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Published: September 18th 2019
Our room at Lakeside Guest House BnB with prism lamp shades
9 September 2019, Monday
Day 8 of Thames Path, Oxford to Abingdon, day 23 of travel.
Our rest day in Oxford included many interesting things about this university town. Today we leave by heading back toward town to the bridge across the Thames at Abingdon Road. Here we pick up the Thames Path and start our walk on to Abingdon.
Our breakfast was served at 7:30 which meant we got almost an hour earlier start than on prior days. The path is crowded with bicyclists and joggers and walkers heading into Oxford. The forecast for the day is for 50 to 60% chance of rain every hour, so we are prepared with our rain gear today.
As we approach our first lock, Iffley Lock, our attention is drawn to the tower of a church. This is an old Norman church originally founded in about 1080 but is not featured in the Domesday Book.
The signs at the lock explain the starting point for the boat races to Oxford. See the stone carved bulls head starting point.
Back to this very lovely church, Karen and I spend a good 40 to 45 minutes studying the stained-glass windows,
Lakeside Guest House in Oxford on Abingdon Road
the architecture, the carvings and the history of the church. One of the most unusual features as you enter is the marble baptistry right in the center inside the door. It is carved from a solid block of marble.
Norma and Jo had continued on so we did not see them the rest of the day until we got to our hotel, The Cosener's House, in Abingdon.
- Some other interesting things along the path included a blue heron, and another smaller bird that looks like a night heron. Several very cute dogs capture our attention.
- Across the way, some interesting structures on the hillside, at the top of steep runs down to the river, mystify us. It is finally the manager of our hotel, that night in Abingdon, that explains the steep runs down the hill were when Abingdon produced MGB sports cars and used the hills for test runs! The plant closed in 1980. A writer for a car magazine article I read about the MGB stated that at no other time has the association between the name of a car and its location of production been so strong.
We also note a
big sculpture on the hillside across the river. It is on the old Nuneham Estate. The estate is currently owned by Oxford University and is leased as a retreat centre by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.
For 300 years the Harcourt family owned the estate, a beautiful Italian villa on the knoll of a hill overlooking the river Thames. Also at the bottom of the hill was a scraggly village known as Nuneham Courtenay. In the 1760's Lord Harcourt demolished the village in order to have a more pleasing view down to the river. He completely removed the village and rebuilt it-presumably out of his sight. He also diverted the main London to Oxford road so its location was more esthetic to him. We do not know how the peasants felt about their housing situation, however it might have been improved, but the story was recounted for posterity by Oliver Goldsmith, in a famous poem called, "The Deserted Village." So much for the whims, caprices and vagaries of the powerful!
We passed many boat houses, some which were for competitive scullers, I am sure, because they had rows of shells stacked on racks inside the garage doors.
Blue heron looking for breakfast
Two men in a canoe have rigged a spinnaker in front and they are going against the current upstream through the force of the wind only, not paddling. We come to Sanford lock with the King's Arms nearby at about 10:15. Way too early for their opening at 12, so we continue on down the path.
Several cows are content to lay directly across our path chewing their cud. Karen is alarmed when I touch one and it stands up in front of her and moves.
Tonight we stay in Abingdon, at the Cosenar's House. The cosenar was an essential part of any religious house as he made sure the order had adequate food, not only for the religious community but also for the people visiting the abbey.
This lodging is operated under the auspices of the Science & Technology Facilities. This is a think tank for the UK; it is a government agency that carries out research in science and engineering, and funds UK research in areas including particle physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy.
There is a brass plaque near the front door of the building that says, "Rutherford Appleton Research Lab."
Day along the Thames looking upstream
The two men were scientists who made important discoveries in physics. Today scientific work is carried out by researchers in nearby Chilton.
Every July there is a big pow-wow of scientists at Cosner's House. We will remember the lodging, however, as we had to bang through nine fire doors to get to our room on the third floor of an outlying building!
- Also we had to clean our boots after a muddy tromp through the woods as we approached town. We slept well that night!!
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