One Parish: Two or Three Counties
Finmere village lies on the borders of two counties and is close to a third. It extends from the village pond on Fulwell Road to the old Roman road at the Red Lion, a distance of about a kilometre. The settlement continues beyond the Roman road, but the houses here lie in Buckinghamshire and are known as Little Tingewick. If you rest at the bar in the Red Lion, you are drinking in Little Tingewick. A few years ago, a pint in the Kings Head, sadly now closed, was drunk in Oxfordshire. Many passers-by wrongly think that the Red Lion is in Finmere and that Finmere is in Buckinghamshire. To add to the confusion, parts of Finmere were treated as being in Northamptonshire in the Domesday Book of AD 1086 and, in the nineteenth century, the parish was within the Poor Law Union of Brackley, also in Northamptonshire.
In 1883, William Harvey Holt wrote:
The line dividing the counties of Oxford and Buckingham is a little uncertain here, and the old vicarage may have been in either or both counties: but the church is probably in the former and the new vicarage in the latter county.
He was wrong: both are in Oxfordshire but his confusion has been repeated over the years.
Historians and geographers recognise that villages develop in different ways. Many, like Tingewick, are nucleated villages, which grow around the church or manor. This type of village often has remote hamlets or ‘ends.’ Little Tingewick is an example of an end. Finmere grew differently. It was a dispersed settlement of scattered farms and cottages along the valley, with large gaps between houses.
Only since the Second World War has a continuous village landscape been created through infill with new houses. Day to day, however, Finmere and Little Tingewick are a single community. Our Millennium History covers Finmere village, its parish and the hamlet of Little Tingewick. For convenience, we often refer to all as Finmere, just as passers-by and many villagers do in conversation.