Monday, 16 June 2014

Exploring the Trenches.

An impressive tree.
I have mentioned before that we have a really exciting set of World War 1 practice trenches very close to my workplace in Wytham woods.

This Saturday saw a big festival take place at work, part of which was a guided tour of this area of woodland. I managed to sneak onto the tour as a ‘Joe Public’ person so I could relax and enjoy the experience!

A view across towards Wytham village.

The woodlands at Wytham are world famous for all manner of really important scientific studies. From badger populations to the calcium spots on Blue Tit eggs – from climate change to bats, Wytham has it all.

However, my real interest was in seeing the trenches and I was totally amazed at how much remained and how deep they still were considering they have been slowly filling in for the last 100 years.


Our land manager has been strimming the trenches and says they go on for miles – much further than anyone had previously thought.


When the trenches were first dug, the area would have been heathland – the trees have grown up since. They were created to give the new recruits some experience of trench warfare. I wonder how it compared to the actual horrors they would have faced?

These trenches were linked to the Oxford University Training Corps, attached to No. 4 Officer Cadet Battalion. Our Hill End founder, Raymond ffennell was a Major and there is speculation that CS Lewis (of The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe fame) was an active member at this time and so may well have spent time in these very trenches.


Our plan is to eventually recreate a section of the trenches and build an education programme around it so that children can get a taste of what it may have been like. Anything that brings history to life like this is so valuable and I think it is also important to remember what was happening around us. I will keep you updated as we continue with the project!


  1. The following link to a wartime aerial photo might interest you then.....

  2. That's just brilliant - thank you Alan!