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Church of St Mary, Chipping Norton

Church of St Mary, Chipping Norton

Photo: Michael Dibb via Wikimedia Commons

Ghost of a Hanged Vicar at Chipping Norton

16 March 2021 (Updated 8 September 2021)

The parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Chipping Norton is said to be haunted by the ghost of former vicar Henry Joyes, who was hanged in chains from the church tower for his part in the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Rising of 1549.

The Oxfordshire Rising of 1549

The rising of 1549 was a response to the economic hardship that many common people were experiencing under the rule of Edward VI's Lord Protector, Edward Seymour.

This was compounded by the increasing enclosure of public land, and unpopular changes to the Anglican church such as the forced introduction of the Book of Common Prayer in June 1549.

It seems that Henry Joyes' motivation for joining the rebellion may have been more to do with the Chantries Act which had been introduced the year before, and had left him to minister alone to 800 parishioners.

The rising is crushed

In July 1549 a mercenary force of mainly Swiss and German soldiers was dispatched to put down the uprising. The sides clashed at Enslow Hill and the mob dispersed. Around 200 were captured, including a dozen who were considered ringleaders, Henry Joyes being one of them.

It was decided that these ringleaders should be returned to their respective towns to be executed publicly on market day and their heads set at the highest available point "for the more terror of the said evil people".

For Henry Joyes this meant the tower of his own church in Chipping Norton, and Joyes' ghost is believed to still haunt the site of his execution.


  1. 'Ghost and Witches of the Cotswolds' by J.A. Brooks (Jarrold Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0711702330)
  2. Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire rising of 1549