Category Archives: General interest

Summer visit to Buscot Park and Gardens – 14th June 2018

On June 14th a group of members visited Buscot Park for a guided
walk around the house. We were met by the Assistant Curator who
began by giving us a very informative introduction to the origins of the
house, its various owners and their interests.

The original house was built between 1780 and 1783 by Edward
Loveden Loveden who took a great interest in the development of the
Thames and Severn, and the Wilts and Berks Canals. The house
remained in the family until 1859 when it was bought by an Australian
gold trader named Robert Tertius Campbell. His main enterprise was
the setting up of a distillery to create spirit alcohol from sugar beet. This
was not a success and when Campbell died in 1887 the estate was
heavily in debt.

In 1889 Buscot was sold to Alexander Faringdon, later the 1st Lord
Faringdon – a very successful financier who became a leading figure in
the City, specialising in the promotion of railways both in this country
and South America.

In 1898 he entered Parliament and was a strong supporter of Joseph
Chamberlain. His management of Buscot included improvements to the
pedigree stock.

Gavin Henderson the second Lord Faringdon was a member of the
Labour Party, a convinced pacifist who supported the Republican
cause in the Spanish Civil War and served with great courage in the Fire
Service during the 2nd World War.

During his time the house was regularly used as a meeting place for
prominent socialist politicians, but the Arts were also well
represented.The Faringdon Collection, which is to be seen today,
represents the combined arts collections of the first two Lords

Our tour took us through the ground floor rooms beginning with the
main entrance which was furnished in the Egyptian style made popular
after the Battle of the Nile in 1798. We then moved into the Dutch room
which contained among others Buscot’s most famous painting,
Rembrandt’s portrait of Jan Six. Our guide talked to us in some detail
about the composition of the painting, which added to our enjoyment
and understanding.

The furniture included items from the Chippendale period with the
original gros-point needlework covers signed and dated 1771.
Our next stop was the dining room which held a particularly fine
Sheraton period table and a large set of red-leather covered dining
chairs originally commissioned by the 3rd Duke of Newcastle for
Clumber Park. We were also shown a pair of pictures made from
kingfisher feathers.

We entered the Saloon through fine mahogany doors which were a
survival from the original house. The room contained an exceptional set
of giltwood chairs and a settee all in their original silk upholstery –
almost identical to a suite dated 1808 to be seen at Fontainebleau.
The paintings in the Saloon consisted entirely of a series painted by
Burne-Jones illustrating the story of the Sleeping Beauty. Our guide
spent some time telling us about the symbolism in the pictures and the
history of their purchase and installation.

The final room we visited was the Drawing Room. The furniture dates
from the period immediately after the building of the house – the 1780s
and 1790s, and the paintings were Italian and represented the taste of
the 1st and 2nd Lords Faringdon.

In addition to our tour of the house we had a short time to enjoy the
gardens and grounds which were looking their best in the June
sunshine, and many of us were keen to return to see the rest of the
house and fully appreciate the gardens.

Summer visit to the Museums Resource Centre – Standlake 24th May 2018

On Thursday 24th May some members of the History Society were shown round
the Museums Resource centre in Standlake. They were greatly helped by two
Society members – Roger and Caroline Mentz, who work as volunteers at the

Before we were taken round we were given a brief summary of the history and the
work of the Centre, which had been founded in 1963 to serve Oxfordshire
museums. It was a purpose-built store and one of the first in the country. It is
home to about 100,000 objects, most of which are items of Social History, and
about 17,000 of them are classed as Archaeological objects.

Then we were shown a few of the most interesting pieces in the Centre’s
collection. Roger and Caroline had selected 5 items under the headings of Earth
Air, Fire, Water and Ether for special examination which they described to us and
which we could look at in more detail.

The first piece was a seal which had belonged to Roger de Cumnor, a lawyer in
13th century Oxford. He was known to have lived in Cumnor, at Cumnor Place, but
the seal had been found in Park End Street, Oxford, so it had probably been lost.
The second object was a fan that had once belonged to Alice Liddell, of “Alice in
Wonderland’ fame, part of a large collection of Alice’s belongings kept in the
Centre. It was beautifully decorated and made of tortoiseshell and a form of
plastic. Apparently plastic in its early days (late 19th century and early 20th) was a
high status material.

The third item was a rush taper holder, probably from the late 18th Century or early
19th. It had been one item in the ‘founding’ collection in the Centre, and at that
time the records were less complete than later.

Item no. four was a painting of Iffley Mill by ? Shaffrey. The Mill burnt down in
1908, and the painter had made paintings before and after the fire. Interestingly,
Iffley Church is in the painting, but not in the right place.

Item no 5 was a replica of an Iron Age mirror, beautifully decorated with marks that
seem to recall the surface of water, and burnished to resemble gold, though in fact
it is bronze. The reference to water raises the question whether at the time water
was a sacred material.

After this, the group was taken round the Social History section of the collection.
This is a vast and fascinating collection of objects of all kinds – from farming,
industry, commerce and the home, and ranging from old Mangles and Lawn
mowers through Typewriters, early TV sets and Photographic equipment to Farm
Wagons, a Witney Blanket Loom and a horse-drawn Carriage from Waterperry.
The visit was a really engrossing insight into the past of Oxfordshire.

AGM talk – “Oxford Pubs” (members only)

Speaker: Dave Richardson

Dave Richardson is a freelance journalist and author, and a resident of Kennington for over 30 years. Although he has specialised in travel and tourism for most of his career, he also now writes about pubs and brewing and is editor of the Oxford Drinker, the bi-monthly magazine of the Oxford branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Through CAMRA, he was approached by Amberley Publishing to write its book Oxford Pubs (one of a series covering many places), which duly appeared in 2015. His most recent book, Let’s Go – a History of Package Holidays and Escorted Tours, came out in 2016.

There will be some copies of Oxford Pubs for sale after the talk at a discounted price of £12.50 (cash only).