Solstice at Stonehenge

  Solstice  at Stonehenge

As a Blue Badge Tourist Guide, I often visit Stonehenge, the world’s most famous neolithic stone circle.  It is not only a tourist attraction but also it has been a sacred place for many for thousands of years.   If you want an authentic  cultural experience  visit around winter or summer solstices. My favourite time is the day after the solstice as it is less busy, and you can always find a druid order celebrating.

Who are the druids ?

Ancient druids came to the British Isles from the East, roughly about 500BC. They were purported to be knowledgeable in things like astrology, astronomy, and numbers.  They were widely believed to be doctors, physicians, teachers, adjudicators, judges and advisors to kings.

Grades of  Druidry

Bards trained in poetry, music, and storytelling. They memorised and told of a tribe’s history and lineage.

Ovates  who earnt about the magical properties of trees and plants, healing and esoteric mind work.

Druids  who were concerned ‘with the laws, adjudications, public speaking and ceremony.’

What is Druidry  about ?

Druidry is about spiritual welfare, psychology, and all sorts of esoteric knowledge. It is also  about honouring the seasons and paths of the planets. It is all about  living in harmony with and within nature.



Winter Solctice Celebration

Yule, or the Winter Solstice, is the longest night and shortest day of the week celebrates the movement of the planet, now at its farthest from the sun, but also a moment of rebirth with the coming of the new sun.

Winter and Sumer solstice celebrations by the druid orders begin at midnight at the barrows southwest of Stonehenge, continue with a dawn observance and ultimately hold a noon ceremony within the monument itself.

They enter the neolithic circle at the eastern entrance because the sun rises in the east, then  walk around the circle stamping the ground, making a magic circle.  There’s a meditation to the surroundings, getting in touch with the four elements; a call for peace; opening and later closing the quarters, east, south, west and north. ‘They invite the guardians – they believe there are spirits of the place .

Other places to celebrate solstices on the British isles are Avebury and Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey in Wales. All very different and authentic experiences.



by Ildi Pelikan

London & Wales Blue Badge Tourist Guide 

Responsible tourism in London

New Year is here. Is being a responsible tourist among your resolutions? Here are some tips on how to achieve it in London.

Being a good tourist means treating somebody else’s home with respect, leaving little in your wake and putting as much money as possible in local pockets.


Travel by train if you can. If you have to fly remember economy flights has a much smaller carbon footprint per person than an expensive flight with a lot of business-class seats.

People tend to think about sustainable, responsible travel only as environmentally friendly travel. Of course, we should support businesses that are kinder to nature. But the economic power of travel is immense, and you control that wealth distribution.


Book a small independent guesthouse directly or book hotels and businesses who have the Green Tourism Award.

Hotels in London with the Gold or Silver Award and great locations are:  K West Hotel and Spa.One Aldwych Hotel,Park Plaza County Hall  Waterloo, Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes hotel, The Bloomsbury, The Langham, The Marylebone, Hotel du Win Wimbledon, London Hilton on Park Lane, The Ned, The Ritz, The Violin Factory


I always advocate for under tourism. Choose places that get fewer travellers rather than more obvious, overpopulated, overbooked places.

Some places must be visited but there is so much to see in many options to enjoy yourself and avoid queues and get to know British history and culture.

 The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of my favourites. It is the World’s first design museum and it’s never as busy as the British Museum. Though mostly famous for their fashion history collection the museum has soon much more to offer. Their British Gallery offers an insight to Britain’s History, there is a cast court a photography exhibition.  Asia galleries and much more.


If you find there are queues at the National Gallery, choose Tate Britain Art Gallery instead that offers unrivalled displays show the development of art in Britain from Tudor times to the present day.,

There are loads of smaller museums and art galleries, Leighton House home of the 19th century painter Frederic Leighton, has just been recently refurbished. He associated with the Pre-Raphaelites and was knighted by Queen Victoria.


Chelsea Physic Garden: Purchased by the founder of the British Museum Dir. Hans Sloane and leased to the Society of Apothecaries requiring that the garden supply the Royal Society of which he was a principal, with 50 good herbarium samples per year, up to a total of 2,000 plants. The Garden is also holder of the Green Tourism Award.

