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Oxford Lane 2

After ‘The Swan’ the lane continues south on tarmac (pic #1) until the hill just north of Ashby Gorse (SP 577525) where it turns into a green lane or byway, a paradise for scramblers.  Perhaps the tracks left by the motorbikes are the 21st century version of those left by cattle & sheep long ago.  Judge for yourselves (#2).


After Ashby Gorse (#3), the lane rambles south through rural Northants for two and a half miles.  It passes Canon’s Ashby Priory at SP 576505 and I often wonder which came first, the priory or the lane.  The priory is 12th century, and we cannot prove the existence of the University before 1249 (though some say it goes back to King Alfred).  I just like the idea of the first prior deciding to build near to a drove road: the monks could then buy beasts from the drovers for fattening and sell fat ones for the table.  (Was Delapre Abbey, south of Northampton, built near the A45/508 London Road for the same reason?)  But I’ve been told severely that this idea is garbage; the priory came first.

Still on the subject: they recently uncovered a grisaille (a mural in black & white) in a bedroom at Canon's Ashby House (#4).  There is a domed church looking like St. Sepulchre's Northampton to the left.  More intriguingly, at the right edge of the mural, is an inn sign on a Dutch-style building.  Definitely a swan, but is it the Swan outside Preston Capes or another Swan in Northampton?  


Moving on, the OL joins the Banbury Lane at 597 486 (#5) for two or three hundred yards then appears to veer south-east in the Lois Weedon direction - which would take it to Buckingham, even Milton Keynes.   So far we have gone directly north-south and the next towns en route should be Brackley – Bicester – Oxford. But the lane doesn’t oblige.  It vanishes in fact, only to reappear just north of Ham Green on Akeman Street, at SP 695 187, coming down from the Buckingham direction, which is north-east instead of north.  All wrong.

Buckingham gets in my hair: it’s completely unavoidable. It has six A roads and one B road radiating from it, not bad for a small town.  (And that doesn’t count the old London-Buckingham Road that’s my monthly feature for Nov 2012.)  A farmer once told me that whenever they lost a sheep, the cry went up: “It’s buggered off to Buckingham,” which begs all sorts of questions.


The mystery remains, but what the hell: the loveliest stretch of all is about to begin.  See ‘Oxfordshire’ for details. 

Oxford Lane 2 image 1
South of Preston Capes
Oxford Lane 2 image 2
Near Canons Ashby
Oxford Lane 2 image 3
Beside Ashby Gorse
Oxford Lane 2 image 4
Grisaille at Canon's Ashby
Oxford Lane 2 image 5
Meeting Banbury Lane