Southern Chilterns

As this blog expands and grows, I thought it may help to group stories by north, central and southern Chilterns.

The Buckinghamshire and south Oxfordshire Chilterns always seem to be sunny and warm. So many riverside walks along the Thames, big skies and pretty market towns – one pretty famous too. Church spires visible amongst the rolling hills and valleys, and plenty of beechwoods and wildflowers.

With a name that rhymes with sponge-well, Mongewell is a mere mile from Wallingford, sandwiched between the Winterbrook bridge, the busy B4009 and River Thames to the west. This place really is unexpected.

St John the Baptist Mongewell Park
Monument to John Saunders (d1731)

Messing about in boats is a favourite pastime and the Chilterns is busy throughout the year with visitors, locals and sports men and women on and in the River Thames. Messing about in Marlow.

An alternative view
Marlow from the River

This tale is full of contradiction, cruelty and the absurd; of a young ‘fanciful child of nature’ bought by a showman to exhibit to the public until his death and lavish funeral in a shared vault in a church in Marlow. George Alexander Gratton.

Marlow
George Alexander Gratton

The Chilterns villages of Goring and Streatley have a long and sweeping history (at least 10,000 years), nestled in the gap that the Thames has carved between two impressive chalk hillsides.

Goring and Streatley
Goring and Streatley

Beside his grave, pebbles are left by visitors from North America, two of whom had to be stopped from attempting to exhume his remains as they wished them to be reinterred in the state capital. A social experiment at Jordans Village.

The Jordans Meeting House
Looking today as it did then, this elegant Grade I listed William and Mary wisteria-clad redbrick house, would not have been an unfamiliar style across the American colonies.

Goblins Glen, Deadman’s Lane, Rotmoor Shaw and Drunken Bottom are some of the place names that surround beautiful Nuffield. A place rich in character and Chilterns history, and where we were to ‘Meet the Makers’ during the Chilterns Walking Festival.

English farm at Nuffield
Fields of Gold

The river is busy with geese, swans, ducks and all manner of little birds, darting about in the foliage, the riverside path shady with overhanging trees, leaves drifting into the soft river mud. The sweetest stretch.

Riverside at Cliveden
Riverside at Cliveden

In 1928, Mrs Callingham made a short but moving speech in which she suggested that either the indoor model railway went, or she did. The model railway moved outdoors, and the rest as they say, is history. Bekonscot model village.

A model railway
Bekonscot’s rural idyll

I got more than I bargained for when I visited the Wittenham Clumps, a favourite haunt of Paul Nash. I discovered not only inspirational countryside, but my knight in shining armour. In search of Paul Nash.

In search of Paul Nash
A knight in shining armour

The story of a 19th century Maharajah felt compelled to make an extraordinary gesture to ensure a free, clean water supply to a Chilterns community. Be not weary in well doing.

The Elephant & Bandstand
Trunk to Trunk in Stoke Row

Every village needs a chalk stream, a manor house, old rectory, almshouses, red-brick school and well-stocked village shop. And a Grande Dame. The Grande Dame of Ewelme.

Medieval Alms Houses
The Almshouses in Ewelme