HIS Royal Highness the Prince of Wales talked trees, oatcakes and gardens with residents during a visit to an Oxfordshire village yesterday.

People turned out in their droves for Prince Charles's visit to Bletchingdon Parochial Church of England School and the attached village hall on the Bletchingdon Estate Development, north of Oxford.

The site is on land owned by the Prince's estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, and will eventually boast 56 houses, five flats and a shop in addition to the school and hall, which opened in 2015.

During a tour of the estate, the royal joined pupils who were cooking and gardening, before speaking to parish councillors and school governors in the hall. 

He then met the first set of residents to move onto the estate and ended the visit by ceremonially planting the site's final tree.

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The Prince spent plenty of time chatting to schoolchildren and headteacher, Karen Donaghey, revealed pupils were eager to be good hosts. 

She said: "We knew about the visit a couple of weeks ago but weren't allowed to go public, so when we told the children the excitement started to build.

"We know he likes gardening so we decided to do something outside.

"The children meeting the man who's going to be the future king is very exciting."

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Villagers said the development had 'revitalised' Bletchingdon, after the previous school and village hall became unfit for purpose.

After purchasing the land in 2000, the Duchy of Cornwall worked with school trustees and the village hall charity, who suggested building a hall on the new school site.

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Since then, the community has invested more than £1m into the project by selling the old village hall and school buildings, while the Duchy has made up the shortfall.

By October 2012, Duchy architects had drawn up an overall plan, with the school and village hall opened by the Bishop of Dorchester in 2015.

Tony Saunders, chair of the Bletchingdon Community Foundation and Bletchingdon Parish Council, organised the first village meeting about the estate back in 2011.

He said: "We've been able to influence what goes where by working with the Duchy's architect, so it's been a partnership all the way through.

"The village hall was in use from that very first day and there's rarely an evening where there's not something happening.

"For the Prince to come here is a real acknowledgement of how that partnership has gone."

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The Prince's tour saw him speak to one class who were making Celtic Oatcakes, while he joined other children to examine trees planted by the Woodland Trust in the garden. 

Frankie Follen, a year three and four teacher, said: "We chatted about what we've been learning about throughout the term and about the recipe we were making.

"He was very interested in the school and the playground and it was really lovely to speak to him."

One of her pupils, Lola Barrett, aged nine, added: "I felt a bit nervous to meet him, but mostly excited."

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Several people who had a hand in the project attended the event, including Louise Cheriton, the school's headteacher from 2012 to 2018.

She said: "I can remember many nailbiting council meetings where we were waiting to hear if we had planning permission.

"The children worked with the architect to plan the outside learning adventure playground, they raised money through fundraising events and picked which equipment they wanted.

"It has been an amazing adventure."

The Prince met homeowners and builders during a tour of the unfinished estate, including Anne Maclachlan, who has lived on the site for two months.

She said: "He was interested in seeing the garden from the inside so I asked if he could give me some advice on planting trees."