9 miles from Oxford, Dorchester-on-Thames is an irresistible village with a excessive road of timber-framed homes and a grand teaching inn from the top of the 15th century.
And whereas the village is small, the parish church Dorchester Abbey is a monument of actual significance, brimming with Medieval historical past.
Dorchester is near the place the Rivers Thame and Thames meet, in a panorama of water meadows and remoted chalk hills.
You possibly can stroll a stretch of the Thames Path, a Nationwide Path, and choose from a choice of absorbing museums close by for classic Aston Martins and historic locomotives.
Let’s discover the finest issues to do in Dorchester-on-Thames:
1. Dorchester Abbey
Begun in the course of the 12th century, Dorchester Abbey grew all through the Medieval interval and has a full spectrum of Gothic structure.
There’s Early English Gothic within the north facet of the nave, Adorned Gothic within the choir and south facet of the nave, and Perpendicular Gothic within the south porch.
Antiquarians have a lot to find, like the wonderful picture of the Tree of Jesse within the east window, and the 14th-century piscina sedilla within the sanctuary.
There are frescoes painted in 1340, and lots of funerary monuments like a surprising 15th-century brass for the knight Sir John Drayton.
A really uncommon piece is the Norman baptismal font, one of many few surviving to be made out of lead.
The abbey museum, set within the Abbey Visitor Home and cloister gallery, is open Wednesday to Sunday in summer time and exhibits off Bronze Age pottery, alongside Norman stonework recovered in excavations on the abbey.
2. Pendon Museum
Greater than 60 years within the making, the Pendon Museum has a set of scale fashions capturing the English countryside as it could have appeared within the 1930s.
These depict Dartmoor, the fictional Madder Valley and, largest of all, the Vale of the White Horse, representing an enormous swathe of Oxfordshire countryside between Oxford and Swindon.
The scenes have an astonishing diploma of element, with fantastically rendered nature, cottages, automobiles, boats and railways.
Every part you see within the Vale of the White Horse relies on an actual constructing, place or automobile.
Hand-crafted mannequin railways are on the coronary heart of each scene; the Vale of the White Horse has a Nice Western Railway station and exact reproductions of six completely different GWR steam locomotives.
3. Thames Path
In Dorchester you’re on the route of a 184-mile Nationwide Path snaking east from the supply of the Thames to the Thames Barrier in Charlton, London.
However for a number of small diversions, the Thames Path is a flat and forgiving stroll via idyllic meadows and riverside woodland.
In summer time there’s a continuing stream of narrowboats chugging previous, and also you’re by no means greater than an hour’s stroll from a comfortable pub.
When you’re actually decided you possibly can stroll to Oxford in a day, however Abingdon upriver and Cholsey downriver are extra snug targets.
In your journey you’ll see weirs and locks going again to the 1700s, in addition to previous boathouses, a number of thatched cottages and fairly bridges.
4. Wittenham Clumps
On the other financial institution of the Thames there’s a pair of excessive chalk hills that stick out within the panorama for miles round.
The extra southern of those is Fort Hill (110m), which was the positioning of an Iron Age hillfort and has proof of human occupation going again greater than 4,000 years.
Spherical Hill (120m) close by is blessed with a view to fall in love with, taking in all of Dorchester in addition to the 18th-century Day’s Lock on the Thames.
An orientation desk on the north facet factors out some landmarks, together with Faringdon Folly, virtually 17 miles to the west.
5. Hurst Water Meadow
Working down Dorchester’s east flank is a sequence of preserved water meadows, all protected and maintained for the general public after Hurst Water Meadow Belief.
North to South these are the Hurst Water Meadow, the Previous Bridge Meadow and the Overy Mead Piece on the confluence of the River Thame and the Thames.
The most important is the Hurst Water Meadow at 18 acres, trapped on island between the Thame and the Overy millstream.
The meadow floods round thrice a 12 months, however in case you come when it’s not underwater it’s an especially picturesque and atmospheric spot with Dorchester Abbey and the Wittenham Clumps as a backdrop.
6. Didcot Railway Centre
Open day by day in the summertime is a preserved Nice Western Railway locomotive shed and engine stabling level.
This was on the road from London to Bristol, servicing engines that carried passengers to the coast to catch transatlantic steamliners.
The present construction dates to 1932 and was closed in 1965 when steam energy was changed by diesel on British railways.
There are some neat issues to see, like a duplicate of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Atmospheric Railway, which used air strain to propel its trains.
You’ll have an array of historic steam locomotives to take a look at, relationship again to 1857. Many of those are in working order and will be ridden alongside brief lengths of observe on Steamdays that happen all via the summer time, however particularly in July and August.
7. Day’s Lock
Take the trail all the way down to the Thames and also you’ll quickly come to this historic pound lock inbuilt 1789 and sitting subsequent to the tiny village of Little Wittenham.
This humble spot performed an enormous position within the historical past of navigation of the Thames, as King James I’s Oxford-Burcot fee (1605) came about shut by and resulted within the first locks to be constructed on the river.
