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The Stratford Road (1)



The turnpike south-east from Stratford-upon-Avon went no further than Edgehill till 1753.  From then on the road was “founderous”1, according to the burgesses of Banbury.   But even then Banbury doesn’t appear to be its important destination – Buckingham does.  (#1)  Buckingham was on the way to London, Banbury merely the route to Northampton; it wasn't an important destination in itself till the arrival of the railway in 18502



Edgehill is murderously steep.  The Sun Rising Inn at SP 361457 (#2) used to keep teams of fresh horses to help carts & coaches manage the slope.  Drovers gathered their beasts before the climb in the huge grazing fields at Oxhill and Tysoe (#3).   Tysoe 200 years ago was “bigger than Birmingham”, according to one informant.  He was referring to the huge acreage of heavy clay covered with sheep, sheep, sheep.  (#4 shows a small sample.  The notice in #5 is in keeping.)  



(Much of Tysoe seems to have been owned by The Knights Templar and, after their dissolution, by the Hospitallers.  The land was gifted to the Templars by the Stafford family, so it wasn’t just a case of their knowing a good investment when they saw one.)



Many Tysoe people  believed in witchcraft even in the early 20th century, & aged women were reluctant to use walking-sticks, as that was a sure sign - only to be expected, perhaps, in a village that got its name from Tiw, the heathen god of war.  (Tuesday has the same derivation.)3



While in Tysoe I felt something I had never felt before: I was deep, deep in the heart of England.  If any of you drop down there for a visit, I am certain you will feel the same.


After Edgehill the road stays grandly on the ridge until it leaves the county.  See under Oxfordshire for the route eastwards.


1 Great word!  OED definition: causing a person or horse to founder; miry; full of potholes.  It is now the A422.

2 Banbury’s cattle market then grew to become the second largest in the world, after Chicago.
3 Thanks to British History Online for the info in these 2 paragraphs. 

The Stratford Road (1) image 1
Banbury not Mentioned!
The Stratford Road (1) image 2
Sun Rising Inn
The Stratford Road (1) image 3
Tysoe & Oxhill Fields 1830
The Stratford Road (1) image 4
The Field at Tysoe today
The Stratford Road (1) image 5
Water Trough, Tysoe