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The River Windrush Oxfordshire

Updated on September 22, 2014

The River Windrush a Very English River

The Windrush starts in the Cotswolds and wends its way down to the Thames at Newbridge. It passes through some of the most beautiful peaceful places on its way including Bourton on the Water, Burford and Witney. Formerly it powered dozens of flour mills and washed thousands of Witney blankets. It occasionally shows its teeth by flooding Witney but is normally unnavigable. The Saxon Name was Wemris whence its name (which means Wind Rush) , I had always imagined its origins being the winds rushing off the Cotswolds, but in fact it means River Winding through the Rushes. So please start your journey from Field Barn near Cutsdean to Newbridge, Oxfordshire.

Field Barn Source of the River Windrush

This used to be a farm but how has now been concerted into accommodation. Field Barn is set in the "bowl" of the head of the Windrush Valley. The area is full of springs.

Marshy Area of the Source of the River Windrush in front of Field Barn. - You can see Field Barn

Taken at the end of March, Tiny Springs are everywhere. The actual source may be slightly further up to the left of Field Barn

River Windrush sets off from Field Barn

River Windrush sets off from Field Barn
River Windrush sets off from Field Barn

The Windrush actually disappears underground for a 100 meters or so until it reappears on the other side of Dirty Bridge.

The Windrush is flowing to the left in this photo

The aptly named Dirty Bridge in front of Field Barn - First Bridge over the Windrush

This is not actually a bridge as there is no arch, the water seeps through. The track is a farmer's dirt track which leads to Taddington.

Dirty Bridge first Bridge over the Fledgling River Windrush

Dirty Bridge first Bridge over the Fledgling River Windrush
Dirty Bridge first Bridge over the Fledgling River Windrush

You can see the slates that make up the bridge. My feet are astride the Windrush looking up river.

Joan Wilson-MacArthur on First Windrush Bridge in Autumn 1944 or 1945

Joan Wilson-MacArthur on First Windrush Bridge
Joan Wilson-MacArthur on First Windrush Bridge

Compare this photo with one taken in 2011 which you can see below (the stone slab has long since disappeared)

Site of former stone-slab bridge across the Windrush - Original Bridge for the Footpath from Taddington to Cutsdean

Site of former stone slab bridge across the Windrush
Site of former stone slab bridge across the Windrush

This is the site of the first Bridge (excluding the not a real bridge Dirty Bridge). It was a simple stone slab which was only required in Winter. There is a photo in the Wilson MacArthur book of his first wife Joan standing on the slab. She looks slightly foolish as the photo was taken in September and the Windrush was dry and she appeared to be standing on a stone in the middle of a field. When we retraced their walk in early April 2011 some 66 years later the slab was gone and the Windrush was flowing. It had been replaced a simple double plank bridge a few meters downstream, Another more elaborate modern wooden bridge with handrails a little further downstream is an alternative.

Locals from Taddington one of whom arrived in the area in the late 40s remembered the stone slab bridge and revealed that it had broke. I found a number of stone slabs which had also presumably served as a bridge but were not in the right place.

We had great trouble identifying the viewpoint of the photo until my wife worked out that the photo was taken looking diagonally upstream. The original black & white plate in their book seemed to soften the perspectives.

The Windrush seems to have been recut here at sometime, in the 1945 photo you cannot see it's trace.

First Footbridge over the Windrush - Path from Taddington to Cutsdean

First Footbridge over the Windrush
First Footbridge over the Windrush

Elaborate Footbridge over the Fledgling River Windrush - Footpath from Taddington to Cutsdean

Elaborate Fotbridge over the Fledgling River Windrush
Elaborate Fotbridge over the Fledgling River Windrush

Is the Windrush ever a torrent here?

Cutsdean Bridge over the Windrush

Cutsdean Bridge over the Windrush
Cutsdean Bridge over the Windrush

Cutsdean is the first Windrush village, a stream from Cutsdean joins the Windrush, looking downstream

Cutsdean First Village on the River Windrush

Cutsdean First Village on the River Windrush
Cutsdean First Village on the River Windrush

No pub, no shops, but there is a lovely church. Very beautiful village and the road is not busy.

Road Bridge over the Windrush at Ford - The second Windrush Village

Road Bridge over the Windrush at Ford
Road Bridge over the Windrush at Ford

The Windrush now has real width and flow. There is pub for walkers and Jackdaws Castle is close by.

The Plough at Ford, First Pub on the River Windrush

Repairing the Bridge over the Windrush at Burford

The Church that Lost its Village at Widford - This remarkable Church overlooks the Windrush

St. Oswald's church in Widford was built in the 13th century in the Early English style. In the 14th century numerous wall paintings were added, remains of which survive.

Widford was a substantial village in the Middle Ages but today only the 16th century Manor house and a few other houses remain. St. Oswald's stands in a field whose cropmarks show the outlines of former buildings.

If you are in the area you must visit this church. Inside there are closed box pews reserved for noble families. There are interesting wall paintings and an atmosphere of utter peace.

Do you know the Windrush Valley or Cotswolds Poll

Do you know the Windrush Valley or Cotswolds?

