Saturday, 27 June 2009


26 April.

Osney Cemetery

26 April, early morning. Osney Cemetery was one of three new parish cemeteries consecrated in 1848 (the other two being Holywell Cemetery and St Sepulchre’s Cemetery in Jericho). It was built on the remains of the church of Osney Abbey.

Friday, 26 June 2009

From Castle Hill

24 April. From Castle Hill looking towards Brightwell Barrow.

Wittenham Clumps

24 April. The Sinodun Hills are an outcrop of the chalk deposits which form the Chiltern Hills, comprising two peaks, Round Hill and Castle Hill, the latter a hillfort with earthworks dating to the late Bronze Age. (Half a mile to the south-east is a Bronze Age round barrow, Brightwell Barrow.) More banks and ditches were added to Castle Mound during the early Iron Age, but by the late Iron Age it was abandoned, until the arrival of the Romans.

From Paul Nash's autobiography Outline (1949):
'Wittenham Clumps was a landmark famous for miles around. An ancient British camp, it stood up with extraordinary prominence above the river at Shillingford. There were two hills, both dome-like and each planted with a thick clump of trees whose mass had a curiously symmetrical sculptured form. At the foot of these hills grew the dense wood of Wittenham, part of the early forest where the polecat still yelled in the night hours.
'Ever since I remember them the Clumps had meant something to me. I felt their importance long before I knew their history. They eclipsed the impression of all the early landscapes I knew. This, I am certain was due almost entirely to their formal features rather than to any associative force. For although in my mind they stood apart from other symbolism ... it was the look of them that told most, whether in sight or in memory. They were the Pyramids of my small world.'

Amongst the many images of Nash featuring the Wittenham Clumps are Landscape of the Moon's last phase, 1943-44, Landscape of the Vernal Equinox (III), 1944, Sunflower and sun, 1942, View over Bagley Woods to Berkshire Downs, 1942-3, and...

Paul Nash, Wittenham Clumps, circa 1943-4.

Paul Nash, Landscape of the Wittenham Clumps, 1946.

Beeches, Round Hill

24 April. Beech trees were planted in the 1740s on the crown of Round Hill and Castle Mound, two peaks of the Sinodun Hills, or Wittenham Clumps. Over two thousand trees were planted on Round Hill between 1985 and 2000 and in 2004 other trees were planted on the Clumps to replace the ageing beech, a relatively short-lived species, having a life-span of around 250 years. Beech trees have been suffering from thin foliation in recent years, probably due to climate change, and the introduction of other species guards the Clumps against its uncertain future.

Near Day's Lock

24 April. Upstream from Day's Lock at Little Wittenham, looking across the Thames to the Dorchester side.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Pages from an essay on Roger Fenton

Successive verso pages (in reverse) from Mike Weaver's essay 'Roger Fenton: landscape and still life', in British photography in the nineteenth century: the fine art tradition, edited by Mike Weaver, Cambridge University Press, 1989. Oxfordshire Library Service copy.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Room, Wytham Mill Farm

19 April.

A disused room adjoined to a barn. The panes of the windows were all broken, the glass crunching underfoot.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Near Wytham Mill

19 April. Between Thames Bridge and Wytham Mill.

Near the Thames Bridge

19 April.

Near Duke's Lock

13 April, early evening, between Duke's Lock House and the junction of two railway lines, just off Oxford Canal Walk. When I arrived a kingfisher darted across the surface of the water out of the reeds; as I was leaving it returned taking the same straight path over the water back in to the reeds. If I had had time to observe it the same would have been true of its reflection.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Oxey Mead, Pixey Mead

13 April. Oxey mead and Pixey mead are flood-meadows divided by the stream that leaves the Thames opposite King's weir. Along with adjacent Yarnton mead, they have never been ploughed or inclosed. The second photograph above is at one end of Duke's Cut, a link constructed in 1789 between the Thames near Oxey mead to the Oxford canal (meeting the latter at Duke's lock). The drawing of lots by proprietors of Yarnton and Begbroke for 'shots' of hay-making land ended in 1978. Parts of the land were sold for Oxford's northern and western bypass roads, and any hay is now sold in one lot and the proceeds divided amongst the owners. Oxey Mead is now a nature reserve and usually water-laden.