The area around Shutford has been settled since ancient times though the village itself is probably of Saxon origin. For centuries it was a mainly agricultural community though associated trades of brewing, malting, spinning, weaving, hat and stocking making are known to have existed too. In 1701 many of the buildings were destroyed by fire but by 1774 it had become one of the largest villages in the area with 71 houses. Shutford became known around the world as a centre for the weaving of plush, the top grade of which is a luxurious silk fabric. Beginning as a cottage industry in the 17th century, manufacture continued here until 1947 mostly, and latterly exclusively, under the management of the Wrench family. Their handwoven livery plush was exported to many of the royal courts of Europe as well as to Africa and the Far East and won a number of awards at international exhibitions. By the 1960s, with the demise of its traditional occupations, the village was in decline with many properties derelict, no school, no permanent vicar and for a while no pub (!). Attempts to draw attention to its plight by entering the best kept village competition in 1969 and advertising the village for sale in an American newspaper in 1970 gradually bore fruit. Abandoned houses were rebuilt or renovated and new ones erected bringing new people and with them new life to the village.
The Shutford Circular Walk covers footpaths and bridleways to the south and west of the village, including a section of ancient road past Madmarston Hill. It offers fine views over the surrounding countryside and neighbouring villages. The route is signed and described in a clockwise direction and, though it can be walked either way, parking is best found near the George and Dragon pub (N52º 03.528 W001º 26.325), just north of the start of the clockwise option. Decent footwear is advisable as ground conditions can be wet and muddy, especially in winter. The 4.6-mile walk has been devised with the co-operation of local farmers and landowners and much of it passes over cultivated and grazing land. Please follow the route as marked and observe the Country Code along the way. There are a couple of stiles that are not entirely dog-negotiable but there are undoubtedly work-arounds and the rest of the route is dog-friendly. A copy of a leaflet produced by the Cherwell District Council describing the circular walk, as well as a village trail, can be found at the following link: Shutford Circular Walk & Village Trail.
There are nine caches in locations with a tree theme at intervals along the SCW. The Bonus cache can be located by compiling the numbers that are written on the front of the logbooks, with numbers (1-9) corresponding to the letters in the title of each cache -- so, if you miss one number in the series, you can work it out from the others. Substitute the numbers for the letters in the formula below:
N52º 03.(A+B-C)(E+F-J)(H+J-C) W001º 26.(A+D-E)(C+D-B)(G+H-E)
The Bonus cache is a plastic box with room for travel bug(s) or other items. Please be careful not to disturb the hiding place when retrieving the cache box and replace it with equal care. Visitors to the area may wish to combine this walk with a search for Messe's Alpha Quest-K.
** FTF goes to JimJinks, though he took a short cut ** ** Honourary FTF to Wrighty for doing it the Wright way **