Guided Tours

When choosing a tour rather than opting for coach tours choose a walking tour or get in touch with independent Blue Badge Tourist Guides who not only hold the highest guiding qualification in Britain but can offer you tours in London and daytrips from London.  Check out some of our London walks here:

The Take Me to London team, Ildi, Jackie and Jill would be glad to tailor-make a sustainable itinerary and guide you through London or the British countryside responsibly.

Keep an eye out for our blogs or sign up for our newsletter as we will be posting about small businesses we recommend and secret gems of London. And more on responsible daytrips from London.

Sign up for the Take Me To London email newsletter

Kinder Trespass and Sustainable Tourism

Kinder Trespass and a Famous Activist

On the 24thof April 90 years ago  400 ramblers met at Hayfield a few miles west from Kinder Scout the highest point of the Peak District. Amid huge crowed presence they walked up the William Clough pass to protest for  the greater rights of access to the moor.

Among the crowed was poet and folk singer Ewan MacColl, who participated in the walk and wrote a song sung by the walkers “The Manchester Rambler “ He is known as one of the instigators of the 1960s folk revival and collected hundreds of traditional folk songs,] including the version of “Scarborough Fair” later popularised by Simon & Garfunkel.

According to the Hayfield Kinder Trespass Group website, this act of civil disobedience was one of the most successful in British history.

This event led to the passage of the National Park Legistlation 1949 and paved the way for the establishment of the Pennine Way and other long-distance footpaths. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW Act) protect Walkers’ rights to travel through common land and uncultivated upland since 2000.

If  you wish to know more I can highly recommend you to read The Book of Trespass  written by a young writer-walker activist.


The Longest Coastal Path in the World

Without the Kinder Trespass we might never be appreciate England’s newest National Trail The England Coast Path all around England’s coast which when the complete will  cover 2800 miles/4500kms and will be the longest coastal path with access to beaches, clifftops and most of the wonderful habitats around our coast, as well as former industrial and maritime areas that were significant in Britain’s history.

Today people are still campaigning as the right to roam exists over only 8% of the country. Ninety-two per cent of England’s land and 97% of its water is privately owned and not available to access.

90th Anniversary Trespass events

To mark the date a  group of ramblers will be walking to Kinder Scout for a Kinder in Colour event. Another event , The Right to Swim Trespass will be held  group of swimmers from across the north of England. They plan to plunge into Kinder reservoir as “an act of defiance against widespread lack of undisputed access to inland open water in England and Wales.

History Hikers

The pandemic and climate change has highlighted the importance of sustainable and active tourism.

Outdoor walking mental benefits include improving self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, reducing stress, anxiety and fatigue.  Furthermore it  helps to maintain a healthy weight · keep your muscles and bones healthy · increase your cardiovascular fitness. Why not combine it with visiting historic sites ?

Join our History Hikers group and discover England sustainably.

We organise public history hikes on Saturdays. They are day hikes from London or guided walking tours in London enriched with history.  For day hikes we use trains to get to our destination where we hike between 9-14 miles.


Our aim is sustainable tourism. The groups are small to ensure our impact on the environment is small and the experience is sociable. We include visits to local museums and churches or family0-run vineyards and pubs, so we contribute to the local economy.


The walks are led by a Blue Badge Tourist Guide and North Downs Way Ambassador.


Join our Facebook group here:

and check out our upcoming hikes here :

or here :

Walk and Hike Sustainably

History Hikers

With Cop 26 on in Glassgow, and the Eartshot Prize  launched by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in October 2020 , centred around five ‘Earthshots’ , sustainability is becoming more and more important.

Question we can ask is are all walking groups sustainable? What can we do to be more sustainable and how to walk and hike sustainably?


                                                                                                  Picture taken by a regular history hiker : Moni Varga

Here are some ideas:


When travelling to our hiking destination by using public transport or considering lift sharing we reduce our impact on the environment and parking spaces.

Group Size matters

Why should group sizes be small? If you walk through the landscape with a group of 30-40 the impact on the environment is greater. Consider walking in small groups.

Either stay on paths or well away from them – avoid walking on path verges as the most vulnerable areas are those immediately to the side of paths where users spreading out from the path can lead to increased wear and badly eroded paths developing. This year when visiting Painshill Park some of you might have noticed badly eroded paths as the park have received high number of visitors and people trying to social distance walked off the path causing erosion in the surrounding areas.


