The Friends of Raleigh Park

Subscriptions for 2014-5

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.

Boxing Day walk

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.

AGM

The Friends held their AGM on a stormy night, but many thanks to those hardy enough to attend. Members decided against a proposal to remove some trees near the Raleigh Park Road entrance to the park to open up the view of the spires.

Gerald Dawe gave a presentation on the botanical and other environmental changes in Raleigh Park since his survey in 1996. He noted that the grass is much longer and rougher and has nearly swamped the wild flowers which were such a feature of the site as seen in a photo from that time.

Formerly horses from the riding stables in North Hinksey grazed the Park and kept the grass down so that paths did not have to be mown through it. However the underpass under the A34 was closed to horses for a period so the horses were removed from the park and the cattle which it was hoped would do the job have not been a success, largely because they are not used to people and have had to be removed from the Park in some previous years as well as this year.

The second major change was the loss of the elm trees which had been magnificent.

We still need to elect a new Chairman, Jenny Barker has stepped down after several industrious years on the Committee. Send nominations to David Brown, Secretary, raleighpark@raleighpark.org.uk or if you would like to join the Committee let me know also. We meet for less than 2 hours, bimonthly.

Objectives

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.

Description

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.

Conservation Management

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 in the Park

Cattle were grazing the Park in the summer but have been removed after some head butting incidents. 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.

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.

Roman road

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.

Mystery Obelisk

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 may have marked the location of an extension or repair 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 presumably removed any sign of this channel. The track may have been made to ease transport of building materials from Cumnor Hill gravel pit when the Harcourt Estate was being built or, more likely, to enable digging plant to access the stream when the pond was dug out. There is a small standing stone in the hedge around 50m away which might have been another marker.

25 Oct 2012
raleighpark@raleighpark.org.uk