The Bartholomew Room stands in the Market Square at the heart of Eynsham and has been a focal point at every season of the year for centuries, presiding over a calendar that includes May Day and the Primary School Parade, Eynsham Artweeks, Eynsham Carnival and Flower Festival, Remembrance Sunday and the Christmas lights. The scene above with a market in the foreground dates from the early 1980s - the old market cross was replaced in February 1991 - but would have changed little in living memory
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The Bartholomew Room stands in the Market Square at the heart of Eynsham.
The building has been a focal point at every season of the year for centuries.
now adopted as a new logo for Eynsham Parish Council. The upper room is now the Parish Council Chamber.
The lower room is in regular use for activities ranging from art exhibitions to parenting classes.
The building was bought for the people of Eynsham with money raised to mark the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1977.
The shield over the main door, rescued by Eynsham History Group, is thought to belong to an early village benefactor John Bartholomew. William Bainbridge described it in 1980:
‘... a stone shield “per pale, on the dexter a bugle-horn, and on the sinister a lion rampant”, which may have been the arms of a benefactor of the Abbey, for the arms of the convent are not recorded at the College of Heralds, and a bugle-horn and a lion are decidedly non-ecclesiastical charges. This carving was rescued some twenty years ago [i.e. around 1960] from a demolished barn in Back Lane. Unfortunately the colours have not been recorded, but a herald’s visitation report by Richard Lee in 1574 lists the stained glass in the Parish Church as including a gold lion on a red shield. This has not survived, although Anthony Wood and Richard Rawlinson mention it a century or so later.
‘In adjacent Abbey Street there is a duplicate shield under the guttering of No. 6, unfortunately wrongly set on its side. There is a theory that the pair adorned the Abbey Gatehouse, which stood hereabouts, and that they were the arms of Æthelmar, Earl of Cornwall, the 1005 founder, even though heraldry had not yet been established in his time.’
This shield is now the official crest of Bartholomew School.
The south wall faces St Leonard's Church and the market cross. The upper chamber was originally supported on pillars, with open space underneath. The arches are still clearly visible.
A panel on the chimney breast records the history of the Market Cross as follows:
Eynsham cross dates from c.1350. The point where it stands was then the centre of a busy market square. The important Benedictine Abbey of Eynsham lay to the south, beyond the Parish Church; its monks had already owned the market-rights for some 200 years.
The battered and weathered remains of the cross in 1978 (above) may be compared with early C19 drawings and prints in the Bodleian Library ... The original head of the cross, in the form of a crucifix or more probably of a tabernacled shrine, had vanished long before this, to be replaced by a sundial. The railings appear later in the C19, as do the 'iron corsets' which were made by blacksmiths of the Burden family.
Calligraphy & drawings by Norman Hayes for Eynsham Conservation Area Advisory Committee
© Eynsham Parish Council
The west wall, looking down Acre End Street, serves as background to a K6 telephone kiosk designed in 1935 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.
A new inner door was fitted to the lower Bartholomew Room in November 2006, to open up the space to visitors yet keep out the cold.
The door was commissioned by Eynsham Parish Council at a total cost of 57 pence per household.
The door features an etched central cross in a leaf-like (“foliate”) style, which has been used by the Eynsham Roundabout since 1995; by the Medical Centre since 1996; and as the centre of a badge for the Abbey Millennium in 2005.
The 'Eynsham Cross' is based on JC Buckler's illustration of a carved tomb lid lying beside a mediaeval altar tomb in St Leonard’s churchyard.
For more information see the Eynsham Record issue 23, 2006, pages 9-14.
The new door has been much appreciated at subsequent events, including regular meetings and exhibitions of the Arts Group.
The entrance hall provides a somewhat unlikely home for Eynsham football club records
The upper room is dominated by six 'charity boards' listing benefactions of an educational nature and dating from 1703 to 1831
The chairs in the council chamber are unmatched, but sturdy and well made. More modern ones are available for visitors. Members of the public are welcome to attend any meeting.