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Oxfordshire & The Cotswolds Tourist Guide


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Mill Dene Garden

(Oxfordshire/Cotswolds Gardens)

Moreton in Marsh Gloucestershire England
Description : 

Mill Dene Garden is hidden deep on the north scarp face of the Cotswolds.  It surrounds an old, pre-Norman water mill, with its pond and stream and is set in a tiny valley.

Barry and Wendy Dare fell in love with  a building that was falling down with  no garden.  They had no money and no experience of either restoration or horticulture, but learned on the hoof so to speak, whilst doing other jobs and raising children.
Their creation over a lifetime is there for everyone to enjoy: two and a half acres of interesting planting (Wendy recently judged at Chelsea); of surprises round every corner and a lot of fun.  Mill Dene has a tiny misty grotto in amongst the bog garden on the stream and a trick of the eye apparently extends the boundaries of the garden.   It is an exercise of making the most of a difficult site.  It is also an exercise in creating something beautiful in which to meditate, and which will nourish the senses.
Telephone 01386 700457


Hook Norton Brewery Visitor Centre

(Oxfordshire/Cotswolds Attractions)

Hook Norton Oxfordshire England
Description : 

oxf hooky 16

The Visitors Centre is housed in the original maltings that were bought by John Harris in 1849 and where he commenced brewing

We run three brewery tours Monday to Friday and five on Saturdays.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10.30am 13.30pm 14.30pm
Saturday 10.30am 11.30am 12.30pm 13.30pm 14.00pm
Cost: £12.50 per person (over 60 concessionary price £10.00 per person).

PLEASE NOTE: It is essential that you book a brewery tour before arriving.
Brewery tours start from the Visitors Centre and last approx 1 1/2 hours, progress around the brewery where you'll see our original steam engine, learn about our history and how we make our range of delicious beers. After a tour of the stables, if they are in residence you'll be able to see our lovely Shire Horses who still deliver beer to our local pubs in the traditional way. Upon completion of the tour, it's back to our sampling bar in the Visitor Centre for a beer tasting.

Cost : £15.00 per person.
These are a unique way to experience the brewery and are available year round for a minimum group size of 10 people. Payable in advance. Minimum age 18 yrs

Sensible footwear is highly recommended. Regrettably, the Brewery itself is not suitable for people with walking difficulties or children under the age of 12 (this includes babes in arms) as there are many steep stairs to negotiate; the Visitor Centre, Brewery Shop and Museum, however, are easily accessible for both. Please note, the Brewery is a nut free and no smoking site. School educational parties are very welcome as are other groups or clubs. Please contact us on 01608 730384 or email: vc@hooky.co.uk to discuss your requirements.



Roves Farm, Sevenhampton

(Oxfordshire/Cotswolds Attractions)

Swindon Wiltshire England
Description : 

A great family day out, come rain or shine! There are lots of indoor and outdoor facilities to entertain everyone, from the very young to the older generation. Roves Farm is a 166 hectare working, mixed, open farm situated 3 miles East of Swindon.  

Our Free Tractor Rides around Roves Farm, which also have wheelchair spaces, provide visitors with the opportunity to see our 60 acres of wild flower meadows, woodlands and willows, and usually stop for a fun, interactive activity along the way! Children can also become a proper farmer on our pedal and electric tractors in the barns!

Roves Farm has a large range of Farm Animals including, Sheep, Donkeys, Shetland Ponies, Highland Cattle, Goats and Pigs! There are always lots of little piglets running around, along with lambs or baby goats to bottle feed! The free range poultry are always interesting to watch too! And for those that like a cuddle, Pets Corner is full of rabbits, guinea pigs and chicks for the young and old to hold and stroke!

Outdoor activities: Adventure Play Area (including sandpit, slides, swings and climbing ropes), 2 Acre Willow Maze with a quiz sheet, Family Walk with a children's activity sheet past our animal paddocks, Willow Village Picnic Area and Animal Racing during weekends and school holidays.

Undercover activities: The Indoor Adventure Play Area (including a ball pond and wavy slide!), Bouncy Castle, Huge Climbing Bale Stack with Tunnels, Under 5's Soft Play and Indoor Sandpit. Additional indoor daily activities include snipping, sticking and decorating during Kids Craft, and Meet and Feed the animals!

Children's Birthday Parties at Roves Farm are always a huge hit, with a large list of activities on offer, leaving your house intact and mess free! Other Group Visits, Social Parties and Barn Dances are also very popular!


