Saturday, 2 January 2016

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my own reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be:

Q1. Binsey

Q2. Bruern Abbey

The initial clues seem to place us at St Margaret's well, in the Village of Binsey, in the county of Oxfordshire. The well appears to have been used by Lewis Carroll as the model for a 'Treacle Well', in his book 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'. St Frideswide (Patron saint of Oxford, feast day 19th October) according to some of the sources I checked, is believed to have died at St Margaret's c AD 727 and allegedly cured many people, including her deranged stalker, a prince of Mercia who had been struck  blind upon entering Oxford, probably using 'treacle' (where treacle back in the day meant a healing ointment) made from the water drawn at the holy well.

A poet who wrote about trees being felled at Binsey, was probably 'Gerard Manley Hopkins' (b 1844). He appears to have been some sort of proto environmentalist and wrote about the destruction of the aspens at Binsey, in a work called 'Binsey Poplars', where an aspen tree is a type of poplar:

"My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are felled"

The railway most likely follows the course of the old Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton line, which tracks the river Evenlode. A historian who mentions this river and who judging from his overly verbose prose was probably a fan of the writer Pliny the Younger, was William Camden (born c 1551). He penned the lines 'Evenlode passeth by no memorable thing else but la Bruer, now Bruern, sometime an Abbay of white monkes'.

The author of a work called 'Sculptura', was a polymath called 'John Evelyn', he designed many gardens but I was not able to locate a sixteenth century country house whose garden he designed, North west of Fawler Station, which is a few minutes before the stop at Charlbury, where the author 'David Halliwell', who wrote 'Little Malcolm and his Struggle with the Eunochs' lived.

A few miles along the line after Charlbury, lies the village of 'Ascott Under Wychwood'
which is where 'Ascot D'Oilly' castle ( c 12th century),once stood.

Bruern Abbey, from some of the sources I looked at, does seem to have been founded c 1147 by Nicolas Basset and was dissolved c 1536. From checking the map, it appears to be situated close to a level crossing.

N.B. Due to the number of people who normally write poison pen letters in green ink posting on his page, the Eastender has moved to moderated comments but rest assured if you have a non abusive comment relating to the puzzle and its solution, he will endeavour to publish it.


  1. John Evelyn helped design Cornbury Park.
    Always like to check your blog once I think I've got the answers
    Thanks Chuck B

  2. Thanks for the info Chuck B, couldn't see Cornbury Park on the maps I was using and it wasn't mentioned in the biographies I checked for John Evelyn..... ;-)

  3. Hi EastEnder,
    The country house is marked on the OS map as Cornbury Park and the station is actually Finstock which serves the village of Fawler but is over a mile from Finstock village. Happy New Year.