Deddington Circular Walk 19th March 2019 – The Clifton Loop

After having had to cancel our walk on 12 March, due to poor weather conditions, 16 members met to travel to Deddington.  4 other members were waiting for us when we arrived there. It was a drab  morning with large black clouds in the sky, fortunately  it did not turn to rain on the walk.

Deddington is a parish/town 6 miles south of Banbury. The parish includes two hamlets: Clifton and Hempton. Deddington is a large attractive village, built in the local dark honey-coloured Hornton stone. The main part of the village is off the main road to the east and the village is centred around the bustling Market Place, Church Street and Chapel Square.  Just to the east of the village is the site of Deddington Castle. This was a motte and bailey castle but all that remains of it now are the striking earthworks which are a public recreation area.

The first 10 minutes of the walk was on the pavements of several streets.  After this it was a totally peaceful rural walk.  There were a number of horses in the fields near to farm buildings, a field of sheep, 2 alpacas in another and 2 deer walking in the distant fields.  The terrain was easy walking and dry underfoot. Near to the end of the walk was a steep hill which everyone managed without any problems.

Thank you to the car drivers.  The next long walk is on 16th April from Chimney Meadows to the Thames. Pam

History Group March outing – Visit to the Almonry Museum in Evesham

9 members of the History group went to Evesham today for a visit to the Almonry Museum and what a superb visit it was.We had a guided tour full of interesting information. In the early 8th century, the Bishop of Worcester grazed his pigs in the forest in a bend in the river Avon, under the care of Eof. Eof had a vision of Mary one day, and reported this to the Bishop, who also saw the vision, and decided to build an Abbey on the site. News of the visions soon spread and many pilgrims began to arrive. So the town of Evesham began, it’s name deriving from Eof’s Ham. The Abbey was at one time the third largest in England, but sadly only one stone archway survives, following it’s dissolution in 1540.In the 14th century, the almoner was given a house nearby in which to live, and dispense alms to the poor, and this house is now the Almonry Museum. There have been later additions and alterations, but there are a lot of original features remaining. There are 12 rooms on two floors with outstanding collections, including Saxon grave goods, and the 14th century Abbot’s chair.Henry V111’s son Arthur was betrothed to Katharine of Aragon in Evesham Abbey, and there is a wonderful stone over-mantle dating from this period, showing their coats of arms..Our tour and talk ended with the story of Simon de Montford. He was killed in the Battle of Evesham, and buried in unconsecrated ground. Many years later his skeleton was supposedly found, and the Museum has the skull, and are looking into the possibility of verifying it with DNA testing.We finished the afternoon with tea, coffee and cakes in a lovely farm shop and cafe on the way home, and all agreed that the Museum, with it’s friendly and knowledgeable staff and wonderful atmosphere, is well worth a return visit.

Cycle Ride 5th March 2019

Cycle Ride 5th March 2019

There were 4 of us on a bright but breezy morning for the cycle ride.  Our route was the same as last month.  We rode to Bampton Plant Centre for our morning coffee and scones and cakes.  The going was a bit tough with the breeze but a nice ride enjoyed by all.


Visit to Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery and Whitchurch Silk Mill on 6th March 2019

Waiting for our coach was not very pleasant as it was a damp morning but thankfully the coach was early and we were able to board before getting too wet.  After a short local detour to avoid traffic queues on the A40 we had a good journey to Laverstock.  Time was built into our visit to allow for refreshments on arrival.  The temporary café, a double decker bus, was quite a novel sight.  Suitably refreshed we were split into two groups. My group guide was Helen, who was witty, funny and very knowledgeable.  She made the point that of the normal shop price of £22, the Government took £12, so it was in our own interests to “keep on drinking”. Part of the tour was to the Aroma Room, where there were 22 glass jars with lids.  We were asked to smell the contents (called Botanicals) of each jar and any that we liked mark on a card that we had been given;  from this Helen was able to suggest which Gin based cocktail might suit us, when we reached the bar at the end of the tour. There was a choice 10 alcoholic and 2 alcohol free, and all agreed that whatever they tried, they were very nice.  

In the Doomsday Book it shows that Laverstock Mill was a corn mill. In 1719 the mill was converted into a hand-made paper mill.   The site was later expanded and was used to manufacture bank notes. Laverstoke Mill has been under the ownership of William the Conqueror, Henry VIII and enjoyed four royal visits, most recently Queen Elizabeth in 1962.  Bombay Sapphire is now part of the Bacardi group of companies.

Bombay Sapphire’s heritage begins in 1761 when distiller Thomas Dakin purchased a site in Warrington, with the intention of distilling gin. In 1831, having moved to Laverstock, the Dakin’s purchased a second still, and adapted it so that instead of adding the botanicals to the still they were used to flavour the Gin by capturing the flavours in the vapour as it passed through a second chamber – this is known as Vapour Infusion, and still faithfully used by Bombay Sapphire today.

At Laverstoke, every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the processes and buildings are as ecologically sustainable and efficient as possible. In recognition of this the distillery has been awarded the highly prestigious BREEAM Award for Industrial Design in 2014. 

The second visit of the day was to Whitchurch Silk Mill.  There being only a very limited café facility, we were nevertheless able to enjoy our packed lunches in a private room where we could also get Coffee and Tea. After lunch, we were split into 2 groups and taken round the site by tour guides.

