South Oxfordshire villages to visit
The villages listed here are amongst the most attractive in South Oxfordshire or they have interesting features worth visiting. Either way, a visit to them could be really worthwhile.
1 Brightwell cum Sotwell
is a village of
picture-postcard prettiness and is fortunate to be completely
bypassed which means that the only traffic in the village
is village traffic. This means that Brightwell cum Sotwell seems a peaceful village to walk around. At the heart of the village is the
Red Lion pub which has been carefully restored after a
Dotted along the narrow village
streets are picturesque black and white thatched cottages. There are many houses
still standing which date back to Tudor times, or even
before. Brightwell and Sotwell were originally two separate villages and
only combined into one in 1948.
There are several ways to get to the village from the main road, and if you use High Road you may well find you are back on the main road again without seeing much of the village! Best to use the first signposted route whether you approach from Wallingford or Didcot!
lies just off the A4130 a couple of miles west of Wallingford
in the shadow of the Sinodun Hills.
Chalgrove is bypassed by the B480 which
means that the village is pleasantly clear of through traffic.
Originally the village spread out along the High Street,
with a pleasant mixture of old cottages and newer buildings,
but now there is newer development which is mainly in the roads on
small brook runs along the High Street for the length
of the village and forms an attractive feature, complete
with ducks. Many of the properties along that side of
the road have individual bridges across the brook for
access. Apparently the brook is man-made and was created
in the 19th century, forming an artificial loop to the
The best part of the village for the visitor is undoubtedly the High Street although in some other places
there are still some indications of the original village, especially
near the church.
Chalgrove is approximately three
miles north-west of Watlington along the B480.
3 Clifton Hampden
Hampden is an attractive Thames-side village which in the main is bypassed by the Main road. The village High Street is largely quiet and unspoiled, although between the bridge and the A415 traffic lights it can be busy. Clifton Hampden has an attractive old bridge which is worth crossing as the well-known Barley Mow pub is on the other side.
The village and The Barley Mow were featured in Jerome
K. Jerome's book Three Men in a Boat, and in 1885 Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames said of Clifton
Hampden, 'Clifton Hampden, this picturesque little
village, is situated at the foot of a bold bluff, which
rises abruptly from the somewhat flat country around.
The cliff is surmounted by the church and vicarage, and
is clothed with luxuriant trees down to the water's edge.
The village, a pretty collection of old-fashioned cottages,
all of which are bright with flowers ...' This description
could have been written today.
The old fashioned cottages
are still there, many of them listed, and the whole makes
for a very attractive scene well worth a visit.
Hampden is about four and a half
miles south-west of Abingdon on the A415, and about one and a half
miles north of Long Wittenham.
Dorchester is an attractive and prosperous Thames-side village and along
the High Street in particular there are a number of fine period buildings
which give the village its special character. Out of the original ten coaching inns
that once were in Dorchester two remain, and antique shops are
very prominent in the High Street.
On the edge of the village is the site of an Iron
Age settlement and also the site of the Roman town of Dorcic. Apart from those attractions there is also Dorchester Abbey, which was a former Augustinian abbey. The Abbey is now just the parish church but it does have a tea room and museum for the visitor to see. All in all, Dorchester is well worth a visit!
The remains of the Iron
Age settlement are evident by
the low hills known as the Dyke Hills which lie close
to the river at the edge of the village.
Dorchester is about
5 miles north-west of Wallingford.
5 East Hagbourne
East Hagbourne is a medium sized and extremely attractive village with
many old houses with character. The most attractive part to visit is around Main Road, which is off the B4016. Leading from Main Road on both sides are footpaths that lead to attractive hidden parts of the village, including one path that runs between two streams, one on each side of the path!
According to legend, the Great Fire of Hagboume in 1659
destroyed cottages that stretched over the fields all the way to nearby West Hagboume. The Great fire certainly
happened but the legend has been proved a myth as the fire was restricted
to the part of the village east of St. Andrew's Church, and away from West Hagbourne, and Domesday
records prove that the two villages were actually never linked
and have always been separate communities! In fact had they been linked they would have been a very large settlement indeed, most unusual for the 15th century!
East Hagbourne lies
between Didcot and the Berkshire Downs, about a mile south
of Didcot on the B4016.
Ewelme is an attractive little village and a delight
to visit, with plenty to see. In
the centre of the village is the source of the Ewelme
Brook and an attractive pond. At
the west end of the village on slightly higher ground
is the large and attractive 14th/15th century parish church of St. Mary
the Virgin, which has had comparatively
restoration and alteration since then. In the churchyard is the grave of Jerome K. Jerome,
the author of 'Three Men in a Boat', who lived in Ewelme
in the 1880s.
the west door of the church a covered passage
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 to be in use
as a state primary school. The School is a fine rectangular
red brick building two storeys high. The upper classroom
has magnificent roof beams, probably made from ship's
timbers and has mullioned windows supported by corbels.
Ewelme Brook was at one time used extensively for the
cultivation of water cress. 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
Ewelme is just south of the
B4009 Benson to Watlington road about 5 miles east of Benson.
Most people who have heard of Goring probably associate it with the attractive
gap between the Berkshire Downs and the Chilterns known
as the Goring Gap. Here the villages of Goring and Streatley
stand on opposite sides of the River Thames, Oxfordshire
on one side and West Berkshire on the other, linked by
a fine bridge which was built in 1923. The beautiful riverside
setting and the attractive views of the hills on either
side make Goring an extremely attractive village.
Next to the bridge is Goring Lock and weir, and from the bridge you can look down and watch the lock in use. By the bridge also is the old mill but this is no longer in use.
It is thought that Goring Lock was build by the local
miller in the C16 to provide a head of water to drive
the water wheel.