St Augustines Family Farm

(Oxfordshire/Cotswolds Attractions)

Arlingham Gloucestershire England
Description : 

Our family has lived here for 200 years.
St Augustines Farm is a real family farm where our family has farmed for 6 generations.  Today the farm is run by Robert and Elaine Jewell.  Our farm is a 70 acre farm in the village of Arlingham which is set in the Horseshoe Bend of the River Severn.
Robert's great great grandfather was the first member of our family to farm here and we still live here with our daughter today.  St Augustines Farm was one of several farms belonging to Arlingham Court and Great Uncle William Merrett (known as WP), who was a well known local character, was the tenant.  When the Arlingham Estate was sold in 1919, WP bought the farm.  He later sold it to his brother Maurice Merrett.  Maurice was Robert's grandfather and was the last of the family to rely entirely on horses.  In 1950 he retired and Robert's parents, Percy and Margaret Jewell, took over the farm.  During Percy's time the horses were finally phased out and tractors, machine milking and electricity were introduced.  In 1977 Percy retired and Robert took over. 
The farm continued as a dairy farm with over a hundred cows plus occasionally crops of wheat or barley grown.  In 1988 Robert and Elaine first opened their gates to families and school children, one of the first farms to let the public in to see what farms and farming are really all about. 
In 1996 we started converting the farm to Organic production and by 1998 St Augustines Farm was accepted for registration by the Soil Association.  We have now sold our dairy herd and no longer produce milk but we now have a herd of beef cattle as well as keeping pigs, sheep, hens and ducks. We also have some pet rabbits and friendly goats.We joined the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative who supply organic milk to Yeo Valley, most supermarkets and others.  We continue living and working here and, as our family has so enjoyed being here, we hope you will also enjoy your visit to our farm.
The Legend of St Augustines Visit
In 597 AD Pope Gregory sent St Augustine the prior of his monastery in Rome, with 40 monks to begin the evangelisation of southern England.  Augustine heard of the Celtic Church in Wales and arranged to meet its bishops.  Legend says that he travelled from Canterbury in 604 AD via Corinium (Cirencester) and along the ancient trackway to Arlingham.  From Arlingham he crossed the River Severn on the old ford near the farm to Broadoak for The Synod of the Oak.  An old Welsh manuscript records this first ever church conference on the banks of the Severn, on the border of the Forest of Dean and beneath an oak tree.  The name Broadoak perpetuates the famous oak and a field there is called Stroods  Danish for meeting place.  The ill fated meeting failed to mend the rift in the church.  The Pope made Augustine the first Bishop of Canterbury and it is said that 10,000 people were converted to Christianity before Augustines death.
How The Farm Got Its Name
Arlingham belonged to the Berkeley Hundreds and thus to one of the few families who can trace their ancestors back to 1066.  Robert Fitsharding built Berkeley Castle in 1154 and then the Abbey of St Augustine in Bristol which he endowed in 1154.  He gave land to the Abbey from his manor in Arlingham which in those days included land adjoining the river so he gave the monks half the fishing rights.  St Augustines Farm remains today to commemorate the visit of St Augustine 15 centuries ago.

St Augustines - The Friendly Family Farm
Smooth and Scratch
You can feed some of the animals yourself with the animal feed sold on the farm. Each day you can also help the farmer feed the pigs and join in bottle feeding the baby calves.
Fun Finding Out
You can follow the Heritage Trail then learn how our family have lived and farmed in our Bygones Collection. Sit inside our Camera Obscura and see the surrounding countryside in a new light.

Quizzes Galore

Try the quizzes around the farmyard. Follow the clues in the museum trail. Collect all the things in your Treasure Hunt bag. Answer the riddles in the Riddle Maze. And win small prizes.
Clamber and Climb
To have fun and get you fit there are swings, slides, and an adventure playground. Try climbing the straw bales in the Barn as well as other games to play in the farm buildings.
Or just relax with a picnic or a cup of coffee and soak up the peace of the countryside.


Blenheim Palace

(Oxfordshire/Cotswolds Attractions)

Woodstock Oxfordshire England
Description : 


Blenheim Palace is home to the 11th Duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Conceived in 1705 by Sir John Vanbrugh, this unique Palace is a masterpiece of English Baroque architecture, built on Queen Anne's orders for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. In his design for Blenheim Palace, Vanbrugh's aim was to house a national hero and to celebrate England's newly won supremacy over the French in a blaze of architectural glory to rival Versailles. Its function, therefore, was to be a monument, castle, citadel and private house  in that order. The splendour and tranquillity of the 2,100 acres of landscaped parkland and the Formal Gardens are unrivalled anywhere in Britain. The Palace interiors carefully balance the delicate with the awe-inspiring, from the imposing vastness of the Great Hall, to the intricate detailing of the State Rooms. Blenheim Palace was created a World Heritage site in 1987.


