21 September, 2014

The Maharajah's Well and the church at Checkendon

We enjoyed the late summer sunshine a couple of weekends ago by taking a walk to the Maharajah's Well in the Oxfordshire village of Stoke Row. The well has an interesting history.

Edward Reade, Stoke Row's local squire, worked with the Maharajah of Benares in India for many years during the mid-nineteenth century. During his time there, Reade sunk a well to help the local community in Azimurgh and, when he left the area in 1860, he asked the Maharajah to ensure that the well remained available to the public.

A couple of years later, the Maharajah decided to make an endowment in England, in recognition of his many years of collaboration and friendship with Reade. Remembering his friend's generosity in Azimurgh, and also his stories of water deprivation in his home area, the Maharajah decided to build a well in Stoke Row. The well is lovely--very ornate with a colonial look and feel to it.

We ate our picnic lunch on the grassy area surrounding the well and, while we sat there, a couple of other groups came to view the well, so it's clearly something of a local attraction.

On the walk back to the car, we stopped off to visit the Church of St Peter and St Paul at Checkendon. Built in the 12th century, this grade 1 listed building boasts some beautiful 14th century wall paintings. These were plastered over around 1500 and only discovered recently during restoration work.

We had a great day out -- this area of Oxfordshire is definitely worth a visit!

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