Facts That You Didn’t Know About North Oxfordshire

Facts That You Didn't Know About North Oxfordshire

North Oxfordshire is many things: it is steeped in ancient and medieval history; it is home to some fine country manors and palaces; it has fine farmers’ markets; it is a food paradise; it is a fantastic place for nature walks, where you might discover prehistoric or other archeological finds. {NOTE TO DEVELOPER: Please link “it is a food paradise” with the article “Paradise for foodies in North Oxfordshire”} It is home of Chipping Norton and its posh set.

Here are some facts about this part of the county that you may not already know about.

Cherwell or Charwell

There is some confusion about how to pronounce Cherwell. Is it cher (as in fir) or char (like in charlady)? There is legitimate reason for this confusion. The River Cherwell after which the district of northern Oxfordshire is named, along with colleges, newspapers etc., was spelled Charwelle in the 1605 Map of Oxford by John Speed. The spelling has changed to Cherwell since then. But opinions are split on the correct pronunciation.

The Cherwell river has also been identified as the inspiration for the Withywindle river in J.R.R.Tolkien‘s Middle Earth. Tolkien was one of the many notable residents of Oxford.

Award-Winning Sustainability

The Cherwell district of north Oxfordshire is highly modern and progressive in having one of the highest recycling rates in the country. In 2005, the numbers were over 40%. In the 2015-2016 it maintains its place along with many other parts of the country, as the recycling leader with over 50 percent of household waste being sent for recycling, reuse or composting.

It is also a leader in the enforcement of food safety regulations. A 2014 study ranked the UK’s local councils by hygiene. Cherwell ranked one, along with councils in Cumbria, Hampshire and Essex

You Can Learn Blacksmithing at a 200-Year Old Forge

You Can Learn Blacksmithing at a 200-Year Old Forge

At the village of Banbury, Tooley’s Boatyard is the oldest dry dock on the inland waterways that is in use continuously since 1790. The dock has a forge that is 200 years old. Blacksmiths at the forge make items to order, and also offer three types of blacksmithing courses: an introductory ‘Have a Go’ course, beginner and advanced.

The Real-Life Settings of Inspector Morse

The Real-Life Settings of Inspector Morse

While Blenheim Palace and its surroundings are well-known as the setting for some of Downton Abbey’s scenes, not many people are aware that many scenes of the Midsomer Murders and Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse were also shot at sites across Oxfordshire.

While the majority of the Morse pubs are in Oxford, Kidlington’s The Boat Inn on Canal Road was the setting of several scenes in the TV show. The Morse Dining Room at the pub is a tribute to the show.

If you’re willing to drive out a little south of Oxford, you can self-drive around some of the Midsomer Murder sites.

Morris folk dance

Adderbury’s Mysterious Morris Dance is Popular Around the World

Not many people know about the disappearing Morris folk dance from the village of Adderbury, south of Banbury. This traditional dance or ritual was performed at Whitsun week in and around the area and at Banbury Fair. The dance sides were not revived after the First World War in village life, though it has been well-documented enough that new sides can pick up where the original dancers left off. Today, this music-accompanied dance is often performed for stages as far as India.

North Oxfordshire Has an Abandoned Ghost Village

North Oxfordshire Has an Abandoned Ghost Village

The village of Hampton Gay is deserted today. All that stands there are some ruins of the St. Giles Parish Church, and the at-risk neglected ruins of the 16th century manor house. Archaeological findings from the area suggest that there were settlements in the area as early as the 10th or 11th century, under Saxon rule. The de Gay family, that were tenants of the estates there up to the 13th century have lent their name to the village along with the Old English word for farm or little town.

 “In the Anglo-Saxon language the word hamm meant water meadow. Hamm tun meant hamlet by the water meadow. Southampton was hamm tun then Hamtun. It gave its name to Hampshire, which was originally Hamtun shire. Littlehampton was probably given its name to differentiate it from Southampton, which in turn was given its name to differentiate it from Northampton.”

[Source: Local Histories]

Today there is a lot of speculation as to what really wiped out the village of Hampton Gay in the mid-nineteenth century.
Do you have fun facts to share about North Oxfordshire? Drop a comment below!