Hotel History Part 1

Hawkwell House Hotel
is misleadingly named. First there was the field called Hawkwell; then at inclosure it was divided into plots; then John Parsons, the Oxford banker, built a house on one of them, and called it Hawkwell backing onto Tree Lane. He never lived there but had a summer home at 'The Cottage', Tree Lane. Then another grand house was built on the plot between Parsons' land and Church Way; that was called The Elms; the Strong family lived in it and, later, the Allens; the last Iffley Allen died in 1970 and the house became The Elms Hotel, the purchasers also acquiring Hawkwell which they used as an annexe. The hotel changed hands, has been greatly enlarged over Hawkwell grounds and has taken the Hawkwell name. Hawkwell does not deserve to be elbowed out, being a fine house from the early 19th century, with a Grecian-style portico; it was the centre of Parsons' country estate where he farmed and where he shot pheasant; it has a surviving game store beside the house, for hanging the birds. The Elms was a more conventional and less elegant house, but surrounded by fine gardens and having a commanding presence above Church Way.

Hawkwell House was originally a nursing home, it was then turned into a Children's home during World War 1, after the War, it was converted into a Hotel. The famous explorer Francis Howard Bickerton was born here (see below).

Francis Howard Bickerton(1889-1954) was born in Oxford, England, and served as mechanical engineer on Sir Douglas Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition between 1911-1914.

Bickerton was responsible for converting a smashed Vickers D-Type monoplane for use as an 'air-tractor sledge' in the Antarctic. He also shared responsibility for the expedition's pioneering use of wireless telegraphy and led the three-man Western Sledging Expedition which, between December 1912 and January 1913, explored 160 miles of uncharted territory and discovered the first Antarctic meteorite - which lead to Antarctica being recognised as the world's richest meteorite field. For his services, Bickerton was awarded the prestigious King's Polar Medal, and Cape Bickerton (6620S, 13656E, five miles ENE of Gravenoire Rock) was named in his honour. Bickerton was also recruited by Sir Ernest Shackleton for the Endurance expedition of 1914-1917 and served as a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. Post-war he joined the colony of British war veterans established in Newfoundland by Captain Victor Lindsay Arbuthnot Campbell of Scott's Terra Nova expedition and explored in Central America and Africa. He died in Borth, Ceredigion, in 1954.

If you have any further information about Hawkwell House then please contact us
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