Consider when and where you hike or scrambles mas some areas are restricted during nesting season . Think of a bird’s nest and your mind will probably wander high up into the branches of a tree or hedgerow – but not all birds have such lofty ambitions. Many species nest on the ground, from coastal seabirds to wetland waders and the more familiar ‘farmland’ birds like lapwing and skylark. This strategy does present some obvious risks and the nests tend to be well camouflaged, so it’s always worth watching your step during the breeding season (March to September).

It can be tricky to see is the enigmatic nightjar, a nocturnal bird with such impressive camouflage that it is barely visible during the daytime. Nightjars begin nesting in May – although there isn’t actually a nest, and the eggs are laid straight onto bare ground.

Looking after footpaths

Did you know that long distance footpaths have to be maintained as well?  You can report a fallen tree or a badly eroded path to the relevant organisation who looks after the footpath.

Dogs :

Some of you have asked weather you can bring dogs on the walk. Some walks are dog friendly some not so much , depending on the season. You need to keep your dog on a short lead of no more than two metres between 1 March and 31 July each year to protect ground nesting birds, and at all times in the vicinity of livestock


Do everything you can to support the rural economy – shop locally, and when walking through villages consider the local population. Don’t peep through their windows or stand in crowds in front of their houses.

Leave no trace !

Do you know how long your litter will last ? Plastic bag 10-20 years, Plastic bottle 450 years, wine bottle is non biodegradable, food waste 2 years, paper bag 1month. Take your litter with you!

Wild camping

Useful to know that wild camping is not permitted by right on open access land in England and Wales without express permission of the landowner, but it is permitted in Scotland provided that you do so responsibly and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.


Did you know that we are members of the Impact Travel Collective ?

We consider the 17 Goals to Transform Our World called SDGs set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly when creating our history hikes.

“The Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.”

Impact Travel Collective                                                       


You can check out our upcoming history hikes on our website : 

meetup :

or why not join our Facebook page :

Follow us on Instagram :



Londoners and their steamy love affair with tea

In Britain, tea is always present in the background of everyone’s lives. It’s also intertwined with our history and politics. Did you know that on average the British drink three cups a day and it is acknowledged in Britain that a cup of tea can solve anything?

Take Me To London and Teasup have been friends for a long time and when chatting over a cuppa we came up with the idea of collaborating in creating a walking tour to tell you the story of Londoners and their steamy love affair. Tea played, and still plays, an important part in London life. It shaped the city’s architecture, economy, and the etiquette of socializing.


The walk takes about two hours and you will have the chance to taste some tea.

We will take you on a journey through time, starting at the old tea warehouses which line the River Thames and then proceeding deep into the heart of the City. You will find out who was the first monarch to have a cuppa and whether Charles Dickens’s heroes preferred tea or coffee. As a treat for completing the walk you will receive a complementary pack of Teasup tea to take home.


Teasup Breakfast Blend is our signature English Breakfast tea and the key is the speciality tea leaves. It features fine-plucked very high grown smallholder tea from the best planting districts around Mt Kenya, high grown tea from the the Gisovu Tea Estate in Rwanda and premium second flush Assam leaves from the Hunwal Tea Estate in India.The result is a rich, full-bodied tea with a clean, brisk taste and golden colour. Great with a splash of milk and a perfect way to start your day.

Who are we ?


A family business based in South West London specialising in high quality, ethically sourced tea.  We seek out excellent quality whole leaf tea from top tea gardens across the globe.  Our tea is ethically sourced because we want the tea that we drink to be improving the lives of all those working in the tea industry. We are committed to being plastic free and to environmentally friendly packaging because we want to contribute to improving the environment in which we live. You can find out more about Teasup at

Take me to London

Three qualified Blue Badge Tour Guides, Ildi, Jill and Jackie, three friends with passion for tea and London’s history. We do walking tours in London, guide in museums and galleries. We have the privilege of guiding at Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower. Among us we speak 6 languages.  You can find out more on


Ildi, Jackie and Jill

As guides we believe in sustainable tourism and we just love Teasup tea, so this partnership seemed to be a perfect match.


A bit of fun fact to take away :

The first English breakfast blend actually comes from America! In 1843, Richard Davies, an English apothecary from Hull who had founded a small tea company in New York, made a new mix of tea that he called “English Breakfast”, and the people loved it!


