Steeple Aston is an ancient settlement with roots going back to Roman times, maybe earlier. Today, with a population of around 1,000.
There may have been people living in this area as long ago as the Iron Age. We certainly know that there was a lot of activity here in Roman times, as a Roman pavement and other remains have been discovered. When the Romans left, the Saxons took their place. Inevitably, little is known about this early history, but both Steeple and Middle Aston are mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
It is thought that there was a church here before that date, but the first record of a Rector of Steeple Aston dates from 1180. There is a 13th century stone coffin lid in the churchyard. The church’s font is thought to be of Norman origin, and the rest of the church we see today was added over several hundred years. The tower, for example was built at the end of the 14th century, probably replacing an earlier one.
In 1640, the village school was founded by Dr Samuel Radcliffe, the Rector of Steeple Aston and Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford. In Northside, you can see the original school, which is now a private house. Next door are the Old School House built for the schoolmaster, and two almshouses which Dr Radcliffe also funded.
The village has benefited from its close contacts with Oxford and the university in particular. Several interesting characters have lived here, including famous academics and military men. Among the most notorious was Sir Francis Page, known as "the hanging judge", who was the owner of Middle Aston Estate. In 1730 he commissioned a grand memorial to himself and his wife, which can still be seen in the village church.
The village grew and thrived over the centuries. In 1831 the population was 562, by the time of the 1991 census the total had risen to 874. As transport improved, even more people wanted to come and live here, and more houses were built during the 20th century. Many newcomers arrived in the village, including the novelist and philosopher, Dame Iris Murdoch, who lived with her husband Professor John Bayley at Cedar Lodge in Northside for 30 years.
Other newcomers included, for a while, Americans from the US Air Force base at Upper Heyford. The base is now closed, the F111s have gone home, and the skies above Steeple Aston are much quieter as a result. This has made the village an even more desirable place to live in the 21st century.
We meet in the village hall car park on Fir Lane, which is past the church and opposite the main part of the primary school. There should be plenty of spaces, but please try and car share as much as possible and park responsibly.
The area is better shown in the place link above.
We start the walk at 10AM sharp. (Please ensure your at the start point at least 10 mins beforehand).
Walking grading: Moderate (slight slope at a few sections)
Dog friendliness: unknown, there is a bit of road walking near the Heyfords.
Estimated walk end time: 1.15 - 1.30 PM
For lunch afterwards, we will be trying the Red Lion in the village, which is about 5 minutes walk away from the village hall car park, or can be driven to, but has very limited parking.
If you would like to go to lunch, please add a comment to the post "Use the Reply button below to add a comment to say if you would like to stay for lunch". Select the reply button, enter your comment and then hit the 'Return' key.
On this occasion lunch will only be booked if there are sufficient numbers wanting lunch.
If we don't see a request we will assume "No" for lunch.
We like to reduce the impact on the areas we visit and its sometimes difficult to find places with adequate parking, so we encourage lift shares with our regular drivers.
If you need a lift, please post below indicating that you'd like a lift.
There's some comprehensive notes on Car Shares on our message board.
We would welcome a donation of around £1 towards ongoing overhead costs associated with the Meetup service and ancillary costs. We would be grateful if this was done before the start of the walk.
For new members or walkers, please read the Walkers Guide thread in the forum.
My mobile number is [masked] for notification of delay or cancellation, or help with directions if lost.