As our time in the UK came to an end and we had to head back to London for our flight home; we took a couple detours for one last trip down memory lane. As I have mentioned, we once lived in the Oxford area, outside the town of Witney, in the village of Ducklington. As the Oxford area was basically on our way, we made a quick visit to see what had changed and what, if anything, had stayed the same. We thought it might be fun to see our old house and some of the places we went to on a regular basis.
Our first detour on our trip to London was to Burford. Burford is an idyllic Cotswold village just off the highway out of Oxford. We used to take visitors there as an introduction to the Cotswolds. It still looked the same to us.
Then it was off to Bampton; a small market village west of Oxford. At that time we lived here, it was just a small quaint village with some good pubs. Now it is known as “Downton”. Bampton is the filming location of the village of Downton for the show Downton Abbey. As fans of the show, we had previously visited the filming location of the Downton house, Highclere Castle. Now we had the opportunity to visit the village. It was a fun stop, we saw the show’s church, St Mary’s, and the hospital and post office. It still is a very quaint town and the notoriety has not diminished it.
Our next stop was to see Ducklington, our old house, and to walk around Witney. The first thing we noticed was how much the area has grown. Not that we expected things to just stay the same, but the amount of growth was really surprising. Our house was still pretty recognizable, and though the village had changed some, it was still familiar enough to have memories come flooding back. Witney has really grown, new shopping areas, some large housing estates and quite a bit more traffic. We stopped in some of the same stores we had patronized and generally just reminisced about our time living there.
We have been to London numerous times and visited the traditional sights. So now our trips to London are about exploring off-the-beaten path places. It was a nice day in London, so we decided to walk. This time we headed across town from Kensington to St Bartholomew the Great church. St Bart’s is completely surrounded by buildings. It was quite the contrast to the churches we visited in the country villages. St Bart’s is also known as the filming location of the “non-wedding” from Four Weddings and a Funeral, which was the reason we walked there in the first place. While there we also learned of other history at St Barts. For those of you who know the film Braveheart, it is also the spot where Sir William Wallace was hung in 1305. Our next stop was clear back across town through Leister Square and St James Park to the Museum of Natural History. We stopped and ate a picnic lunch on The Mall on the way to Buckingham Palace. The street was decorated with Union Jacks in preparation for the President’s visit that week. We enjoyed the museum with its fascinating exhibits and amazing artifacts.
London is always a great way to wrap up our visits to the UK. We do so enjoy our time visiting here. However, it is the still peaceful countryside that will always bring us back as often as we can manage it.
Now it’s on to telling you about our next adventure on the other side of the pond in Boston.