Making a day of it: explore what Nuffield & south Oxfordshire have to offer

We’re lucky enough to be nestled away in the beautiful countryside of Nuffield, just about 10km from the historic Henley-on-Thames and within easy driving distance of Reading and Oxford. But did you know we’re also surrounded by rich and significant history, with the nearby cultural landmarks of Nuffield Place, The Maharajah’s Well and the 17th-century Crooked Billet all within a few miles of the barn? You can make a day of it – pop into the barn and we’ll be more than happy for you to park here for free whilst you explore…

The former home of Lord Nuffield - one of the most remarkable men of the 20th century - Nuffield Place is now owned by the National Trust. Lord Nuffield lived there with his wife from 1933 until his death in 1963, reputedly earning as much as £2,000 a day at the height of his career. But his charity and goodwill was most notable, having £30 million (£700 million today) to good causes.

Today Nuffield Place is left just as it were in 20th-century life, giving visitors a true taste of the Lord and Lady’s lives. Guided tours are offered at 11am and 12pm, and from 1pm the house opens for free flow visiting. The garden, designed in conjunction with the house in 1914, is open for you to take your time looking around all areas, with the woods and meadow also ideal for a short walk – and of course, there is a tea room and shop for a bite to eat or a souvenir of your visit (perhaps your own little Morris Minor.)

The nearby village of Stoke Row is home to two significant landmarks steeped in history. The first is The Maharajah’s Well, which remained in use for over 70 years after its construction. In the mid-nineteenth century, a local squire worked with the Maharajah of Benares in India for many years, amongst other good deeds, sinking a well to help a local community in Azimurgh. A few years later, the Maharajah decided on an endowment in England, recalling the squire’s generosity & the stories he’d heard of water deprivation in nearby Ipsden; and so the well was created, dug by hand to a depth of 368 feet - twice the height of Nelson’s Column. It took around a year to build and was opened in 1864. Freshly ground coffee, bacon baguettes and light lunches can be found at the nearby newly-refurbished Stoke Row Store.

The second is the immensely historic Crooked Billet country inn. Hidden off the beaten track, it was built in 1642 and was the hideout of notorious highwayman Dick Turpin. It operated as a small holding selling locally produced ale from its cellar, which remains a feature of the inn today. More recently in 1989, the inn was taken over by Paul Clerehugh, having since gained a reputation for excellent food whilst retaining its unique character and charm with its Inglenook fireplaces, low timbered ceilings, flagstone floors and scrubbed pine tables. Numerous television programmes, adverts and films have been filmed at the Crooked Billet – and recent sightings of Heston Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver (amongst others) have been reported - so this really is one not to be missed!

Further local landmarks can be found in the Ridgeway National Trail which runs alongside Nuffield, through the hills of the beautiful Chilterns. It’s a perfect place to walk or cycle with plenty of varying terrain to explore (and all equally astounding as the rest). And nearby Rotherfield Greys is home to Greys Court, an intimate 16th-century family home and peaceful estate now run by the National Trust, with beautiful gardens and a lovely cafe. Wherever you go, you’ll be sure to find out something new in these incredible surroundings.