Adderbury Garage or Three Ways Adderbury

Richard Plackett, a local carrier, decided to move from horse and carrier’s cart into motorised transport based at Three Ways Adderbury.  He was the father of Lucy who gave money in 1938 for a community/playing field

The field behind the house  known as Plackett’s field and the petrol pumps  were  the reason that the Hollis family bought the property as they had an interest in horses  possibly more so than selling petrol, as I understand the daughter was a successful eventer. When they sold to the petrol company they bought a horse riding school.

In 1957 on December 3rd, the Jones family, consisting of my mother Bettina (Betty) and my step father Albert (Jerry) and step brother Allan arrived in Adderbury to take on the running of a garage which had been bought by the National Benzole Company.

Jerry, with the financial support of his father George, had since the 1930s had a garage on the Alum Rock road in Birmingham which was kept working by his sister during the war, while he was stationed on Benbecula.  At this time he also  lost Allan’s mother to cancer.

He and my mother married in 1953 and he, succumbing to the desire of my mother to take the children out of the city, asked the petrol company to let him know of any country sites for which they needed a manager.  Two sites, that of Nell Bridge and of Adderbury were offered.

The Garage on the junction of the Oxford and Aynho Roads at Adderbury was typical of many at the time with petrol pumps mounted inside of the pedestrian pavement with arms that swung out to fuel the vehicles which were parked on the road or the unpaved area next to the kiosk.

It might be of interest here to mention that obtaining fuel via a petrol pump direct to the car did not happen in Britain until the early 1920s; petrol was sold in sealed two gallon cans and the move initially from hand operated pumps such as the Gilbert & Barker pumps used by Tommy & Edith Thacker further down the road only took place once customers accepted by the use of a sight glass that they were getting what they had paid for.  On our way to catch the  school bus from outside the Coach & Horses I would often talk with Mrs Thacker if a local was getting fuel and on occasion Mr Thacker in his workshop/storeroom.

Set back from our pumps which were, in fairness electric, was a dirt area with a wooden kiosk, which even by the standards of the day, was basic, but the saving grace from the petrol company’s point of view was the development potential which included a substantial house with a large front garden and a decent sized corrugated sheet metal  workshop which had been built by Richard Plackett to house his Bus which offered the first motorised  transport between Banbury and Oxford .

When we arrived and for some time afterwords a milking cow or two was kept in the field by Frank Neal – uncle to Anne who had the adjacent Green farm. 

Soon after we arrived and with the removal of the front garden and kiosk and the shortening of the workshop, a new forecourt was created with the new pumps mounted centrally so that vehicles could come off the road for refuelling. All of this was long before the installation of the traffic lights on the junction.

The garage continued to grow with a car sales site (Jerry was not interested) leased to John “the Bishop” and later to Roy Betts. Fuel sales weathered the results of Suez crisis in 1956, the embargo in 1973 and the second crisis in 1979,some time after which Jerry could not agree terms with BP who had taken over via Shell from National Benzole as the landlords. So my parents retired to the Leys  and the tenancy was then taken on by Derek Benefield from Deddington for a short time, before being sold in 1982 for the housing  development you see to day , both on the immediate Garage site and latterly on the adjacent field.  The house was demolished by a wrecking ball as part of the destruction scene in a TV production of “Blot on the Landscape. “

My mother was active in the WI being president for a while and father was heavily involved in the cricket Club,  donating and maintaining the machinery. After my apprenticeship in agricultural engineering and a time abroad I returned to help father in the garage until he retired. 

The First picture was taken during 1958 (I am stood by the pump) and the second picture was taken after the refurbishment in 1960 with the Neal’s barn, and church in the background. The final picture taken in the  seventies shows the cars for sale and the traffic lights.

Bill Baker

Janet Blunt and Adderbury Morris (Blue Plaque speech by Brian Sheppard)

The following text was the introductory talk given by Bryan Sheppard on September 27th 2009 at the unveiling of the Blue Plaque in memory of Janet Blunt.

Bryan gave the manuscript to AHA after the talk. It therefore seems fitting after the untimely death of Bryan to  print the talk on the History Association website.

Janet Blunt was born in India on 28th April 1859, the daughter of Charles Harris Blunt, a Major General in the Royal Bengal Artillery stationed at Umballa, a military station in the Punjab. After the death of Janet’s mother, Mary, in 1892, Charles retired from active service and brought his family back to England, and lived here at Halle Place. After he died, Janet, a spinster, became a benevolent ‘lady of the manor’.

Between 1907 and 1931 Janet made a remarkable collection of songs, carols and Morris dances in this village. She was inspired initially by the recollection of songs that her father sang, along with the work of Cecil Sharp and his contemporaries. Whereas other collectors travelled and cycled long distances in their chosen areas of research, Miss Blunt was able to amass a significant collection of songs and Morris dances from the community in which she lived; leaving us with a vivid and priceless record of social music making and Morris dancing.

Janet was effectively the Lady of the Manor in Adderbury West and as such was very much involved in running the estate she had bought from the Risley family. Through her contacts with the tenants and villagers, she was able to note down 125 songs from 46 different singers living in Adderbury and the surrounding parishes. Indeed, people in the village remembered as children hiding under the open window and listening to the old men singing with Miss Blunt playing the piano and writing down the songs and tunes.

Janet Blunt’s housemaid Winnie Wyatt had worked for her from the age of 13. When Miss Blunt died Winnie’s cottage was left to her – (the building-over there). After the funeral when Halle Place was being cleared, most of Janet’s song books and manuscripts were heaped into a number of cardboard boxes and put out for the bonfire! Luckily Winnie knew how important the songs and dances were, saved them and sent them off to the English Folk Dance and Song Society. These manuscripts are now available on line for everyone to see. Without Winnie Wyatt, none of these wonderful old songs and indeed the majority of the Adderbury Morris dances would have survived!

