Sunday, 9 December 2012

Kirtlington to Islip (Oxfordshire Way 5)

Kirtlington Park

After quite a long break, we resumed our journey across Oxfordshire with Merv and Pud, picking up the route in the village of Kirtlington. The day had started grey but we entered Kirtlington Park under a blue sky. It is a delightful space, laid out, almost inevitably by Capability Brown, in 1755-62. Kirtlington Hall could be glimpsed through the trees.

Soon we entered farmland and now had a clearer view of the Hall, described by Pevsner as "a handsome Palladian house of local stone". We especially liked the separate pavilions with their cupolas.

The house was built for Sir James Dashwood in 1742-6. The architects were William Smith and John Sanderson, who owed much to designs submitted by James Gibbs in 1741.

Now it was across fields to emerge in the village of Weston-on-the-Green, where we soon found St Mary's church. We received a very warm welcome here and had a pleasant chat with the vicar. The church tower is 13th century, but the wide single nave has a Georgian look from outside and was in fact rebuilt in 1743. The windows are Victorian. The inside is fairly plain, but the south doorway is very handsome.

Leaving Weston, we passed the back of Weston Manor, a medieval house remodeled in 1540 and now a hotel.  Soon we crossed the busy A34 road and continued on a concrete road leading to Oddington Grange, accompanied by the sound of extensive shooting off to the left. The Grange seems to have become a location for agricultural light industry.

We couldn't find the expected right fork and had to improvise to find our way back to the official route. We now continued across wet and muddy fields, pretty much all the way to Islip. There was just a hint of moisture in the air, but it was surprising to see a rainbow behind us, extending into the clear blue sky adjoining the clouds.

At Islip I took a quick photo of St Nicholas church. The oldest part dates from about 1200, but what you see today is the result of the usual Victorian restoration. We lunched in some style in the Red Lion.

Conditions: quite cold, but bright.

Distance:  6 miles. Distance now covered 33.5 miles.

Maps: Explorer 180 (Oxford, Witney and Woodstock).

Rating: three stars.

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