Oxfordshire is a county that teems with fabulous historic remains and hidden gems in cities such as Oxford and in the towns and villages across the magnificent countryside. When you stay at a hotel such as Malmaison Oxford or The Tower House, both in Oxford, or indeed at one of the many local B&Bs or guesthouses, you'll be well placed to visit the remains of Dorchester Abbey. It's one of Britain's earliest Christian sites and makes a great destination for a fun day out with the family.
Dorchester Abbey from Oxfordshire Hotels
A great Augustinian Abbey was founded on this site in 1140, on top of the remains of a Saxon cathedral of the 7th Century, but all that remains now is this rather large and impressive church. Dorchester Abbey's official name is the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, and it is the biggest public building in this part of Oxfordshire. When you come to Dorchester on Thames from your Oxfordshire hotel base nearby you'll find it a tranquil spot and ideal for a day's outing.
Saxons and Normans at Dorchester Abbey
The local diocese was hugely important under the Saxon Bishop Wulfwig in the 9th century, but it wasn't until the Normans arrived with their flair for building churches that the site really took off. Remigus was the first Norman bishop here and he rebuilt the abbey comprehensively. You can still see some of his work to this day, but unfortunately after this good start the village became a backwater because the bishopric moved to Lincoln in 1086. The church became an Augustinian monastery in 1140.
From that point on Dorchester became increasingly important as a place of pilgrimage as it housed the remains of St Birinius, an early bishop. The People's Chapel and Jesse Window can still be seen, and an effigy of a knight in full armour, but the saint's remains were scattered during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. Take time out from your Oxfordshire B&B, hotel or guesthouse to visit Dorchester Abbey if you can, and you'll be well rewarded.