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The River Windrush by Wilson MacArthur - Definitive guide to the River Windrush

In September 1944 or 1945 David Wilson Macarthur and his first wife Joan walked from the source of the Windrush at Field Barn near Cutsdean to Newbridge. The book is an excellent guide full of history, nature notes and although much has not changed The route of the Windrush is still rural in 1945 even tiny villages still have shops, farm workers are still to be seen, there are mills, branch line railways, blanket

factories; he does not guess that they will vanish.

The Church at Swinbrook

Swinbrook is an utterly perfect Cotswold village

The Windrush and Millstream at Worsham Mill

A branch of the Early family involved in making blankets at Worsham Mill, which Charles' cousin Richard Early bought in 1864. When he died in 1874 it passed to his son Arthur, but Arthur became ill and the mill was leased for 21 years from 1877 to his uncle Henry Early, who made blankets there. It is possible that he also made cycles too, because when the mill was transferred to Pritchett and Webley the transfer document included 'the goodwill of the business of woollen and cycle manufacture'

The River Windrush at Minster Lovell

Bridge Over the Windrush at Minster Lovell

This is a popular picnic spot

Crawley Mill Former Blanket Factory

Crawley was a very large blanket factory. Today it is full of small businesses

Looking Upstream Witney Bridge over the Windrush

Witney exists because of the Windrush proving both power and cleaning waters for the blanket factories. Today the mills are silent and nobody seems to even generate electricity from the water. So the Windrush passes hardly noticed through Witney all the more so because the bridge over is flat the Windrush being unnavigable.

Looking Downstream Witney Bridge over the Windrush - Witney is the Capital City of the Windrush and Gateway to the Cotswolds

Witney is a country town as small as a place can be and still have all the modern facilities. Witney has shot to fame recently because it's local MP David Cameron is now Britain's youngest ever Primeminister.

The normally gentle and peaceful Windrush flooded Witney very badly in 2007.

The Windrush opposite Cokethorpe School near Ducklington

The Windrush is only a modest river at best with a not very strong flow, and has many S-Bends here is one between Ducklington and Standlake

Pillbox Toppling into the Windrush at Newbridge

You can just see the roof of the Rose Revived Pub

River Windrush just before it joins the Thames at Newbridge

You can just make out the roof of the Rose Revived Pub at Newbridge.

The River Windrush shyly joining the Thames at Newbridge.

Except in times of flood the River Windrush is an unassuming river gently descending from the Cotswolds to where it joins the River Thames at Newbridge. There it joins the Thames in such an unspectacular way that many visitors would not even realize.

Windrush and Windrush Valley Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Minster Lovell Ruins in the snowCrawley Mill and River Windrush viewed from Crawley Village heights on a very frosty dayCrawley Mill and River Windrush viewed from Crawley Village heights on a very frosty dayMinster Lovell Ruins in the snowMinster Lovell Ruins in the snowNancy Mitford Tomb with Mole Emblem in Swinbrook church graveyard overlooking the WindrushNewbridge where the River Windrush meets the River Thames winter snow cover the Maybush Inn garden
Minster Lovell Ruins in the snow
Minster Lovell Ruins in the snow
Crawley Mill and River Windrush viewed from Crawley Village heights on a very frosty day
Crawley Mill and River Windrush viewed from Crawley Village heights on a very frosty day
Crawley Mill and River Windrush viewed from Crawley Village heights on a very frosty day
Crawley Mill and River Windrush viewed from Crawley Village heights on a very frosty day
Minster Lovell Ruins in the snow
Minster Lovell Ruins in the snow
Minster Lovell Ruins in the snow
Minster Lovell Ruins in the snow
Nancy Mitford Tomb with Mole Emblem in Swinbrook church graveyard overlooking the Windrush
Nancy Mitford Tomb with Mole Emblem in Swinbrook church graveyard overlooking the Windrush
Newbridge where the River Windrush meets the River Thames winter snow cover the Maybush Inn garden
Newbridge where the River Windrush meets the River Thames winter snow cover the Maybush Inn garden

MV Windrush The Ship that Changed Britain

Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain
Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain

The Irresistible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain opens with the memories and impressions of the survivors of the voyage of the Windrush, the troop ship which brought the first West Indian immigrants to Great Britain in 1948. Fifty years on, the migrants tell an epic tale of British life in the twentieth century, through the witness of their descendants, friends, neighbours and colleagues and the testimonies of politicians who made the key decisions alongside those who were then opposed to the presence of the black settlers. Windrush moves through the crucial events of British social history in the second half of the twentieth century: the great riots of the late fifties and early sixties, the hysteria of Powellism, the remodelling of England's inner cities and the current passionate debates about the meaning of Englishness. Concluding with a portrait of multi-racial Britain in the present day, Windrush is a celebration of the black British and of the new heritage Britain will carry forward into the twenty-first century

 

River Windrush Feedback

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My next Tony "poddys". This is just wonderful to see your picture gallery.

      Yes Blessed! ~ I would love visit and am glad I got to see this on Squidoo.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Excellent lens, I just came back to give my blessing.

    • rhonney profile image

      rhonney 6 years ago

      wonderful places.!

    • thesuccess2 profile image
      Author

      thesuccess2 6 years ago

      @TonyPayne: Hi Poddys we keep bumping into each other, but always a pleasure

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Lovely photos and a lovely lens. Part of my family come from the Cotswolds around Evensham.

    • indigogirl lm profile image

      indigogirl lm 7 years ago

      I am supposed to be working but I am now daydreaming about being on hols in the Cotswolds !