Latest News

Proposed Development by Peking University HSBC Business School

In Spring 2018, the principal talking point on the Hill is undoubtedly the proposed development on the site of Foxcombe Hall, the former Open University, by the new owners: Peking University HSBC Business School.  The main part of the proposal involves the construction of a five level corner block containing about 100 en suite student units.  The location is a more than normally sensitive one; being  opposite the "Old Golf Course" from which the famous view of the "Dreaming Spires" of Oxford is to be had.  Many local residents are concerned about this significant new structure which would involve a change of use of the site which is within the Oxford Green Belt no-build zone.   Such has been the concern locally that a new ad hoc organisation, the Friends of Boars Hill, has been formed to prevent the development from proceeding.  If you have a view on this highly topical subject, please do let us know.

Architects drawing of the proposed five level structure

which is expected to be used for conferences and seminars out of term time.

Proposed floor plans to house c 100 students.

A similar number will commute here each day.


Chairman's Summer Garden Party

BHA Summer Garden Party 2017


The Chairman's Summer Garden Party was held on 24th June; being Midsummer's Day. Our Chairman, Rosemary Maund, kindly hosted the party and something of the order of 100 guests attended.  In days gone by Midsummer's Eve was associated with witches, magic, fairies and dancing whilst on Midsummer's Day itself fires were lit to symbolically strengthen the now weakening sun.  On Boars Hill local residents found that a plentiful supply of food and wines made for an equally enjoyable evening and a jazz trio, seen on the right of the first photo, provided some relaxing background music.


Chairman's Summer Garden Party 2017


The BHA Committee elected at the AGM held on 7th March 2017.

Chairman: Rosemary Maund, Hon Secretary: Digby Mackworth, Hon Treasurer: Colin Weyer, Newsletter Editor: Michael Edwards, and the following general members:  Rosie Allen, Kathy Blazewicz, Michael Cochrane (subsequently resigned upon becoming Chairman of South Hinksey Parish Council), Tony Fitzpatrick, Pat Gove, Ann Loescher and  Kate O'Donovan.


Boars Hill Bus Service

The cost of running the No. 44 bus service between Abingdon and Oxford via Boars Hill is approximately £100 000 pa. Of this the bus company raises only about £25 000 from passenger revenue and the balance, some £75 000 pa, is received as a subsidy from Oxford County Council.  OCC is having to make economies and has decided that there are more important priorities than subsidising a bus service which rarely carries more than a handful of passengers and sometimes none at all.  It was reported at the meeting of Sunningwell Parish Council held on 11th May that the service will cease to operate on 20th July 2016.




It is with great sadness that we have to report the death on 23rd March of Peter Forrest. Peter had been a stalwart supporter of the BHA for many years and was responsible for organising advertising in the BHA Newsletter and was fully responsible for circulation to all households on the Hill.  We send our sympathies to his wife Doreen.

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The BHA Committee elected at the AGM held on 16th March 2016.

Chairman: Rosemary Maund, Hon Secretary: Digby Mackworth, Hon Treasurer: Colin Weyer, Newsletter Editor: Michael Edwards, and the following general members:  Rosie Allen, Kathy Blazewicz, Michael Cochrane, Tony Fitzpatrick, Peter Forrest, Pat Gove, Ann Loescher, Kate O'Donovan, Susan Reynolds, Rachael Wallwork and Jenny Wooldridge.



We are sad to report that Rear Admiral Phillip Edwards C.B. L.V.O., a most distinguished resident of Boars Hill, has died at his home on 12th December 2014.  A Thanksgiving service was held at Wadham College, Oxford on Friday 13th February 2015.

