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Headington history: Miscellaneous

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The Bayswater Brook


The Bayswater Brook runs westwards from near Forest Hill and eventually joins the River Cherwell to the east of Cutteslowe: see its course marked in red below. Since 1975 the Bayswater Brook from the Bayswater Road to just before the Marston flyover has formed the boundary between the City of Oxford and the Green Belt land of South Oxfordshire District Council, but in the nineteenth century the boundary of Old Headington village swept north to include Wick Farm.

1. Forest Hill to the Bayswater Road

The brook starts just north of the A40, near the Church Hill turn-off to Forest Hill. It first runs north and then in a westerly direction until it reaches the Bayswater area of Headington.

The photograph below shows the brook looking east, just before it reaches Bayswater Mill to the west. This mill probably already operated here at the time of the Domesday Book, and survived until 1898:

Just before Bayswater Mill

The former mill, shown below, is now a private house:

Bayswater Mill

After passing the mill, the brook continues to the south of the 29 homes in the Bayswater Mill site run by Buswell Parks, and passes under this farm path just before it reaches the Bayswater Road:

East of Bayswater Brook

The brook then passes under the bridge that takes traffic over the Bayswater Road:

Under Bayswater Road

There was a Roman settlement here in the third and fourth centuries AD, and during housing development in the 1940s sixteen Roman coins were found 300 yards to the south of this bridge in a 100-yard stretch each side of the main road.

2. Bayswater Road to the Marston flyover

After passing under the Bayswater Road the brook then winds its way along the northernmost edge of Barton:

Entering Barton

A little further on, this footbridge over the Bayswater Book leads northwards to the footpath that passes through some of the Green Belt land currently threatened with development by Christ Church.

Bridge to Beckley

You can take the above route all the way to the B4027 and then on to Beckley, or turn off to the left near the top when you see Sydlings Copse (also spelt Sidlings) on the left.

Returning to the footpath that runs alongside the brook, it reaches some grass leading straight on to Barton Village Road. Immediately on the north side of the road is this bridleway passing over the brook and leading to the Buswell Park housing site and Wick Farm.

Wick Farm turn off

Llewellyn Jewitt, an amateur archaeologist and brother of the famous wood-engraver Orlando Jewitt, lived in St Andrew's Lane in Old Headington, and in 1849 he discovered the remains of a Roman villa just to the north west of Wick Farm, on ground sloping southwards to the Bayswater Brook. Orlando's collaborator, William Reynolds, lived at Barton Manor, and his son George died at the age of nine on 1 April 1855 after a short illness, allegedly caused by drinking water from the Bayswater Brook.

In 1953 three intact Romano-British pots were recovered from the brook.

The brook continues westwards at the point where Barton Village Road turns north, but the footpath continues westwards alongside the south side of the brook. For a short distance it is part of the private road towards Lower Farm (formerly called Barton Farm), shown below:

Lower Farm

It then becomes a footpath again, running to the south of the new Barton Park development, forming its northern boundary.

3. Barton Park to Marston flyover

At present the Barton Park development to the south of the brook is firmly fenced off and you cannot enter it. There is a path running north to the bypass, marking the footpath to Old Headington, but it is really not safe crossing the bypass at this point to the bridleway at the bottom of Stoke Place.

So if you follow the footpath from Barton, when it comes to an end your only option is to turn right and cross the bridge shown below and follow the footpath all the way to Elsfield:

Bridge to Elsfield

Meanwhile the Bayswater Brook continues to form the northern boundary of Barton Park, but at present iIt is not possible to follow it at this point.

It then runs down diagonally to meet the Northern Bypass. It runs along the north side of this bypass (shown below), but there is no footpath here, so it is not safe to walk along it at this point:

Northern bypass

4. Marston flyover to the Cherwell

Just before the Marston flyover, the brook runs diagonally north-east over private land for a short distance and then reaches the east side of the road to Woodeaton. It then runs in a north-west direction alongside that road, and can be followed easily:

Road to Woodeaton

After a considerable distance running beside this road, it turns left and passes under the road.

It then runs through private farmland (Sescut Farm) until it joins the River Cherwell.


Map showing Bayswater Brook in 1900 (drag the map to follow it to the end of its journey)

© Stephanie Jenkins

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