You can book here :


Tea Walk Gift Box – Surprise a tea enthusiast in your life with a fine tea gift

What’s in it ?  A Gift voucher for our London Tea Walk for one person, -Teasup English Breakfast Blend tea ,Teasup Loose Leaf Tea Infuser :


We are looking forward to welcoming you on our walk.  We hope it’s your cup of tea!

3 Romantic locations in London

London is a wonderful, multicultural, buzzing city, where everyone is always rushing around yet many people have found love here. The city has also inspired writers, musicians, and film makers to write film and compose about love that sprang here. Here are some of my favourite romantic locations and their stories.


Waterloo Clock

Manufactured by Gents of Leicester and hanging high over the main concourse, Waterloo’s huge four-sided clock has been a popular meeting point for Londoners, especially those on a romantic rendezvous, since the early 1920s.

It might be that The Kinks had the clock in mind when they wrote their 1967 hit, Waterloo Sunset… which includes the lyric, “Terry meets Julie, Waterloo station every Friday night.”

It is where in the film Man Up (starring Simon Pegg and Lake Bell) Nancy and Jack meet under the clock.


Grave of Mary Wollstonecraft  

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin later known as Mary Shelley was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft who died 11 days after giving birth to her. She met Percy Shelley in March 1814. Percy was a fan of her father who had become a frequent visitor to the Godwin home. They immediately fell in love. Percy Shelley was married, and the tomb of Mary’s mother became their secret meeting place. It is here that they first declared their love for each other.

If you want to find out more about their story why not sign up for our love in Bloomsbury virtual tour on the 20th of February:

Rosemead Garden

The romantic Rosemead Garden is part of the Ladbroke Estate. The area was farmland until the 1820s, with tenanted farms providing rental income for its owner. In 1819 James Weller Ladbroke inherited the land and began to develop it for housing. The result was a series of streets with attractive stucco or half stucco houses, carefully designed vistas and sixteen communal gardens designed by Thomas Allom.  The garden is only accessible for the residents and it is here where in the film Notting Hill, Anna and William break in at night (“Whoops a daisy!”), The bench on which Anna and William sat was simply a prop for the film.

If you want to visit the garden in future it is possible through open garden squares day :

Oxford and His Dark Materials Film Locations

The second season of Philip Pullman’s His Dark material is starting on BBC this Sunday. 

His Dark Materials is a trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of Northern Lights (published as The Golden Compass in North America), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. It follows the coming of age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes. Every character has a demon which is part of their personality. It changes forms during childhood and reaches its final form when one becomes an adult. Lyra fights against the powerful Magistrate and has a golden compass that helps her to discover the truth. What does the Magistrate represent? Is it the Church? Philip Pullman is against power in general.

 The fantasy elements in His Dark Materials also include witches and armoured polar bears; the trilogy also alludes to concepts from physics, philosophy and theology.

His Dark Materials film locations in Oxford 

Although the interiors of Jordan College were all shot at Bad Wolf Studios, the crew travelled to Oxford itself for the exterior shots, with New College moonlighting as Jordan. Other Oxford landmarks you can spot in the show include The Bridge of Sighs and The Botanical Gardens.

Port Meadow 

An ancient area of common land used for grazing animals. On the far side of Port Meadow is the Thames, which floods the grass seasonally and makes this a particularly magical landscape. Filled with birds, flowers, and wildlife, the meadow was an early site for landscape paintings by Turner, and in Pullman’s Northern Lights it is the location for the Gyptian horse fair. 

Godstow Abbey 

In Pullman’s fictional universe, the abbey has survived, and its nuns are the ones to take in Lyra as a baby.

Bodleian Library 

In La Belle Sauvage where it is the home to the Bodleian alethiometer, or golden compass.

Covered Market  

The Covered Market is mentioned in Northern Lights as a place that sells fish, but in our world it’s so much more than that.

Pitt Rivers Museum 

The main floor of the museum is packed with rows of curiosity cabinets, in which are displayed weapons, pottery, jewellery, masks, textiles, decorative thingummies and of course the shrunken heads for which it is famous. It is here that Lyra investigates the Tartar phenomenon of trepanned skulls in The Subtle Knife.


It is here where the Gyptians moor their narrowboats, and indeed the canal that meanders through Jericho is dotted with their moorings in real life.

