Nestled between a major A road and a disused railway line, Wheatley can be found in Oxfordshire, to the East of the city of Oxford. Home to a former prison, windmill, and several other historical features, here’s a guide to the best things to do in Wheatley…
A brief history of Wheatley, Oxfordshire
There’s a record of human settlement in the area since as early as the 1st Century. A Roman Villa was excavated in the 19th-century around a mile from the main church. And nearby, several Roman shards of pottery and coins have since been found.
In a similar fashion, in 1883, a Saxon Cemetery was discovered. Centuries later, during the Middle Ages, the hamlet was part of the Abbey of Abingdon. Today, the village is a thriving community filled with several pubs, places to stay, and historical quirks.
Situated on a hill overlooking the rest of the village, Wheatley Windmill is a rare survivor of times gone by. The windmill is one of two mills to the South-East of the Village. The first windmill, that of the Post Mill, burned down in 1875. The other mill, also known as Littleworth Mill finds its roots in the 17th-century.
Recently restored by the Wheatley Windmill Restoration Society, it’s now possible to visit the historic landmark of Littleworth for free. However, as the windmill is only open between May and October each year on a Sunday, you’ll have to time your visit just right!
In the very heart of town, just a few hundred metres away from the Parish Church, the conically shaped building of Wheatley Lock-Up is a rather strange sight to see. Located in front of a play park and rather incorrectly listed on online maps as a ‘budget place to stay,’ the Lock-Up was built in 1834.
Over eight feet in height, about six feet in floor space and with one solid wooden door (with a rather large padlock on it), the lockup or prison was constructed so as to serve as a place to lock up drunks overnight. Prisoners would be held there before being sent to court in Oxford. Today, the lockup is open to visit on May Day each year, and visitors can spend five minutes inside the cold, dark cell.
Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin
Best seen in the autumn so as to enjoy the best of the fall foliage surrounding the ecclesiastical building, the church was constructed in the 18th-century. However, the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, disliked the church so much, that he had it rebuilt in the 19th-century. Today, the church is beautiful to see all year ’round and was even where British Prime Minister, Theresa May was married.
Things to do near Wheatley
Due to its position to the East of Oxford, Wheatley is a great base from which to explore the wider Oxfordshire area, as well as the city of Oxford itself. So whether you want to see some art, soak up some history, or enjoy the British foodie scene, here’s the best of attractions close to Wheatley, Oxfordshire.
Waterperry Gardens: Just a few minutes drive away from Wheatley, Waterperry Gardens and House comprise of a beautiful green space and museum in the middle of the countryside. Best seen in the spring so as to enjoy the wisteria walkways, the location was once home to the Waterperry School of Horticulture.
Explore the City of Oxford: The place of dreaming spires has long been touted as a beautiful literary city. Home to Harry Potter inspiration, where CS Lewis studied, and home to plenty of hidden gems, the city is well worth exploring over the course of a day.
Harcourt Arboretum: Set against the backdrop of 130 acres, if you’re a fan of outdoor photography and walks in the woodland, then it’s well worth paying a visit to the Harcourt Arboretum. Now part of Oxford University’s Botanical Garden, highlights include a whole series of acer trees (maples).
Visit the Headington Shark: In the very middle of where you’d least expect- the very heart of a residential street- the Headington Shark has been controversial from the outset. Its real name is ‘Untitled 1986’ and the installation was placed in situ in August of 1986.