The principle gauging station, measuring the stream of the entire of the Thames can be set proper right here at Day’s Lock.
You might have an interest to know that theWorld Poohsticks Championships have taken place right here yearly since 1984 as a fundraising occasion for charity.
8. Aston Martin Heritage Belief Museum
There’s one thing thrilling hid in a 15th-century barn minutes away in Drayton St Leonard.
Arrange in 1998 and opened to the general public in 2002 is a group of mint situation Aston Martins.
Amongst these automobiles is the oldest Aston Martin recognized to exist, a Bamford and Martin A3 relationship to 1918. You possibly can observe virtually 100 years of the producer’s historical past, all the way in which to a uncommon pre-production Volante, assembled in 2013. There’s a pair of engines on present, whereas in show instances are fashions, elements, gadgets of clothes and different items of motorsport historical past.
9. Harcourt Arboretum
On the village of Nuneham Courtenay you may go to a satellite tv for pc of the College of Oxford’s botanical backyard.
That is on what was the grounds of Nuneham Home, and since 1963 has contained an enormous chunk of the college’s plant assortment over 130 acres.
On this calming Picturesque panorama roamed by peacocks is likely one of the UK’s largest and most lovely conifer collections.
Often called a “pinetum”, this a part of the arboretum was first laid out by the 19th-century panorama designer William Sawrey Gilpin.
The monkey puzzle timber and big redwoods he planted are actually mature.
There’s one thing to like in most seasons, whether or not it’s the ocean of bluebells in spring, the rhododendron and azalea blooms in early summer time or the reds and golds of autumn foliage.
10. Wallingford Fort
In the identical borough, Wallingford Fort is 4 miles down the Thames and has a historical past going again even earlier than the 11th century Norman Conquest.
This began out as a Saxon burgh, controlling a significant crossing level on the river.
From the 1200s it grew to become a Royal Fort, so chances are you’ll have an interest to know that vital historic figures like Richard, 1st Early of Cornwall, Simon de Montfort and royalty from King Henry III to Isabella of France lived or stayed at this place.
Henry VIII was the final king to make use of the citadel earlier than it was deserted and its stone shipped downriver to develop Windsor.
The rolling earthworks, previous partitions and stays of a clergymen’ school are inside the 16.6-hectare Wallingford Fort Meadows, which has been awarded the Inexperienced Flag for the previous decade.
11. Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary
The close by village of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell is house to a crowd-pleasing donkey sanctuary, open day by day of the 12 months besides Christmas.
Island Farm rescues and cares for a big herd of donkeys which have been deserted or poorly handled.
The farm has no entrance payment, however does settle for donations and has a present store together with a restaurant that opens on weekends.
Though Island Farm doesn’t actively rescue different farmyard animals, it has adopted goats, sheep, geese, geese, chickens and a beloved pot bellied-pig known as Percy.
12. Little Wittenham Wooden
It’s truly quicker to stroll to this nature reserve on the south financial institution of the Thames than it’s to make the drive from Dorchester.
The Little Wittenham Wooden is a Web site of Particular Scientific Curiosity, in addition to an EU Particular Space of Conservation.
This land was bought by the Earth Belief in 1982 and has been allowed to revert to native woodland.
A number of ponds lie hidden within the woods, and these are a key habitat for the good crested newt.
With a little bit of persistence and success chances are you’ll catch sight of a kingfisher or otter in your stroll, as there’s a chicken conceal beside the Thames.
13. Water Actions
Dorchester is totally surrounded by water.
Not solely do you may have the Thames bending spherical to the south, and its tributary, the Thame to the east, there’s additionally a mosaic of lakes, north, east and west of the village.
The Queenford Lakes have been a watersports centre of excellence for greater than 50 years.
Two are utilized by the Oxford Wakeboard and Ski Membership, which affords a variety of actions to non -members.
You possibly can take newbie’s classes in waterskiing and wakeboarding, or take a 15-minute high-speed ringo experience.
If you end up within the Dorchester space for weeks or months, there are open water swimming classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays in spring and summer time.
14. Oxford Moist n Wild
Catch a sizzling summer time’s day and you possibly can have a enjoyable household day at this floating aqua park within the Queenford Lakes.
Open Within the hotter months, Oxford Moist n Wild is a circuit of inflatable platforms, stairs and slides for exhilarating and exhausting enjoyable.
Adults and youngsters aged six and up will put on a life vest, and neoprene relying on the climate, and might spend hours sliding, climbing, bouncing, scrambling and slipping via the course.
The attraction has a restaurant catering to kids’s events, and in addition hires out pedal boats and paddleboards.
15. Dorchester-on-Thames Pageant
The village maintains a powerful group spirit and that is in full impact throughout the Dorchester-on-Thames Pageant.
The occasion place each different Might, and attracts 3,000 folks to greater than 30 occasions annually.
There are concert events given by surprisingly high-profile artists and ensembles, in addition to wildlife walks, an archaeology tour, artwork class and a meals and reward honest.
The competition additionally retains children engaged, with actions like drama workshops, science exhibits and classes in making stop-motion films.