Whitchurch Silk Mill was built on land owned by the Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral. We know quite a lot about the different owners of the Mill but, unfortunately, the Mill records were destroyed by fire in 1955, making it very hard to know much about the number of employees, their wages and conditions through history.  What we do know, is that during the troubles in Europe in the early 17th Century many Huguenots’ came to England a few of whom came to Whitcurch and set up this mill. We were shown how the raw silk was turned into cloth and the various patterns, thickness of material, and colour combinations could be used to produce the very fine silk goods that we see today.  The cocoons are initially imported through Sudbury in Suffolk and distributed to this and other mills in UK.

The weaving machines are original ones that have been in use for well over 100yrs. The whole manufacturing process is very labour intensive which accounts for the high cost of Silk products.  The only cheap bit is the use of the waters of the river Test which drives the Water Wheel and through a system of gears, and belts etc the machines them-selves.

The journey home was trouble free, and despite a poor weather day, a good time was had by all.

Thank you to Henry for the article and to Janice, Martin and Frank for the photographs. (There are several similar but they are inclusive to those that submitted photographs).

Gardening Group visit to Islip

Our February visit to Hollyhocks gardens in Islip went very well and 15 members enjoyed a very nice afternoon in this small but delightful garden.  Our host was very friendly and informative.  It was a very small garden but laid out beautifully as a woodland garden.  Structure was bought into the garden by use of shrubs and some wonderful silver birch trees.  The snowdrops were just finishing because of the warm weather we had  but there were still some special species for us to look at as well as hellebore and other plantings.  I have attached a photo of Ken looking splendid in this very pretty garden. Our visit was made even more special by the hospitality of our hosts and the delicious tea and cake they served us afterwards.
Our next visit is March 27th when we are going to the Fosse garden center just before  Moreton in the Marsh .This visit will start at 3pm and will be a talk be a David Austin roses rep who will also be giving money off offers on some of the roses and hopefully a small goody bag. I know a lot of people use this garden center and have lunches there. Some of you may wish to do this first so could you please let me know if you will be going direct or if anyone will be needing transport.  The cost is £5 to include the talk and light refreshment.It is a ticketed event so imperative I know how many persons are going.

Bowls Group important information

Hi Folks,
Due to popularity we currently have 22 casual bowlers that turn out on an irregular basis for the Thursday morning Bowls. 
 Due to the two rink configuration I can only accommodate 16 players per session.
The only fair solution I can see is that the first 16 to arrive will play.
So if you want a Game be there at 09:45 prompt for registration.

Due to my mainly Wednesday, and Thursday commitments to Oxfordshire Indoor Bowling Association, I will terminate my role as Group Bowls Leader at the end of this years outdoor season.
I find it unfair to keep asking the same people to run the sessions in my absence, as an example, I am away on the 07th, possibly 14th, and the 28th March. This will give us time to find a replacement to sponsor the Wednesday League, and run the Thursday session. When informed I will forward all the necessary paperwork to the new team leader.
I will still turn out to play only on a Thursday, (as, and when I can), and will gladly assist the new Team Leader in his/her role.


History Group February News

14 members of the History group met for our usual February Tea and Talks.The topics were very varied, and included a visit to China, Minster Lovell Hall, San Francisco City Hall, the Mary Rose, Sir Humphrey Davy and the Oxfordshire connections to the Knights Templars.February isn’t usually a good month to travel far, so this get together is one of our favourites.Christine

Combe-Blenheim Palace Parkland walk 19th February 2019. 7 miles

This was a splendid peaceful walk over field paths and tracks, parkland paths and estate drives. 17 of us commenced the walk at Combe. The walk was gently undulating over the farmland and parkland.  No matter how many times one walks on the Blenheim Estate there is always something different to see.  The bright sunshine added to the pleasure of the walk. We managed to find a fallen branch from a tree to sit on while we ate our lunch.  Several flocks of sheep were grazing on the parkland and numerous birds soaring in the sky.  Thank you to the car drivers.  Our next walk will be from Deddington on the 19th March.  Pam

We were told today of the “Harry Potter Tree”.  This beautiful, majestic, 300 year old Cedar of Lebanon tree which sits alone by a lake is where part of “Order of the Phoenix” was filmed. Harry Potter fans travel from all over the world to see the famous 55ft tall, 20ft diameter tree.

Lunch Group (mid week) update

LUNCH CLUB    dates have altered , so that there is a two week gap between lunch club and Sunday lunch club.

“We meet once a month , usually a Tuesday / Wednesday  first week of the month.  Venues are local , no more than ½ hr , times 12 for 12.30 and costs  about £15 a head.

We average 30,  we are a very friendly relaxed group, this is a good way of meeting other members.”


Short Walk at Sherborne 12th February 2019

Short Walk on Tuesday 12th  February 2019

It was a refreshing morning when 20 members gathered to travel to Sherborne for the walk. The car park now has a pay parking meter. The first part of the walk took us through some woods where we saw a deer. The next section of the walk was on the road, which led down into Sherborne village and the café/shop.  They were well organised serving all of us with cakes/toasted tea cakes and beverages. After the refreshments we began the climb up through more woods where the snowdrops and aconites were out in their glory.  It was amazing to see how they had matured in the 2 days since the reccie.  It was a nice sociable walk with plenty of chatter; and we did have a new member Harold; and Linda who hadn’t walked with us for some time. Our next short walk will be on Tuesday 12thMarch at Eastleach where we might see a covering  of yellow daffodils.  Thank you to all the car drivers.  Pam