Author Archives: Bob Goodenough

Local Oxfordshire talks – September 2017

Information provided by the OLHA (

4th – Chalgrove – Colin Oakes “The role of women in the First World War”. John Hampden Hall, High Street, 7:45pm.

4th – Weston on the Green – Julie Ann Godson “1066: Oxfordshire’s part in the Norman Conquest”. Memorial Village Hall, 7:30pm.

5th – Hook Norton – Antonia Catchpole “Early Development in Chipping Norton”. Baptist Church Hall, Netting Street, 7:30pm.

6th – Otmoor – Brian Gilmour “In the footsteps of the Argonauts: Archaeological adventures in ancient Colchis (Western Georgia)”. Islip Village Hall, 8:00pm.

6th – The Oxfordshire Museum – Liz Woolley “The Common Lodging-House in Victorian England”. Coach House, Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock, 7:30pm.

11th – Chipping Norton – Amanda Ponsonby “The Sarsden Sheepwash”. Methodist Hall, West Street, 7:30pm.

11th – Radley – Peter Neal – “MG Cars in Abingdon”. Primary School, 7:30pm.

12th – Thame – Roger Mason “Votes for Women”. Barns Centre, Church Road, 7:30pm.

13th – Deddington – Jan Warner “Memories of Deddington in the 1940s and 1950s”. Windwill Centre, 7:30pm.

13th – Stanford in the Vale – Julie Ann Godson “1066: Oxfordshire’s part in the Norman Conquest”. Village Hall, 7:45 pm.

14th – Banbury – Steven Parissien “Compton Verney: Past, Present and Future”. Banbury Museum, 7:30pm.

14th – Wootton & Dry Sandford – Liz Woolley “Beer, sausages and marmalade: Food, politics and tourism in 19th-century Oxford”. Wootton Community Centre, 7:30pm.

18th – Adderbury – Stefan White “Skulduggery in the shrubbery: the sad, true and fascinating story of the Tradescants’’. Methodist Chapel schoolroom, Chapel Lane, 7:30pm.

18th – Goring Gap – Mark Stevens “Broadmoor revealed: The Victorian asylum – an introduction to Britain’s oldest secure hospital”. Goring Village Hall, 8:00pm.

18th – Kennington – Julie Ann Godson “Memories of the Vale: A lost way of life before the railways came to the countryside”. Methodist Church, Upper Road, 7:45pm.

19th – Witney – Kate Hornbrook “Place and field names in East Oxford”. Methodist Church, High Street, 7:30pm.

20th – Bloxham – Sarah Morris “The travels of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in Oxfordshire”. Jubilee Park Hall, Barley Close, 7:30pm.

20th – Littlemore – Clare Sargent “The History of Radley College”. Giles Road Community Centre, 7:30pm.

21st – Eysham – Mark Davies “Daniel Harris: gaoler, builder, engineer and architect”. Church Hall, Thames Street, 7:30pm.

21st – Sibfords – Liz Woolley “Oxfordshire and the Spanish Civil War”. Sibford Village Hall, 8:00pm.

21st – Whitchurch & Goring Heath- Alan Copeland “Eccentric London part 2”. Goring Heath Parish Hall, 8:00pm.

21st – Wychwoods  – Julie Ann Godson “Memories of the Vale: rural life before the railways”. Milton Village Hall, 7:30pm.

25th – Oxford Town Hall – Katherine Hughes “From South Wales to Oxford”. Part of the Journeys to Oxford project. The Old Museum, Oxford Town Hall, 2:00pm.

25th – Oxfordshire Family History Society – Tim Healey “Sex, Drink and Death in 17th-century Oxfordshire”. Exeter Hall, Oxford Road, Kidlington, 8:00pm.

25th – Launton – Stephen Barker “The Battle of Cropredy Bridge”. Grange Farm Mews, Station Road, 7:45pm.

26th – Enstone – Carol Hardy “The Rothschilds: family, fortune and philanthropy”. Venue tbc, 7:30pm.

26th – Hanney – Jill Hind “The History of the Oxfordshire Water Supply”. War Memorial Hall, East Hanney, 8:00pm.

26th – Kidlington – Valerie Offord “Miss Jemima’s Excellent Adventure:The tale of the first Thomas Cook package tour”. Moorside Place, off The Moors, 7:50pm.

26th – Sutton Courtenay – Ken Welsh “Prehistoric, Roman and Saxon Discoveries at Bridge Farm, Sutton Courtenay”. Village Hall, 7:30pm.

27th – Dorchester – Ellie Reid “Dressing Up the Past: Historical Pageants in Early Twentieth Century Oxfordshire”. Dorchester Village Hall, 7:30pm.

28th – Aston – Liz Woolley “Beer, Sausages and Marmalade: Food, Politics and Tourism in 19th-century Oxford”. The Fellowship Centre, Cote Road, 7:30pm.

A History of the Ridgeway

At our September 2015 meeting Russell Cherry, keen historian, walker and photographer took us on a photographic journey along a portion of the Ridgeway Path – an ancient trackway described as Britain’s oldest road used for over 5000 years. The journey, taken by Mr Cherry in 2004, covered many of the historical sites and points of interest along the way (with small diversions to local pubs!). The route follows the high chalk uplands which made travel easy and provided a measure of protection offering a commanding view over the countryside.

The journey started at Avebury in Wiltshire, a well known Neolithic stone circle  and continued  to other Neolithic sites including Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow and along the West Kennett Avenue, a stone-marked processional way  to The Sanctuary – originally a circle of timber posts from approximately 3000BC.

We then proceeded past Overton Hill with bronze age round barrows and on to the unusual dolmen (burial chamber) called The Devil’s Den and then onto another white horse chalk figure at Hackpen Hill. This was created in 1838 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838. Not far from Hackpen Hill is Barbury Castle, an Iron Age hill fort with its deep defensive ditches – the route crossed directly through the castle.

Less than 5 miles from Barbury Castle is Liddington Castle, a late Bronze/early Iron Age hillfort. At this point we crossed over the M4 and made a short diversion to Alfred’s Castle, a small Iron Age hillfort near to Ashdown Park – associated with the Battle of Ashdown (AD 871) where King Alfred won a great victory against the Danes.

We then reached an area perhaps more well-known to most of us – Wayland’s Smithy, an impressive Neolithic Long Barrow once believed to have been the habitation of the Saxon smith-god Wayland – and  White Horse Hill, Uffington Castle and Dragon Hill. Nearby, and perhaps a little less known is the monument commemorating Lord Wantage, Robert Loyd Lindsay. Lindsay was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Crimean War and was one of the founders of the Red Cross. He donated the Victoria Gallery building in Wantage (now a set of shops) and the statue of King Alfred in the market square.

Moving Eastwards, within a small woodland adjacent to the Ridgeway path, stands Scutchamer Knob. It is a raised earth mound and legend has it, that it is the burial mound of the Saxon king Cwichelm.

Finally, we completed our photographic tour of this section of the Ridgeway reaching Streatley, next to the River Thames. Our visit would not be complete without a final visit to a pub, The Bull where, in 1440, a monk and a nun were executed for “misconduct” – they are buried in the garden.

The History Society would like to thank Mr Cherry for his entertaining and informative talk.

Medieval Craftsmen

Our speaker in October, Mr John Brearley, attired himself in clothing as worn by Medieval craftsmen (the title of his talk) including the hood, which had a long “tail” known as a lirripipe. Workers would also have worn a linen or hemp apron.  He concentrated on the contrasting products and developments of woodworkers and stone masons through time.

The strength of the grain in wood, used in Britain, contrasted with “brittle” stone used by the Normans. Early tables, benches and chests had been made with slabs of wood, the chests decorated simply with roundels. The Great Table of Winchester showed the remarkable ancient method of jointing. Then styles from Norman stonework were adopted and items such as benches were made with frames. Apprentices worked long days from 4a.m. to 7p.m. for seven years with a master craftsman such as a carpenter, to become a journeyman, perhaps a carver or furniture maker. Towns had a wide range of craftsmen, such as weavers or housewrights, who were organised in guilds to protect and promote their interests. The sums paid to belong to guilds could be substantial: weavers in London paying £16, in York £10.

In time intricate decorated wooden roofs in churches prompted stone masons to create elaborate structures in stone and ornate fan vaulted ceilings were produced. Illustrations of both wood and stone carvings showed extremely intricate work, many items having been painted originally. The tombs in St. Mary’s Church in Warwick were given as examples. Mr Brearley finished his talk by showing a selection of carpentry tools that he had brought with him.