Berinsfield

Berinsfield

Berinsfield is a village and civil parish in the South Oxfordshire district of Oxfordshire, England, with a population of 2,700 (2001 census). The village lacks any relatively old buildings as it was created by converting an old airfield into a village.

Berinsfield is six miles south of Oxford City and as a village has a short, but very active history, and one important to the post-war years of World War II as the first new village to be built on virgin land for over two hundred years. At the Millennium the village was only 42 years old, but its history does not start there, even the events after World War I are important and fit into the bigger picture of world history. If we study the land on which Berinsfield was built its history goes back much further. Discoveries of man which date back to Palaeolithic times which were made together with Roman and Anglo Saxon artefacts, which have been concealed by the land but resurrected as the village has re-established as a new community in the 20th Century.

Wartime American band leader Glenn Miller played his last gig in Berinsfield before setting off on a plane journey which ended with him drowning in the English Channel.

The village is located on what was once RAF Mount Farm, a satellite of RAF Benson, used to train bomber pilots.

It was later taken over by the Americans, who used it as a reconnaissance base, and it was from there that such stars as Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour and Glenn Miller took off to entertain the troops in occupied Europe.

Glenn Miller, famous for such enduring standards as Little Brown Jug, In The Mood, Pennsylvania 65000 and Chattanooga Choo-Choo, performed for the Americans at the base in December 1944. From there he went to RAF Twinwood, boarded a Norseman UC-64 single-engined aircraft for a trip to Paris - and was never heard of again.

His plane is believed to have ditched in the Channel - although 20 years ago there was a belief he may have crash-landed in the dense Chiltern woodlands.

Searches found no trace of the aircraft.

After the war, the former Bullingdon Rural District Council decided to build a new village - the first in England for 200 years - to be called after St Berin.

The word 'field' was added because the Americans called their base an airfield - and Berinsfield was born, with the first people moving in 50 years ago, many new residents at that time lived in the old Army huts, before brick built houses were constructed on the site. Smoe of those residents still live there to this day.

    As a new village it had a troubled start. Many mistakes were made by those in authority, the press found it easy to put the village down. Even its name was contentious. These mistakes and contentious issues have drawn the residents together to fight for a fair deal. As a new village it has been the "trail blazer" time and time again and as a community it has grown stronger and more mature.

The Roman road between Dorchester-on-Thames and Oxford runs through the centre of Berinsfield and the site of a neolithic sacred site, now largely destroyed by gravel pits, lies to the south near the River Thames.

References

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