The Friends subscriptions are now due. Please send a £5 cheque payable to The Friends of Raleigh Park to the Membership Secretary at 20 Raleigh Park Road Oxford OX2 9AZ.
This year the AGM was on Wednesday 2nd September at 7:30pm in St Lawrence Church, North Hinksey. The noted local historian Malcolm Graham gave a well researched and fascinating presentation on the history of the Oxford water supply.
Last year Gerald Dawe gave a presentation on the botanical and other environmental changes in Raleigh Park since his survey in 1996.
The objectives of the Friends of Raleigh Park are to protect, conserve and enhance the Park, which is a Local Wildlife Site, for the benefit of the community.
Raleigh Park is located in the village of North Hinksey near Oxford and contains lightly managed fields with three ponds linked by a stream, very unusual alkaline bog areas, trees, grasses, marestail, stately marsh thistle and wild flowers. Ridges from medieval strip farming are visible parallel to Westminster Way. Buzzards, red kytes, roe deer, muntjac deer and foxes are frequent visitors while badgers, moles, song birds, rabbits and other rodents are resident.
We did to go ahead with a Boxing Day Walk this year with provision of mulled wine, stollen and mince pies. There was an excellent turn out of Friends needing to stretch their legs despite the weather.
Willows overgrowing a pond have been thinned, vegetation overgrowing the stream removed, a waterfall rebuilt and removal of Himalayan Balsam from boggy areas, parrot's feather from the pond and new bramble growth over paths is ongoing.
Cattle were grazing the Park in the summer. They were there to reduce the rank grass and nettles and encourage the development of wild flowers. If left uncut the brambly thorny growth and trees will increase and the park will become entirely scrubby woodland.
The cattle have been moved out of the park, but when cattle are present give them a wide berth. It is advisable to keep dogs well under control and preferably out of sight of the cattle particularly towards dusk as they become frisky before bedding down for the night.
There is what is believed to be the remains of the Roman road towards the ford which gives Oxford its name from the direction of Besselsleigh running parallel to the current road up Harcourt Hill. The outline of the raised metalled section with a ditch each side is clearly evident under the turf in winter or when the grass has been cut.
There is a small oblelisk near the pond. The sun is shining revealing the date 1753 in the picture and placing plasticine in the depressions reveals more of the inscription, probably "the Conduit". Conduit House (marked Well House) had been constructed over a spring to supply Oxford with water in 1615-17 and is within a kilometer of the obelisk (marked Stones on the OS map). The obelisk presumably marked the location of an extension to a channel or vaulted gully diverting a spring to Conduit House.
A cutting and embankment constructed to smooth the slope of a track linking Harcourt Hill to the track between North Hinksey and Yarnells Hill is not shown on the 1938 map and it's construction has covered this channel on the obelisk side or the embankment. The track may have been made to enable digging plant to access the stream when the pond was dug out.
A curved depression leading towards Conduit House visible on the other side of the embankment from the obelisk supports this interpretation of the writing on the obelisk. There is a small standing stone in the hedge around 50m away which might have been another marker.25 Oct 2012