The latest news from the
Oxfordshire Local History Association (OLHA)
November 2021
All members of local history societies and groups that are members of OLHA are themselves members of OLHA automatically, and this e-bulletin is for everyone. Hence, if you are on the committee of a local history group or society, please make sure that this e-bulletin is forwarded to all your members by sending them this url. Thank you.
Several Oxfordshire historians will be selling their books at the Oxford Indie Book Fair at the Wesley Memorial Hall on New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, on Saturday 6 November, 10:30am–5:00pm, a great opportunity to buy directly from the authors and publishers, and to stock up on unusual Christmas presents.

Entry is free, and there will be a series of short talks throughout the day, including Mark Davies on Writing Local History, followed by a guided walk, Daniel “Damnable” Harris: connecting Wesley Memorial Church with Oxford’s canal and castle.

Read all about it here.
On Saturday 13 November, 10:00am-12:30pm, the Rumble Museum and the Parish of Cowley St John are holding a Story Collection Morning at St Alban’s Church on Charles Street, East Oxford. People are invited to bring stories and items connected to the history of Robin Hood, a poor area at the boundary of the city whose residents were considered by some to behave like outlaws.

Free and open to all; further informaton here.
The 950th anniversary of Oxford Castle and Prison will be celebrated on Friday 19 November (6-10pm) with a spectacular son et lumière presenting stories from the site’s long and complex history. The event is free and open to all.

Further informaton here.
And a reminder that...
As reported in previous e-bulletins, the British Association for Local History (BALH) has teamed up with Pharos Tutors to offer short topic-based on-line courses on a variety of local and family history subjects.

Forthcoming courses (from November) include Victorian and Edwardian Childhood and Education 1820 to 1920. Most courses last 4 or 5 weeks and are reasonably priced at around £50.

Further information and booking here.
Steeple Aston Village Archive (SAVA) produces an annual exhibition each November, drawing on materials already in the archive, and more collected during original research on the chosen theme. This year it is Houses Through Time - the history of nine Steeple and Middle Aston houses and their residents, some ordinary, some extraordinary.

The display will be at Steeple Aston Village Hall, Fir Lane, OX25 4SF, on Saturday 6 November 2-6pm, and Sunday 7 November 12-4pm. Entry free. [The exhibition will move on-line if necessary.]
Tom Shepherd’s boat building sheds in 1900, adapted from former granaries adjoining the Red Lion (to the left, covered in ivy). The firm was one of several successful boat-building businesses in Henley. Image from the Victoria County History of Oxford, Vol 16.

There are a few places left for OLHA’s autumn study day on Saturday 20 November in Henley-on-Thames, on The Importance of Henley and the River Thames. There will be talks in the morning, and a guided walk around the town in the afternoon. The day is open to everyone and tickets are only £12.

Further information and booking here.
Looking for speakers for your group’s 2021/22 programme? OLHA’s substantial directory of speakers and tour guides is often updated, and shows which speakers are able to deliver their illustrated talks via Zoom or similar on-line platform.
Martin Buckland has been interested in industrial archaeology since the age of four, when he began watching Great Western trains with his dad at Iver in Buckinghamshire, where he was born. Nearly seven decades later he volunteers with the Great Western Society’s education team as a re-enactor at Didcot Railway Centre. He gives talks at Abingdon Museum to primary school children about what it was like to live on a working narrow boat, and leads walks exploring the rivers of Abingdon, and along the historic and proposed routes of the Wilts & Berks Canal.

To find out about Martin’s talks and walks, and how to contact him, click here.
Many Oxfordshire history societies are getting back to meeting in person, whilst others are still holding talks on-line. Either way, there are interesting local history talks on offer across the county almost every weekday. To see a detailed daily listing, go to OLHA’s website.

Here is a selection for November:

2ndBritish Modern Military History Society (Woodcote) – Gary Sheffield “The Role of NCOs in the armies of the British Empire 1914 – 1945”. On-line talk, 2:00pm, register by e-mailing

2ndHenley – Michael Fulford “Excavations at the bathhouse, Calleva”. Kings Arms Barn, Kings Road, 7:45pm.

2ndHook Norton – Tim Healey “Sex, Drink and Health in the 17th century”. Baptist Church Hall, Netting Street, 7:30pm.

2ndLower Windrush – Alastair Lack “Oxfordshire Country Houses”. Standlake Village Hall, 7:30pm.

3rdFriends of the Oxfordshire Museum – Alice Foster “In Memoriam: War in Art and Literature”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, register by e-mailing

4thCharlbury – Rod Evans “A whistle-stop tour of the planning system loosely based on 23 years a planning inspector”. On-line talk, 8:00pm, email to enquire.

4thEynsham – Peter Burnett “The Devil’s Picture Book: Playing Cards and their story”. Church Hall, Thames Street, 7:30pm.

4thOxford Civic Society – Mark Davies “150 Years of ‘Through the Looking-Glass’”. Magdalen College Auditorium, Longwall Street, 8:00pm.

8thChipping Norton – Mike Hurst “Old Time Christmas”. Methodist Church Hall, West Street, 2:00pm.