Philip Pullman studied at Exeter College which was an inspiration for Jordan College in the novels. He was a schoolteacher when he started to write. His father was an RAF officer who he lost very young in a plane crash. The loss of his father and the fact that he was always away features in his works. As a child he shared a room with his younger brother and they made up stories as an entertainment. A fun fact! He is superstitious and only writes on lined and 2-holed paper.

Oxford boasts many fantasy writers. Philip Pullman says it’s not that fantasy writers come to Oxford it’s rather people become fantasy writers by coming to Oxford. 

Our Oxford, a River, a Treacle Well & Inspector Morse hiking tour also takes you to these film locations. Join Us !

A hidden gem near Salisbury – St. Peter’s Church Britford

A stone’s throw away from Salisbury lies a little, yet incredibly significant church, St Peter’s Britford.

I fell in love with the church as I was walking through its pretty gates, with seats on each side inviting you to sit and reflect. It made me instantly curious what the church hidden behind the trees was like.


The Church

Its nave is Saxon, built probably in the 9th Century. On each side of the nave you can clearly see a round-headed Saxon arch. In the 14th century the north and south transepts were added, making the church the cruciform building it is today.

As you walk through the door and look around you notice that the pews are cordoned off at the South Transept. They are the pews used by the family of the 9th Earl of Radnor. There is also a plaque dedicated to the 5th Earl of Radnor, William Pleydell-Bouverie.


Who was the first Earl of Radnor?

He was William Bouverie educated at University College in Oxford, later he became the recorder of Salisbury and was appointed a fellow of the Royal Society. He was created Earl of Radnor in 1765.

Bouverie? Hang on, that is a French name! How come?

The Huguenot, Laurens Des Bouverie fled from religious persecution and settled in London. He became a prosperous silk merchant and his descendants became wealthy landowners in England. The family was ennobled in 1747 with Sir Jacob Des Bouverie becoming First Viscount Folkestone. Then his son, William, was created an Earl. Longford Castle, a 30 minute walk from the church has been the Bouverie’s home for 300 years.


“Off with his head! So much for Buckingham!”

If you have seen Shakespeare’s Richard III, this phrase is familiar to you. Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham was the primary suspect in the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower of London.

It all happened during the War of the Roses. Edward IV suddenly died leaving his 12 year-old and eldest son, Edward heir to the throne, with his brother, Richard as Lord Protector until Edward came of age. Edward and his younger brother Richard were taken to the Tower of London, lodged at the Royal Apartments and preparation for the coronation ceremony began. It is Important to note that all ceremonies started at the Tower of London at the time. Suddenly, evidence appeared that Edward IV had a premarital contract, meaning he was married before to Elizabeth Woodville. This meant the boys were illegitimate. Parliament petitioned Richard Duke of Gloucester to take the Throne as he was next in line. He became Richard III.

There is evidence that the boys were lodged in the Tower in September 1483, then they disappeared. Were they killed? It is still a mystery.

Bones of two boys were found under the stairs at the White Tower during the reign of Charles II and which were reburied at Westminster Abbey. Requests for DNA examinations were so far denied. Are they the bones of the princes? What happened to them?

How did Buckingham come into the picture?

Henry Stafford the Duke of Buckingham was the ally of Edward IV‘s younger brother Richard, and helped him succeed to the throne, in lieu of Edward’s living sons.

It’s interesting to note that Buckingham himself had a claim to the throne as, he himself, was a descendant of Edward III through John of Gaunt.

When he became dissatisfied with Richard, he joined with Henry Tudor and led an unsuccessful rebellion in his name. He was captured and executed for treason by Richard III on 2 November 1483 and beheaded in Salisbury Market Place. He is Buried in St. Peter’s Britford church and it is believed that his ghost can be seen sometimes at Salisbury Market place looking for his head.

If you would like to visit the Church and learn more about the story, sign up for our Harnham Hill, Britford and Salisbury tour.

A Real Steampunk Experience !

First of all what is Steampunk ?

It’s all about mixing old and new: fusing the usability of modern technology with the design aesthetic and philosophy of the Victorian age.

Steampunk in London ?? Where ?

One of London’s hidden secrets and a great fun day or evening out is the Midnight Apothecary cocktail bar at the Brunel Museum. The rooftop Garden bar is the perfect combination of Victorian engineering, design, the aesthetic of the garden and its philosophy.

It was Lottie Muir, the cocktail gardener, who transformed the scrubby wasteland into a magical potager garden above Brunel’s famous Thames Tunnel. The cocktails are infused and garnished with ingredients from the garden or foraged locally for Midnight Apothecary.


