Garsington and Denton

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Start: Garsington Distance: 3.0 miles (4.8 km) Climbing: 70 metres
Grid Ref: SP 58064 02231 Time: 2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Garsington
Start: Garsington Distance: 3.0 miles (4.8 km)
Climbing: 70 metres Grid Ref: SP 58064 02231
Time: 2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk: The Saxons chose a fine 'Gaerse dun' (grassy hill) to settle on. Forming the highest ridge between Oxford and the Chilterns, the hill provides views of the surrounding countryside. Until recently, this was an agricultural community, but now it is a commuter belt village serving Oxford's businesses. However, the village retains a very rural charm.

The 1840 building, once Garsington parish schoolThe 1840 building, once Garsington parish school
St Mary's Church, GarsingtonSt Mary's Church, Garsington

Much of Garsington is owned by the colleges of Oxford University. Library Farm. opposite the old chapel, has its rent collected in aid of the library of Exeter College. Opposite the 18th century Red Lion are the old kennels which used to house Christ Church College's beagles. Garsington House was part of an estate owned by Exeter College in the 16th century.

In Garsington look for owl holes in the buildings when you come to Southend. Manor Farm Cottage has one in its right hand gable end while number 93, the 16th century farmhouse opposite it, has an owl hole high up in the left hand gable. Owls were encouraged to nest by farmers wishing to keep down vermin.

If there is a hint of an ancient site in Garsington it is the church of St Mary. Cromwell's soldiers may have stabled their horses in the church, whose tower dates from 1160. An interesting memorial is one to Thomas Radley, his wife and 10 children. Thomas died in 1484, which was approximately when the lych gate was erected. Outside there are splendid views. The Chiltern Hills are away to the east, while the Wittenham Clumps can be seen across the River Thames to the south.

Field paths lead across the parish border to Denton House with its fine architecture. Going down Southend, notice the Gizzel, a spring fed pond. Next to it is the Manor House which was rebuilt in the 17th century. An earlier building here was owned by Geoffrey Chaucer's son. The Bloomsbury Group, including DH Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Virginia Woolf, Siegfried Sassoon, Maynard Keynes and Bertrand Russell were to meet here between 1915 and 1924 as guests of the Morrells, who built the terraced Italianate gardens. In a building within the gardens, called Well House, lived the author Rider Haggard.

Acknowledgment: Text derived from the Out and Out Series; Discovering the Countryside on Foot. Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia.

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