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What are the Castle Grounds?
When in Deddington, make time to visit the gem that is DEDDINGTON CASTLE, three minutes’ walk from the centre and accessible from the Clifton road. There has been a castle here since Norman times but don’t expect to see great walls of stone. There is something more astonishing: an enormous grassed site, 8 acres in extent, surrounded by banked ramparts.
Although a civic amenity (the outer bailey is owned by the parish council) it is an English Heritage sit
More information on its history can be found HERE.
What is special about the site today?
Until the building of the Windmill Centre in 1986, the Castle Grounds were the focus of Parish life, where cricket, football and even bowls matches were played, fetes held, an estimated million rounds of ammunition used during the thirty years of the Rifle Club’s tenure (see previous uses here) – and perhaps the Castle Grounds have benefited from this shift of Parish activity, the more municipal activities taking place in the extensive Windmill Centre, leaving the Castle Grounds to pursue its peace of a thousand years. People come here to exercise dogs, to stroll and see the changing seasons and enjoy the views; villagers come tobogganing; local primary pupils are brought for free-ranging visits; all comers charmed by the unexpectedness of this quiet safe expanse inside its rampart walls. A village questionnaire was held in 2014, and the Deddington News reported (March 2015, Helen Oldfield): ‘Among “Youth activities and facilities in the parish”, the most highly rated is the Castle Grounds, perhaps the nearest we have to a wilderness.’
What is the role of the Friends of Castle Grounds?
In 2009 the FOCG was formed with the simple constitution ‘to improve the appearance and use of the Castle Grounds for the benefit of the parish in conjunction with English Heritage and the Parish Council’. Our work involves liaising with these two bodies over natural planting and upkeep: tree management, mowing, wild flower planting and other areas of stewardship which preserve its ‘rural location’ (English Heritage’s words) while increasing its use as a pleasant accessible site which Deddington is so fortunate to have intact after a thousand years.
It is a magical enclosed space, still wild, where the light can play tricks on the eyes, where deer and badger still venture from the adjoining fields. If you would like to join the Friends of Castle Grounds, you would be made most welcome; you can download our membership form here.
For contact details please refer to the DIRECTORY.