Restoration of the Four Shire Stone
How you can play a part in bringing this local historical landmark back to life
The Four Shire Stone is a unique 15 feet-high pillar, around a mile and a half from Moreton in Marsh, on the A44 to Chipping Norton. It marks the ancient boundary between the counties of Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire.
The origins of the stone are unclear but probably go back to at least the late 16th Century, when the parishes of Blockley and Evenlode, among others, were administered by the Bishop of Worcester and were detached parts of the county. A government reorganisation of the county boundaries in 1931 saw these two parishes, as well as villages such as Cutsdean, Daylesford and Icomb absorbed into Gloucestershire.
We think that the present stone was built in the mid-1700s and replaced an earlier marker stone which dated back to the Middle Ages. We don’t know who built it or exactly when and any information on this would be gratefully received.
Built in white oolitic limestone – that’s the famous and characteristic, honey-coloured Cotswold stone, probably sourced from local quarries - it is said to have been an inspiration to J.R.R Tolkien, a frequent visitor to this corner of the Cotswolds. Fans of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings will know of the Three Farthing Stone of the Shire.
However, some features of this striking and historic monument reveal that it has not always been well-cared for. Once a convenient venue for prize fights, where pugilists could evade prosecution in one county by hopping across the border to another, vandalism, bill stickers in the late 19th Century and even a wayward lorry which demolished it in 1955, the stone has seen better days. It is little wonder then, that motorists, cyclists and even walkers pass without even noticing it.
All that is about to change.
Why now? It’s because local chartered surveyor, James Hayman-Joyce decided long ago that, in retirement, he would get this Cotswold landmark the love and affection it deserved. A committee has been formed, which has formulated the current plan to renovate the Four Shire Stone. This includes repairing the existing damaged stonework, thoroughly cleaning the stone and replacing the railings.
It’s all being done with the approval of the local authorities in Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire and you can help towards the modest cost of less than £20,000 by making a donation.
Work has now started and the state of the existing stonework is worse than we initially thought. View photos of our progress.