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The Secret World of Hawkesbury Upton

English: South of west from Bath Lane, nr Hawk...
(Photo: Wikipedia)

As I was running along the “Yellow Brick Road” in the first ever Hawkesbury 5K last month, the lady next to me gasped with surprise.

“But it’s lovely up here!” she said, as wistful as Alice peering through the tiny door into Wonderland’s gardens.

“You should see it on a sunny day,” I told her proudly, though not expecting one any time soon. “Then you would see both Severn Bridges.”

When she looked as pleased as if I’d given her the password to a secret society, I realised that many people living nearby never discover our fabulous views, unless they are (dog)walkers or runners. They might recognise the village name from a roadsign, but if they’ve never taken that road, they have no idea what it’s like.

English: Automobile Association Village sign T...
Photo: Wikipedia

If I hadn’t got lost 21 years ago, this could have applied to me. While househunting between Bristol and Chipping Sodbury, we took the wrong turning for the M4. As we headed north on the A46, we spotted a signpost to the left indicating “Hawkesbury Upton”. We’d never heard of it.

“That’s a pretty name,” I remarked. “That would look good on a change of address card.”

We turned left. We had no estate agents’ fliers for the village (there was no online searching in those days), but we thought we might spot some “For Sale” signs. And we did: outside a small stone cottage on France Lane.

“That would do us,” said my husband. “Let’s go and take a look.”

We did, and we bought it, and the rest is history. And that is the story of how – neither a runner nor a walker in those days – I discovered the secret world of Hawkesbury Upton. The road sign is right – “Hawkesbury Upton: You’ll never leave.” But that’s fine by me.

Village sign at Hawkesbury Upton

This article was originally written for the Hawkesbury Parish News, July 2012.

If you enjoyed this post – or if indeed you like road signs – you might like this: Rage Against the Road Signs


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

4 thoughts on “The Secret World of Hawkesbury Upton

    1. Yes, I suppose it is! Oh well, I’ve always found there’s no point being rational when buying a house as it only leads to disappointments. I’m a bit fatalistic about house-buying: I’ve always had a feeling with houses that if it’s meant to be, it will be – and this one was definitely meant to be! Thanks for your comment, Charlie!

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