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A village on the River Cherwell just north of Banbury in Oxfordshire, England.

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      22.06.2009 12:44
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      By Cropredy the Cherwell is still bidden to keep flowing and the willows by its side gently weep

      Cropredy is a beautiful, tiny village near Banbury on the banks of the Cherwell. It is an old village, dating from before the English civil war, and it looks it (in the quaint, lovely way, rather than the rundown way!) It has a thriving community, including a school, a church, pubs, a doctor's surgery, general store and other small business appropriate to an English village and a rather spiffing website (http://www.cropredyvillage.info/index.htm). The website will tell you all about the history of the village (including the civil war battle, fought here in 1644 and its mention in the Domesday Book), the age of the properties (from really quite old to not really very old at all), the amenities, and its location (the Cherwell valley, three miles north of Banbury and Junction 11 of the M40 Motorway). Do visit the website for loads of useful information. However, I'd like to give you my impressions.

      It is one of the friendliest places I have ever been. The local residents are of all ages, and welcome visitors with open arms (and, once a year, they get a rather large influx of visitors, but more on that in a minute). The church warden will gladly show visitors around, and discuss the new bells installed a couple of years ago. The residents will recount the age and history of their homes. There is a cricket club, which is quintessentially English. There are moorings on the river and canal for boats.

      This is a lovely, quintessentially English village, but you might well ask how I, an ex-pat American living in London has found herself there not once but three times. You might also wonder what I am talking about when I mention the annual influx of visitors. Each year, Cropredy plays host to Fairport Conventions annual...well....convention. This is a fabulous folk festival over a weekend in August. There are many, many things that make this different from other festivals - there is only one stage, for a start, the age range tends to be older, it's folk...but what makes this festival unique is that the village positively welcomes the up-to-30,000 visitors the village plays host to. The boy scouts are on litter duty. Local lads sell programmes. The pubs open for breakfast. The cricket club opens for showers. The residents mind the inconvenience (traffic, parking restrictions, smelly festival goers) not a whit. Fairport Convention allocate a ticket to each of the 750 residents to do with as they please. Everyone is happy.

      To hear the story of the Battle of Cropredy Bridge in song, check out Fairport Convention's song 'Red and Gold' - http://lyricwiki.org/Fairport_Convention:Red_And_Gold

      An idyllic English village indeed - and one well worth visiting even if you're not a folk music fan, one I hope to visiting again when the festival is not in full swing.

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