-
The origins of the first chapel on this site are uncertain. It is not mentioned in the Taxatio Ecclesiasticus of 1291, but there are references to it from the mid-
In 1822 the old chapel was rebuilt and enlarged under the direction of George Groves, architect, using some of the stone from the first chapel. An old photograph of the 1822 chapel shows that the windows in the north wall were of a different style from the smart new west end and it may be that the old chapel was only partially rebuilt. The new chapel was a simple rectangular building. All the glazing appears to have been plain and the only apparent exterior decoration a carved quatrefoil above the west door. A bell-
A medieval hermitage
Probably the earliest ecclesiastical establishment in Leafield was the medieval hermitage, in the area of the village then known as “Luvebir” or “Loueburie”. This name can be recognised as the modern-
This hermitage was first referred to in 1232, when it was occupied by a hermit named Ernald. In 1270 the hermitage was given by the King to the Hospital of St. John in Lechlade. By 1364 it had changed status to a chapel for the use of the King’s Foresters from Wychwood Forest, though complaints were made that the Prior of St. John had refused to find a chaplain for the chapel “to the serious prejudice of the King and the injury of the foresters of the forest”. The chapel had probably fallen into disuse by the time the Hospital of St. John was dissolved in 1472.
conformism in Leafield
At one time there were both a Primitive Methodist Chapel and a Baptist Chapel in Leafield. The Methodist Chapel was on the eastern side of Witney lane showing parish room, formerly the Methodist Chapel -
The Baptist Chapel, built in 1873, was on the south side of the Shipton Road, diagonally across from the village shop. In the years following, the attendance gradually increased to a point at which a gallery had to be added to accommodate the large congregation. The nearby Manse and Schoolroom at the top of Lowborough Ridings was the residence of the Minister. In July 1899 Leafield and Burford united as one church with the Minister serving both chapels. When J.W. Manning was welcomed as Pastor on 18 April 1929 100 people were present. The chapel continued in use until the mid 1990s, often being hired out to the village playgroup and other meetings when not in use for services. The congregation gradually declined, so the chapel was closed and was later sold for conversion to a house.