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Archive for March 6th, 2017

The weather had been pretty grim my first week in Oxted, with some snow flurries on the following Sunday, not enough to impress but just enough to get excited about….it soon melted and didn’t return. However, not to be deterred by the weather, on Tuesday, the afternoon after my arrival, I set off to explore and my meandering took me through the town of Oxted and along the streets and roads and on to a delightful medieval village called Limpsfield. What a treat!! The High Street is lined with houses dating from as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries.

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some of the quintessentially English houses lining the streets of Limpsfield; a Domesday village

Quintessentially English houses built of local quarried stone lined both sides, looking absolutely charming. I discovered the little church; St Peter’s, constructed in the late 12th century and a Grade I listed building.  As I was entering the church I noticed that it was in fact a Pilgrim church!!! Thrilling. In alignment with my Camino this year I am hoping to gather some stamps before I set off on my walk. There was a stamp hanging on a board at the door, so I’m planning on ordering my Camino passport as soon as possible and when I return to the assignment at the end of March I’m hoping to be able to add that as the start of many I plan to collect on my journey. The church is also famous because the English composer Frederick Delius and orchestral conductor Sir Thomas Beecham are both buried in the village churchyard. Although I looked very carefully I never did find Delius’s grave.

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St Peter’s Church, Limpsfield – a pilgrim’s church

Situated at the foot of the North Downs, Limpsfield would have been on the ancient Pilgrim’s Way that stretches along the base of the downs between Winchester and Canterbury. To my delight on researching the history I discovered that Limpsfield too was a Domesday village: and appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Limenesfeld and held by the Abbot of Battle Abbey, Sussex.

Limpsfield’s High Street is named as a conservation area with 89 listed buildings along the street and in the immediate locality; one of which, Old Court Cottage in Titsey Road, (formerly the manorial court of the Abbot of Battle), is Grade I listed building and dates from c1190-1200 (including aisle posts and arcade plates) with alterations in the late 14th century, and a 16th-century crosswing. (ref wikipedia). Unfortunately I didn’t get to see this building, but the Post Office/village store was just charming so I stepped over the threshold and bought some stamps and a chocolate 🙂

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Limpsfield High Street

I spent some time photographing all the buildings and meandering about the church and churchyard. I love these old ancient places and often wish I could just knock on the doors of the houses to see inside 😉

At the entrance to the village is a delightful name board – I love finding these!

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Limpsfield, Surrey

Limenesfelde 1086 (db). ‘Open land at Limen’. OE feld added to a Celtic place name or river-name

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You can imagine my absolute delight on discovering that my last assignment which took me to a town called Oxted in Surrey, is one of the Domesday towns of 1086!! Now that I’ve starting compiling my list, the towns are adding up fast and furious 🙂

Of course when I got the booking I wasn’t aware of this, but after a few days with my clients, the gentleman of whom is a history buff, we got to talking and he loaned me a book about the town….voila….Domesday town!! In the Domesday Book the then village is spelled ‘Acstede’ – meaning ‘the place of the oaks’.

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Oxted; the place of the oaks – a 1086 Domesday Book village

Oxted – the place of the oaks. I delight in finding out the meanings of the names behind some of these older villages. Although first mentioned in the Domeday book of 1086, Oxted area was inhabited from as early as the late Iron Age. Located exactly on the Greenwich Meridian at O* longitude and on 51* 15′ latitude. The so-called Pilgrim’s way from Winchester to Canterbury passes the north of Oxted. As soon as I discovered this little snippet I set out to find the plaque. No-one seemed to know anything about it (?) but eventually I located it, set in the pharmacy wall on the exterior, the lass who directed me to the person who knew where it was, said she’d walked past it every days for months and didn’t know it was there! Such is life when it comes to history!

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Besides being a Domesday Book village, Oxted lies on the Greenwich Meridian

On one of my walks I discovered a 2nd plaque that marked the point where the North Downs Way crossed the Meridian Line. 🙂 Awesome!!

St Mary’s Church in Oxted stands on a mound believed to have been a pre-Christian place of worship. The church has undergone much restoration and the walls were raised. There are remains within the church from Saxon times and changes and improvements range from 12th century through to 19th century. Sadly the door (unusually) was locked whenever I went past so I didn’t get to go in. Perhaps next time.

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St Mary’s Church, Oxted.

On one of my walks past the church I stopped in at the old graveyard and to may amazement discovered a herd of goats!!! A notice on the fence said that they graze them here to keep the grass and weeds under control rather than mowing…makes perfect sense to me. 🙂  Further exploration revealed two Anglo-Saxon graves next to the porch of St Mary’s Church.

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2 Anglo-Saxon graves at St Mary’s Church, Oxted

The period before the Battle of Hastings in 1066 laid the foundations of a new age and with the coming of the Normans a small settlement began to grow up on the site of the Old Oxted. The medieval period is when Oxted began to establish itself as an integrated community. During the 15 C and 16 C some of the most picturesque buildings were constructed. Many of these buildings are still standing albeit occupied with vastly different businesses. Many of the survivors date to 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. An architectural treasure trove.

I spent a number of days meandering about the town exploring during my time in the area and spent one of my breaks exploring the Old town of Oxted.  Now that was an architectural marvel.

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Old Oxted – High Street

The Old Bell Pub at the top of the High Street was a wonderful discovery ; with one section built in the 14th century, the middle section in the 16th/17th century and the latter part in the 18th century. It’s now a listed building and no further alterations can be made…quite right!! I stepped inside for a brief look and to photograph the 14th century beamed ceiling.

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The Old Bell Pub, Old Oxted, Surrey – an architectural marvel

On Tuesday, the afternoon after my arrival, I set off to explore and my meandering took me through the old town and on to a delightful medieval village called Limpsfield. What a treat!! The High Street is lined with houses dating from as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries.

Other days were taken up with walking to Titsey Farm and along the North Downs Pilgrims Way. The views are spectacular and the only thing that spoils it all is the M25 motorway that runs between the town and the North Downs.

Oxted reminds me a lot of another town I visited some years ago…Weobley in Herefordshire. ‘The term “black and white” derives from presence of many timbered and half-timbered houses in the area, some dating from medieval times. The buildings’ black oak beams are exposed on the outside, with white painted walls between. The numbers of houses surviving in this style in the villages creates a very distinctive impression and differs from building styles outside this area.’

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I loved this sign. Oxted, Surrey. – the place of the oaks. If you look at the windows you can see some other buildings reflected.

I’m looking forward to my next spell In Oxted at the end of March. And since UPS (the slackers) lost my hard-drive with all my photos from the last 10 years on it, I shall have to visit Weobley again too. Maybe I should sue UPS for their tardiness.

p.s. I’ll be posting the article on Limpsfield shortly 😉 come back then.

Limpsfield; a Domesday village

 

 

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