Oxfordshire suffered its coldest temperature in 27 years, the Met Office revealed today.

RAF Benson, near Wallingford, saw temperatures fall to -11.8C on January 7 – the lowest in southern England this winter.

The last time it was colder was in 1982, when temperatures fell to -18.7C.

Squadron Leader Ian Moore, based at Benson, yesterday recalled the night.

He said: “The temperature was so low that my car doors froze from the inside.

“I took my dog for a walk up the hill and found my breath was literally taken away by the cold air.

“You could feel it settling around the camp as though it was in a bowl of freezing mist. It was certainly a night to remember.”

Over the past 30 years, the average minimum winter temperature for Benson has been 1C.

In December 2007, temperatures sank to -9.1C, while March 2006 saw temperatures of -9.2C.

Met Office spokesman Barry Gromett explained why the area experienced particularly cold weather.

He said: “The main reason for the low temperatures in Benson comes from it being relatively low-lying compared to the surrounding area.

“It’s in a shallow bowl, and on long, cold winter nights, cold air flows down hillsides and congregates at the bottom of the dip.”

In early February the freezing temperatures were accompanied by heavy snow, which blanketed much of Oxfordshire.

The Met Office said next week’s weather would start off mild, but cold temperatures would return with rain turning to snow in higher areas.