photograph of Rear Admiral Phillip Edwards Phillip Edwards was born in 1942 in Llanelidan, Denbighshire son of the late Robert and Dylis Edwards. He embarked on his naval career as a 15 year old Royal Naval Reserve cadet in the training ship HMS Conway. In the next 33 years his career progressed with alternate appointments at sea and ashore. In total he served in a battleship, an aircraft carrier, 2 cruisers, 4 destroyers, a frigate and last but not least, for 2 unforgettable years, in Her Majesty's Yacht, Britannia as the Commander (E).
In 1977 whilst a member of the Royal College of Defence Studies he was amongst the first group of western military officers to visit China since the Revolution in 1948. Following 2 years as Captain of the Operational Sea Training Base at Portland he was promoted to Rear Admiral and in 1980 became Director General of Fleet Support (Policy and Services). During the Falklands War he had particular responsibility for the logistical aspects of the campaign and afterwards for evaluating the lessons learnt. Some hundreds of recommendations were made concerning the design and operation of warships and their equipment.
He was made an LVO (Lieutenant of the Victorian Order) in 1970 and an ADC to her Majesty the Queen in 1980. In 1983 he was awarded a CB (Companion of the Order of the Bath) and retired from the Royal Navy at the end of that year to become a Fellow and Domestic Bursar of Wadham College, Oxford. From 1988 to 1994 he was chairman of the university's Committee of Domestic Bursars. On his retirement as Bursar he was elected an Emeritus Fellow and served for a further 5 years as Development Director.
He and his wife Gwen had 3 daughters who produced 7 grandchildren between them. Their much loved daughter Lynn died in 2002. The Admiral, along with his wife, was Welsh speaking and maintained strong connections with the principality. He was a member of the Health Policy Board for Wales for 5 years.
He was President or Vice President of several ex-service and cadet organisations in Oxfordshire and the wider Midlands. He was a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Engineers, a Freeman of the City of London and a Trustee of the Oxford Preservation Trust. He was a Fellow of both the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Management and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Technical and Scientific Communicators. His recreations were golf, travel and tending his garden on Boars Hill.

The above obituary was prepared, with acknowledgement, from a biography on the website of the Oxford Preservation Trust



Act in Time – Save a life!


The new Boars Hill AED (Automated External Defibrillator) has now been installed by the main porch of the Beaumont Care Home. Take the Bayworth Lane turn off Foxcombe Road.  Go to the main entrance (first turning 50yds on the right); you will see the AED by the main porch directly ahead of you.   Call 999 first to get the access #.



Martin Fagan, National Secretary of the Community HeartBeat Trust,

held a Defibrillator Awareness Session at St Leonard’s Church, Sunningwell

on Sunday 27th April which was attended by about 50 local residents.


D marks the location of the Defibrillator at the junction of Foxcombe Road and Bayworth Lane.


This unit was jointly funded as a public service by:

Sunningwell Parish Council, The Boars Hill Association and the Beaumont Care Home and supplied by The Community HeartBeat Trust.




5 minutes to save a life!

The Boars Hill Association is pleased to announce that it has negotiated a cost effective scheme to provide a public access Defibrillator on the Hill.  The unit is located outside under cover of the front porch of the Beaumont Care Home.  The cost of providing the unit has been shared equally by Sunningwell PC, the BHA and the Beaumont.

In an emergency, call 999 first, the ambulance service will give the access code to the box.

This is the second unit to be installed in Sunningwell Parish, the other being in Sunningwell village telephone box.  

What is a Sudden Cardiac Arrest and when does it strike?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly due to a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system.  The resulting chaotic heart rhythm is called “fibrillation”. During SCA a victim first loses his or her pulse, then consciousness and finally the ability to breathe. All of this can happen quickly – in fact, in a matter of seconds...

  • It strikes without warning taking the lives of 250 people a day in the UK
  • Less than 5% of its victims in the UK survive
  • It kills 100 000 people a year – more than lung or breast cancer
  • It can happen to anyone, even young athletes
  • Defibrillation is the only treatment
  • Defibrillation within three minutes increases the chance of survival to over 70%

By the time you have finished reading this article another person will have died!

What is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?

An AED is an emergency portable life-saving device (similar in size to a laptop computer) for use in the event of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. It analyses the heart rhythm and, if needed, administers an electrical charge to the heart to re-establish a regular heartbeat in the event of a Cardiac Arrest.

Only within the first few minutes following a Cardiac Arrest will a victim be in a ‘shockable rhythm’, and therefore rapid defibrillation is vital.  Placing AEDs in the community is widely recommended by the emergency services to reduce the time from collapse to defibrillation.


How does an AED work?