The gardens at Blenheim Palace are all-encompassing, and from the Secret Garden, the Italian Garden, the Water Terraces, the Pleasure Gardens (which include the Marlborough Maze), the Rose Garden, and the Arboretum, there is beauty to be found in all seasons. Sometimes, when a new house is built, the design of the grounds is left until later, but not at Blenheim Palace. Vanbrugh reported that the Garden Wall was set agoing the same day with the House. Beautifully restored, renovated and maintained by twelve permanent garden staff, led by Trevor Wood and his wife Hilary, who has worked at Blenheim Palace for over 25 years, the gardens are totally awe-inspiring in their apparently effortless style and splendour.

The Secret Garden

Marking the events of over three centuries of history, the gardens at Blenheim Palace must adorn over a million memories. In 2004, whilst planning a suitable project to mark the tercentenary of the Battle of Blenheim, His Grace, the 11th Duke of Marlborough, was reminded of his grandfather's remark: there is no building in Europe, except Versailles, which so perfectly preserves its original atmosphere. This led to the decision to bring his father's Private Garden
back to life, preserving the original layout but introducing new features, to be enjoyed by everyone.

Created four years after the house was opened to the public in 1950, this haven was designed as a romantic English garden. It had become completely overgrown and almost forgotten when its restoration was undertaken. Trevor Wood, the head gardener, replanted it and established new paths and water features in record time for the official opening in May 2004, creating a garden for all seasons. It was renamed the Secret Garden and five years on it has matured delightfully.

The Marlborough Maze

The Secret Garden is merely the most recent of many projects showcasing the Duke of Marlborough's inspired means to retain the magic at Blenheim Palace, and welcome a wide-range of visitors through the gates. Some twenty years ago, His Grace established a new hedge maze (the second largest symbolic hedge maze in the world at 1.8 acres), in a conscious effort to provide an entertaining garden for the younger visitors. It was particularly designed with elements of military symbolism celebrating the career of his illustrious ancestor, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and the victory for which this great house was his reward. The maze was constructed within the walls of the old kitchen garden (the only part of Vanbrugh's original construction to survive), once planted with espaliered fruit trees (pineapples, peaches, melons, eight different varieties of grape), and neat rows of vegetables, stocked by the royal gardener, Henry Wise. Fruit and vegetables are still grown within the grounds for the palace.

The Park and Rose Garden

At Blenheim the overriding legacy is Capability Brown's, and it is this setting which helped Blenheim Palace gain its World Heritage Site status. The landscape setting he devised in the 1760s provided a sublime form of beauty and harmony that every generation of the Marlborough family has endeavoured to preserve ever since. Glorious views were created both to and from the house, the finest of which is the majestic panorama observed on entering the Park through Hawksmoor's Triumphal Arch at Woodstock - the shimmering expanse of the lake, the Grand Bridge, and the dense canopy of trees on the rising ground beyond. Although Vanbrugh built the bridge, it was Brown who
provided a worthy setting by constructing a wide cascade dam and creating a lake unparalleled in size and beauty at the time. For a long period Brown's grassy landscape came right up to the steps of the Palace and prevailed largely untouched even though several smaller garden schemes came and went. Of these only one remains today, a circular Rose Garden created by John Winston, 7th Duke, and restored by Trevor Wood, the present Head Gardener.

The Italian Gardens and Water Terraces

John Winston also returned a degree of formality to the east front when he laid out a symmetrical Italian Garden in the 1860s, which still remains private, but can be seen from the raised public walkway. In the early 20th century the 9th Duke of Marlborough redesigned the Italian Garden on the advice of his French architect, Achille Duchne. Formal symmetrical scrollwork parterres in box and yew replaced the earlier scheme of carpet bedding after a new bronze fountain by the American sculptor, Waldo Story, had been installed. These box-hedges are kept in pristine condition - each of them trimmed using spirit-levels, and string, as well as many hours of dedicated hard work.

Duchne was also responsible for the Water Terraces on the west front, inspired by both Italian and French designs, creating a perfect link between Vanbrugh's baroque architecture and the informality of the Brownian landscape. In a vast engineering project undertaken from 1925-30, different shapes and levels of water were formed in each terrace, centred on an axis between the building and the lake.

As the present guardian of this great estate, including more than 80 acres of formal gardens, I am conscious that Blenheim Palace is not merely a residence for my family - its heritage, its scale and its beauty make it much more. The only English stately home designated a World Heritage Site it is unique amongst country houses and remains, as intended, a national monument in an exquisite setting, The Duke of Marlborough.

Telephone 01993 810500


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