The county of Oxfordshire is most famously known for its medieval, prestigious university city of Oxford. But apart from the “City of Dreaming Spires,” visiting the sweet little villages of Oxfordshire offers some much-needed peace and tranquillity away from the bustling, beating heart of the county.
Here’s a look into some of the most beautiful, quintessentially English Oxfordshire villages.
20 Wonderful Oxfordshire Villages:
The picturesque village of Aston welcomes you with its winding lanes of brick houses and thatched-roof cottages. Home to the Chimney Meadows, a 250-hectare nature reserve brimming with wildlife along the River Thames, you can soak in the rural British atmosphere at Aston. Be sure not to miss the green-winged orchids and meadow foxtails on the Thames National Trail Path.
Photo by Jun on Flickr
Often seen as Oxfordshire’s gateway to the Cotswolds, Burford rustic cottages and ivy-clad townhouses make it the perfect village to explore on a Sunday afternoon. Stop in at one of the tiny tea houses, pubs or eateries after walking across the medieval bridge that crosses the Windrush River.
Photo by Dave_S. on Flickr
The soaring tower of All Saints Church provides the backdrop for the village of Churchill. The Gothic Revival-style church itself has taken inspiration from three of Oxford University’s colleges and is a true spectacle to behold.
Photo by Tejvan Pettinger on Flickr
The charming village of Kelmscott is home to Kelmscott Manor, a beautiful limestone manor house complete with scenic gardens and pink flowers, a dovecote, lush green meadows and a tiny stream. If you’re visiting in the winter, stop by The Plough traditional pub, where you’ll be able to feast on local food by a cosy, roaring log fire.
Photo by Rictor Norton & David Allen on Flickr
If you’re fascinated by the paranormal and all things otherworldly, a visit to the village of Minster Lovell will satisfy your cravings. One of the most haunted villages, soak in the supernatural as you walk around the eerie ruins of Minster Lovell Hall at dusk. For a mouth-watering dinner, head over to The Minster Mill overlooking the Windrush River.
Photo by Hugh Llewelyn on Flickr
The dreamy village of Kirtlington is nestled in the heart of Oxfordshire and boasts the charming honey-coloured cottages that the Cotswolds are famous for. Make sure you visit the Palladian country house Kirtlington Park, set in 3,000-acres of parkland overlooking the Chiltern Hills.
Photo by Kate Tann on Flickr
For panoramic views over the countryside below, make sure to check out the scenic village of Great Rollright. Just a little outside the village you’ll find the mysterious Rollright Stones, an ancient stone circle comprising of the King Stone, the Whispering Knights and The Kings Men circle.
Photo by Iain Simpson on Flickr
The town of Witney is the largest market town in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. The market square itself is complete with 17th century architecture including the Butter Cross, where centuries ago local women would gather to sell eggs and butter. If you’re visiting in the fall, be sure not to miss the celebrations, including the Witney Carnival, Witney Feast and the Wychwood Forest Fair.
Photo by Rictor Norton & David Allen on Flickr
The village of Bruern dates back to the year 1147, when an Abbey was recorded in the area – though it is possible the village history goes back even further than that. Stay overnight at the fairy-tale Bruern Cottages for a slice of life in the Cotswolds or explore the magical bluebell woods at the nearby Foxholes Nature Reserve. The enchanted village of Bruern is perfect for the whole family.
Photo by Pedro. On Flickr
Downton Abbey fans might recognise areas of Shilton, as the village was used for the backdrop of the famous television program. Be sure to check out the picturesque ford that runs across The Shill brook as well as the lush village green and the Church of the Holy Rood, with its impressive Norman architecture.
Photo by Barry Marsh on Flickr
For award winning pubs and home-brewed real ale, Kingham is the best Oxfordshire village to head to. Pop into the Kingham Plough or The Wild Rabbit for a feast of traditional, locally sourced grub before visiting the village’s limestone cottages and ivy-clad buildings.
Photo by grassrootsgroundswell on Flickr
The honey-coloured, plant-trellised stone cottages of Swinbrook make the village one of the prettiest in Oxfordshire. Left untouched for decades, the place feels somehow trapped in a time loop, preserving the tranquillity of a traditional English village. Stroll across the old stone bridge that crosses the river to the majestic Swan Inn, for a delicious Sunday roast.
Photo by Barry March on Flickr
Stroll along the dreamy country lanes and flower-clad stone houses of South Newington and take in the essence of a true English village. Stop at The Duck in the Pond pub for lunch before admiring the fine 14th century wall paintings of the Church of St Peter ad Vincula.
Photo by Simon Cope on Flickr
The charming thatched roof cottages and brick-arched bridge set the village of Clifton Hampden apart from the rest on this list. Cross over the former toll-bridge and stroll among the picket-fenced stone cottages before stopping at the Barley Mow pub for some delicious, British food.
Photo by Steve Parker on Flickr
The village of Asthall in the Windrush Valley is one of the oldest settlements, in the Cotswolds. The Church of St Nicholas itself with its mishmash of architectural styles dates back to the 1160s. Visit the stunning Elizabethan manor house, Asthall Manor, made of local Cotswold stone, or grab lunch at the atmospheric Maytime Inn before taking a scenic walking route around the village.
Photo by David Lisbona on Flickr
Home to Buckland House, a famous 1700s Palladian mansion, Buckland is a beautiful village with a mix of thatched roof houses and more modern buildings. Be sure not to miss the 12th century parish church of St Mary the Virgin complete with stained glass and coloured tiles.
Photo by Alison Day on Flickr
One of the most picture-postcard Oxfordshire villages, with its traditional thatched roof honey stone cottages is the perfect village to stroll around and take in its quintessentially English charm. Host to the country’s Cornbury Music Festival in July, Great Tew offers more than just your regular Cotswold village.
Photo by foundin_a_attic on Flickr
The South-Oxfordshire village boasts an attractive pond at its heart, and plenty to see. Nearby the parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, you’ll find the Cloister, a square courtyard which is surrounded by thirteen red brick alms-houses. The local state primary school has magnificent wooden roof beams made from old ship’s timber and is definitely a sight to see too!
Photo by Giles Watson on Flickr
Thame is one of the prettiest market towns in Oxfordshire and a great place to pass a few hours. Come on a Tuesday to visit and browse one of the county’s best outdoor markets selling local fruits, vegetables, jams, chutneys and homemade delights.
Photo by Tom Bastin on Flickr
Just 6km from the city of Oxford, the village of Wheatley is everything you’d want and expect from an Oxfordshire village. Quaint cottages with flowers adorning the honey stone walls line the streets and church spires dot the sky above the parish. The Wheatley Windmill just outside the village dates back to 17th century and is definitely worth a visit.
Photo by Christian Guthier on Flickr
Though all of the Oxfordshire villages mentioned are unique, they do have one thing in common, and that’s their picturesque beauty and unparalleled British charm. With their honey stone walls and trailing plants, eerie ruins and majestic churches, the villages in Oxfordshire are definitely worth a visit.