to Tew some years later, the place is much tidier. The derelict cottages have been restored, and the general fabric of the village now looks as though it might survive the twentieth century after all.
But those restored cottages have not gone to tenants; they were sold off in the frenzy of auctions, and now belong to commuters and second-homers. You can spot them - they're the ones where the garden has been flattened to make way for BMWs and SAABs. And the burglar alarms, nestling under the thatched eaves.
The village school, a late-Victorian building which still manages to fit in with the original plan, sits on the village green, looking like everyone's ideal start in life - cosy, human, but sturdy and authoritative - the kind of school children go to in TV commercials. It's under threat.
The newcomers don't have many children, or if they do, they send them to private schools, often as boarders. Consequently, there aren't enough village children to justify a school here. It's only a matter of time before some bureaucratic sweep "rationalises" this anomaly, and the children of Great Tew are packed off to fact farms in Chipping Norton.
A sad end for a village*, once called "a university bound in a lesser volume", by Lord Clarendon, writing about the remarkable body of talent attracted here in the early seventeenth century by Lucius Cary, 2nd Viscount Falkland. The village inn, the Falkland Arms, is named (some time) after the family.
It was the 5th Viscount, a Treasurer of the Navy, who had a bunch of unconsidered islands in the South Atlantic named after him. Every June the Falklands Arms celebrates the Falklands War.
The Falkland Arms is a gorgeous building; roses, wisteria, several kinds of ivy, swathed around a sturdy structure of local stone, thatch and leaded lights. The staff are friendly and helpful, the rooms (b&b excellent) attractive and comfortable. The bar boasts several good ales, and the biggest range of snuff I've seen outside the West End of London.
*"Daisyems" writes from Great Tew to point out that things have changed since my last visit to Great Tew:-
"After reading your info on Great Tew I feel you must revisit the village.
You will find things very different to how you have portrayed them as you will also find with the village of Glympton.
Both villages are thriving and not full of BMW owners. The majority of occupants are very nice hard working young people.
Yes some properties are let to wealthy Londoners, which then enables us young ones to have affordable rents and be able to continue our lives in the countryside.
How lucky we are!!!!!!!"
Lucky, indeed. It makes me want to be a wealthy Londoner, so I can support such a village.
I'm delighted to set the record straight.