Map of Oxfordshire

A hand painted map of the whole county

Map of Oxfordshire

Map of Oxfordshire


A hand painted map, in watercolour, of the county of Oxfordshire, showing geography, history and nature.
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BCS commended logoThis map was ‘commended’ in the 2015 British Cartographic Society awards

A hand painted map of the county of Oxfordshire, showing geography, history, nature and much. much more! This took me most of my so-called ‘spare time’ to paint during summer 2014.

About the Map of Oxfordshire painting

I’ve been working on my hand-painted map of the county of Oxfordshire for months. And finally it’s finished. My other hand-drawn maps (of Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Avebury, Eynsham, Stanton Harcourt and Woodstock) were all drawn in black ink,  and I thought I’d give mapping a rest because I wanted to use some colour. But last autumn, I was asked by the Arden Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon to paint them a colour map, and then this spring I was commissioned by West Oxfordshire District Council to make a painted map of the route of walk, the Wharf Stream Way, through the historic meadows east of Eynsham.

They both turned out rather well, so I thought it would be fun to apply everything I’d learned about drawing and painting maps to something bit chunkier. How about a painted map of the county in which I have lived for 3 decades? Just for my own amusement? Why not!

I have included history, characters, industries past and present, nature and geography, significant events, famous and vernacular buildings, as well as the rivers, railways and main roads. Clearly it’s not to scale. I’s just a bit of illustrative whimsy, but people seem to like it anyway.

I make no apology for it being ‘my’ map, that is, it’s my interpretation of the county, featuring things that I consider important. The car industry for example. Every car pictured on the map was built in the county, from the modern BMW Mini through to the Morris Oxfords and Abingdon’s gorgeous MGs. And racing cars too!

Oxfordshire’s important scientific heritage and world-leading technology industries are shown – from a strand of DNA to aeronautical engineering. The older crafts and industries are represented though quarrying, brewing, boat building, blanket-making, jam making, book binding…

Then there’s history… and what a cast of nationally important characters hail from Oxfordshire! I couldn’t include everyone, but from politics I chose John Hampden from the Civil War, who rears up fighting at the battle of Chalgrove field. And Winston Churchill, of course. The county has produced a number of kings, but for me the star of the show is Alfred the Great, Anglo-Saxon king of Wessex, a learned and merciful man who understood the value of education and the rule of law. And I couldn’t help sneaking in just over the border with Warwickshire, a Parliamentarian riding into the battle at Edge Hill.

My map of Oxfordshire painting also includes the ordinary folk just going about their business – dancing, fishing, walking, riding – through our extraordinarily ordinary (but no less beautiful for that) rolling landscapes of watermeadows, farmland, woods and gentle river valleys, all of which support a precious variety of species.

Did you know that the snake’s head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) is the county’s official flower? (I expect the people of Ducklington do!)

Music is very important to me and so it features strongly on my map; Beatle George Harrison who lived near Henley for many years, opera at Garsington and the wonderful folk festival at Cropredy. And tucked away just north of Kidlington you’ll find where Mike Oldfield recorded his 1973 album Tubular Bells.

Oxfordshire’s prehistoric features were some of the very first elements I painted onto the map. The county is especially rich in ancient monuments, some well known, like the Ridgeway which snakes its chalky way across the bottom of the map and the spectacular Bronze Age White Horse, the highest point in the county at 856 feet. Less well-known are the Rollright stones, the Neolithic long barrow of Wayland’s Smithy and the Iron Age hillfort of Blewburton. But now you know about them, be sure to visit these glorious places.

From ancient to modern Oxfordshire has got the lot!

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