Let's Move to Oundle... Again (The Oundle Chronicle)
‘You could set a period drama in Oundle,’ according to Tom Dyckhoff, writing earlier this year in The Guardian Weekend’s weekly magazine column ‘Let’s move to…’. Dyckhoff has written over 4000 ‘Let’s move to…’ articles for The Guardian, all of which praise certain towns all around the country.
This is not the first time Dyckhoff has written about Oundle. He wrote about the town in a ‘Let’s move to…’ column just seven years ago. Perhaps he doesn’t keep a record of the articles he’s written, or he simply adores Oundle.
The latter is probably true: he seems keen to reveal to the world the hidden beauties of Northamptonshire, which he says are ‘always passed over en route for somewhere more thrilling, such as Rutland’.
In both columns, Dyckhoff, who is an architecture critic, coins almost rhapsodic descriptions of Oundle’s stone buildings: ‘coloured like a sunset’ (2015) and ‘the colour of honeycomb’ (2008).
Both articles mention Oundle School, although in his 2015 article, the school is more of an asset to the town, which he describes as Oxbridge in miniature, with Oundle School its university, ‘whose buildings are folded so thoroughly into Oundle’s fabric you are never quite sure if the town is hosting the school, or vice versa’.
In contrast, in 2008 he wrote: ‘There’s a lot of town vs gown with the illustrious local public school.’
Dyckhoff quoted resident Carol Sandall, who said: ‘Pet hate: Oundle’s version of hoodies – the public school pupils who mill about the town and flood the bakers, and anywhere sweets are sold… Like all teenagers, they find anyone over 21 totally invisible and an expensive education does not apparently include teaching the difference between a road and a pavement.’
This rather predictable criticism of the private school pupils was rather odd. Sandall said Oundle pupils were ‘like all teenagers’, and yet she lumps them with the more anti-social hoodie-wearing variety.
To add some balance to the discussion, former Prince William School teacher Stephen Dalzell emailed: ‘Don’t write that Oundle School dominates the town. That’s a cliché often headlined when market towns with a well-known boarding school are written about. It doesn’t.’
For Dalzell, the emphasis should be on Oundle’s quality of life and the great countryside walks.
Invariably, Dyckhoff will have disappointed some by failing to mention a popular coffee shop or cultural event, or will have stumped others with his mention of The Falcon, which is a good five miles away. It’s clear that no writer with only a 400 word brief can do justice to Oundle’s rich daily life.
Nevertheless, if the town council is still looking for a slogan to help market Oundle, Dyckhoff has come up with some memorable sound-bites, most notably: ‘Comforting cosiness in three dimensions’. Or even better: ‘History oozes from its beautiful golden stone like butter from a toasted muffin.’