Apothecary and Victorians

Herbalism or botanical medicine is one of the oldest traditions around. The British Library has a copy of a ‘leech book’ – thought to date back as far as the 800s CE! Apothecaries were the ancestors of our modern-day GP. They sold wines, spices and herbs to physicians and the general public, as well as sharing their medical advice and knowledge.

It was during Victorian times, in 1843, that the National Association of Medical Herbalists was established, and as pharmacists were experimenting some great medical breakthroughs and advancements were made. Natural herbal remedies were an essential part of any Victorian lifestyle, as many could not afford a doctor. From the use of leeches, opium, and morphine, through to the more mellow herbs, plants and honey, these remedies often worked well.

Remedies were formulated on the Doctrine of Signatures, a theory by which the clues to an illness were said to be based on the colour or shape of a plant and clues were found in the parts of plants which closely resembled parts of the body.

Patent medicines were quack remedies created from secret formulas which included alcohol or opiates.



What is grown at the Midnight Apothecary?

Lavender, Hop, Lemon Verbena, Blackcurrant Sage, Chocolate Mint, Scented Geranium, Saliva Amistad, Bronze Fennel, Brazilian Vervain, Pineapple Sage, Borage, Sweet Cicely, Meadowsweet, Rhubarb, Lovage and many more herbs and plants.

For cocktail ideas you can buy The Book: Wild Cocktails from the Midnight Apothecary by LOTTIE MUIR in bookshops or online.


Who was Brunel?

Or better, who were the Brunels? Marc, the father, and Isambard, the son, were pioneering engineers who dug the first tunnel in the world under a navigable river. It was thought of as the eighth wonder of the world.

The construction was not easy. At some point during the works there was a collapse and the river burst through the half-excavated tunnel, killing six men. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, then a teenager, was washed so high up the shaft that he had to be dragged outside to safety. He survived this incident to build marvels including the Great Western Railway, the Clifton suspension bridge, and the SS Great Britain.

Today the entrance hall to Brunel’s 19th-century tunnel under the Thames has been turned into a unique auditorium, complete with the rumble of Tube trains.

Join our Rotherhithe walk to learn more of the story of the Tunnel and the Brunels! Discover lovely Rotherhithe’s fascinating history and have a delicious cocktail at the Midnight Apothecary !

By Ildi Pelikan

London Blue Badge Guide

In search of the Treacle Well

Join Our new Oxford historical hiking tour and discover the famous treacle well described in Alice in Wonderland.

`Once upon a time there were three little sisters,’ the Dormouse began in a great hurry; `and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well—’

And so these three little sisters—they were learning to draw, you know—’

You can draw water out of a water-well,’ said the Hatter; `so I should think you could draw treacle out of a treacle-well-eh, stupid?’
`But they were in the well,’ Alice said to the Dormouse, not choosing to notice this last remark.
`Of course they were’, said the Dormouse; `—well in.

(Lewis Carol – Alice in Wonderland)


Binsey and the Church

 My rambling took me on the Thames Path around Oxford. I took a bit of detour and walked to Binsey. As I approached, the first thing I found was a charming 12th century church. The Church of St Margaret of Antioch stands on the site of one of the original monasteries of St Frideswide.

According to legend St Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford who lived in the 7th century, escaped to Binsey to avoid marrying the Mercian prince Algar. The prince was blinded by lightning while looking for her, her prayers brought forth a healing spring here, and she cured his blindness with its water. She didn’t marry and founded  a monastery here and became an abbess.

The well

The well outside the church was famed for its healing properties, and many pilgrimages were made to Binsey in the middle ages. There were crutches of cured cripples adorning the church in the past.

This is the well that inspired Lewis Carroll, and it is described as a treacle well in Alice in Wonderland.

Do you know what treacle means ?  It is an old English word for medicine, and was also used to describe dark coloured undrinkable water, which from its foul palate was associated with the commonly held taste of medicine.

Binsey and its farmlands belonged to St Frideswide’s Priory during the 14th and 15th centuries, after the dissolution it was incorporated into Christ Church, a college of Oxford University, which now owns all of the buildings in Binsey.


If you enjoy walks and would like to see the church and the famous well. Join Our new Historic hike around Oxford. The first date is 12th of September.