Day out: Christmas Common, Oxfordshire

Stretch your legs on a seasonal walk around Christmas Common, on the border between Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, before picking up a locally grown festive tree

Rolling hills
Published: November 10th, 2021 at 2:11 pm
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Where better to get you into the Christmassy mood than a hamlet that bears the festival’s name?

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Sitting astride an escarpment of the Chiltern Hills AONB amid woods and parkland, the picturesque little community of Christmas Common holds an enviably commanding position in the Oxfordshire landscape.

But Christmas Common has far more about it than simply a festive name. A cosy pub, the pretty Church of the Nativity and numerous nearby walks make it a splendid place to visit whatever the season.

Christmas Common road sign
How did Christmas Common get its name?/Credit: Stuart Black, Alamy

Where did Christmas Common get its name?

But what of that name? The origins of the hamlet’s unusual moniker turn out to be steeped in mystery. It doesn’t help that the three front-running theories all seem perfectly plausible.

One suggests that the name comes from the Christmas Day truce said to have been declared in 1643 between adversaries in the English Civil War. The Battle of Chalgrove Field took place a few miles up the road in June that year, so the conflict would certainly have touched the lives of the locals.

Another possibility is that the name is derived from the holly tree coppices that once flourished here.

More prosaically, the third option is that the hamlet was named in honour of a local family whose surname just happened to be Christmas. 

Visit the Church of the Nativity

Whatever the truth, there is no doubting that the hamlet has embraced its Yuletide connection. When a ‘chapel of ease’ was built here to spare locals from a four-mile round-trip to the parish church in Watlington, it was promptly named the Church of the Nativity. The chapel was de-commissioned in the last century and now serves as a wholly magnificent private residence complete with churchyard. 

Rural church
Church of the Nativity, Christmas Common/Credit: Des Blenkinsopp, Geograph

Walks near Christmas Common

Christmas Common makes an excellent base for a brisk winter walk. You can stroll up the National Trust’s Watlington Hill to take in views of the surrounding fields and forest; plunge down into Shotridge and Blackmoor Woods; or hop on the Oxfordshire Way, Chiltern Way or Icknield Way for a longer hike into the sylvan countryside. On returning, you might repair to the Fox and Hounds, a charming 500-year-old pub.

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Christmas Common Tree Barn

Before you leave, don’t forget to pick up your very own Christmas Common tree from the Tree Barn. The company has been growing Christmas trees here for many years, often supplying the official one for 10 Downing Street.

Authors

Dixe Wills is the author of a shelf-wearying host of books about Britain including The Z-Z of Great Britain, Tiny Islands and Tiny Churches.

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