The latest news from the
Oxfordshire Local History Association (OLHA)
May 2021
Detail of ‘The Polling’ (1755) by William Hogarth, one of a series depicting the Oxfordshire election of 1754 (from Sir John Soane’s Museum, in the public domain).

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.
Samuel Ireland, ‘Magdalen Bridge rebuilt, 1785’ (image courtesy of the British Library, ref P1010231a)

OLHA’s spring study meeting and AGM will take place on Saturday 15 May, 11:00am to 12:30pm, via Zoom.

The short AGM will be followed by an illustrated talk on The Oxford Paving Commission by Dr Malcolm Graham. The commission was set up 250 years ago, in 1771; its activities (which included rebuilding Magdalen Bridge) transformed Oxford’s physical appearance and had far-reaching effects on how the city operated.

There is no charge for attending the AGM and talk, but please register by e-mailing the membership secretary, Liz Woolley, before 5pm on Wednesday 12 May. You will then be sent instructions as to how to join the meeting via Zoom.
The British Association for Local History (BALH)’s series of on-line digital skills workshops, webinars and talks continues with:
  • The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Researching Disability History, Wednesday 5 May, 6pm
  • Archiving Your Local History Collection, Saturday 8 May, 10am
  • How To Self-publish Your Local History Research, Wednesday 12 May, 6pm
Further information and booking here. Don’t forget to use OLHA’s special discount code - F-21506O - to qualify for a reduced rate.
The Community Archives and Heritage Group is running a webinar for local history groups, Digital skills: Getting your collections online, on Friday 21 May, 10:30-1130am.

This free event will explore how groups can provide access to their heritage collections online, what softwares are available for doing so, and guidelines for cataloguing community archives. The tutor, Jack Latimer, runs the company CommunitySites which recently set up the Oxfordshire Family History Society’s new website.

Find out more about the webinar and how to register here.
The annual John Wesley Lecture will take place on Thursday 27 May, 5pm, via Zoom. Dr Nigel Aston will talk on Hanoverian Oxford and the fashioning of John Wesley. The lecture is presented by Lincoln College, Oxford, and the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History at Oxford Brookes University.

The event is free and open to all, but you must register by noon on 25 May.
The British Association for Local History (BALH)’s annual Local History Day will be held on-line on Saturday 12 June, 1:30-4:30pm.

The event will include BALH’s 2021 AGM; the 2021 Local History Awards (and don’t forget that Oxfordshire’s Dr Malcolm Graham is the winner of this year’s Personal Achievement Award); and the BALH Annual Lecture Local history after the pandemic: some thoughts for the future by Prof Nick Barratt (above), TV historian and Director of Learner and Discovery Services at the Open University.

The event is free and open to all. Further details and registration here.
Looking for speakers for your group’s 2021/22 programme? OLHA’s substantial directory of speakers and tour guides is often updated, and now shows which speakers are able to deliver their illustrated talks via Zoom or similar on-line platform.
A passion for art and history led Sarah Somerville to complete a degree in Museum and Gallery Studies in 2014. She worked as a tour guide and later in the Public Opening and Events department at Highclere Castle (also known as Downton Abbey).

In 2019 Sarah became Visitor Services Officer at Shaw House, an Elizabethan manor house on the outskirts of Newbury in Berkshire. She recently published the first Shaw House guide book and gives talks about the house’s fascinating 400-year history.

To find out about Sarah’s talks and how to contact her, click here.
Many Oxfordshire history societies are offering talks on-line. For a detailed daily listing see OLHA’s website.

Here is a selection for May:
Cleaning the near-complete mosaic floor at North Leigh Roman Villa which, thanks to volunteers, will soon be on regular display to the public for the first time since the early 1990s.

Congratulations to the recently-formed North Leigh Roman Villa Volunteers who have been awarded a Commendation by the Heritage Alliance for outstanding heritage voluntary work in 2020. This national commendation recognises the collective efforts of 25 local people who have given over 1,000 hours of their time to promote North Leigh’s Roman Villa site as a resource for well-being and education throughout the pandemic. During the summer of 2020, the volunteers held a series of successful open days, hosting over 1,250 visitors.

North Leigh was one of the largest villas in Roman Britain, occupied for over 300 years. At its most extensive in the early 4th century CE it included three bath suites, sixteen mosaic floors and eleven rooms with under-floor heating.

The villa site is managed by English Heritage; find out more about visiting the mosaic here or by e-mailing the volunteer group.
Thames Valley Archaeological Services (TVAS) have recently produced two publications on their excavations at Tackley Roman Villa. The site, a large Roman villa complex, turned out to be much more important than anticipated, with a bath house, hypocaust, and underfloor central heating system. A mosaic floor will be donated to the village and put on public display.

