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Local Information & Walking

Ground, pavilion, location and views

Turville Park’s ground is located high in the Chilterns with wide views to Northend, the Stonor valley and across Pishill to Maidensgrove.  The open skies provide good light for the batsmen and flight paths for soaring red kites and buzzards.  The ground is approached along a spectacular lime avenue which was planted in 1750 and is being thoughtfully restored.

In the past, the club had to plan its fixtures around the agricultural priorities of its landlord.  Now the club has exclusive use of the ground. A succession of groundsmen (including Edward in On Chesil Beach) have created even paced wickets and a fast outfield, erected sightscreens and fought off attacks by rabbits and fairy rings.  Their efforts mean that batsmen and spectators can enjoy a feast of 500 runs in an afternoon. Bowlers need no longer mow their run-ups on Friday evenings. Slip fielders can dive without fear of cow pats.

In 1965, a retired navy officer converted an abandoned chicken shed into the club’s first pavilion. Prior to that, players changed in the hedge or the potting shed in the adjacent garden. Tea was taken in the kitchen at the house. The former chicken shed served the club well for 30 years but its gradually rotting floorboards and gaping walls threatened the wellbeing of players and tea ladies. A new pavilion was constructed in 1990 and extended ten years later.  The tea ladies are happy.  The players still grumble about the lack of room for their overgrown cricket bags.

Willow walks

Turville Park’s ground is surrounded by wooded hills that make for wonderful walks. The area is also favoured by film and television crews, as well as authors, so walkers may chance upon places they may have seen or imagined somewhere else.

Those arriving by train at Henley can follow in the footsteps of Florence in On Chesil Beach through Middle Assendon, Maidensgrove and Pishill before climbing through a field that was the scene of the crop circle murders in Midsomer Murders.  A longer option begins at Leander, the world famous rowing club, and follows the regatta course to Hambleden Mill before heading up the splendid valley through Hambleden (the set for 101 Dalmations), Skirmett and Fingest to Turville.

For many, however, a walk from Turville village will be sufficient exercise.  They should begin at St Mary’s church (also the parish church of Dibley).  It retains much of its original form and historical features.  A more recent addition is the stained glass window designed by John Piper.  An upright stone marks the grave of Phillip Strange, the local blacksmith, who died of heart disease on 18 August 1883 playing cricket at Turville Park.  Those familiar with A G Macdonnell’s England, Their England need no reminder of the importance of the blacksmith to a village cricket team.

There are several routes to the cricket ground.  One of the best begins after the church and the old and new rectories.  The path skirts the boundary of a large field and provides splendid views of the beech woods that, in earlier days, kept the bodgers busy.  Watch for fallow deer and muntjac, the swathes of bluebells and rare orchids.  A left turn up some steps leads to Turville Grange (a favourite place of Queen Alexandra), the common at Turville Heath and the lime avenue.  If you had lunch at the Bull and Butcher in Turville and your watch is set to Turville Park time, there should be half an hour’s cricket to watch before a well-earned cup of tea.

The return route takes a steep, stony path down to the entrance to the Wormsley valley. Turville Park play once a year at the picturesque cricket ground created higher up the estate by the late Sir Paul Getty. Turn right at Hell Corner Farm and walk through the beech woods and the churchyard before taking the path along the top of the valley.  The evening sunlight provides a bewitching view of the Hambleden valley and Turville village.  A steep climb leads to the windmill featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  After a vigorous walk and the best of English village cricket, a pint of Brakspears in the Bull and Butcher is well deserved.

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