The Burnside Partnership is located at Blenheim Palace Sawmills, close to the village of Combe in Oxfordshire. The fascinating Combe Mill is on our doorstep, on the original site of the village overlooking the picturesque River Evenlode (a tributary of the Thames), adjacent to the medieval royal forest of Wychwood.
Modern Combe is an attractive village with several hundred residents. Back in 1086 (when William the Conqueror received the results of his notorious Domesday Survey) it was a small settlement with only 14 villagers. Little now is left of this site - only the discovery of some tiles, slates and the outline of a boundary wall have indicated its presence - and the remains of medieval houses are thought to lie beneath the Mill buildings. Wychwood Forest must have played an important part in the lives of locals for hundreds of years - and the temptation to indulge in poaching appears to have been a constant, according to manorial records.
Over time, the Evenlodes's water meadows probably restricted expansion and villagers started to look beyond the river for somewhere to live. Pottery found in Combe dating from around 1200 together with a nave doorway in Combe church from around the same time - suggest that the Black Death of 1348 did not begin but accelerated a migration from river valley to the hill top site of the present village. The fact that some local families in the thirteenth century took names such as 'de la hill' and 'de la green' also provides corroborating evidence. The move made the village name of Combe (which means a valley) something of a misnomer!