William ‘Binx’ Walton was one of Janet Blunt’s best informants. He was a stonemason, shopkeeper and the landlord of the Wheatsheaf pub up on the Oxford Road. He gave her songs and the local Morris dances which he remembered from his dancing days in the mid 19th century. The Waltons were also bell ringers and Binx recounted how they once took beer to the belfry, got drunk and fell down the stairs and were subsequently banned from the Church.

Perhaps the most famous part of Janet Blunt’s collecting was the detailed notes on the distinctive Adderbury Morris dances, largely gleaned from William Walton and his brother John. The Walton brothers demonstrated the dances on the lawn here at Halle Place using maids and other servants to make up the dance sets! Janet spent many hours meticulously noting down the dances and tunes, and describing the dances in layman’s terms in such detail that they could be reconstructed by the revival Morris team in the 1970’s – but more of that later.

Interestingly there had been an earlier revival of Morris dancing in Adderbury in 1908 at the school in the village. A lady came from Oxford, possibly from Mary Neale’s Esperance Dancers, and, with the help of two old villagers, probably the Waltons, taught the dances to the children. (It is probable that it was in fact one of the Miss Leigh Hoskins who taught the children in 1908 – see Tim Radford’s article, “Female Influences on Morris Dance in Adderbury”, elsewhere on this website.)

One of those pupils was Charlie Coleman a well known village resident and son of the local blacksmith. This team of Adderbury dancers continued to dance after leaving school appearing at various village events and according to Charlie, were proud to lead the Adderbury Club Day parade on many occasions.

We do know the names of some of the other dancers in this team; through my conversations with Charlie Coleman in the early 1970’s they were:- brothers Percy and Ronald Pargeter, George Robins and Harry Wallin. They all went to fight in the First World War but only Charlie Coleman returned and so Morris dancing once-again died in Adderbury.

After the Great War, Miss Blunt referred William Walton to Cecil Sharp, probably in the hope of seeing the Adderbury Morris dances published. According to the Reverend Gepp’s History of Adderbury, Sharp came to this village to visit Walton. However, Janet Blunt, and indeed Cecil Sharp himself maintain that William, or Binx as he was better known, went up to London to stay with his daughter and whilst there visited Cecil Sharp. By this time Binx was 83 years old and blind, and was to die two weeks later. Sharp wrote of this meeting ‘After I had danced Jockey to the Fair to him, Walton said it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and then added ……….. ‘Of course I can’t see anything – I’m blind!’

Cecil Sharp duly, as Miss Blunt had hoped, published his interpretation of the Adderbury tradition in his series of Morris Books. However. Roy Dommet a well known latter-day authority on the history of Morris dancing, pointed out that “…..unfortunately 1919 was in the period that Cecil Sharp appears to have pressurized informants, as at Abingdon, Brackley and Wheatley, and his interpretations cannot be completely relied upon if there is alternative evidence…”.

What Cecil Sharp subsequently published was then somewhat at odds with that noted by Janet Blunt who had carefully some years earlier recorded, albeit in layman’s terms, what she saw. She maintained that all the dances except “The Happy Man” were double stepped, while Sharp has one as a three four step and one as a single step. She also refers to the hand movements as swinging forward and back’ again in contrast to Sharp’s ‘dip in, dip out’ hand movements. In addition Sharp seems to have introduced new movements like processional up and half gyp, whilst leaving out other movements that didn’t fit into his model of dancing gleaned from his earlier work on the Headington Morris Dances. This meant that there were two very different ways of interpreting the Adderbury Morris dances.

So let’s now leap forward fifty or so years to early 1974 when I decided to try and revive the Morris Tradition in the village having learnt to dance with Barry Care, the ex-squire of the Morris Ring at Moulton in Northamptonshire. Together Barry and I delved into Cecil Sharp’s manuscripts at Clare College in Cambridge which in turn led us to Janet Blunt’s work. Barry’s passion for the tradition cannot be underestimated and it was with his encouragement that I embarked on reviving Morris dancing in Adderbury.

My enthusiasm being stimulated I tried to arouse some interest in the project amongst my friends from the village. People like Phil Taylor, Charles Hall, Jim and Bill Plester and others showed an interest and I felt the nucleus of a team was there. Around the same time I received a call from John Leslie explaining that Tim Radford, who had recently moved to Banbury from the south coast, was teaching Morris Dancing at an Adult Education Class in the town. He went on to say that I would be welcome to go along. This I did and met with Tim and the “students” who were learning basic dances from the Headington Tradition; I joined in and helped with the teaching. At the end of the session I shared the fruits of my research into the Adderbury Morris with Tim and we agreed to join forces. The following week the students along with a few Adderbury people began practicing the Adderbury dances in the village and the revival was up and running.

During the first year of performance in 1975 the team split into two for reasons I won’t go into here. The Adderbury Morris Men continued to dance in the style advocated by Cecil Sharp and dressed in the costume described by him. The newly formed Village side, where membership was restricted to villagers and people from surrounding parishes, took a more radical approach and looked back in more detail at Miss Blunt’s notes and reinterpreted the dances. This included performing dances with songs; a style which is unique to this village. They also decided to wear a different costume and this was based on the memories and photographs of Charlie Coleman, who as I mentioned earlier was a member of the pre First World War revival Morris team and was the last link between the old dancers and the current Morris sides.

So in conclusion today is a very important day for the Village of Adderbury. A day to remember a very special lady, born just over 150 years ago, without whose foresight the world renowned Adderbury Morris tradition would never have been recorded.

I hope you will join me in saying a big thank you to Janet Blunt. I feel sure she’s up there somewhere listening to us!

Thank you Miss Blunt.

Bryan Sheppard

Rhoda Woodward Tribute 10: My own school memories from 1930 to 1939

Rhoda Woodward’s most ambitious contribution to the history of the village of Adderbury was her account of the Schools of Adderbury. In the first two parts of this account she wrote about the Boys’ School, the Girls’ School and the Infants’ School, using material in the archives of New College, the log books maintained at the schools from 1872, HMI Reports and entries in the Parish (later Deanery) magazine. The final section recounted Rhoda’s memories of her own schooling in Adderbury, and it is this section that we are re-publishing here as the final element in our tribute to the work of Rhoda Woodward.

My own memories of the Infants and Girls Schools date from the 1930s. It is likely that not much would have changed since the beginning of the century. Toilets were still outside, cold and bare, with rusty chains that worked most of the time, except when there was a spell of severe frosty weather. The only hand washing facilities consisted of a chipped sink in the corner of the porches: each one had a cold brass tap, a bar of household soap and a damp roller towel fixed to the back of the door.

Inside, the walls were still painted over the bricks; in spite of all the requests by HMI they never did get plastered. As no-one lived in centrally-heated homes, I suppose we were reasonably warm; each week one pupil was chosen to check the temperature of the rooms and record the results in red ink on a chart which was usually pinned to the cupboard door. As long as the thermometer did not drop below sixty degrees Fahrenheit it was considered to be quite warm enough. A large tortoise stove which burned coke heated the pipes which ran round the rooms. Teachers used to put a pan of water on top of the stove to disperse the coke fumes.

In spite of all the so-called improvements to the windows in the infants school, the big room always seemed gloomy. On very dull days the teacher would have to lower the big lamps from the ceiling, which then had to be lit with a match. It was necessary to get the wicks turned up just the right amount or they would smoke, making the glass black with soot. Both the teachers and the caretakers, who would have been responsible for filling up the lamps with paraffin and trimming the wicks, must have been very relieved when electricity, which had recently come to the village, was installed in 1936.

Physical exercises, or ‘drill’ as we called it, was done out in the playground or, in the case of the older girls, in the road outside the school, as there was not much traffic went up and down Mill Lane at that time. If there was snow on the ground or it was pouring with rain, we would perform our ‘knees bend arms stretch’ at the side of our desks with all the windows open – usually just as the room was getting warmed up. All the windows had to be opened using a long pole with a hook on the end, as they were high so that children could not see what was going on outside and be distracted from their work.

There was no such thing as P.E. kit, although we were supposed to wear plimsoles. We girls had to tuck our frocks in the legs of our knickers, which at that time had legs threaded with elastic. If this broke one leg of our drawers would hang below our skirt and make us the laughing stock of the rest of the class.

At playtime the sound of singing could be heard as we played the same rhyming games as our grandparents must have done; after all, they taught us the words. ‘The farmer’s in his den’, ‘Nuts and May’, ‘Ring of Roses’ and ‘The Good Ship Sails through the Illy Allu O’ are a few that I remember.

Some games changed with the seasons in some mysterious way that I never did get to know when or of any set date. For a while it would be whip and top time; we made our own whips from a length of string – the best sort came from the Co-op grocery parcels. A top cost a penny but were often kept from year to year. Sometimes we would put coloured paper or chalks on the top to make them look pretty when they spun. Then there would be a time for skipping ropes and then ball games. There were quite a few different games could be played by throwing a ball against a wall. In the girls’ school playground we used to throw quite large balls against the wall at the side of Moorey House, but they never complained, although it must have made quite a noise inside their house.

I started school at five years of age. We were each given our special peg for our coats; I do not know how many children could read their own names but probably could recognise their own coat. The new ones sat in small chairs behind small tables, in the small room known as the babies’ room, the second term ones on long desks behind us. I remember that first morning: one of the older children brought round shallow trays of sand for our first lessons; we learned to write the letters and figures that our teacher, Miss Dale, wrote on the blackboard in the sand with one finger, a new figure or letter each day. On Friday we were taught to do small sums and words from the 1,2,3,4 and the A,B,C,D that we had been taught. As each week went by , more and more numbers were added, so that we learnt to read at the same time; it was a very simple but effective way of teaching. When we could show teacher that we could do the lesson, after the blackboard was cleaned we were given another tray and a lump of plasticine; teacher worked with the ones that were a bit slower to learn. While teacher was concentrating on the new ones the next class would be using work cards and a tin of counters to help with the arithmetic, and while they were being taught we would be given the plasticine again or pastels and a drawing book with black pages separated by a sheet of tissue paper.

We were all expected to know the three Rs by the time we went into the big room the following year. After that first year, there were always end of term examinations, which were  all written out by the teachers on the term’s work, and a report, also hand written, though I believe the main part was done on an ancient copier by the boys at the boys school.

Even at that tender age we had the usual history and geography, tables, problems, addition, subtraction, multiplication and mental arithmetic, nature study, sewing, knitting and singing, accompanied by Miss Dale on the piano. The vicar came to give scripture lessons once a week and on other days we had bible stories and sang hymns.

Our teachers often read to us, especially the younger ones, to illustrate a history lesson or to tell us about places in other lands. Even the older ones enjoyed listening to stories, which would sometimes be a chapter from one of the classics. They had a way of making it all sound so real.

As we got older, lessons gradually became more difficult but had to be done properly; if not, it was not unusual to be asked to stay in at playtime and do the whole lesson again. Talking was not allowed in class time and along with any other misdemeanour could result in having to write out 50 or 100 words again at playtime. All words had to be of at least five letters and could not be copied straight from a page from the dictionary; two words the same would always be noticed. Most other schools seemed to get lines, but we got WORDS.

Year after year, if any new books came we would be asked to bring a sheet of brown paper, which was easy to obtain as all groceries from the Co-op were delivered in a brown paper parcel. We were then taught to cover the books to keep the original ones clean and sometimes to renew covers on the older books.

The first arithmetic books had squared pages and the writing books a wide space and a narrow one: this was to teach us to keep our figures and letters to a uniform size. History, geography and nature study books had a plain page between the lined one, which was used to draw maps or to illustrate a lesson. There was also what was known as rough books; these were for a first effort when we had to write a composition or essay. Any spelling mistakes or bad English would be marked with the dreaded red or blue pencil and, when corrections had been made, copied into our best writing books. Should any of these mistakes be repeated, which they often were, there would be more blue pencil and a not very complimentary remark and all to be written out ten times.

