We were picked up from home at 7.15 a.m. on Friday morning and transported to the nearest Motorway service area to join our coach for the journey Oxfordshire and to our first stop, which was Hook Norton Brewery. Hook Norton Brewery sits on the North side of the Cotswold Hills, where a natural spring provides the ideal site for a bewery. The brewery remains one of only 32 independent family-run breweries.
Approach the village of Hook Norton from any direction and the first thing you see is the Church tower. The second is the flag waving proudly over the brewery. The Hook Norton Brewery was started over 150 years ago by farmer and maltster John Harris. Today it is run by his great great grandson James Clarke. John Harris' brewery has now achieved a reputation he could have never imagined and the beer it produces today is enjoyed not only in the UK but in many other countries.
Our tour of the brewery started on the ground floor where there is a fine 25 horsepower pump which was installed in 1899 to supply through a series of belts, cogs and shafts the motive power to draw water from a natural spring 250 feet below ground and supply power the brewery needed to produce it's beer. It is no longer in daily use for its original purpose, but it is still a fully functioning steam engine and will occasionally provide power for the brewing process.
We climbed stairs, taking us up the five stories to where all the brewing processes take place, inhaling the aroma of hops, malted barley and yeast - a heady concoction! Below is a slide show of the various equipment used in the brewing process.
Mmmmm, which shall I try first?
A little souvenir
Boarding the coach we headed for Frilford in Oxfordshire to Millets Farm Centre with its extensive range of facilicilites including a farm, shop, garden centre, cafe, craft gallery and restaurant. The farm shop offers fresh local food straight from their own fields at Millets Farm or sourced from local suppliers, which I would have readily bought had we been heading home rather than just starting our weekend away, you could quite easily spend a full day there. A tasty lunch of a variety of sandwiches, cakes, tea/coffee was included and very enjoyable it was. After lunch we were able to spend some time perusing what was on offer at Millets before setting off on the next leg of our journey which took us to Dorchester Abbey.
More usually known as Dorchester Abbey, the Abbey Church of St Peter and St Paul in the parish church of Dorchester-on-Thames, a small Oxfordshire village with just over 1000 inhabitants, located 8 miles south-east of Oxford (map). It has a lively and active congregation, with 116 persons on the electoral roll.
The Christian heritage of the site of the present abbey can be traced back almost 1400 years to the Saxon period, if you are interested in the history you can read about it here. It is a truly beautiful and fascinating place and we took lots of photos to share with you, though they probably don't do real justice to the place, I have put them together in a slide show for you.
We boarded the coach to take us to our hotel for the night where we enjoyed a lovely three course meal before we retired for the night in readiness for our scheduled visits the following day.
Join me for Weekend Break, Day Two.