Ancient meadow preserves the rural charm of North Hinksey village
Hinksey Meadow has been a traditional hay meadow for a thousand years. Located between the Seacourt and Bulstake streams, it can be flooded in both winter and summer. Flood water comes from surface water in the streams which is augmented by considerable lateral underground water movement.
From early documents, we know this flower-rich field was part of St. Thomas’s Parish in Oxford when it was granted by Henry I to Abingdon Abbey between 1102 and 1110. Later it was taken over by Christ Church College after the dissolution of the monasteries. After enclosure in 1853, the flood meadows in the area were divided amongst private landowners. Willow Walk, along the south-eastern boundary, was developed by the Harcourt Estate around 1880 and was opened to the public in the 1920s as a route from North Hinksey to what is now the Osney Mead Industrial Estate.
OPT purchased the meadow in 1997 to protect the rural feel of North Hinksey village. Since becoming the owner, OPT has reintroduced traditional management to Hinksey Meadow with a hay cut each July followed by aftermath grazing by cattle. As a result of this careful management regime, the vegetation has improved, becoming richer in species, particularly flowers, as demonstrated by the increasing number of snake’s head fritillaries counted every year.
In 2002 a wetland area was created as one of several Oxfordshire Jubilee Wildlife Spaces to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. This scrape follows the meander which marks the boundary of medieval Oxford’s franchise or liberty. Until 1991, this was also the local authority boundary.
In 2011 the Environment Agency installed six culverts beneath Willow Walk to take flood water southwards. In 2016 the Environment Agency proposed construction work through the length of the meadow as part of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme.