Author Archives: Bob Goodenough

Local Oxfordshire talks – November 2014

Information provided by the OLHA (

4th – Henley – Judy Dewey “The History of Wallingford”. Old King’s Arms Barn, King’s Road, 7:45pm.

4th – Hook Norton – Don Ratcliffe “The Croakers of Hook Norton and the Threat to the Open Village”. Baptist Church Hall, Netting Street, 7:30pm.

6th – Eynsham – Andrew  Moss “The History of the Old Radcliffe Infirmary”. Church Hall, Thames Street, 7:30pm.

8th – Sutton Courtenay – World War I Commemoration. All Saints’ Church 7:00pm.

10th – Chipping Norton – Richard O Smith “Oxford Eccentricity: a History of Mayhem and Mischief”. Methodist Church, West Street, 7:30pm.

10th – Goring & Streatley – Liz Woolley “Children’s Experiences of World War 2 in Oxfordshire”. Goring Village Hall, 2:30pm.

10th – Radley – Gavin Hannah “The Building of Nuneham Park”. School Hall, 7:30pm.

11th – Marcham – Tony Hadland “Foray to the Falklands”. Marcham Church, 7:45pm.

11th – Thame – Simon Baynes “‘This Royal Throne of Kings’: Shakespeare and English History”. Barns Centre, Church Road, 7:30pm.

12th – Deddington – Gareth Richard “The Poor of Deddington”. Windmill Centre, Hempton Road, 7:30pm.

13th – Banbury – Colin Harrison “Oxford and the Pre-Raphaelites”. Banbury Museum, Spiceball Park Road, 7:30pm.

13th – Wootton & Dry Sandford –  Stephen Barker “The City of Oxford during the Civil War, 1642-46”. Community Centre, Lamborough Hill, Wootton, 7.30pm.

14th – Charlbury – Charles Menteith “Non-Christmas Carols”. Memorial Hall, Browns Lane, 8:00pm.

14th – Wallingford – Rosey Meara “Recent Cotswold Archaeology Projects in Oxfordshire”. Town Hall, 8:00pm.

17th – Adderbury – Barry Davis “Adderbury at Leisure”. Methodist Church Schoolroom, 7:30pm.

17th – Bicester – Martin Way “Barrels, Barley and Beer”. Clifton Centre, Ashdene Road, 7:30pm.

17th – Kennington – Mark Davies “Oxford’s Historic Waterways”. Methodist Church, Upper Road, 7:45pm.

18th – Clanfield & Bampton – Paul Backhouse “Excavations at the First World War Burial Site at Fromelles”. Carter Institute, Clanfield, 7:30pm.

18th – Cowley – John Fieldsend “Kindertransport: Children in Search of Security in the 1930s”. Temple Cowley United Reformed Church, Temple Road, 8:00pm.

18th – Enstone – Janet Newson “Beakhead Doorways: Design and Mysteries of Romanesque Sculpture in North Oxfordshire”. Venue tbc, 7:30pm.

18th – Iffley – Tim Porter “The Cotswolds in the Wars of The Roses”. Church Hall, Church Way, 7:30pm.

19th – Bloxham – Roger Scanlan “The Past, Present and Future of Thatching”. Jubilee Hall, off Brickle Lane, 7:30pm.

19th – Littlemore – Members’ evening – discussion of past year, projects and social evening. Littlemore Community Centre, Giles Road, 7:30pm.

19th – Otmoor – Robert Harris “Women in Industry during the War Years”. Islip Village Hall, 8:00pm.

20th– Eynsham – Richard Smith “Bovington Tank Museum and the Battle of Cambrai”. Church Hall, Thames Street, 7:30pm.

20th – Longworth – Tony Hadland “Steam and Steel in the Vale of White Horse”. Southmoor Village Hall, 7:30pm.

20th – Sibfords – Gerald Lesinski “The Crown Jewels”. Village Hall, Sibford Gower, 8:00pm.

21st – Besselsleigh – Julie Ann Godson “The Water Gypsy: How a Thames Fishergirl became a Viscountess”. The Hayloft, Great Park Farm, 7:30pm. Tickets £5.00 in advance, £6.00 on the door. Contact

21st – Finstock – Bill King “WW1 – the First Two Years”. Village Hall, 8:00 pm.

24th – Launton – AGM. Grange Farm Mews, 7:45pm.

24th – Oxfordshire Family History Society – Shaun Morley “From Time Out of Mind: Custom and Ritual in 19th Century Oxfordshire”. Exeter Hall, Oxford Road, Kidlington, 8:00pm.

25th – Hanney – Martin Buckland “The Invisible Brick – Revealed in Language and Literature, Film and Fiction, Music and Murder, in the Local area and Much More”. War Memorial Hall, East Hanney, 8:00pm.

25th – Kidlington – Stephen Barker “The Story of the Chiltern Railways”. St John Ambulance Hall, High Street, 7:50pm.

26th – Dorchester on Thames – Paul Booth “A View from the Train. The Roman Archaeology of High Speed 1 in Kent”. Village Hall, 7:30pm.

26th – Ruskin College, Oxford – Margaret MacMillan “The Outbreak of the First World War: History and Memory”. Dunstan Road, Headington, 7:00pm. More info here.

27th – Aston – Tony Hadland “William Gill – A Victorian Explorer and Spy”. Fellowship Centre, Cote Road, 7:30pm.

English Eccentric Sports

We opened the 2014/15 Season on September 11th with a presentation on English Eccentric Sports by Richard O Smith. He is a local historian and comedy writer who contributes to the local press and BBC Radio 4 and has recently written the script for the film The Unbeatables starring Rupert Grint and Rob Brydon.

A wide range of eccentric and humorous competitive sports from Oxfordshire and other counties were described with a series of excellent illustrations, starting with a photo of Nigella Lawson playing Sedan Chair Polo as an undergraduate. Outside England we learnt that Scotland are the current world champions at Elephant Polo. One of our members had seen this in India earlier this year where her husband took part and made two scores. Other sports associated with the University include Tortoise Racing, originating in Corpus Christie in the 18th century and Armchair Dodgems at Wadham in the two decades before the first world war.

Richard described the annual cricket match on an exposed sand bank in the Solent, coincidentally on the very day it took place this year. Water also features in Extreme Ironing where we saw the activity being pursued under water as well as on the top of a high rocky crag.

In the mid nineteenth century Rustic Sports were held in Iffley, including Jingling (covered in bells) for a new hat, Hunting a Greased Pig and Climbing the Greasy Pole to win a leg of mutton. Aunt Sally is well known in our area but how many know it originally involved a live chicken instead of a doll? Over the country many eccentric sports involve food products. We have Pea Throwing in Lewes, Black Pudding Throwing in Ramsbottom, aiming at a pile of Yorkshire puddings just over the county border and there are several Cheese Rolling contests, Onion Eating, Nettle Eating, Pie Eating and Custard Pie Throwing.

Members showed particular interest in Wife Carrying races (Durham and Dorking) where the winner is presented with his wife’s weight in beer. Other races illustrated by Richard included Snail, Pram, Lawnmower, Mountain Bike Chariot and 100m in High Heels. A more comprehensive list of these and other bizarre sports can be found in Richard’s excellent little book on the subject published by The History Press in 2012.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday October 9th when John Brearley will talk about Medieval Craftsmen. Visitors (£3) are most welcome to join us at 7.30p.m. in Function Room1 and tea and coffee are served from 7.00p.m.

TortoiseRaceTortoise Racing, originating in Corpus Christie in the 18th century


Tin bath racing