The Society

The following is an extract from an article written by one of the Founder members, Bridget Rudge entitled “The First Ten Years” which appeared in “Reaching Back”, a booklet produced in 2000 to celebrate the new Millennium and our first ten years. It can be borrowed by members from the Society’s library.

“The Wootton, Dry Sandford and District Society was conceived when Sheila Allen entertained Mary Grey and myself to coffee in December 1988, knowing that we were all interested in learning about the origins and development of our villages. We decided to arrange a meeting at the Community Centre to discover if there were others with similar interests, to be publicised in the “Community News”. This was held on Thursday 23 February 1989. Twenty six people attended enough to encourage us to set up a steering committee. This met twice during March and April, and was advised by Bob Evans, Chairman of the Cumnor History Society, whose constitution was adapted for our own use.

The inaugural Meeting was held on Thursday 25 May 1989. At this meeting the Constitution was adopted and the Committee formally elected and subscriptions of £5 for individuals and £7 for family members were agreed and paid. We then heard Judy Thomas, the compiler of “Abingdon In Camera”, talk about “Local History from Photographs”. This was followed on 22nd June by a guided tour of Cumnor and its church led by members of Cumnor History Society.

The stated object of the Society according to its Constitution is “ the furthering and promotion of interest in History with particular reference to LOCAL HISTORY of the area”. This we have attempted thorough the work of individuals and small groups who have researched the documentary history of the area and have recorded landscape features, buildings and oral reminiscences”.

It is now 2014 and the Society has been going for 25 years. In the early years both Mary Gray (Wootton) and Bridget Rudge (Dry Sandford) and others researched their villages and wrote articles. Dry Sandford Archives and Mary Gray’s researches are in the Society’s archives.

Over the years we have carried on the pattern set at the beginning. The Committee consists of six people who serve for three years and are not eligible for re-election for another year. The Annual General meeting is held in April when two members stand down and two new ones are elected. At the first Committee meeting the jobs are allocated. There are six indoor lecture meetings, a party and the AGM and members evening. In the summer there are three out and about meetings, often connected to the previous winter’s lectures.

The variety of subjects covered has been immense from transport on roads and waterways to history of buildings and industries; social conditions especially in workhouses; archaeological digs in the area; the Botanical Gardens and many more.

Then there are the summer outings, I think we have had walks round most of the villages in the area, but I’m sure there are more subjects to cover and places to visit in the next 25 years.

Sheila Allen (2014)