Sewing class was always a very important lesson, or hand work as I believe it was called in the infants school. For the first ones we had to fray the edges of a piece of material and later to stitch a border with coloured silks. Then there was wool work; with a blunt needle with a large eye we made borders and designs on canvas. When we had progressed to a larger rectangle, it could be folded into three and two thirds stitched together to make a bag with a flap. With two press studs added, we had a handbag, which in those days was called a pochette, which was proudly tucked under our arms when we went to Sunday School and which housed our secret treasures.

As we moved up in class, we began to make clothes, starting with a baby’s bib, which, like future garments, had to be faced with bias binding, which we had to make ourselves by cutting strips of a contrasting material on the cross. There was a special way of joining these strips so that it made a longer piece and did not pucker when it had been sewn with running stitches and then turned and hemmed on the wrong side; the ties also of the binding had to be over-stitched. Other garments were pinafores, a nightdress, several different types of frocks – the first very plain and graduating to gathered skirts, and finally, in the last year, our own choice of material and pattern. This was the only time we were allowed to use the sewing machine.

We were allowed to buy the things that we had made or, if we did not want them, they were sold at the end of term. As well as clothes we did embroidery cushion covers and table runners; this was a long narrow cloth placed across the centre of the table when it was not being used for a meal. Sometimes some of the gentry ladies, who still visited quite regularly, would ask for something like this to be made specially for them. Only the very best needlework scholars were chosen for this task.

Nobody at that time had thought of forming a P.T.A.; we had fetes and concerts to buy the equipment that we needed. When the West End tennis courts were built we raised money for tennis racquets; there was enough to buy cricket bats for the boys and some large rubber balls for the Infants. We had to find sixpence to play on the courts: I think that would have allowed two of us an hour. The headmistress gave up her evening to coach us. Our very best purchase must have been in 1936 when we raised enough money at a concert to buy a large electric wireless. All three schools could then enjoy a new form of teaching as we listened to the schools radio programmes. Our prize possession was carefully returned to its cardboard box and pushed from school to school by two of the older boys on a wheelbarrow.

Should one of us finish the set work before the end of term, the headmistress would often bring a pile of her own mending for us, which was also supposed to teach us to make do and mend. Instead of the usual darning one year I was given the task of letting a piece into the back of a waistcoat that belonged to her husband, who was also headmaster of the boys school. Shortly afterwards there was a school outing to London: we went by train and while on the platform I was reminded by some friends that the Headmaster was wearing the waistcoat and how I would be in big trouble if my stitching came undone. I did not enjoy my day as I was worried that his waistcoat would fall off, and was very relieved when he arrived back at the station all in one piece.

During the last two years at school we were taken to Deddington by coach to cookery classes, which were held in a rather dingy hall. There was a cold tap but no sink, except a portable one which was erected in the middle of the room, with a large bucket underneath to collect the waste water. Each week two girls would be responsible for emptying the bucket: should it overflow, the penalty would be having to get on our hands and knees and scrub the floor.

In the mornings we would plan a meal and go across to the grocers to buy the ingredients: we were able to buy the dinner at cost price to eat for our midday meal. In the afternoon we would make cakes, each pair would have to complete their allotted cleaning job – usually something had to be scrubbed – and write notes on the day’s work. We did learn quite a lot of practical, plain cooking methods.

There were only two teachers to each school after the Infants, which, after the first year, had the six to eight year olds in one room. The age group eight to eleven were in the small room at the girls’ school, with eleven to fourteen year olds in the big room. We left school at fourteen.

These were pre-war years and there was not much choice of employment. A few girls went to work in one of the shops or factories in Banbury, although there were not so many then. Most school leavers went into domestic service; it was not unusual for the job to be arranged by one of the parents or relatives without the boy or girl having much say in the matter. There was certainly not much advice from the schools on planning our future.

There was, however, a reasonable amount of health care. The health nurses still called to inspect heads at regular intervals. Oh, how we dreaded that we would be called out to go into the porch to have stuff put on our heads: I only remember that there were one or two that did. There were not many school rules, but we were not allowed to wear jewellery and long hair had to be tied back and not loose on shoulders. The dentist called and there were medical tests and eye tests: if there was a problem the health nurse would come and give an extra eye test. A test card was always pinned up in the school.

Everyone walked to school, very few people would have owned cars. Some children came from outlying farms or Milton but still seemed to get there on time. Being late was a serious offence. We always seemed to form groups and walk down together, the older ones looking after the younger ones. After the first day children went to school on their own; if your mother brought you to school you were called a titbab.

The number of pupils according to school photographs was always well over fifty to each school and thought by inspectors tom be overcrowded when they came. We all got very excited when we read in the Deddington Deanery Magazine that ‘A church senior school site had been approved and secured by our Managers on the Milton Road, and that they had instructed the architect to prepare detailed plans for the practical subject rooms and three classrooms to be the first stage. Until the Board of Education has told us just how much they require it is impossible to estimate the cost, but at Mr. Stilgoe’s suggestion it was agreed to set to work to raise money for the school.’

Adderbury and Bloxham held a big fete as they would have used the school as well as Adderbury and we bought blue stamps with ‘Adderbury School’ printed in white lettering, each one costing a penny. However, it was not to be; when a new school finally came it was for a new generation and on a different site.

When I left school in July, 1939, war clouds were gathering and by September we were at war. Pupils were no longer expected to go into domestic service: there were more opportunities as people were needed for war work and to fill vacancies in jobs when men and women had been drafted into the forces or to do war work.

Rhoda reverted to the school log books to tell the story of Adderbury’s schools in wartime. She brought her history of these schools to a close by showing how they changed once all senior pupils moved to secondary schools after 1950. She then concludes her history in the following words.

