After a very nice afternoon touring around the English Civil War battlefields at Edgehill and Cropredy Bridge we headed for our base for the weekend at the ancient village of Dorchester on Thames
and precisely the Fleur de Lys, medieval coaching house and all the head bumping on very low beams that description implies.
As you will see there is plenty of history to see from just across the road with the tower of the Norman Abbey seen above the wall and hedge lining the road. I don't think Carolyn was too keen on the Sunday morning bells!
the George Hotel with all the centuries that building has seen go past the door
to the more distant past with Bronze Age and Iron Age earth works on the outskirts close to the River Thames, with the Iron Age hill fort atop the locally named 'Wittenham Clumps' later occupied by the Romans, with the name Dorchester giving the Roman connection away.
|Ariel view of the archeaolgy on the outskirts of Dorchester with the edge of the village centre top where we began our walk|
|Wittenham Sword pictured on my trip back in 2014|
|View of the Wittenham Clumps on the hills beyond the path towards the Iron Age ramparts/dyke, centre and the WWII anti-tank bunker far left.|
|The ramparts of the dyke become more pronounce the closer you get|
The walk out to the clumps was a classic example with an Iron Age hill fort, dyke and WWII pillbox all within walking distance and examples of defensive architecture across the centuries of warfare.
|A reminder of the days when the country last faced the threat of invasion|
|The anti-tank gun embrasure looks large enough to take a six-pounder gun and very capable of covering the main road into the village over the Thames.|
|Machine-gun embrasures cover the flanks of the bunker on each side.|
|The dyke and ramparts in all its glory|
|Close up of the clumps with the Hill Fort on the right most top|
Ariel View of Wittenham Clumps, Castle Hill
As you know while out walking I delight in not only looking at the history of an area but also the natural history and the change here from home was quite distinctive with the Red Kites that populate this area since the early eighties, quite different from the Common Buzzards that populate the skies of Devon.
With Spring in the air the first of the green shoots were appearing in fields and on branches and the Snowdrops were conspicuous in their abundance.
|The snow drops were out in force during our visit and became a lasting memory of the trip|
I wanted particularly to visit places that I hadn't seen on my trip back in 2014 and so the other historical aspects of Oxford took precedence as well as the shopping, which I joined in on and managed to get some additions to the JJ's Research Library.
|The Anglo-Saxon tower of St Michael at the North Gate in Oxford|
The tower is open to the public and as well as offering a great view of the city of spires from its top also holds a relic from the violent days of the English Reformation and the turbulent years of 'Bloody' Queen Mary following the death of her father Henry VIII.
Oxford and its University had been front and centre in the former King's drive to change England to a Protestant country and the brains of the realm were set to propagating and supporting Henry as the defender of the faith and head of the new Church of England.
Following Henry's death in 1547, the crown went to his son Edward VI aged nine and even more inclined to the new church established by his father.
Edward was a sickly lad dying at the age of fifteen in 1553, naming his cousin Lady Jane Grey as his successor. However Jane was soon deposed by Edward's elder sister Mary, a dedicated Catholic determined to reverse the process begun by her father and brother and so began a reign of terror as those who refused to submit to Mary's will often found themselves tied to a post with a worrying smell of something burning.
Three such resistors to the Queen's will were Arch-Bishop Cranmer and Bishops Latimer and Ridley, later to become known as the Oxford Martyrs after they were found guilty of heresy and burnt at the stake in 1555 with Cranmer suffering the same fate on the same spot in Oxford six months later.
|The view over the city from the top of the tower|
|The burning of Cranmer from John Foxe's book 1563|
So did I mention something about retail therapy? Well I included myself in that part of our day out and was keen to check out the Foyle's of Oxford, Blackwell book shop, with an amazing stock of the kind of books I like to read, plus a very nice coffee shop to sit down in to peruse ones purchases whilst enjoying a hot beverage or two.
|My little weekend treat from Blackwell Books|
One large queue of people drew our attention as it snaked out of the entrance of one of the University college's, only to find that they were waiting for entrance to see the college dining hall used in the filming of Harry Potter and Hogwarts - really, really!!
|Not quite Venice, but it certainly brought back memories|
|There are plaques on walls all over the place in Oxford|
We were never far from rivers on this little tour of ours and the Cherwell and Thames certainly helped make up for not being near the sea.
|Fun in boats on the River Thames in Oxford|