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St. Mary's Church, Upper Heyford

St. Mary's Church, Upper Heyford

Photo: Keltek Trust, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, via Flickr.

Gun Tragedy at Upper Heyford Church

9 November 2021

On 30th August 1885, the congregation at St. Mary's Church in Upper Heyford were just leaving the church after the Sunday service when a gunshot rang out from alarmingly close.

Concerned villagers rushed towards the source of the noise and found twenty-two-year-old Frederick Charles Walton lying dead in the lane.

He had received the full force of a gun blast to the head and neck. The gun that shot him was found protruding from a nearby hedge.

A tragic accident is revealed

An examination of the scene revealed not a crime of violence, but actually a tragic accident. The young Frederick has planned to spend the afternoon shooting, but fearing disapproval should he bring his gun into the church, he decided to hide it outside the church and collect it afterward.

A nearby hedge seemed like a suitable spot and Frederick concealed his gun by pushing it butt-first into the hedge. After the service had concluded Frederick went out to fetch his gun. Reaching into the hedge he seized it by the barrel and attempted to pull it out.

Unfortunately for Frederick the hammer of his gun had become caught on a stile on the other side of the hedge, causing the gun to fire when he pulled the barrel towards him. He was killed instantly.


  1. 'A Grim Almanac of Oxfordshire' by Nicola Sly (The History Press, 2013, ISBN: 978752465814)