When turned on, the AED itself will instruct the users to connect the pads to a patient’s bare chest. The pads enable the AED to examine the patient’s heart and determine if the patient is in a viable, shockable rhythm. If the device determines that a shock is required, it will charge up in preparation to deliver a shock. The AED is very safe as it will only deliver a charge when it determines a shockable rhythm is present.

When charged, the device instructs the user to ensure no-one is touching the victim and the AED unit will advise the user that it will deliver the shock without further intervention. After the shock is delivered, the device will instruct the user to commence/continue CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) for a period, after which it will analyse the patient’s heart rhythm once again, advising whether a further shock or more CPR is needed.

An AED has an internal memory, which stores the ECG of the patient along with details of the time the unit was activated and the number and strength of any shocks delivered. All this memorised data can either be downloaded to a computer or printed out, so that it can be analysed by appropriate medical personnel.

Who can use an AED?


Using an AED is as simple as 1…2…3

It is the view of the Resuscitation Council (UK) that the use of an AED is NOT to be restricted to trained personnel. However chances of survival increase if the person has had some training in its use. For this reason, the BHA, in conjunction with Sunningwell Parish Council, is holding a public awareness seminar which you are very strongly urged to attend.

AEDs have visual and voice prompts which guide the resuscitator through the defibrillation process. The device is failsafe and will not administer a shock unless a particular heartbeat is detected.

What is the "Chain of Survival"?


The "Chain of Survival" represents the sequence of events/links that must occur quickly to give the patient the optimum chance of surviving a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Time is critical - you only have a matter of minutes to restart the heart.

What are the four links of the "Chain of Survival"?.

  • Early access to care – dial 999 immediately!  They will give you the code # for the AED.
  • Early Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) – provide CPR to help maintain blood flow to the brain until the arrival of defibrillation. CPR / chest compressions are given by leaning directly over the patient's chest and, whilst keeping the elbows straight, using both hands together on top of each other to push down firmly about twice per second. This will mimic the action of the heart and buy valuable time.
  • Early defibrillation defibrillation is the only way to restart a heart in cardiac arrest.
  • Early advance care – after defibrillation, upon arrival an emergency team provides advanced cardiac care on scene, such as intravenous medications.

Quick action by the first person on the scene can truly make a difference in saving a life.



Oxford Road, Bagley Wood


The finished road just before it was re-opened on 20th December


Repairs to Oxford Road, Bagley Wood - photo record of progress

9th August


22nd August


10th September


16th October

1st November

3rd December

                            3rd December

Photos from Oxford CC Highways Dept (now taken down).


Repairs to Oxford Road, Bagley Wood

Oxford CC Highways Dept gave a briefing to local Parish councillors on 1st August.

It was announced that repair work on the collapsed causeway had begun earlier in the week and will cost about £1 million.  

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the road should be re-opened by early December which is about 11 months after it was closed.

The Highways Dept has managed to shave about 2-3 months off the normal time required to plan such a large project.  Altogether there were seven possible options to consider.

The adopted plan provides for the digging out and reconstruction of over 60 yards of the embankment primarily on the east side. The first stage of the work will involve the construction of two new drainage systems to catch water from the north and south banks of the valley (see map below) and prevent it from undermining the embankment in the future.  Shear keys will then be constructed in the side of the embankment to strengthen it and reduce the likelihood of future collapse.

The major construction stage will last up to 12 weeks. This will be followed by the replacement of gas and water services over the following 4-6 weeks.  It is hoped that the major fibre optic cables, which run on the west side, can remain untouched but this is an identified risk factor which could cause delay.  During the final 2-3 weeks the road itself will be rebuilt to the original profile and resurfaced.  

The causeway across Hangman’s Bottom just south of the hotel is presently thought to be stable but is being closely monitored using various detection devices. If it starts to shift again, for example during heavy rain, this should be detected quickly and any necessary repair should not involve closure of both carriageways together.

On a slightly less encouraging note:

The Bayworth – Sunningwell road repairs, due for this summer, have been postponed to the autumn as a result of “other priorities”.

The Highways Dept has been asked that some of the worst potholes be patched in the meantime and there seems to be a chance that this may be done at least!


