September 13 – A Trip from Woodstock to High Wycombe

Headington Quarry, Headington, Wheatley, Waterstock, Stokenchurch
 Hello from 1066 – Medieval Mosaic
Today we left the Medieval Mosaic in good hands at Woodstock Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum and headed towards Deal. We have a night in between so we booked into a hotel in High Wycombe. For some reason, I was under the impression that this was in the countryside but it turned out to be a city with a population of over 125,000 people. I planned a trail of church micros n the way including two church micro challenges so that we could take all day to get there.
St Mary’s at Barton is a great hulk of a church and is said to resemble “ the Ark coming to rest on Mount Ararat”. It was designed by the architect Nugent Francis Cachemaille-Day who was considered to be one of the most revolutionary architects of the 20th century. From the 1930s he became known for his churches, some of which are the most innovative ecclesiastical buildings of their time. Between 1931 and 1963 he designed at least 61 churches, many of which are now listed buildings. St Mary’s was consecrated in June 1958 (the month I was born) but before the church was built, services had been held in many weird and wonderful locations including a hut used by the Foreman of Works during the building of Barton Estate. from the 1930s he became known for his churches, some of which are the most innovative ecclesiastical buildings of their time. Between 1931 and 1963 he designed at least 61 churches, many of which are now listed buildings. I solved a puzzle last night in order to find the coordinates for this geocache and we found the cache without any problems.
Holy Trinity church in Headington Quarry was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, who also designed the Martyr’s Memorial and the Exeter College Chapel. It was built in 1848-49, to serve the spiritual needs of those living and working in the then-active quarry. Its foundation stone was laid on June 19, 1848, by Samuel Wilberforce, the son of William Wilberforce and then Bishop of Oxford, who consecrated the building on completion. Above the altar is the “Christ in Glory” stained glass window, installed in 1951 as a memorial to those who died in World War II. It was designed by Sir J. Ninian ComperC. S. Lewis, the author of the Narnia books, began attending here in 1930 and continued to come to the church until his death in 1963. His grave is in the graveyard alongside that of his brother, Warren Hamilton Lewis. The church is known for its Narnia window, which features images from C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. It was installed in the north aisle in 1991 in memory of children George and Kathleen Howe, who died young.

What a lovely church with an amazing tapestry reredos. We read that C.S. Lewis was buried in the cemetery here and when the verger arrived I asked him where the grave was. What followed was an interesting half hour of him explaining all about Clive Staples Lewis. He has a group of Americans arriving soon and was going to give them a talk. He showed us the pew where Lewis and his brother would sit in church. Apparently, they were not keen on organ music so they used to come to 8 am Holy Communion instead of the main service at 11 am. He showed us the wonderful etched window which shows scenes from C.S.Lewis’s books. We then went to the grave where Lewis and his brother were buried. C.S.Lewis died on 22 November 1963 which is the same date that J.F. Kennedy was assassinated so his death went by relatively unnoticed. It was also by coincidence the birthday of Holy Trinity church which was dedicated the same day in 1849.
We collected the numbers and walked towards the final but we could not get close. We finally decided that we must have miscalculated somehow so we walked back looking for the hint instead. We found the hint and after a brief look found the cache too, so all was good. A favourite point was awarded for the lovely church and the challenging cache.

 Corpus Christi Church in Headington, on the outskirts of Oxford, was next. It was quite a modern church but we had a look inside and it had some fabulous modern stained glass windows behind the altar designed by Leslie Sheels in 1970. This link is a full description of the significance of the stained glass which is in honour of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, canonized in 1970. This is the church were J.R.R. Tolkien worshipped and his daughter-in-law Faith Tolkien designed and made the bronze Stations of the Cross in 1988. They are known as the “Headington Stations” and are placed above the traditional stations.
The next cache involved visiting two churches which were just around the corner from each other. It is a new building built in 2006 and while we were outside collecting the appropriate numbers for the multi a gentleman came out and encouraged us to go inside to see the new church and we chatted to him for a while.
Then we went to St Andrews church in Old Headington. It is not known when the first church was built on this ancient site but archaeological evidence of tile-working in Roman times offers the fascinating possibility that this first became a place of worship more than 1700 years ago.  The earliest known mention of the royal village of Headington is in a deed of King Ethelred, dated St Andrewstide, 7 December 1004. It was a seat of Royalty during the reigns of the later Anglo-Saxon Kings. King Ethelred is thought to have been christened here. Henry 1 (died 1135) was perhaps the last king to reside in the parish. According to an eminent historian, by the time St Frideswide founded her church in Oxford the nearest centre of government was Headington. It is likely that she spent her childhood here and worshipped in a timber built church on this site. The first reference to this church is in a charter of Henry 1 in 1122. St Andrew is a lovely church and it had a wonderful decorated stone Norman arch, painted roof beams and a fantastic West window depicting Simon de Montfort, founder of the English Parliament and Vashti, Queen of Persia. We spent ages visiting both churches and collecting the numbers but could not find the cache. When we could not find the cache I checked the logs and realised that it had been disabled. Darn! When I logged the DNF the CO contacted me and apologised as we had the right coordinates and said that we could log it as a find and that they would put our name on the new log sheet when they replaced the geocache.