A tribute should be paid to all those hard-working people who through those years cleared ashes, carried coal and cleaned the schools. The canteen ladies who managed to prepare all those meals on wartime rations and the Institute caretaker who kept the Institute boiler fire going by begging old shoes and rubbish to help out the coke ration. The Adderbury schools could not have survived without them

We were always told that our school days were the best years of our lives. It is only years later that I have come to realise how well we were taught. The discipline was hard to take at times, but must have stood us in good stead when a few years later we were called up or had to take any type of war work we were told to do – something which brought an new independence we had not known before.

Rhoda Woodward

Jackson’s Oxford Journal and Adderbury

Jackson’s Oxford Journal was a weekly newspaper founded in 1753 by William Jackson, which continued in one form or another until after the First World War. For the first fifty-five years of its existence Jackson’s Oxford Journal was the only local newspaper serving Oxford and surrounding areas and hence Adderbury.

Jackson came to Oxford as a young man of 28 in the 1740s after completing his apprenticeship as a printer in London. In 1747 he had made a start by launching a paper called The Oxford Flying Weekly Journal and Cirencester Gazette, but despite having a very experienced partner and despite some attractive inducements to potential readers, the venture only lasted two years before folding. The truth was that at that time there had to be a very good reason for consumers to buy a new-fangled thing like a local newspaper, especially when government stamp duty, taxes on paper and advertising meant that the cost was not inconsiderable.

Four years later, in 1753, Jackson saw a new opportunity in the gathering preparations for a parliamentary election in 1754, and on 29th September 1753 he published the first edition of Jackson’s Oxford Journal, bearing this masthead.

The Oxfordshire election of 1754 was the most important in the eighteenth century – it also attracted lots of other superlatives: the most notorious, the most violent, the most literary, the most expensive. It gave people a chance to judge just where the country stood – on the government of the day, and on the relatively new Hanoverian monarchy. Such chances came about rarely; at that time politicians preferred not to have elections at all – they were hugely expensive and the outcomes were always doubtful. Much better to arrange things among themselves. It was the Duke of Marlborough who tore up the usual rules, because he wanted the constituency in which he lived to reflect his own beliefs and to supply him with members of parliament that he could deploy at will. This could only be achieved by getting rid of the two sitting members.

As far as Jackson was concerned:

“[He] could not have ventured at a more auspicious time. This altogether extraordinary election, in a constituency centred about a famous University City, provided him with the three indispensables: sensational ‘copy’; a public avid for news, and, more especially, for scandal; and a large corps of educated literary volunteers, who were competent and eager to supply both gratis.” ( R.J.Robson, 1949: The Oxfordshire Election of 1754, OUP, p.29)

This is what Jackson said in his first edition about his plans for the paper as a whole:

“This paper will be more complete than any that has hitherto appeared in this Part of the Kingdom. For besides the Articles of News, foreign and domestic, in which we shall endeavour to surpass every other Paper, our situation will enable us to oblige our Readers with a particular Account of every Transaction relating to the present Opposition in Oxfordshire”
Saturday 5th May 1753

It’s said that people who found newspapers always have two aims in mind: to influence events and to make money. In the course of the 1754 election, Jackson put his newspaper at the heart of current events in Oxford. This was something that he continued to do throughout his reign as proprietor, setting his journal apart from many others at the time who survived on national stories, often plagiarised from London newspapers.

With his Journal established as a result of the 1754 election, Jackson now had to make money out of the venture – something which he managed to do with great success over the next forty years or so.  Cover price was one element: his virtual monopoly gave him some flexibility here, and he encouraged people to take out subscriptions rather than pay separately for each copy. He also seems to have solved the problem of distribution, important particularly for the rural hinterland. The third element was advertising, with the whole of the front page often devoted to advertisements. One sort of advert was particularly attractive to him – ones for patent medicines. The manufacturer could be charged for the insertion (although there is virtually no cost involved) and be charged again when the product was sold on his behalf – either at the Journal’s central office, or anywhere it is delivered.

Jackson also managed very successfully to make his various enterprises over the years seem a natural part of Oxford life. Jackson’s the printers was the place you went to have things printed or bound. Jacksons Journal was where you went to find out about Oxford events or to publicise news of your personal successes. If you were going out of Oxford, you needed to have copies of the Journal kept by for your return in case you’d missed something. Jackson also consolidated his position as a printer. The University at the time had two privileges. One was the exclusive right to print almanacs. Their own printing enterprise, however, had “fallen into torpor”, as one account put it, despite the fact that it had moved into magnificent new buildings. Jackson took over the printing of these almanacs in 1768 and continued for another 20 years. The University had an altogether more significant privilege in the right to print bibles, but again here they were in trouble because of the incompetence of their own printers. In 1780, an alternative was found. It was agreed to admit master printers into partnership who could take upon themselves ‘the care and trouble of managing the trade for our mutual advantage’. It was to be in the form of a joint-stock company, with 48 shares of which the University as ‘owner partner’ held half. Expenses were to be shared equally with the partners and profits equally divided. Who better to take on the Oxford end of this than the successful businessman, William Jackson, especially as this entitled him to call himself ‘Printer to the University’, never bad for trade? This system was so successful that it was recommended as a model to Cambridge University by their Commissioners in 1852: ‘We are satisfied that no Syndicate, however active and well chosen, can replace the intelligent and vigilant superintendence of those whose fortune in life is dependent upon its success.’ Finally, in 1782 Jackson took over the Wolvercote Paper Mill, thus securing supplies for his businesses and towards the end of the eighteenth century he joined with others in the establishment of a bank.

By the 1770s Jackson had his printing business in the High Street, next to the Covered Market. In 1771 he became a leading member of the Paving Commission for the city and in 1786 he received an honorary bailiff’s place and the freedom of the city, although he played no part in council affairs. As soon as the turnpike road to Buckingham and London through the fields of Headington was started in 1775, Jackson bought land beside it and built a country mansion, Headington House, which was finished by 1883. To go with it, he purchased the lordship of the manor. With all this we can truly say that he had arrived.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal and Adderbury

Given that for a large part of its life Jackson’s Oxford Journal was the only local paper serving Adderbury, there are two questions we can reasonably ask:

  • What picture of Adderbury emerges from the coverage of the village provided by the Journal?
  • What picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the Journal emerges from what we know independently about the concerns of Adderbury at this time?