8thRadley – Timothy Walker “The Harcourt Arboretum”. St James the Great Church, 7:30pm.

8thWeston on the Green – Nick Mould “The Duchy of Cornwall”. Village Hall, 7:30pm.

9th – Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society (OAHS) – Lee Prosser and Tansy Collins “Baltic Timber Marks” (The Oxfordshire Buildings Record Lecture). On-line talk, 5:30pm, further information at (OAHS and OBR members only).

9thOxfordshire Buildings Record – Lee Prosser “Baltic timber marks”. Details from

9thThame – Liz Woolley “Oxfordshire and the Spanish Civil War”. Barns Centre, Church Road, 7:30pm.

10thBritish Modern Military History Society (Woodcote) – Paul Beaver “Suez”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, register by e-mailing

10thShrivenham – Bjorn Watson “The Claridge family”. Memorial Hall, 7:30pm.

10thWychwoods –  Juliet Heslewood “William Morris and the Cotswolds”. Milton-under-Wychwood Village Hall, 7:30pm.

11thBanbury – Anni Byard “Archaeology, artefacts and a career in ruins”. Banbury Museum, Spiceball Park Road, 7:30 pm, and streamed live via Microsoft Teams; for further information e-mail

11thDidcot – Bill King “The Poppy, Symbol of Remembrance”. Northbourne Centre, Church Street, 7:30pm.

11thThame Museum – Tom Crook “The Big Stink: The Victorian Battle Against Dirt”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, tickets from

11thWootton & Dry Sandford – Liz Woolley “The common lodging house in Victorian England”. Wootton Community Centre, 7:30pm.

13thBritish Modern Military History Society (Woodcote) – Paul Beaver “Suez”. Woodcote Willage Hall (Covid-allowing), 7:30pm; e-mail or check to confirm venue.

15th – Adderbury – Barry Davis “The Cawley Family of Adderbury House”. Adderbury Institute, 7:30pm.

15thBicester – Liz Woolley “’No Other Way’: Oxfordshire’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-9”. Clifton Centre, Ashdene Road, 7:30pm.

15thGoring Gap – Nicola Tallis “Lady Jane Grey”. Goring Village Hall, 2:30pm.

16thIffley – Wendy Morrison “Beacons of the past: revealing a prehistoric landscape”. Church Hall, Church Way, 7:30pm. Non-members please contact Paul Butler on in advance, as places may be limited.

17th – Bloxham – AGM and Ian Keable “The Century of Deception: The Birth of the Hoax in the Eighteenth Century”. Online talk, 7:30pm, register by e-mailing

17thLittlemore – Malcolm Airs “Nuneham Courtenay: ‘…one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world’”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, further information from

18th Abingdon – Tony Rayner “Cholsey – A Very Special Place”. Northcourt Centre, Northcourt Road, 7:45pm.

18thLongworth -Alastair Lack “Oxford of Inspector Morse”. Southmoor Village Hall, 7:30pm.

18thOxfordshire Gardens Trust – Susannah Charlton 20th-Century Gardens and Landscapes”. On-line talk, 6:00pm, register at

18thSibfords – John Wass “Plagues, then and now: 1665 vs. 2019/21”. Village Hall, 7:30pm.

18thWychwoods – Juliet Heslewood “William Morris and the Cotswolds”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, register by e-mailing

19thFinstock – Ruth Nissim and friends “After Female Suffrage – what happened between the wars (1919 – 1939)”. Village Hall, 8:00pm.

22ndHanney – Marie-Louise Kerr “Oxfordshire in Canvas: The portrayal of the county by famous and lesser-known artists and the history these images reveal”. War Memorial Hall, East Hanney, 8:00pm.

22ndMarcham – Richard Venables “My role as High Sheriff of Oxfordshire”. Marcham Centre, 7:30pm.

22ndMiddleton Cheney – Sue Smith “The Friends (Quaker) Ambulance Unit, in two world wars”. All Saints Church, 7:30pm.22ndTackley – Liz Woolley “How the coming of the railway changed Oxford”. Memorial Hall, 8:00pm.

23rdOxford Civic Society – Laurence Waters “Railways of Oxfordshire, part 2: branch lines in the Vale, including the Abingdon Branch, Didcot Junction to Uffington, Faringdon and the Wantage Tramway”. Rewley House, Wellington Square, 8:00pm.

23rd – Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society (OAHS) – Virginia Bainbridge “The Nuns of Syon Abbey from the Thames Valley before and after the Reformation”. On-line talk, 5:30pm, further information at (OAHS members only).

23rdSoldiers of Oxfordshire Museum (Woodstock) – Rolt Stuart and Thomas Hamilton-Baillie “Road to Colditz”. On-line talk, 7:00pm, watch live at

24thEnstone – Caroline Barron on “Women in Medieval London”. 7:30pm; e-mail for venue.

24thSouth Stoke – Marie Louise Kerr “Oxfordshire art with reference to South Stoke”. Village Hall, 2:15pm.

25thAston – Bill King “The Poppy”. Fellowship Centre, Cote Road, 7:30pm.

