10 things you might not know about the village of Twyford
- Credit: Archant
Once described ‘The Queen of Hampshire villages’ Twyford still offers plenty to interest visitors
A bit about Twyford
Twyford is situated on the River Itchen, around three miles south of Winchester in the South Downs National Park. It got its name from the two fords across the river - which meanders through the parish and whose water meadows are of European and national importance. Twyford is bursting with fabulous old places - there are seven Ancient Monuments within the parish, and about 70 listed buildings. It is unsurprising when you consider that the village got going in the Bronze Age and an early Saxon cemetery with sixth century burial goods was discovered there in 2008.
Something to eat and drink
Bowmans, Flowerpots and Uphams craft beers can all be found in The Bugle Inn on Park Lane, which has a keen reputation for good food, as well as some stylish rooms in which to spend the night. Just along the High Street, The Phoenix Inn offers quality pub grub with a menu including Hampshire rump steak and a pint of prawns. Coffee lovers should head straight to The Bean Below, at the village shop by the High Street crossroads, where they can find light lunch-fare, plus delicacies such as salted caramel rocky road as well as excellent teas and coffees and even a Daim almond and Oreo hot milkshake!
Druids and legends
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Underneath St Mary's Church are 12 stones in a circle, thought to date from the Bronze Age. These, combined with a well and the ancient yew tree, were alleged to provide the circle, wood and water needed for Druidic worship. Scattered around the parish are several sarsen stones and, as you approach the Berry Bridge over the River Itchen there are two more recumbent sarsen stones.
Here's looking at yew
The unusual yew tree in the churchyard of St Mary's Church is said to be so old, it was mentioned in the Domesday Book. While it may not be quite so ancient, it has been dated to about 500 years old and is reputed to be the oldest clipped yew in the country.
If you feel that Twyford's handsome parish church of St Mary's looks more than a little familiar, you'd be right. When it was decided the ancient building needed enlarging in the 1870s, the church called in no less an architect than Alfred Waterhouse, who also designed the Natural History Museum in London, as well as Manchester's splendid Town Hall.
The Itchen Navigation canal runs to the west of the Itchen in Twyford and its clean, clear waters at Shawford Lock provide some of the best open water swimming in this part of the county. Wooden steps lead down into the waters and swimmers can enjoy the power of the sluice before floating along to a shallower part and climbing out. Get safety advice here.
What can I do in Twyford?
Graze Festival is a food, music and arts festival staged at Humphreys Farm off the Hazeley Road in Twyford, celebrating local food, beers, wines and music with a full playlist of bands and performers. The Disparate Housewives WI is celebrating its tenth anniversary and meets every month in Twyford Parish Hall. Or you can join the Twyford Singers, who perform two concerts every year.
Pump it up - Twyford Waterworks
Lovers of Edwardian engineering are guaranteed a treat at Twyford Waterworks in Hazeley Road, where they'll find a selection of buildings and machinery described as 'exceptional' by English Heritage. Now run by the Twyford Waterworks Trust, the buildings hold regular open days and there is also a nature trail around the wildlife-rich grounds. The waterworks even has its own 2ft gauge industrial railway.
The royal connection
The stunning avenue of mature lime trees at Brambridge House in Kiln Lane has gladdened many a heart. But how many people know that the original trees were planted in the reign of Charles II? Or that the property was once the home of Maria Smythe who, as the widowed Catholic Mrs Fitzherbert, made a morganatic marriage with the Prince Regent in December 1785?
Twyford School is an independent preparatory school in the centre of the village - some claim it as the oldest prep school in the UK. What we do know is that it had the distinction of expelling the poet Alexander Pope in the early 18th century for lampooning a master in verse. It also counts journalist and broadcaster Sir Mark Tully, former Foreign Secretary Lord Douglas Hurd, The Apprentice winner Tom Pellereau, and the composer Sir Hubert Parry - whose most famous work is the hymn Jerusalem - as alumni.
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