Cholsey sites/areas

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 hamlets of Lollingdon and Winterbrook are situated 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.

A prehistoric road, the Icknield Way, crosses the River Thames at Cholsey.

(Information, courtesy many sources)

Cholsey History @

(Agatha Christie lived in Winterbrook and is buried in the parish churchyard.)

Winterbrook was transferred to Wallingford by SODC in July 2014 but I shall ignore this as far as wildlife recording goes!

The areas 

Cholsey Marsh 

Size 34 acres

Site owned by Linden Homes and has been leased to BBOWT as at April 2016. BBOWT will now manage Cholsey Marsh.

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. It is a winter roost site for Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting and a nationally important winter roost site for Corn Buntings with a max of 400.

It is an important site for the summer snowflake or loddon lily.

Unfortunately fly tipping and a fair bit of litter gets dumped there.

BBOWT and volunteers now do a good job of keeping the marsh litter free.

A valuable relic of a once-typical riverside feature, Cholsey Marsh rejoices in a rich and varied bird life with 
150 species recorded on the marsh over the years.

Cholsey Hill. 

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.

There is also some pasture land.

Lollingdon Hill 

Is a good site for visible migration as Wheatears are frequent along with Redstart and most Warblers and the odd scarce species may turn up (Ring Ousel, Great Grey Shrike).

Cholsey Hill is to the North and Lollingdon Hill to the South of the area and are the 2 highest points in the parish.

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.

North Cholsey. 

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.

River Thames. 

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 Downs.

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.