Monday, October 17, 2016

Escape to the Country

I have called home quite a few places across the UK, and the USA: from Cities to Suburbia, to Towns and Hamlets; from humid hot climates to a dry desert climate, and everything in between. Whilst I do love cities, particularly London and New York, my heart has always been in the countryside. I spent most of my school years in Thame, Oxfordshire, a small historic market town (11,500 population +/-). 

Thame dates back to the Anglo-Saxon era and gets its name from the River running to its north. The town is situated close to the Chiltern Hills (area of outstanding natural beauty), and a stone's throw from the County seat of Oxford. In 1138 Thame Abbey was founded, later demolished in the 16th century, and incorporated into what is now Thame Park house. The parish Church "St. Mary the Virgin" dates back to the 13th century, and the nearby Prebendal (Church buildings) date also to the 13th century.

Thame's 13th-century parish church

The Prebendal in the background, once the home of Robin Gibb

Gravestone from 1668

In the center of Thame stands the town hall, a relatively new building in Thame's history, built in 1888. Several other notable buildings line the high street, mostly dating from the 16th and 17th centuries; including the Six Bells and the Bird Cage pubs, the latter doubling up as a prison during the Napoleonic wars.

Thame Town Hall

Six Bells public house

The Bird Cage public house

The Chiltern Hills lie a few miles southeast of Thame, and are one of my favourite "local" areas for walking and cycling. Much of the chalk hills are designated as an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty", they encompass approximately 300 square miles over 4 Counties.

View from the Chilterns

Chiltern wildlife - the Common Darter

On the southeastern edge of the Chilterns, close to the towns of Chalfont St. Giles and Chalfont St. Peter lies the "Chiltern Open Air museum". This museum was founded in 1976, and its purpose is to preserve buildings from the Chilterns that would otherwise have fallen into disrepair. The museum has quite a range of buildings, and you could easily spend half a day or more exploring.

18th-century barn converted into cottages in 1770

WW1 Nissen hut

1886 Tin Chapel

1826 Toll House

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