Aston Rowant

Aston RowantAston Rowant is a pretty little brick and flint village lying at the foot of the Chilterns just off the B4009, although there has been some ribbon development along the main road.

The 12th century church of St Peter and St Paul is in the oldest part of the village. The church is surrounded by trees and in spring daffodils and blossom make the bank of the churchyard a pretty sight. The road winds through the village towards the village green. The green is dotted with trees and also has attractive daffodils in the spring. Around the green is a farmhouse and cottages, which were mainly built in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Find Aston Rowant on the Ordnance Survey map

Britwell Salome

Britwell SalomeBritwell Salome is at the foot of the steep slope of the Chilterns, about a mile south-west of Watlington along the B4009. From the main road it appears to be little more than a few houses, a pub and a farm and it actually is a very small village. Off the main road on either side however are more houses, the main, and older, part of the village being to the south with a few newish houses to the north.

To the north-east of the village, next to the site of Britwell Priory and down a short lane, is the parish church of St. Nicholas which dates from the 13th century. On the site of Britwell Priory there is now an C18 farmhouse. Adjacent to the church is the Old Rectory which dates from the 17th century.

Find Britwell Salome on the Ordnance Survey map


EwelmeEwelme is an interesting and attractive village and is a delight to visit. It lies in a small valley just south of the B4009 Benson to Watlington road about 5 miles east of Benson. The name means (place at) the river-source - the river being the small chalk stream, the Ewelme Brook.

The Ewelme Brook was at one time used extensively for the cultivation of water cress. However during the last quarter of the 1900s, regulations prevented the sale of watercress from Ewelme and this, together with greater competition from other areas and countries, led to the industry's demise and production ceased in 1988. The Ewelme water cress beds are now owned and managed by the Chiltern Society as a local nature reserve. They run the whole length of the village and are accessible from the road in places.

In the centre of the village is the source of the Ewelme Brook and an attractive pond. Beside this a small development of late 20th century houses blends almost perfectly with the older village properties in the High Street.

At the west end of the village on slightly higher ground is the large and attractive parish church of St. Mary the Virgin. From the west door of the church is a covered passage that leads to the Cloister - a square courtyard surrounded by thirteen red brick almshouses which were established in 1437. The almshouses are the oldest brick buildings in this part of the country. Next to the Cloister is Ewelme school which was founded originally as a superior grammar school. Now the school is a state primary school and is the oldest school building in the country still in use as a state primary school.

Find Ewelme on the Ordnance Survey map


ChinnorChinnor is a large village at the base of the Chilterns approximately four miles south of Thame on the B4009. Originally the village appears to have been mainly around the four roads Station Road, Church Road, High Street and Lower Road. However the village has now grown considerably, especially to the west.

Industries based in and around Chinnor have included lacemaking, chair-making and agriculture and, until 1999, a cement works whose tall chimney was a well-known local landmark.

High above the village on Chinnor Hill is Chinnor Hill Nature Reserve which is run by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.

Chinnor is the terminus of the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway, which was part of the old Great Western Railway line between Watlington and Princes Risborough but was closed to passengers by BR in 1957. The section between Chinnor and Princes Risborough then carried a freight-only service until 1990 but is now a heritage line.

Find Chinnor on the Ordnance Survey map


CrowellCrowell is a tiny spring-line village at the foot of the Chilterns just outside Kingston Blount a mile or so south west of Chinnor. The name is thought to be derived from a well or spring where crows gather! Unlike neighbouring Kingston Blount, and despite being such a tiny village, Crowell has a parish church, the church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although largely reconstructed in about 1880, parts of the church date from the 13th century.

Find Crowell on the Ordnance Survey map

Kingston Blount

Kingston BlountKingston Blount is a spring-line village at the foot of the Chilterns a mile or so south west of Chinnor on the B4009. There are a few cottages on the main road, also the village pub, but much of the village is actually way from the main road.

In the 19th century Kingston Blount had a number of pubs, a draper, grocers, wine merchants, a smithy, corn merchant, butcher, baker, post office and a school and was considered to be a large and respectable town. Now, like in many villages, the shops have all closed and there now remains just one pub.

Find Kingston Blount on the Ordnance Survey map


LewknorThe village of Lewknor is a quiet village at the junction of the M40 motorway and the B4009 right at the foot of the Chilterns where the motorway passes through the Stokenchurch cutting. Since the construction of the motorway the B4009 has become a bypass for the village and the motorway has blocked the direct road from the village to Aston Rowant meaning there is now little through traffic through the village.

Many of the cottages in Lewknor are built using flints and some of the newer construction has been sympathetically built in a similar style using the same materials. At the centre of the village is the remnant of Town Pond which at one time was used for watercress growing. The cress was sent to London by train from the nearby halt on the Watlington to Princes Risborough branch line (now no longer there).

Find Lewknor on the Ordnance Survey map


ShirburnThe tiny village of Shirburn straddles the B4009, but don't blink or you might miss it as you concentrate on the sharp bends in the road at that point! Off the main road there are a few houses and on the main road there are even fewer!

The main interest in this village is Shirburn castle, a fortified manor house built in 1378 with four towers and a gatehouse and surrounded by a moat. Unfortunately the castle is now empty and in need of substantial repair.

Find Shirburn on the Ordnance Survey map


WatlingtonsWatlington is an ancient market town and it claims to be reputedly the smallest town in England. But, Watlington is not listed on the South Oxfordshire District Council's websites as a town, so I feel justified in including Watlington here as one of Oxfordshire's villages. Watlington has lots of character and it would have been a real pity to have excluded it.

The village's position at the foot of the Chilterns and on the edge of the Vale of Oxford adds to its character, for here we start to see some Chilterns-style flint buildings as well as timber framed and thatched cottages although most of the buildings are built of brick. With its fine selection of small shops, the dominating 17th century town hall and many historic buildings dating back to that period, and before, in all Watlington is a very attractive village. Unfortunately though, Watlington's narrow streets were just not designed to cope with modern traffic, hence it has to suffer an awful lot of congestion.

High on the scarp slope above the village is Watlington Hill Nature Reserve which is owned by the National Trust.

Find Watlington on the Ordnance Survey map