Friday, January 4, 2008

Great Tew, Oxfordshire

Great Tew is all like this – thatched roofs, glowing, almost toffee-coloured ironstone walls, evergreen trees and hedges, all tucked neatly away in deepest North Oxfordshire. It’s archetypal rural England, the kind of village that’s been here for hundreds of years, growing organically and acquiring more patina with each century. But that’s not quite the story. The village is actually the creation of the early-19th century, when the estate was remodelled and the village became a star feature in the landscape. Thatched roofs were fitted or repaired, Gothic details added to the cottages, trees and hedges planted. The result is an uncanny combination of model estate village and old England. It’s not known for sure who masterminded the transformation, but the brain behind it might well have been landscape-gardener, writer, and horticulturalist J C Loudon. Loudon managed the estate for a few years and established a model farm. Whoever it was distilled the essence of the English village and left it in this North Oxfordshire valley.


Peter Ashley said...

I vaguely remember there's a pub there too, Philip, but it may have been part of one of my now frequent dreams of an English Arcadia.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Your memory serves you well (disproving the contention that a good pub is like the 1960s – if you can remember it, you weren't there). It is the Falkland Arms, and it is time I had lunch there again.

Tony said...

The Falkland Arms will live long in my memory. I was not of age to drink when I had holidays in Great Tew in the 1940[s and 50[s.
I would go in with my uncle. The fascination for me was that when beer was ordered the barman took a white enamelled jug that tapered to the top and stood maybe 2.5 ft tall. He went into the cellar and returned with the jug full of ale. I have wonderful memories of Tew and my vacations there in a different time.