his book – 50 Gems of Oxfordshire
– is part of a series published
by Amberley Publishing
, covering all the counties of England.
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.
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.
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.
The Maharajah's Well
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?