Having finished our enjoyable walk around Witney, Merv and I adjourned to do a circular walk from Minster Lovell. We parked near the pub on the left and walked up the absolutely delightful main street.
The houses petered out towards the top of the hill and we continued past the road to the church and the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall, planning to make those the culmination of this walk. We took a path on the right and headed across fields towards Crawley. Soon we had a view back towards the lovely circular dovecote.
At the end of this large field we followed a track between fields. The one on the left was absolutely covered with poppies - I can't ever recall seeing such a density.
After this field, the hedgerow was swarming with butterflies: Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Skippers, the odd Red Admiral.
This was the view back when we reached Crawley.
It is a small village, but with a nice-looking pub - which was unfortunately closed! It was pretty hot and a nice beer would have gone down a treat.
We decided to head back along the road for a while with the River Windrush over to our right. We passed a former mill, now an industrial estate and took a path to the right which led us down to a field edge which we followed until a right turn led us down to the river. Our first glimpse was a delight.
We followed the river bank and emerged by the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall. It was built in 1431-42 by William, the 7th Lord Lovell, and incorporated parts of an earlier building. William's grandson, Francis was a prominent Yorkist and hosted Richard III at Minstell Lovell in 1483. As history tells us, he backed the wrong side and Francis's estates were confiscated by the crown after defeat at Bosworth in 1485. In 1602 the house was bought by Sir Edward Coke and around 1747 it was dismantled by Thomas Coke, Earl of Leicester. The ruins were used as farm buildings until being restored in the 1930s. Pevsner (who is the source for the history of the house) says the ruins are "the most picturesque in the county".
A helpful information panel shows what the house may once have looked. A Great Hall on the right above, with guest rooms on the left wing and a service wing at right angles to the Hall.
At the end of the guest accommodation was a large defensive tower.
This is the Great Hall from the front.
Some battered roof bosses can still be seen in the main gateway.
Just beyond the Hall is the 15th century church of St Kenelm, unusually almost unaltered from when it was built.
There is a splendid alabaster tomb-chest, possibly William Lovell or his son John.
We completed the walk with a drink, now long overdue, in the village pub.
Conditions: warm and sunny.
Distance: about 3 miles.
Rating: four stars.