The coverage of Adderbury life in Jackson’s Oxford Journal was fairly detailed. The British Library’s holdings of the Journal have been digitised and we can ask, for example, how many mentions of Adderbury there are in the nineteenth century? This is the answer, using the British Library’s own categories:

Advertising                                                    2031
Arts & Sports                                                    92
News                                                             1258
People                                                              179

TOTAL                                                          3540

This works out at about one and a half mentions every fortnight through the century. The interesting categories are Advertising and News.

We expect there to be advertisements in Jackson’s Oxford Journal – in some editions the whole of the front page might be made up of them. But to find so many advertisements associated with the name of Adderbury is at first surprising; the village was not a large centre of trade, after all. Part of the explanation lies in the British Library’s classifications: they treat as advertisements, for example, all announcements about creditors and debtors. And into the same category go announcements about the meetings and various dealings of Turnpike Committees – and since Adderbury was on the route of three turnpikes it’s not surprising that the village is mentioned a lot. However, there were Adderbury concerns that wanted to advertise goods and services in Oxford and Oxfordshire. The most numerous of these seem to have been private schools, particularly boarding schools, followed by Adderbury’s pubs – and in particular the Red Lion. It makes sense that pubs would seek to advertise beyond the village, since pubs played key roles in the nineteenth century property market, whether as locations where interested parties could get details of properties for sale, or as locations where auctions would take place.

It’s in the News section that Jackson’s Oxford Journal comes closest to characterising Adderbury. The Journal knew that, outside of Oxford and the small number of towns in its area, it would be addressing itself to largely agricultural communities, and, within those communities, to farmers and landowners. In its centenary edition in 1853, it boasted that “The Oxford Journal has for very many years made a special feature of agriculture. Almost every Landowner and Farmer in the County is a Subscriber. [It has] … great popularity among the agricultural and trading classes.” This audience would want to know about the detail of sales at agricultural shows both locally, regionally and nationally and would be interested in the weather, the state of the market generally, and in  particular the cost of foodstuffs, and the prices obtained for stock and agricultural products. And the numerous farming stories would be linked with the name of Adderbury because of the success of Adderbury’s farmers.  – largely, but not exclusively, successive generations of Stilgoes at Adderbury Grounds Farm.

In addition to this, it’s clear that the Journal kept itself well informed of developments that could affect country estates. As early as 1859, for example, it reported:

“The prospects of this County developing its mineral resources is apparently becoming clearer. A shaft is being sunk on land belonging to His Grace the Duke of Marlborough in the parish of Northleigh; mining operations are commenced on the estate of Mr Chamberlin at Adderbury; measurements and levels have been taken by skilful engineers for a tramway intended to convey iron ore from Dr. Wilson’s estate at Over Worton to the Somerton station of the Great Western Railway; while miners … are at the present time procuring, from a depth of thirty-five yards below the surface, a quantity of ‘green stone ore’ at Steeple Aston.”

Beyond farming, the two major types of news that were of interest to the nineteenth-century newspaper reader were death and crime, and Jackson’s Oxford Journal assiduously followed the reports of the various courts and the activities of the coroners at the time. The picture of Adderbury that emerges is pretty mundane, though. There are deaths in the village, of course, but the ones that become newsworthy for the Journal are mostly the result of accidents at work, particularly those resulting from the use of machinery. And the crimes reported are mostly to do with petty theft, particularly the theft of foodstuffs from farms or public houses or animals from public pounds.

The other question, about what conclusions we can reach concerning Jackson’s Oxford Journal from its coverage of Adderbury, is more complex. We have other newspapers to provide a comparison, the Banbury Guardian from 1838 and the Banbury Advertiser from 1855, as well as knowledge about village affairs derived from other sources such as the Parish (later Deanery) Magazine. And on this basis it’s possible to suggest that the coverage provided by Jackson’s Oxford Journal needs to be supplemented if we’re to gain a complete picture of Adderbury, because it seems that the Journal’s coverage is limited by the interests of its “natural” readership, by its own admission the landowning and professional classes; the coverage also reflects the reports it received and hence the news it could print, as well as the social and political outlook of the Journal itself. We have to assume, for example, that the opening of the Banbury and Cheltenham Through Railway in 1887, a fairly significant event for the village, was not reported in the Journal because it had little significance for its agricultural readership. We can also notice that when the Journal did include local news, it was likely to take an unusual approach to it: it did occasionally, for example, report on an Adderbury Club Day. But it spent virtually no time on the entertainments and parades. Instead it reported on the accounts of the various friendly societies, something that would be of greater interest to its readership who might be involved with the administration of such societies in their locality. Similarly, many articles printed by the Journal were submitted by local Church of England clergymen, as the most literate inhabitants locally and it may be this that accounts for the fact that the Journal did not report on the grand opening, involving more than 500 people, of the Methodist Church in Adderbury in May 1893. Finally, we can notice that the Journal has a preference for accounts of village life that emphasize common purpose and harmony. It was certainly the case that the Journal did not report on the “bitter contention” between villagers and landowners over allotments in Adderbury that was covered in the Banbury Guardian in May 1893.


Returning finally to William Jackson himself, he died in 1795. Throughout his life he had taken good care to ensure that his private life remained private, and his obituary in his own journal was amazingly brief and generalised.

“Died on Wednesday Morning last, aged upwards of Seventy, William Jackson, Esq. Proprietor & Publisher of this Journal ever since its first Establishment. In his publick Characterisation his Loss will be long felt. In private Life he was warm in his Attachments, and sincere in his Friendships.”

Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 25th April 1795

There is only one mystery and that is his will. He left £10,000 to his sister, a widow in Leeds, but virtually everything else (house, business and property) to a certain Mary Jones, who had effectively run the business for many years. We will never know whether Jackson simply made a logical choice – Mary knew more about the business than anyone else, so should inherit – or whether there was more to it.

Phil Mansell

The Southern Oxford Canal: A Story of Survival


Over the 230 years since it first opened to Oxford in 1790, the relationship between the Southern Oxford Canal and the village of Adderbury has never been either close or straightforward (see the paper. “Adderbury and the Oxford Canal over 200 years” elsewhere on this website). But the canal, which traverses the parish from north to south, is in 2020 still in rude health as a waterway and retains the great majority of its historical artefacts, all of which now have Grade II listed status. This stretch of canal is also among the busiest on the whole of today’s canal network, with 3956 lock movements recorded at Nell Bridge Lock in 2018, for example.

This situation has not come about by chance. This paper looks at the broader historical factors well beyond the village that have led to the canal’s survival. Not surprisingly, the key issues turn out to have changed over time.

The Oxford Canal in the 18th Century

The initial problems of the Southern Oxford Canal are well known, with construction delayed at Banbury for twelve years because the company ran out of money. But this should not blind us to the fact that the enterprise was extremely well-founded, and it was this which, more than any other factor, contributed to the company’s success in the following century.

There’s no doubt that Sir Roger Newdigate was the one man who gave the canal its original character and caused the Oxford Canal to get off the ground so early in the day. His energy was prodigious, and once he had lobbied and encouraged all the necessary groups to come together to seek a parliamentary act, he was no less assiduous in guiding the act through its various stages. He was then for many years Chairman of the Oxford Canal Company. Newdigate’s motivation was threefold. First, perhaps as a result of seeing large-scale canal schemes on his two grand tours in Europe, he undoubtedly believed in James Brindley’s original vision: the construction of a “silver cross” of canals to link the main river systems of England. Secondly, he wished to bring economic benefits to Oxford, where he was a long-serving MP for the university. But perhaps most significant was his wish to open the collieries on his Arbury estate and find markets for their output on the model of the Duke of Bridgewater’s phenomenally successful canal into Manchester.

So the main features of what we can call the business plan of the Southern Oxford were in place from the outset: it had national rather than purely local strategic importance, and it “had coal behind it” and was intended to convey this commodity to London via Oxford and any number of canalside markets large and small, all of which were ready to purchase large amounts of coal for domestic and business purposes.

The Nineteenth Century: Competition with the Railways and other canal routes

In addition to the factors mentioned above, the Oxford Canal had two further advantages to enable it to combat competition from the railways and from other canals during the nineteenth century. First, it was to the canal’s long-term advantage that it was built early, before the large cost increases associated with the era of the Napoleonic Wars. Second, the company was conceived as providing only the infrastructure over which others could travel, trade and do business, with its income hence deriving from tolls alone. These two factors together meant that the company was able to earn substantial revenues from the outset and had paid the debts associated with its construction by the middle of the century. It was then able to take action in the face of dissatisfaction on the part of canal carriers and the threat of a rival, more direct route to London, to shorten and straighten the part of the canal between Hawkesbury and Braunston. Work started in 1829 and the new line was opened on 13th February 1834 at a cost of £167,172. The route was shortened by almost eleven miles.

Reliance on tolls is sometimes said to encourage a largely passive management style, but in the case of the Oxford Canal it was something which repeatedly proved its effectiveness in negotiations with other canals (where passage over the Southern Oxford’s waterway could be allowed providing there was ongoing recompense for lost tolls) and in providing an easy way of coping with competition (whereby tolls could be lowered, for example, quickly and with the minimum of administrative complexity).

A measure of its success was the fact that, after a century of competition from railways and from the alternative canal route to London provided by the Grand Union, the volume of traffic passing over the Oxford canal as a whole remained much what it had been a hundred years before. What had dropped as a result of competition were the toll receipts and the fact that the more profitable long haulage business had been lost to competitors.

The Twentieth Century Survival: War, Decline and State Intervention

The threats to the canal’s continued survival in the 20th century were greater in number and variety and even more severe in their effects than had been experienced hitherto.  Two world wars robbed the canals of the manpower they relied upon, competition from the fledgling road haulage industry robbed canals of short haul traffic, falling demand for coal led to much reduced activity, while a huge backlog of maintenance issues built up, well beyond the ability of an individual company to manage. Together these problems meant that only government intervention could solve the canal’s problems.

The first round of government intervention came when it was clear that conscription in the First World War had robbed the Southern Oxford Canal together with the other canals of the men needed to keep the canal trade going. As a result, a scheme was agreed which compensated the canal companies for the business they had lost.

The second government intervention was much more far-reaching in its effect and came with the nationalisation of transport by the incoming Labour Administration after the Second World War, in 1948. It has sometimes been claimed that the government of the time was initially unaware that it had nationalised the canal system: many of the canal companies had come to be the property of railway companies, the real focus of the nationalisation movement, with the canals entering the process by default. Whatever the truth of this, it appears that the government had no plan for the nation’s waterways at the time of nationalisation. In the event, it took twenty years until the Transport Act of 1968 for a clear picture to emerge. In this Act, Minister of Transport, Barbara Castle, proposed a tripartite division of the waterways into commercial waterways, that were believed to have a viable future, leisure waterways, which would receive government funding for their maintenance, and remainder waterways, for which there would be no public support.

The recognition of the leisure uses of canals owed a lot to the work of Tom Rolt, whose popular 1944 book, Narrow Boat with its descriptions of the unchanged way of life on canals, proved attractive to many with increasing amounts of leisure time, and to the activities of the campaigning group, the Inland Waterways Association, but also, it appears, to the views of Castle herself. She wrote in her 1993 autobiography, Fighting all the Way, that:

“A source of satisfaction was what I was able to do for the canals. I had always been fascinated by inland water­ways. I had been on a couple of canal holidays with Jimmie and had been struck by how quickly one could escape from drab industrial surroundings as one slipped between the hedges lining the towpath in a flat-bottomed boat. I believed that messing about in boats was a leisure activity which should be increasingly available to everyone.”

