Population: 14,600

Eat at: The Jolly Boatman (01865 377800)

Why? Dining al fresco beside the Southern Oxford canal is a glorious experience. The chef has prepared a range of menus and presents new specials every day.

Drink at: The Boat Inn (01865 374279)

Why? Voted best canalside pub in Oxfordshire, and most friendly country pub 2019, this hostelry in Thrupp is perfect for walkers, boaters and Inspector Morse fans.

Stay at: Oxford Studios (07487 520271)

Why? These smart studio-style rooms on Blenheim Road in Kidlington include a private kitchen area and help-yourself breakfasts.

Sandwiched between Oxford and Woodstock, Kidlington used to be known as Kidlington on the Green. The old village centred around St Mary’s church and it’s here you’ll find fine, old and quaint buildings, including almshouses, Grove House, the Old Rectory, and a circular dovecote, the records for which date back to 1290. A former farmhouse, Burnt Oak, was reputedly used to imprison French captives in the Napoleonic Wars. Most of the village now lies south west of its origins, since as Oxford grew, Kidlington spread too. It’s now one of England’s largest villages, close to Oxford airport and the Oxford Parkway railway station. That said, Kidlington is a lively village in its own right, with plenty of services and amenities.

Most noted for… ‘Our Lady’s Needle’, the slender spire on the church of St Mary the Virgin, which can be seen for miles around.

While you’re here… Seek out the old moat. Its remains can be found behind the parish church along with a causeway dating back to Roman times.

But try not to… Confuse Kidlington with nearby Kirtlington or Cassington!

Who’s who: The man charged with designing nearby Blenheim Palace, Sir John Vanbrugh, stayed at Hampden Manor in Mill Street as building work progressed. Thomas Beecham, of ‘flu powders and pills fame, lived in a cottage close to Kidlington. Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire behind the Virgin empire, and Emma-Jane Woodhams, of TV programme Love Island, also have Kidlington connections.

St Mary the Virgin church

There’s been a church on this site for 900 years but the original structure was rebuilt, and centuries of expansion, extension and improvement followed. The church is topped by a distinctive slender spire and has peal of eight bells. Step inside and you’ll find the remains of 15th-century wall paintings, and both Victorian and medieval stained-glass windows. The east window was skilfully redone in the 1950s.

Watery walking

Bring your wellies and get walking across the picturesque floodplains at the rear of St Mary’s church. The River Cherwell and water meadows are a stone’s throw away, past the woodland nature reserve and over a footbridge.

Creepy, crawly and curious

If you’re curious about the case of a frog in the night-time, step into Evolution Reptiles and the staff can tell you how to care for, feed and house all manner of lizards, snakes, amphibians and spiders. They sell creepy crawlies too! evolutionreptiles.co.uk