Eynsham Abbey Fishponds 2003 - 2015
Verity Hughes writes:
In 1939 the area known as The Park, which we now know as Fishponds and Queen Elizabeth II Field, was given to the village for the recreation of all. By 2004 the area was owned by Fields In Trust and the Parish Council took on the lease and the administration. At that time the Fishponds were a much neglected, inaccessible area.
The Parish Council produced a management report with help from Eynsham History Group and Wychwood Project, compiled from specialist surveys of aquatic habitat, landscape, birds, bats and small mammals along with management suggestions for the future. These were funded by a grant from Awards for All and are all available here .
The proposed plan was displayed to the village in the Bartholomew Room. The main comments were: excavate some open water and don’t make it into a park.
This presentation shows the work that was done over the following 11 years with the help of amazing volunteers from the village, local companies and schools. Footpaths were created, ditches and streams cleared, archaeology discovered including the original crossing of the Chilbrook. A further grant was given by TOE (Trust of Oxfordshire’s Environment) which supplied the funds to excavate the pond with the approval of the County Archaeologist and the Department of the Environment. There was a sleepless night when we wondered whether the Chilbrook would revert sufficiently to its original course before the 13 century diversion by the monks but it did so amazingly quickly. In 2009 the Oxford Blues Metal Detecting Club visited the site and found trove of items from Roman coins to buttons and belt buckles.
In 2014, 10 years on from the first Parish Council surveys, it seemed a good time to re-survey to see if the recommended changes had improved the environment. With a further grant from TOE most of the surveys were repeated and are available here. From these reports and recommendations a plan was formulated for the following 10 years.
The entire village was invited to a 'Foray' on the Fishponds with experts on hand, competitions, pond dipping, worm charming, music, Morris dancing, and refreshments. Luckily the weather was amazing and many people were introduced to a village asset of which they had been previously been unaware. More recently the Rotary Club provided the funds to create wheelchair access across the Chilbrook and work continues to maintain a very valuable green space in the village.