Nature Reserves

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Beckley Park, OtmoorWebsiteStreet MapGoogle MapPhotos

Beckley Park, Otmoor
Managed by:Private landowner
OS grid reference:SP577119
Nearest postcode:OX3 9SY
Usual work:Habitat cultivation

Lying 10km east of Oxford, the 1.5h site sits at the centre of the medieval Beckley deer park. It likely dates from before the Norman Conquest, with the stone wall which encloses it built in the 1190s.

History

The site was first recorded in the late 12th century, and has since been through various stages of development. In the early 13th century, the park came into the hands of the crown, specifically Henry III's brother, the Earl of Cornwall, and was restocked with deer. With its once 300h grounds and hunting lodge, the site continued as a place for hunting for many centuries.

Landscape and Habitat

Both the medieval ditch and bank, as well as the 1.5m stone park wall, still mark parts of the park's boundaries. Beyond the site, the landscape is agricultural and wooded, with Otmoor to the north, and the former Royal Forest of Bernwood not far to the east.

Flora and Fauna

OCV's involvement with the site focuses on the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly.


The rare Marsh Fritillary

By introducing more Devil's-bit Scabious - the main food source of the Marsh Fritillary - the idea is to add to the overall pattern of flora that makes up its habitat in the local area, and create a more sustainable food source.

Conservation Management

In collaboration with the Lead Advisor for Natural England's Oxon and Bucks Land Management Team, OCV has agreed to help establish a specific habit for the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly. The habitat will be established by planting several hundred Devil's-bit Scabious plants specially grown from seed collected last summer at a nearby site in Otmoor.

Overall, the project is a collaborative effort involving the Butterfly Conservation volunteers, Bridewell Organic Gardens, the private landowner, and Natural England.

Directions

Use the Street Map in conjunction with these directions! Leave central Oxford on the A420 (London Road). At the Headington Roundabout take the Barton exit, and drive to the junction with the B4027. Turn right, then immediate left. After approx. 2 km turn left onto an unsigned, private lane. This lane marks the northern boundary of Blackwater Wood. Follow the lane for approx 1.5 km past Middle Park Farm and Beckley Park House, where the lane becomes a track. At the end of the track, to the left, is an area of rough hardstanding, but notice a stile in the fence to your right just before this hardstanding. Park here and cross the stile. Walk 500 meters NNE to the far corner of the field. The work site is the next field to the north east, i.e. the triangular field to the south of The Spinney.