OXFORDSHIRE BLUE PLAQUES SCHEME

Wytton Perowne D’Arcy DALTON (1893–1981)

Champion and protector of Public Rights of Way

The Limes (formerly Wyverns), Lower End, Great Milton

Wytton Perowne D’Arcy Dalton was an indefatigable champion and protector of Public Rights of Way. Without his interest in first identifying, then mapping and defending the routes, the county’s network would be much reduced.

He was born in Moseley to Frank Dalton, an insurance manager for Norwich Union, and his wife Mary Edith (née Perowne), and grew up in Moseley. He attended King Edward’s School, Birmingham, and went up to Lincoln College, Oxford in 1913. He joined the OU Officers’ Training Corps and in 1915 was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th Cyclist Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment. He became Lieutenant in 1917, attached to the King’s Liverpool Regiment which was deployed at the Second Battle of Passchendaele. After the war he resumed his studies at Lincoln where he was President of the JCR. A man of independent means, he was a university tutor, a member of the History Faculty, and for many years lectured on Military History at Lincoln. Before settling in Great Milton in 1961, he lived in Oxford at Vanbrugh House, St Michael Street. In 1934 he had married Olive Evelyn Julia Deker-Cross in the fashionable All Hallows Church, London Wall.

In 1926 the Oxford and District Footpaths, Bridle Paths and Commons Preservation Society was formed to tackle the decline in public use of footpaths and their consequent usurpation by farmers and landowners. D’Arcy Dalton as Assistant Secretary had the idea of publishing a 2-inch map of the paths, covering 144 square miles centred on Oxford. With two other committee members he checked the route of each and every path. The first edition printed by Ordnance Survey in 1933 quickly sold out and was reprinted in 1935. On the death of F. C. Roby in 1940, he became Secretary of the Society. When the National Parks and Access to the Countryside legislation of 1949 required all county councils to identify all PRoWs in their areas, D’Arcy Dalton was to the fore in assisting parish councils in the county with this task. When the Draft Map was published, objections were raised by farmers and landowners to 497 paths and the Society itself challenged the omission of 135 paths. From 1954 to 1958 he was assiduous in attending full day hearings about disputed cases in Oxfordshire and North Berkshire, defending the Society’s claims with hard researched evidence from enclosure records and interviews with witnesses. Notable successes were in respect of the entire Thames towpath from Henley to Oxford, the Pinkhill Farm and Lock path, the Wick Farm bridleway, the bridle way from Great Milton to Haseley, paths within the parishes of Cumnor and Wootton, and in Wallingford town.

DaltonAbove: D'Arcy Dalton: photograph courtesy of Alun Jones

Below: The Limes (formerly Wyvern) with its blue plaque
The Limes, Great Milton

Having joined the Society as one of its founding members, he continued to serve for 55 years, becoming Chairman in 1959 and President in 1977. He was also a member of the executive committee of both the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and the Oxford Preservation Trust, and it was with his help that the Oxford Area Youth Hostels Association was established. In 1986 a long-distance way of over 60 miles across the Oxfordshire Cotswolds from Wormleighton in Warwickshire to The Ridgeway at Wayland’s Smithy was named the D’Arcy Dalton Way.

Sources:

  • The Oxford Fieldpaths Society, Lincoln College records, National Archives

The plaque was unveiled on 18 August 2017 at The Limes, Great Milton, by Jim Parke, until recently Chairman of the Oxford Fieldpaths Society. The ceremony was attended by members of the Society and other walking groups, representatives of local government and of Lincoln College. After hospitality at The Bull there was a conducted walk around local footpaths.

Unveiling ceremony:

Picture awaited

Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board

WYTTON / PEROWNE D’ARCY
DALTON

1893–1981

Champion and Protector
of Public Rights of Way

lived at The Limes / (formerly Wyverns)
1961–1981

Oxford Fieldpaths Society

© Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board

 

Email: oxfordshireblueplaques@gmail.com