Long Wittenham

Long Wittenham is an attractive Thames-side village but disappointingly you can't see the river from the road unless you proceed towards Clifton Hampden Bridge. About a quarter of a mile outside the village the road runs alongside the river where the raised footpath indicates frequest flooding.

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There is evidence that there has been human habitation in the area since the Stone Age, and many interesting archaelogical finds, including relics from the Stone and Bronze Ages, have been made. At nearby Northfield Farm there was a sizeable Romano-British farmstead. Excavations in the area now called Saxon Heath, revealed nearly 200 burials dating from the late fifth century. the older ones were burials, the later ones cremations. It remained as a Saxon community until the 9th Century. Excavations of the Saxon burial grounds at Saxon Heath in the mid 19th Century indicated a community of some size.

The parish church in the village is St. Mary's which is standing on the same site as its Saxon predecessor. St Mary's was begun around 1120 but as with most churches of this age has been substantially altered over the years. Next to Church Cottage is the village Pound where stray animals could be put until claimed by their owners.

Another important building in the village is Cruck Cottage on the north side of the High Street, which dates from the C14. believed to be the oldest house in South Oxfordshire. The cruck frame was restored in 1974. Originally this was a single storey, open hall house, without a chimney, which was added during the reign of Elizabeth 1. As well as Cruck Cottage there are six other cruck-framed buildings in village which may be 600 or more years old.

Pendon Museum receives many visitors each year. It is a delightful cross between a model village and a model railway and is well worth a visit. The main attraction is perhaps the recreation of a model of the countryside of the Vale of the White Horse as it was in the 1930's. The museum says on its website "At Pendon we aim to recapture, in detailed and colourful miniature, scenes showing the beauty of the English countryside as it used to be in the years around 1930. Realistically modelled cottages, farms, fields and lanes recall the peaceful country ways of that period. Cavalcades of trains, accurately represented, provide a fascinating record of the railways of the time. Pendon is being created entirely by volunteer modellers who work to the most exacting standards. The photograph above shows the work of the late Roye England, the Museum's founder. It is just one of the many fine model buildings in the Vale Scene." Other models on display are a Dartmoor Scene with a fascinating sequence of trains and full commentary from Museum staff and a Madder Valley scene, a model dating from the 1930s. This was the first model railway to be set in a fully developed landscape, complete with towns and countryside. (www.pendonmuseum.com)

Long Wittenham is about two miles north of Didcot.

Images of Long Wittenham:
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