The oldest monument in Chetwode may be a ploughed out barrow near Church Copse. A ring-ditch was recorded on an aerial photograph here, and this is usually the remains of a Bronze Age barrow covering a burial. Another possible barrow excavated in the 19th century may have been a windmill mound (see below).


There is a little evidence of Roman activity in Chetwode parish, from pottery found in the excavations of the possible windmill mound at Wells Farm, to coins found near the parish boundary with Barton Hartshorn.


Chetwode was mentioned in Domesday and there are records of it even further back. A charter describing the boundaries of Chetwode, Preston Bissett and Hillesden dating from AD 949 also survives. The Domesday Book also mentions that it had a watermill and this is recorded throughout the medieval period and into the 19th century, but the buildings have now gone, although the leat can still be seen.


Chetwode was part of Bernwood Forest. Bernwood had been a hunting forest from the time of Edward the Confessor. It grew to its largest extent under Henry II. The whole area was not covered by woods; in the medieval period a forest was a place where deer roamed for hunting and so included open land, villages and fields. All those who lived in the forest were not allowed to hunt or even gather wood without a special licence from the king. Bernwood Forest was finally disafforested in the reign of James I in 1635, although it had been shrinking in size since the time of King John (1199-1216).


Historical records give some idea of what Chetwode was like in the medieval period. There are records of a hermitage at Plough Farm founded in the 12th or 13th century and dedicated to the Saints Stephen and Lawrence. A hermitage was not only a place where only one ‘hermit’ lives, but can be a term given to a monastery that is quite remote. The last time it is mentioned is 1359. There is a moat near Plough Farm that is probably the site of this hermitage.


Chetwode Priory church, now the parish churchMany remnants of medieval Chetwode survive today, as well. Chetwode Priory was founded in 1254 but was always quite poor and was annexed to Notley Abbey in 1460. As the priory was taken down, the villagers decided that the priory church would become their parish church, so that survives. The font was moved from the old parish church, near Chetwode Manor, dedicated to St Martin, to the new one, dedicated to St Mary and St Nicholas. Renovation works in 1998 uncovered a medieval stone piscina hidden behind Tudor panelling in the church. The priory did have fishponds to provide fresh fish for fast days as a more palatable alternative to salted fish, and these can still be seen near the church. Priory House was built in 1833 but incorporates some fabric from the former priory. A moat close to the church and two near Wells Farm are probably the sites of the medieval manor houses. It is possible that Chetwode village was bigger in the medieval period, as it is now some distance from the church, but as the church was part of the former priory, it is likely to have been a small way from the village.


The listed buildings in the parish include Chetwode Manor, which dates to the 16th century and is built with brick in a diaperwork pattern. The formal garden here is registered and dates to the 20th century. Sunflower Farm is 17th century and The Hermitage is 18th century.


In the 19th century A.H. Cocks excavated what he thought was a Bronze Age barrow near Wells Farm. He did not find a burial beneath it but was sure that it was a cenotaph barrow. It is more likely to have been a post-medieval windmill mound. It was later destroyed by the Great Central railway, which was opened in 1899. Though now closed, cuttings and structures can still be seen along its length, such as the bridge carrying the road over the former railway near Chetwode Grange.