Report Pot Holes! - There is a simple to use Oxford County Council web page which you can use to report potholes.  It seems to work, as those reported recently have been fixed quite quickly!  Try it for yourself: OCC Pothole Page and follow the links or try going straight to the interactive map which allows you to specify the exact location by clicking on the map and then describe the type of problem below.

Road Repairs - Enquiries have been made of the County Highways Dept regarding the state of the road between Bayworth and Sunningwell which is in very bad condition. They have advised that they are planning to undertake major repairs to the road between the bottom of Bayworth Lane and Sunningwell. This should embrace all significant pot holes.  It is likely that the road will need to be closed for a short time and the work should be completed in the next 8-12 weeks.  Following this it is necessary to allow the repairs to settle and then, next year, the same section is scheduled to be resurfaced.  Similar resurfacing is also scheduled for Foxcombe Road from the top of Kinksey Hill and the top of Bayworth Lane. Both these sections of road are being used as an alternative to the closed  Oxford-Abingdon road. (but see updated report above).

Closure of the old Oxford – Abingdon Road

The project management team of Oxford CC Highways Dept, who are tasked with rectifying the road collapse in Bagley Wood, gave a briefing to local Parish councillors on 23rd April. (see also updated report above).

Oxford CC Highways Dept photo looking North. (The collapse has become worse since this was taken).

As most local residents know, just before Christmas the road suffered a serious subsidence along the causeway crossing the stream which runs into Cow Hall Bottom just north of Bagley Wood Sawmill.  The present bank was constructed well before the World War to standards which would not fully comply with current design standards and which may not have fully catered for the springs and water courses which it crosses.  Detailed survey work, including bore holing, has been undertaken in order to identify the full extent and source of the problem.    The very high rainfall last year is likely to have contributed to the failure and the causeway continued to move well into this year.  The field survey work is due to be completed shortly and a feasibility report will then be prepared.  It will then be possible to propose firm solutions and have the options placed before the Council.  In the interim, more secure fencing of the danger area will be erected.


(Map extract from Oxford CC web site with my annotations)


There are several potential options depending on how badly damaged the bank proves to be. One  possible solution would be to build up the bank on either side to provide shallower angles and so that there is a much broader and hence more stable base. The road runs through designated ancient woodland, owned by St John’s College since 1583, which needs to be protected from undue damage. Oxford CC is working closely with St John’s College to facilitate the repair work. Work will also need to be co-ordinated with providers of various mains services which run beneath the affected area; this is quite a significant issue.  Temporary fixes have been made to the 10” water main which burst and a gas main has leaked and had to be diverted. Most problematic of all are the six BT fibre optic cables which carry a massive data flow of national significance and cannot easily be severed without vast cost and many months of additional delay.  The embankment repair work is presently estimated to take about four months and cost in the region of one million pounds. The construction will inevitably involve significant earthworks which cannot be undertaken during winter months. There is a possibility that work could begin in late summer / autumn this year and every effort is to be made to achieve this. However, depending on the recommended solution and the requirement for a winter shut down on earthworks, the start may need to be postponed until spring 2014.  In this case the road would not be expected to re-open before about August 2014.   

There are also indications that there may be a similar failure developing across the small stream running into Hangman’s Bottom immediately south of the Westwood Hotel. This is one of a number of embankment sites in the county that are being monitored using specialist instrumentation. At this stage the Highways Dept do not consider there is an immediate requirement for additional works to be undertaken.

Some local residents have enquired about the currently suspended Abingdon-Oxford bus service which stops at the top of Hinksey Hill.  It is understood that Stage Coach have declined to provide a re-routed service via Hinsksey Hill.  Bus operator Heyfordian has agreed to accept Stagecoach bus passes on its No.44 service, to give passengers an alternative option.

Route 44 bus timetable (via Boars Hill)


The above report represents a summary of my understanding of the issues, further information is available on the Oxford CC Highways web page.


.An example of a survey report undertaken by the Highways Dept.



Boars Hill Anthology - An excellent illustrated guide book about the history and houses on the Hill.  This book is available for purchase at £20, e-mail enquiries: sunbeam-at-newbury.net (Replace "-at-" with "@". Written like this to foil spammer robots.)


