50 Gems of Oxfordshire

David Meara

T his book – 50 Gems of Oxfordshire – is part of a series published by Amberley Publishing, covering all the counties of England.

50 Gems of Oxfordshire
Book Cover
Radcliffe Square, Oxford

The use of the word 'Gem' in the title is quite deliberate, as it can refer not just to a building, but a place, a street, a view, an experience, a part of a river or canal, indeed anything that is of special interest or beauty which the seasoned local or casual visitor would enjoy visiting.

I have been familiar with Oxford and Oxfordshire all my life, having been born in Oxford, spent my university years in the City, and frequently visited the county ever since. I now live in retirement in Kidlington, just north of Oxford and on the edge of Cotswold country, still finding new 'gems' to visit, and the rich variety of experiences Oxfordshire has to offer.

50 Gems of Oxfordshire
Market Town of the Cotswolds

When writing the book I had to include the obvious gems such as Blenheim Palace, the market town of Burford, Christ Church College in Oxford, the glories of Dorchester Abbey, and the town of Henley, famous for its rowing regatta. But I also had great fun visiting the wonderful Hook Norton Brewery in the northern part of the county, with its original nineteenth century brewing house and mash tuns, and of course the chance to sample some of the beer they produce at the end of the visit.

50 Gems of Oxfordshire
The Brewery
Hook Norton

I love the old railway station at Charlbury, a wooden chalet structure built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and still in use. I love, too, the extraordinary Fettiplace tombs in the little church at Swinbrook, six 17th century gents in armour, reclining on shelves with their elbows on cushions, almost like merchandise on supermarket shelves.

And there are plenty of out-door places to enjoy, from the strange stone circles at Great Rollright, to the delightful canal-side scenery at Thrupp and Shipton-on-Cherwell, to the haunting ruins of the manor house at Hampton Gay burnt down by an unscrupulous occupant in 1887, and the remains of Wychwood Forest, once a royal hunting ground where Kings of England shot deer on their days off.

One of my favourite gems of all is the Maharajah's Well at Stoke Row, a gift from the Maharajah of Benares in 1864 so that the local people could enjoy clean water to drink.

50 Gems of Oxfordshire
The Maharajah's Well
Stoke Row

A little piece of India in an Oxfordshire village. It is just one of the many wonderful gems to be found within the county of Oxfordshire. Why not enjoy them yourself, and think of new 'gems' to add to the fifty I have chosen?


David Meara is a resident of Kidlington Village, Oxfordshire.

David is a retired Church of England clergyman who worked in the Oxford Diocese for twenty-seven years, and then served as Rector of St. Bride's Fleet Street and Archdeacon of London until 2014. He has made a lifetime study of church movements and brasses and has published extensively on the subject. He has published on a range of topics, including Anglo-Scottish sleeper trains and the scuttling of German ships at Scapa Flow. His father-in-law fought in Burma in the Second World War.

50 Gems of Oxfordshire by David Meara
Lavishly illustrated throughout, David's book explores some of the best locations the county of Oxfordshire has to offer. You can purchase a copy of 50 Gems of Oxfordshire [ISBN 9781398109520] directly from Amberley Publishing here.

The book is illustrated with photographs by Stuart Vallis.

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