This coming Thursday, the 14th December, we have Dr. Simon Townley of the Victoria County History coming to talk to us about the new research for the next volume. He and his team have been working on Wychwood Forest and Cornbury.
Wychwood was one of the great royal forests of England. In his talk he will be looking at its origins and organization, its use as a deer reserve and source of timber, and its clearance in the 1850s, as well as at the neighbouring Cornbury Park.
Simon Townley is Editor of the Victoria County History of Oxfordshire, for which he has researched and written the histories of over 25 towns and villages including Witney and Henley-on-Thames. He is currently working on Wychwood Forest and the surrounding area for a volume to be published in 2019. Few counties have been as fortunate as Oxfordshire in having a stream of the ‘big red books’ covering much of the county, parish by parish, and still coming. This work has been supported by the VCH Trust and many donations, but also by the University and by Oxfordshire County Council.
I am attaching a poster for this lecture (rather late I know) in case any of you can use it or send it on to friends who might be interested.
We have had some excellent news in the last week as we have been given a generous grant by Mr. & Mrs Pye’s Charitable Settlement in order to build the bookcases to house Jeremy Gibson’s library, which he so kindly donated to the society. We can now go ahead and have museum-quality bookcases made so that the books can at last be made available for reference.
The Banbury U3A History Group is organizing a trip to see the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s great battleship, on Tuesday 15th May 2018, and is issuing an invitation to members of other organizations to join them. The basic cost of the coach return fare and entrance fee is £25. For full details, and how to apply, open the attachment.
Banbury Museum has an exhibition on a the moment of wonderful landscape photographs from Iceland entitled Iceland, an uneasy calm. These are photographs by Tim Rudman and they will be displayed until January 20th.
There is also a mini exhibition (until January 6th) entitled The Indian Army in the First World war: Oxon and Bucks perspectives. The Exhibition is produced by Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum (SOFO), and the History Faculty at Oxford University in partnership with the Oxford Hindu Temple Community Project and the Oxford Muslim Community Initiative, and it shows the significant contribution made by the Indian Army in WW1. Men of the 1st Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry fought as part of the Indian Army in Mesopotamia (Iraq), and British and Indian soldiers fought and died side by side and are commemorated in places well known to us in recent times – including Basra, Kut and Baghdad .
I have received the December newsletter from OLHA (to which we all belong) which has information about all sorts of exhibitions and talks all over the county. If you would like to access this click this url.
I have another plea for those of you who live in Northamptonshire: now the libraries are under threat. Northamptonshire County Council needs to find £115m of savings to meet social care costs. They are proposing to close local libraries. If plans go ahead the worst case scenario is that Middleton Cheney library, including the universal Children’s Centre, will close altogether. It is possible that Brackley library will also close, leaving the nearest one in Towcester. For full details see
You can help stop this happening
Sign the on-line petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-middleton-cheney-library- open
Write an email to :
dedicated address firstname.lastname@example.org
your local countillor: email@example.com
your MP: firstname.lastname@example.org
spread the word by social media.
The consultation period ends on the 13th January 2018.
I have also received from two different sources a plea to alert local historians to a general threat to archaeology. Some of you will remember Ben Ford, who came to talk to us about the Westgate excavations. He has written to me and to others asking us to alert our memberships to this threat. He writes:
‘The archaeological excavations that I have talked to your groups about have come about through the provisions of the UK planning system and are funded by the developers of those projects. The principles that underlie this system stem from EU directives, such as ‘the Polluter Pays Principle’, the “Precautionary Principle’ and the ‘Preventative Principle’…….however, since a vote by our MPs in the House of Commons on November 15th 2017 these principles will not be commuted directly into UK law via the EU Withdrawal Bill. Before you worry, this is not a political message, and I am not advocating any particular stance on Brexit, I am simply saying that the future of so much of the archaeological work in this country (90% +) now rests on how our MPs and the House of Lords choose to proceed.
There is a significant groundswell of opinion within the heritage groups, CBA, CIFA, Society of Antiquaries, Rescue et cetera that action needs to be taken now and over the coming months and years to safeguard our nations heritage and archaeology from un-necessary destruction during construction without any archaeological investigation or record. It is my firm belief that everybody who loves the archaeology of our islands should have a chance to help if they can. Therefore I am writing to inform you of an ‘open letter’ drawn up by Rescue for which they are looking for cosignatories, the open letter, which as I write has over 2,100 signatures can be found here:
as you scroll down their page you can read the letter and then add your signature by pressing the Sign Now button and filling out the boxes.
Also if your members feel inclined, you can find the name and useful advice on how to contact your local MP here – http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/
And if members are interested in reading further on this, and what our professional body the CIFA (Chartered Institute for Archaeologists) are saying and doing, they will find this an interesting briefing issued by them on 30th November here:
I am sharing this with you as I think it is important, and I apologize if some of you would rather not come across this sort of campaigning in an enewsletter which is ostensibly just informing you of what’s on.
With best wishes