"The Boars Hill Trilogy" - A three part history of Boars Hill on dvd (total running time hours) seen through the memories and recollections of some of its residents.  The story starts a few thousand years ago, but focuses more on the past one hundred and twenty years as it develops from a heath to a vibrant community - not without its issues. Available at £20 from John Tolson, e-mail: brindles50-at-aol.com (Replace "-at-" with "@". Written like this to foil spammer robots.)  


Warnborough site latest -  Construction of the four new houses is now complete.  An outline of the completed scheme may be seen below.



Documents supplied by Millgate Homes show that they have looked at many existing houses on the Hill in order to keep the new buildings as much as possible in sympathy with the old.



The view from the Old Golf Course, on the opposite side of Foxcombe Road shows almost no impact at all - maybe the perfect solution?!




Brig Douglas Henchley OBE

We are sad to report the death on Thursday 28th October 2010 of one of Boars Hill’s most distinguished residents.

Douglas Henchley died peacefully just a week short of his 99th birthday.

Douglas Henchley in the Oxford Union library

which he helped to restore

Douglas relaxing at the Bear and Ragged Staff;

a favourite pub

Douglas Victor Henchley was born in Coolgardie, Western Australia on 5th November 1911 and recounted one of his earliest memories as standing as a very small boy on the dockside at Freemantle watching a very large ship festooned with streamers departing with AIF troops for Gallipoli.  His father was a doctor and decided to return to England to help with the war effort.  Douglas had a life-long interest in cricket and was probably the last person alive to have seen Warwick Armstrong's famous 1921 Australian side which he saw play Kent in that year.  Douglas attended Battersea Grammar School from 1924 to 1930 when he went up to Keble College from where he graduated with an honours degree in Engineering in 1933.  Whilst at Oxford, he met Persis Davies who was attending Lady Margaret Hall. They began more than 60 years of married life in 1934 and in due course had three sons: John, Richard and David.  Douglas started his working life in 1933 with the English Steel Corporation in Sheffield followed by a spell with the Austin Motor Co.  Douglas took a Commission in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in the spring of 1937 as an ordnance mechanical engineer and attended the Military College of Science at Woolwich. In those days, being already a married man, he considered himself fortunate to have been granted a commission.  Shortly after the outbreak of war he was promoted Major.

In 1940 he was sent to France with the BEF and was evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk.  He was promoted Lt Colonel in 1942 and was one of the officers appointed to set up a new army unit:  the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).  In January 1944 he became a full Colonel and found himself on General Montgomery’s staff assisting with the planning of the D-Day landings.

After the war Douglas saw further overseas service including postings to Kenya during the MauMau uprising and in Malaya during the communist insurgency.  In 1958 he received his final promotion as Brigadier and was appointed ADC to the Queen in 1962 shortly before retiring from the army. Following this Douglas spent three years lecturing in management studies at City University where he was also Warden of the Hall of Residence.  Douglas then became bursar of Henley Management College and spent seven years living nearby in the hamlet of Pheasants Hill in the idyllic setting of the Hambledon Valley.  In 1973 he moved to Boars Hill to help manage the centenary appeal of his old college: Keble. Lastly in 1979 he became Secretary of the Oxford Literary and Debating Union Trust. He continued in that role until 1996 and during this time was able to use his considerable influence to obtain funds for a major refurbishment of the Oxford Union library. Both Douglas and Persis became actively involved in the Boars Hill Association and, after the death of his wife in 1999, Douglas continued to devote much time to BHA activities finally being appointed Life President of the BHA.  Douglas was a fount of knowledge on an amazingly wide range of topics and remained a close follower of current affairs.  Apart from his three sons he also leaves numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.

There was a private family funeral and a Service of Thanksgiving was held at St Peter's Church, Wootton Village, Boars Hill, Oxford, on December 11th . 



Global Freezing - In common with most of England, Boars Hill suffered from very cold weather for many weeks in December and in January 2010 (and again in 2011!).  Nearly a foot of snow added a seasonal air to the scene.  See the Gallery page for some pictures of the Hill in 2010 which can be compared with others taken in the summer.