Alternatives to the Oxford to Cambridge arc
The Icknield Way
John Cary's route from his 1815 New Itinerary (part 1 Oxford to Thame)
As an alternative to the Buckingham and Bedford route, Cary offered the Icknield Way option from Oxford to Cambridge.
Unlike Moll, however, he headed to the Chiltern Hills via Aylesbury, probably in order to avoid the marshy land between Thame and Princes Risborough. Also unlike Moll, Cary had the newly established turnpikes to follow.
Cary left Oxford from its eastern side, passing through Headington to Wheatley on the Stokenchurch, Wheatley and Begbroke Turnpike (1719).
The road originally took the Old London Road across Shotover Hill, but in 1773 the Trustees of the Stokenchurch, Wheatley and Begbroke Turnpike resolved to apply to Parliament “for power to divert the Road, and entirely avoid Shotover Hill”, and in 1788 sought “to impower the Trustees to compleat a Road from the Bottom of Cheney-Lane, upon Headington-Hill, to Forest-Hill…, to be used instead of the present Road up Cheney-Lane and Shotover-Hill”. The new route is the one we recognise today as the A40, albeit with a number of by-pass amendments.
Cary crossed the River Thame at Wheatley Bridge. A ford here was first recorded in 956, but the first Wheatley bridge was constructed in the reign of Henry II 1154-1189. The bridge was rebuilt in 1286. The bridge was again reconstructed in 1800 and remains largely the one we know today, which served as a crossing of the River Thame for the A40 until 1964. The road it carries now is by-passed and declassified.
After Wheatley Bridge the route took a left turn along ‘Thame Lane’ (the modern A418) towards Thame, passing just to the North of Albury and through North Weston. This road was not turnpiked at the time of Cary's 1815 Itinerary, though it was later marked as ‘intended’ on Bryant’s 1823 map of Oxfordshire. It was not until 1838 that the road between Wheatley Bridge and Thame was turnpiked by the Aylesbury, Thame and Shillingford Turnpike Trust (1770), 68 years after the trust was established .
The route passed along the northern end of Thame's High Street, to leave via Bell Lane and Aylesbury Road.
| The Icknield Way|
John Cary's route from his 1815 New Itinerary (part 2 Thame to Aylesbury)