25thKirtlington & Bletchington – Haydn Middleton in conversation with novelist Tim Pears “You Couldn’t Make It Up! The challenges and charms of writing historical fiction”. Kirtlington Village Hall, 7:30pm.

25thLaunton – AGM and Christopher Young “World Heritage”. Parish Hall, 7:30pm.

29thCumnor – Martin Way “Glimmer in the dark”. Old School, 7:30pm.

Harold Herring’s box of photographic glass negatives, each one enveloped and carefully labelled.

The Oxfordshire History Centre (OHC) has received a donation of glass photographic negatives and other photographs, which give a fascinating glimpse into the Herring family and their life in the north Oxfordshire village of Blackthorn in the early 20th century. The latest blog post from OHC, The Herring family of Blackthorn and a donation of glass photographic negatives by photographic volunteer Marek Lewandowski, tells the story.

Read the blog post here.
The 13th-century Epwell Seal Matrix, found by a metal detectorist in 2015 a few miles west of Banbury, has gone on display at the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock. This exquisite object, of gold and jasper, was used to make an impression on a wax seal to validate a document or to seal it closed, and may even have belonged to Henry III.

Read more about the seal matrix here.
Dorchester Abbey Museum is advertising for a part-time voluntary curator, who will help to take the museum into the next phase of its development, and make a valuable contribution to the local community. The post would suit an enthusiastic, creative person with a keen interest in Dorchester on Thames, its people and history.

Further information here.
Oxford City Council has launched a new free audio tour about the Covered Market, The Un-Covered Market. It features stories and memories from shoppers and traders, poetry, and local historian and OLHA committee member Malcolm Graham talking about this history of this much-loved institution.

Watch a trailer and download the audio tour here.
The latest blog post from Morris Oxford is Balloon Madness. It tells the story of 31-year-old pastry cook James Sadler who, on 4 October 1784, took off from near Oxford’s Botanic Garden in a hot-air balloon, becoming England’s first aeronaut and a national celebrity.

Read the blog post here.
Five Blue Plaques have been unveiled by the Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Scheme this year, to an eclectic group  of individuals: Click on the links above to read about their life and works.
Town before Gown – Oxford before the University is one in a series of downloadable historic town walks by Joe Chick of the University of Warwick. The walk makes use of A History of English Places, the Victoria County History’s app, which shows your location on the first edition Ordnance Survey map and gives access to a short history of the surrounding area.

Download the walk, and read more about the app, here.
Tower mill, Great Haseley, 1978.

The Mills Archive Trust holds over 70,000 images of all kinds of mills, including over 160 from Oxfordshire. Many have been digitised and are available via the archive’s fully searcheable on-line catalogue.

View images of Oxfordshire mills here.
The Oxfordshire Family History Society is offering new members who join in November or December the rest of 2021 for free, plus the whole of 2022 for the usual annual membership fee of only £10 per UK household (£15 overseas).

Find out more here.
The latest newsletter from the British Association for Local History is now available. It includes information about forthcoming on-line webinars, and the 2022 Local History Photographer of the Year competition.

Read the newsletter here.
The latest publications from the Kidlington and District Historical Society (KDHS) are parts 1 and 2 of  Begbroke: 1760 to the present. The author is OLHA committee member and archivist at All Souls College Oxford, Norma Aubertin-Potter, who was born and raised in the village.

Part 1 is a general history of Begbroke, covering clubs, the pub, the shop and the main houses including Hall Farm, Begbroke Hill Farm and Orchard House, and the people who lived there. Part 2 focuses on the church and rectory. A further volume, part 3, will look at the history of Begbroke WI up to 1959.

Part 1 costs £5 incl p&p; part 2 (with full colour images of the church’s stained glass) costs £5.50 incl p&p. Copies can be ordered from KDHS or from
Peasant Perceptions of Landscape: Ewelme Hundred, South Oxfordshire, 500-1650 is a new book by Stephen Mileson (researcher for the Oxfordshire Victoria County History) and Stuart Brookes. Covering more than 1,000 years of local history, it provides an in-depth analysis of ordinary rural people’s experiences and outlook in the medieval and early modern periods, and offers new insights into villagers’ construction of social space and the way that settlement layouts influenced behaviour.

Further information and ordering here. Listen to author Stephen Mileson talking about the subject of the book here.
The British Modern Military History Society (BMMHS) (based in Woodcote near Wallingford) has published the second volume of Glimpses of War, a compilation of personal memories of wartime.

The book features stories, both military and civilian, of great heroism, tragedy and fortitude, and of ordinary people just ‘doing their bit’ in times of war. All profits go to the charity Blind Veterans UK.

Order your copy here.
We are sorry to report that Joan Howard-Drake died recently after a long illness. She and her husband Jack both made huge contributions to Oxfordshire local history over many decades, in the Wychwoods, where they lived, and further afield.

We hope to include a fuller appreciation in the next e-bulletin.
If you have any items for the next OLHA e-bulletin, please send brief text and low resolution images to Liz Woolley by 22 November.
Copyright © 2021 Liz Woolley, All rights reserved.

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