Saturday, January 10, 2009

Abingdon Circular Walk

Abingdon Marina has become very popular as winter mooring
Abingdon Marina Park (off-route) One of Abingdon's secret hideaways, a lovely place for a picnic
Abingdon Marina Park (off-route) View across the river to Culham Toll House and old bridge You will be crossing that wooden bridge on your return trip.
A Big Stink! If you smell a bad smell you are on route, as you walk by Abingdon Sewerage Works, once located far out of town

Peep-O-Day Lane now national Cycle Track 5 This was once the main route from Sutton Courtenay to Abingdon 3 Concrete Blocks (please do not take these home) If you see these you are still on the correct route O-Day comes from Oday Common and Oday Hill
Picturesque Stream Bridge
Drayton to Abingdon Rd your "southern most point" Plenty of Maps and Signs to get your bearings

Hamster House (long wooden fence) Dozens of Hamsters are sometimes to be seen in the garden In this image you just see one!
Entrance to Sutton Courtenay Warning a 100 or so metre section without footpath
GingeBrook or Ginge River all the way from East Ginge Sutton Courtenay is criss-crossed with footpaths and waterways At the rear of Sutton Courtenay (off-route) there is small nature park
At this junction you bear left and head north back to Abingdon Admire the sundial of Cross Trees House
Peak over the wall of Sutton Courtenay Abbey, now a New Era Centre with meditation courses. The oldest section of the Abbey was built in the 13th century by the great Benedictine Abbey of Abingdon. In 1284 the Abbey was handed over to the Courtenay family, Lords of the Manor of Sutton, in a dubious court trial. Thomas Courtenay the then owner who was involved in the War of the Roses, was beheaded and his lands confiscated. In 1485 Henry VII gave the house and its income to the Dean and Chapter of St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Manor House, birthplace of Matilda of Matilda versus Stephen fame in 1102. The Manor was granted to Reginald de Courtenay in 1177 by Henry II, son of Empress Matilda. In the early 1900s Captain Lindsay rented the house from Lady Wantage, and hosted many weekend parties for the Prince of Wales set.
Norman Hall built in 1192 by Robert, son of Reginald, de Courtenay Sutton Courtenay has been settled by man for at least 6000 years. The region is very fossiliferous with marine and land-animal fossils It's always worth examining any exposed gravel for Belemnites and Ammonites
All Saint's Church it's graveyard contains the tombs of Eric Blair (George Orwell) and David Astor (former owner of the Observer, and the Manor House, and son of Nancy Astor) who organised his burial here (George Orwell had otherwise no particular connection to the region) A rather sad Tomb With his books "Animal Farm" and 1984 Orwell warned of the dangers of totalitarianism. Much grander is the Tomb of Asquith, Prime Minister of England. The only excuse I can think of was that England took less space than Great Britain! Asquith was Prime Minister until 1916 when the death of his son in WW1 caused him to lose his political desire. If the church is open read the booklet on Miss Shrapnell daughter of the British Officer who invented that terrible weapon. She had fallen on hardtimes and was reduced to buying meat in Oxford pushing it in a pram and then reselling it locally

George and Dragon It's curious how often there is a pub next to a church
Alms Houses Not everyone in Sutton Courtenay was noble, and these Almhouses are proof
West Row A very nice row of houses
Wharf House Situated at the unusual sharp corner of the village, Wharf House does not appear particularly imposing. Wait until you can see it and its lovely gardens and boat house from the rear to form an impression. This was the home of Prime Minister Asquith and it was here that Britain reputedly formally declared it's entry into WW1.
Mill House On the other angle of the sharp corner this house has a magnificient garden and bordered by a section of the Mill Stream This was formerly the home of Violet Bonham Carter. It was previously a white paper mill with a contract to print banknotes for the Bank of England
Mill Stream Cut Bridge There is now water on every side, a very dangerous place for small children
Rear view of Wharf House A glorious garden, cottage and boathouse
Open Water looking upstream towards Abingdon This is the Thames again but you will see few boats because there is a lock cut Now cross the field passing by the blockhouse and help to the steep bridge over the lock cut
If the weather has been bad, things could get muddy from now on, this is all floodplane Cut across the field follow the track you should see the footbridge over the lock cut
WWII Blockhouse part of this defensive line that was supposed to stop Rommel Were they ever actually manned?
From the top of the bridge you see Culham with a last chance to visit a pub. On the other side of the bridge turn sharp left and follow the cut upstream
A long bend and a large agricultural field
Culham Toll House situated at the end of the old bridge, provides one of Abingdon's classic postcard views A civil war skirmish was fought on the "Old" Culham Bridge (intact). When the Royalists unsuccessfully tried to attack the Roundheads in Abingdon. "January 11 1645 - Colonel Sir Henry Gage was mortally wounded attempting to destroy Culham Bridge and establish a fort against Abingdon; he is replaced as Governor of Oxford by William Legge". The bridge spans Swift Ditch formerly used to bypass Abingdon Swift Ditch makes the cut off piece of land an Island called Andersey Island Follow the bank until you reach Abingdon using the Spire of St Helens as your guide Get your camera ready for more classic across the water views of the Old Anchor pub and St Helens Wharf.

When you reach Burford Bridge, observe the few houses on the East bank of the Thames they are built to survive floods.
Cross the bridge, in summer the Nags Head beer garden is very popular.

Text from Abingdon Walks

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