Thames gardens’ open days

Several riverside gardens on or near the Thames Path are open this summer as part of the National Gardens Scheme.

Sutton Courtenay Manor, a former grange of Abingdon Abbey and once home of Observer editor David Astor, opens its garden above the water meadows on Sunday afternoon 25 June. A new garden in the grounds of 17th-century Radcot House, just north of Radcot Bridge, will be open afternoons over 2-3 September weekend.

Ewen Manor, the last big residence before the Thames source, is open 11am-4pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until 29 June.

The garden openings are listed in the 2006 edition of The Yellow Book (£7.99) and on

Grandpont House and Opus Dei

Leigh Hatts writes: In writing a paragraph about Oxford’s riverside Grandpont House I tried to concentrate on history rather than now. But maybe I subbed too much by just saying of today “it remains a residence”.

Since 1959 it has been the residence for male members of the now well-known Opus Dei. Indeed the house was visited by the Opus Dei founder St Josemaría Escrivá in August 1958.

This is just another chapter in the fascinating history of the house which has part of the Thames flowing underneath. It is also a candidate for the site of the town’s ox-ford although in the book I suggest upstream Binsey Ford could be the original.