(November 2017) The Cistercian Order of Monks

A monastic order, the Cistercians, or White Monks, were to be found for a period of about 150 years (1194-1349) living on the border between Swalcliffe and Sibford Ferris. Holwell Grange, which was a satellite Grange of Bruern Abbey near Shipton-under Wychwood. Holwell Grange comprised a chapel, farm, and living quarters for a small community of monks. A spring gushed from a rocky outcrop on the site and this is the source of the River Stour and was the monks’ water-supply. It fed a large stone-lined pool where the monks bred fish for the kitchen.

In the 14th century, the Cistercians fell on thin times and borrowed money from a landowner at Shipton-under-Wychwood. When the monks failed to repay, the angry moneylender raided the Grange and carried off horses, sheep and cows. In 1349, the country was ravaged by the Black Death and this, and the scarcity of hired labour for farming, led the Cistercians to withdraw from Holwell Grange and to lease out its lands.