We did another church micro in Headington at All Saints church which was a nice easy find and a traditional for a change. We walked from the car as we were stopped from driving by bollards in the road and decided it would be easier on foot. At Forest Hill, we found a chapel and a cemetery but not St Nicholas’s church. We did find the cache easily on a road that had been diverted for maintenance but we were able to drive there anyway.

St Mary’s Church in Wheatley was built in 1885 in the Gothic revival style. It is a Grade II Listed Building due to unusual cast iron pillars. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s father, Rev. Hubert Brasier was a former vicar. Mrs May was married in St Mary’s. We collected the numbers and then walked around the long way until we came across an obstacle. We found the cache without any problem once we found the right spot and walked back to the car using a shortcut. We found another cache at Wheatley’s United Reformed Church and then went on to Our Lady of Lourdes. Although Wheatley claims to have its beginnings in the Anglo-Saxon era, Roman coins were excavated on Castle Hill on the outskirts of the village, three quarters of a mile from Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

The name Wheatley means ‘the clearing (or leah) where wheat is grown’. In 1719, the Stokenchurch Turnpike Act turned the road through Wheatley into a turnpike. Stagecoaches travelled from Oxford over Shotover Plain to the west of the village and then on to London. Then came the railway in 1864, as part of an extension of the Wycombe Railway from Thame to Oxford, that becoming a better way to travel. However, the station and line closed in the same decade as work began on Our Lady of Lourdes Church. The church building and adjoining properties were previously a large stone tithe barn which is believed to be around 300 years old. It is a listed building for its architectural interest.

The village church of St. Bartholomew Church in Holton was built in cruciform style around 1200. It is a Grade 1 listed building in the transitional style between Norman architecture and Early English Gothic. Unfortunately, the church was closed but we quickly found the cache.

St Leonard’s in Waterstock was a lovely church with a brass engraving listing all the rectors of Waterstock, Bishops, Kings and Patrons. The first rector was John de Hadenham from 1235. Beside it is a wonderful armorial window with 36 shields depicting the genealogy of the Asshehurst family. There was also a magnificent gilt and painted metal-sheet reredos with some Victorian wall paintings in several places. There was also a great wall monument to George Croke. The numbers were soon collected and we followed a footpath across the fields through a temporary electric fence around a horse. We made a quick find and returned the way we came.

St.Giles Church in Tetsworth was originally Saxon but re-built in the 12th century. The chancel was re-built in the 13th century and new perpendicular Gothic windows inserted in the 15th century. However in 1855, the church was demolished and the church as it is now was built in the Early English Gothic style. The church was closed and the ground unkempt and we were unable to find any of the numbers required. We were also getting tired as it has been a long day so we gave up quite quickly and moved on.

The last two caches for the day were near Stokenchurch. They were church micro challenges. One was to have found 14 Church Micro caches with the names of the disciples of Jesus as recorded in Luke’s Gospel – Andrew, Bartholomew, James, James, John, Jude, Matthew, Peter, Philip, Simon, Thomas. Churches with names such as John the Baptist, St. Thomas of Canterbury, St Thomas a Becket, or St. Simon Stock cannot be used as they were not part of the 12 disciples. St John The Evangelist is acceptable as John, as the disciple later became an evangelist. I checked out my finds from my 872 found church micros list, the other day so today it was important to find the cache. It was a nice quick find and I awarded it a favourite point. The other challenge was to find 21 Church Micro caches with at least 7 denominations, spread across counties. In each county, you must find 3 caches of different church denominations. We were pleased to qualify for this cache having found the appropriate church micros in Hampshire, West Sussex, Essex, Suffolk, East Sussex, Somerset and Buckinghamshire. It was an easy find and we awarded it another favourite point.
The CO for the last two challenges and many of the caches we have done recently is South Oxon Stone. He has contacted us at various times about our geocaching and today I found out that he was born in Maidstone. Not only that but we both went to the North Borough school in Maidstone though at a slightly different time. He has some caches around Maidstone near the school which we will endeavour to find next time we are in the district. It is a small world, isn’t it?
Our last cache of the day was at St. Peter & St. Paul Church is set in the village of Stokenchurch which has a population of around 5000. The village name possibly derives from the 13th-century name of Stockenechurch, meaning ‘church made from logs’. St. Peter & St. Paul Church has a Norman west tower. The chancel and nave date from the 12th century, although both have partially been re-built. There are several stained glass windows, the oldest in the west wall being the 18th-century. There was a monumental brass to Robert Morley from the early 15th-century and a lovely wall monument to Bartholomew Tipping who died in 1680. We collected the numbers from the church and we walked the long way around to the final. There were several hint objects and we searched them all but we just could not find cache anywhere. It is frustrating but I am afraid that we had to give to up in the end. I wonder if we are just too tired?
Abbey Lodge Hotel where we stayed in High Wycombe was pretty basic with a small room but it had good internet, a comfortable bed, a shower and breakfast in the morning. We walked a short distance down the hill to the centre of High Wycombe where we went to a Wetherspoons for dinner. When we sat down I recognised the accent of the people on the table next to us and we got talking. Martin and Maybury were from Sydney, Australia and on holiday in the UK for six weeks. We talked to them for ages and had a very nice evening.