Cholsey, Oxfordshire, UK, a little history and info!
The Parish of Cholsey is one of the largest in Oxfordshire. It touches Brightwell-cum-Sotwell and Wallingford in the north and extends as far south as The North Wessex (Berkshire) Downs stretching over 5 miles. The Thames, railway line and Halfpenny Lane (south of the small settlement) define the eastern boundary. Aston Tirrold and South Moreton are to the west. Cholsey lies low, most of it being about 200 ft. above the ordnance datum. The level in the east by the Thames is still lower. The highest ground is on Cholsey Hill and Lollingdon Hill (314 ft.) and on Cholsey Downs in the south-west. The parish contains 4,438 acres of land (another figure gives 5879 acres), more than two-thirds of which are arable. The subsoil is mainly chalk with some Greensand.
The hamlet of Winterbrook is within the parish.The settlement was originally founded on an island, probably Cholsey Hill (Ceol's Isle) on marshy ground close to the Thames. Ceol was the name of a man who was King of Wessex from 591 to 597. The village green is known as the Forty meaning “Marshy Isle”.
There is also evidence of a Bronze age settlement at Winterbrook, dated c900-700BC.
(Information, courtesy many sources)
Cholsey History @ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43220
(Agatha Christie lived in Winterbrook and is buried in the parish churchyard.)
Size 34 acres
Site leased By: BBOWT
Consists of riverside marsh, swamp, coarse grassland, willow scrub and reeds.
There are several species of dragonfly and damselflies in summer. Several species of warbler breed and snipe possibly. It is a winter roost site for Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting and Corn Buntings. Also a site of the summer snowflake or loddon lily.
Cholsey marsh seems to be a bit neglected these days and there appears to be no management of the area. Whether this is intentional or not, I do not know.
Unfortunately fly tipping and a fair bit of litter gets dumped there.
A valuable relic of a once-typical riverside feature, Cholsey Marsh rejoices in a rich and varied bird life.
Cholsey Hill is known as a “raptor watch point” (birds of prey), although a lot of patience may be required. There are extensive views in all directions.
Cholsey Hill is a low hill, usually covered by crops. Very limited parking nowadays. It is best to park in Cholsey village and walk. There is a public footpath leading away to the north halfway out.
Corn Bunting and Skylark breed in small numbers and in good years Quail can be heard. A variety of raptors have been seen that include several Harrier species, Osprey, Red Kites and Buzzard.
Also Roe Deer can be seen.
Farmland to the West and South of Cholsey.
Historically this was once marsh land but has since been extensively drained. However it can still flood in places after heavy and prolonged rainfall. There is a good series of footpaths in the area and lots of streams, ditches and mature hedgerows and a small private wooded area known as the Lees.
Most of the arable fields have a wide margin.
Cholsey Hill is to the North and Lollingdon Hill to the South of the area.
There is also some pasture land.
Lollingdon Hill is worth watching at migration periods as Wheatears are frequent and the odd scarce species may turn up (Ring Ousel, Great Grey Shrike).
Cholsey Common. (Historical name)
An area east of the village situated between the Wallingford road and Papist Way to the Thames. Mainly arable land, a footpath runs from Ilges lane to the A329.
An area bordered by the Wallingford road, Bradford Brook, Hithercroft and Church road. The Cholsey and Wallingford Railway runs through this. There is a footpath that runs along the railway then branches off to Hithercoft by Hillgreen farm. Arable and pasture land.
I include this as an area from Winterbrook, bordering Wallingford running downstream to the 4 Arches railway bridge bordering Moulsford and is to the East of the village running roughly North to South.
Variable habitats (including Cholsey Marsh) and possibly the most diverse area for wildlife. This can be walked via the Thames path for the whole length.
Cholsey extends into the North Eastern part of the North Wessex Downs. A small area of downland that leads out of the parish boundary along “The Fairmile” to “Lowbury Hill” and the “Ridgeway”.
A mix of arable, pasture and woodland.