Harcourt Hill Field
In 1837, J M W Turner painted the view ‘Oxford from North Hinksey’ from a spot near here, an area made famous by artists and poets who immortalised the ‘dreaming spires of Oxford’.
Today, you can experience the beauty of those changing views for yourself from this field, which is open to all.
"The view is ever changing, as you walk across the field, and in the different seasons and different lights. If you catch it just right, it is can be dramatic, as if someone has switched on a stage lamp to light up the buildings below."
Pylons and the large buildings at Osney Mead have an unfortunate impact, and some trees have grown up to mask the view in places, but it remains very special and something everyone should experience.
There have been threats to develop the field in the past, and in recent years it was fenced off from the public.
When local residents approached OPT about buying the land we felt we had to act. OPT worked with local residents to secure the support of the owners and raise the money and, thanks to a further appeal to OPT members and supporters, we now own the field. We are beginning to improve the access to the field, linking it to the network of footpaths and bridleways between Raleigh Park to the north, the Hinksey Heights Nature Reserve to the south, and on up to Chilswell Valley and Boars Hill.
Wider Planning/OPT Issues
The Harcourt Hill field has a vital role to play in assessing the impact of development which will change the views of Oxford, as highlighted in the report ‘Assessment of the Oxford View Cones’, Western Hills published in 2015 by OPT with the City Council and Historic England. The field features in views into the City and as a backdrop from the views out from high points at Carfax, St George’s Tower, St. Mary’s in the High Street, and from the top of the new Westgate shopping centre.