There’s more information, including a downloadable talk by the chief archaeologist David Sanchez, on the website of the Tackley Local History Group.

TVAS’s full report, A Roman Villa at Street Farm Tackley, Oxfordshire, has 225 pages and 43 colour plates and costs £25. The colour 14-page booklet Excavation of the Roman Villa at Street Farm, Tackley, Oxfordshire, is £5.

Both publications are available from Sue Ashton or via the TVAS website (search for ‘Tackley’ in ‘Title’).
A glazed tile set high up in the side wall of 202 Abingdon Road in New Hinksey, which reads ‘RP, Jun 29, 1849’. The probable owner of the house was Robert Palmer, a brickmaker.

The South Oxford History website has recently been relaunched with an updated design and new content.

The history of South Oxford goes back to the early medieval period when south of what is now Folly Bridge was all open marshy meadowland, bisected by a huge causeway or grand pont of forty arches, the probable site of the original ‘oxen ford’ which gave the city its name. Later the area was home to Oxford’s first waterworks, railway station and football ground, and to the Victorian and early 20th-century suburbs of Grandpont, New Hinksey and Cold Harbour. It contains a castle, a lake, and a footpath known as the Devil’s Backbone.

Explore the website here.
Didcot Railway Centre is open again for special open-air steam days on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

A heritage trail helps visitors to explore the 21-acre (mostly outdoor) museum which presents almost two centuries of railway heritage with special displays of historic steam engines, goods trains and locomotives. Short journeys by steam train are also available.

Further information and booking (with a 20% discount for pre-booking on-line) here.
The latest newsletter from the British Association for Local History (BALH), with details of events, talks, podcasts and blogs, can be found here.
A reminder that the The Victoria County History of Oxfordshire Trust is looking for a new treasurer as Liam Tiller, who has fulfilled the role for sixteen years, is stepping down for health reasons.

The Trust is an independent and voluntary charitable body set up in 1997 to raise funds for the completion of the Victoria County History of Oxfordshire (VCH). Working in partnership with the County Council and with the Universities of Oxford and London, it directly supports research and writing, and since 2011 has been the VCH’s primary source of income.

If you would like to discuss taking on this valuable and rewarding role, please contact Liam Tiller.

4thBritish Modern Military History Society (Woodcote) – Mark Taylor “Ships and Stars and Isles”. On-line talk, 2:00pm, register by e-mailing

4thMuseum of Oxford – Mark Davies “Lewis Carroll and the Pre-Raphaelites”. On-line talk, 6:00pm, book via

5thFriends of the Oxfordshire Museum – Liz Woolley “The Victorian and Edwardian development of East Oxford”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, register by e-mailing

6thCharlbury – Alice Prochaska “How it became respectable to educate women: the past, present and future of the women’s colleges at Oxford”. On-line talk, 8:00pm, register by e-mailing

6thOxford Preservation Trust – Tom Hassall “Turning the bridge – saving the Rewley Road Swing Bridge Part II”.  On-line talk, 5:00pm, book via

10thRadley – Alastair Lack “The Oxford of Inspector Morse”.  On-line talk, 7:30pm, register by e-mailing

10thWeston-on-the-Green – Simon Wenham “Salters Steamers”. Village Hall, 7:30pm.

12th – British Modern Military History Society (Woodcote) – John Peaty “Lawrence of Arabia – Man, Movie and Myth”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, register by e-mailing

17thGoring Gap – Liz Woolley “A History of Brewing in Oxford”. On-line talk, 8:00pm, register by e-mailing

18thIffley – Tom Doig “The Victorian Way of Death”. 7:30pm, venue/Zoom tbc, e-mail for confirmation.

19thBloxham – Victoria Bentata “Einstein and the Refugee Scholars in Oxford”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, register by e-mailing

19thEnstone – ffiona Perigrinor “A Medieval Pilgrim”. Contact to check details.

19thLittlemore – John Stewart “The History of Littlemore Hospital – from Victorian pauper asylum to mental health institute”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, further information from

20thAbingdon – Liz Woolley – “The Coming of the Railway to Oxford”. On-line-talk, 7:45, members only.

20thThame Museum – Catherine Taylor “Rothschild Money Moving Mountains”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, tickets from

20thWychwoods – AGM and Julie Ann Godson “Oxfordshire in the Past”. On-line talk, 7:30pm, register by e-mailing

25thHanney – Mark Davies “Artists in Wonderland: The Pre-Raphaelites in Oxford” . 8:00pm, War Memorial Hall, East Hanney, or via Zoom; e-mail by the preceding Saturday for further information.

If you have any items for the next OLHA e-bulletin, please send brief text and low resolution images to Liz Woolley by 25 May.
Copyright © 2021 Liz Woolley, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp