Back in the 9th and 10th century CE, our village was a very important place indeed. We are right on the Thames, west of Oxford, and in 1005 an Abbey was founded here. Because of this, the village was more important than Oxford at that time. The Abbey was inhabited and maintained by up to 40 Benedictine monks and an Abbot as well as many Abbey workers who lived in the surrounds. In the 12th century, the original Abbey was demolished and a new one built, and by the 13th century, more land had been acquired by the church, and this was made into the Abbey Fishponds. In 1538 the Abbey was surrendered to King Henry VIII and closed down. In the 17th century the remaining ruins of the Abbey were cleared away and used to construct new houses in the village. These are now the only visible clues of the great buildings which once were here. Amazingly, there are 92 listed buildings in our little village - though not all of them are connected to the Abbey!
You might wonder what all this history has to do with Marley's walk, so I'll show you ...
We start off in the playing field, which Marley thinks is his own personal racetrack. Here he races round and round like a lunatic dog at 40mph! He's fast! He doesn't chase a thing though, that's why he was pensioned off early.
By the time we get round the corner at the top to a smaller field, Marley is more relaxed, and heads off to the stream behind the trees for a paddle
Not in the mood today it seems!
These fields are on our "Heritage Trail". They were part of the pastures which surrounded the old Abbey.
Here is a 'station' made from old Abbey stones. It tells stories of the Monks who lived and worked here.
Onwards through the back of the field, there is a walkway under some trees.
It leads to the Abbey Fishponds which have recently been restored. It's a very beautiful and atmospheric place. Some say they see ghosts and unexplained ' floating lights' here quite regularly.
Every time I walk there with Marley I wonder at how lucky we are to have this wonderful place right on our doorstep. Marley has also seen something unexplained beyond the bridge!
Here is one of the ponds, Marley jumped into it the first time we brought him here. He got a terrible shock as he was expecting a shallow paddle like he'd had in the stream!
There are lots of windy paths cut into the grass and the reeds, and there are bridges over the many little rivulets which run through connecting the ponds.
Here, the trees have eyes!!
There are lots and lots of cherry trees. I wonder if the monks liked cherries, and these trees are descendants of trees planted by them.
There have always been reeds and bullrushes here - even before the place was 'restored' - and I wonder the same thing about them. Not if the monks liked to eat them though!
Here at the Fishponds, there is another information board. This one shows the "vista" that would have been seen when the ponds were in their prime. So from where i'm standing, this is the view back in the day ...
And this is what it looks like now
We walk all around the fishponds in a circle, taking different paths each time, and then it's back to the playing fields for another run about
And just around two more corners, we're nearly home ..