High Street can be very busy with traffic, but some of the side roads are quieter and certainly worth exploring.
Goring is about 5.5 miles south of Wallingford.
8 Great Milton
is a very attractive village and lies within beautiful countryside. As with many villages, a large proportion
of it has been designated a Conservation Area. The village has an attractive mix of large and small old houses and cottages, someof them thatched, and modern day dwellings, bungalows and affordable housing. Along the High Street there are wide grass verges and large houses, whereas at the opposite end of the village near the church there are several extremely large historic houses and the manor house, now the well-known restaurant and hotel, Le
Manoir aux Quat' Saisons created by the celebrated chef Raymond Blanc.
is approximately 10 miles south-east of Oxford just off the A329
and about a mile and a half from junction 7 of the M40.
9 Long Wittenham
Wittenham is an attractive Thames-side village but disappointingly the river is
not visible 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.
High Street is the main attraction and frankly there is little more to see. Along High Street there are many lovely period buildings including,
on the north side of the High Street, Cruck Cottage which dates from
the C14 which is believed to be the oldest house in South Oxfordshire. Originally this
was a single storey, open hall house, without a chimney,
which was added during the reign of Elizabeth I. As well
as Cruck Cottage there are six other cruck-framed buildings
in village which may be 600 or more years old.
The western part of the High Street is relatively traffic free, and down there is Pendon Museum which receives many visitors each year. The museum is
a delightful cross between a model village and a model
railway and is well worth a visit.
Wittenham is about two
miles north of Didcot.
10 Marsh Baldon
Marsh Baldon from the direction of Nuneham Courtenay on
the A4074 you pass the 17th century Baldon House and the
mainly 14/15th century St. Peter's Church, and then you
pass through a gate (which I have never found to be closed).
Most of Marsh Baldon is then spread before you around
the large village green, complete with a cricket table,
with a number of interesting old houses all around. The
village pub is on one side.
Peter's Church was originally built by the monks from Dorchester. The tower has an unusual design with a square
base that changes to an octagon at belfry level. It is
thought it was designed in this way to support a steeple
which was never built.
To walk around this village is rather like going on a country ramble, everything being round the edge of the somewhat large Saxon village green!
Baldons are a group of small settlements, one of the largest being Marsh
Baldons are situated between
the A4074 and the B480 about 4 miles south-east of Oxford.
11 Nuneham Courtenay
Nuneham Courtenay is an unusual village of small, mainly
semi-detached, single storey, and very uniform
which line each side of the main road. The
brick built with tiled roofs and dormers in the attic
and shutters to the windows on the ground floor.
was originally inside Nuneham Park and consisted of pretty
white cottages scattered around a piece of water and shaded
by a number of fine trees. However
1760 the whole
village was rebuilt and relocated on the main road because
Earl of Harcourt thought
medieval cottages spoiled the view from his new house
and landscaped park.
south of the village is the
Harcourt Arboretum on part of the former grounds
of Nuneham House. The arboretum is
of the tree and plant collection of Oxford University's
Oxford Botanic Garden. It includes ten acres of woodland,
and a thirty-seven-acre wild-flower meadow.
Nuneham Courtenay is 5 miles south-east of Oxford on the A4074.
12 Stoke Row
Visitors to Stoke Row usually go to see the attractive
Indian-style well, known as the Maharaja's Well, which was dug in the
19th century entirely by hand as a gift from the Maharajah of Benares
due to his friendship with a prominent local landowner,
Mr Edward Anderdon Reade.
Row is at the highest point of the southern Chiltern hills
between the Wallingford to Reading and the Wallingford
to Henley roads. The village is mainly along the 'main' road linking Sonning
Common and Nuffield. The
is at one end of the village and the pub, the Cherry Tree,
and a chapel are at the other. At the pub end there
are some reasonably attractive older buildings, whereas
at the church end most of them appear to be newer.
the centre is a village store and a garage, as well as the Maharaja's Well. Next to the well is a cherry orchard.
Row is about 3 miles north-west of Sonning
or village? Technically Watlington is an ancient market
town and it claims to be reputedly the smallest town in
I feel justified in including Watlington here as one of Oxfordshire's
villages. Watlington has lots of character and it really would
have been a pity to exclude it for being a town.
sits where the B4009 crosses the B480 Henley-on-Thames
to Oxford road. As the B4009 takes traffic from junction 6 of the M40 towards
Didcot, Wallingford and Abingdon, Watlington does suffer with traffic. Its narrow
streets were just not designed to cope with modern traffic,
hence it does suffer a lot of congestion.
Despite the traffic Watlington is well worth a visit. In the centre is the dominating 17th century
town hall and many historic buildings dating back to that
period and a fine
selection of small shops. The
village's position at the foot of the Chilterns and on
the edge of the Vale of Oxford adds to its character as there are some Chilterns-style flint buildings
here as well as timber framed and thatched cottages, although
most of the buildings are built of brick. In all Watlington is a very attractive
parish church is St. Leonards is just off the Cuxham road. Much of the present church
is Victorian although there are a few remains from the
original Norman church.
area around Watlington is a perfect place to watch red
kites soaring overhead. These distinctive birds of
prey were re-introduced to the Chilterns from Spain in
Watlington is about 7 miles south of Thame.
is an attractive Thames-side village opposite the Berkshire village of Pangbourne on the opposite
side of the river, and linked to it
by Whitchurch Bridge. When you approach Whitchurch-on-Thames by road from the north
the road drops down from the Chiltern Hills into the villlage,
and the High Street follows the hill down to the river. Before you realise it you have reached the
toll bridge across the river to Pangbourne.
Whitchurch-on-Thames is about 5.5 miles north-west of Reading, about half way between Reading and Goring.