There remained a problem for the Southern Oxford Canal. The canal was by this time in bad shape physically and the question was whether it would make it into the category of leisure waterway, or would it be consigned to be a remainder waterway with no financial support and no protection by legislation? In the event, it seems that an amount of subterfuge was required. The story has been told a number of times. Here is one version (Robinson, 2008):

“The death of the veteran canal boatman Jack Skinner, at the age of 88, severs a link going back more than 200 years in the tradition of the coal and freight-carrying trade on Britain’s canals … in 1967, he helped to save the Oxford canal from closure …. Treasury officials had recommended filling in the waterway, arguing that it was no longer commercially viable. Jack was asked to take Barbara Castle, then minister of transport, on a fact-finding trip from Thrupp to Lower Heyford. He took the precaution of going out the night before and getting the cooperation of the lock keepers en route to make sure there would be enough water in the pounds to give the impression that there was more water in the near-derelict canal than there actually was. “She never knew the difference – and it done the trick,” he recalled. Castle decided to save the canal, ultimately securing enough subsidy to keep open 1,400 miles of commercially non-viable canals for pleasure cruising. Everyone who now enjoys fishing in the Oxford canal, or cruising on it, or walking along the towpath should remember with gratitude the trick that Jack played.”

Twenty-first Century Survival: The canal as “heritage asset”

The survival of the canal forward from the late twentieth and into the early twenty-first century looks rather more certain than at any previous time its 230-year life. The reason for this is that the canal, and indeed canals in general, have come to be seen as part of the national heritage, with, as we have seen, local canal assets enjoying Grade II listed building status.

It is difficult to provide a chronological history of the growth in importance of “heritage”. Even the word itself is difficult to define. But it is undeniable that public interest in the past is at an all-time high, as witness the unprecedented membership levels for the National Trust and English Heritage, together with the coverage of historical and heritage topics in television programmes and popular magazines. The beneficial role that canals can have in urban regeneration projects has been shown, particularly in Brindley Place and Gas Street Basin in Birmingham and in Gloucester Docks, and the National Waterways Museums at Ellesmere Port, Gloucester and Stoke Bruerne have provided a focus for historical interest.

But the event that had perhaps the greatest influence was remote from canals. During the August Bank Holiday in 1980, developers demolished the Firestone Tyre Factory on the Great West Road in London. It was widely believed that the demolition was carried out in anticipation of the building becoming listed in the near future. There was a public outcry, and, as a result, the relevant government minister, Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Heseltine, took a series of measures which had the effect of shaking up the old-fashioned and slow-moving protection system described by Thurley (2013). He speeded up the listing process, enlarging its scope to include nineteenth and twentieth century buildings, and in 1984 created a new quango, English Heritage, to become the government’s principal statutory adviser as well as take on responsibility for the sites previously managed by the Ministry of Works. Ten years later, the creation of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 1994 provided another confirmation of the importance that heritage had assumed.

Certainly, the latest body to have responsibility for the canals, the Canal and River Trust created in 2012, appears to have little doubt that heritage Is a key part of its role, as the following extract from the Trust’s 2018 Annual Report shows:

“The canals and river navigations cared for by the Trust were created for industry and serve very different purposes today. They are free to access and use. They contribute to the physical and mental wellbeing of communities, visitors and volunteers; adding to the quality of life of those who participate and engage with them. They run through towns and cities and across rural areas and permit a range of leisure activities and enjoyment of nature and heritage in a way that few other attractions do. The Trust’s historic waterways deserve to be cherished and passed on to future generations, so that they too may benefit from and enjoy them. The Canal & River Trust is the custodian of a rich and diverse waterways heritage in England and Wales, much of it over 200 years old. Many of the Trust’s heritage assets are designated as scheduled monuments, listed buildings and conservation areas.”

Phil Mansell


Castle, B (1993): Fighting all the Way. Macmillan.
Compton, H.J. (1976): The Oxford Canal. David & Charles.
Cowell, B. (2008): The Heritage Obsession. Tempus.
Robinson, C. (2008): Obituary of Jack Skinner. Guardian, 16th June.
Rolt, L.T.C. (1944): Narrow Boat. Eyre & Spottiswood.
Thurley, S. (2013): Men from the Ministry. How Britain Saved Its Heritage. Yale University

Lady Charles Paulet and her daughters

Joan Frederica Mathewana Granville (known among close friends and relatives as Mathewana) was the daughter of Bernard Granville of Wellesbourne Hall, Warwickshire. She was born at Calwick Abbey Staffordshire about 1830 a direct descendant of Admiral Sir Richard Grenville, the naval hero of Elizabethan days.

On August 10th 1850 she married the vicar of Wellesbourne, the Reverend Lord Charles Paulet (born 13th August 1802). He was the second son of Charles Ingoldsby Paulet 13th Marquess of Winchester and Anne Marchioness of Winchester. At the time of the marriage Charles was aged 42 and Mathewana aged 20. She was his second wife, he previously having married Caroline Margaret Ramsden the daughter of Sir John and Lady Ramsden.

Charles and Mathewana had three children. They were Ernest Ingoldsby Paulet born August 22nd 1851 who died on February 5th 1853 aged 18 months; Adela Paulet born February 22nd 1854 at Wellesbourne; and Eleanor Mary Paulet also born at Wellesbourne in May or June 1858.

On July 23rd 1870 Charles, aged 67, died at 34 Regency Square Brighton leaving approximately £45,000. The result was that Mathewana at the age of 40 needed to find somewhere for herself and her two daughters to live. Lady Paulet seems to have been financially secure and in 1871 they were lodging with Hannah Ravenhill at Leamington Hastings in Warwickshire. Over the next four years the family seem to have based themselves in the Manor or Clarendon hotels in Leamington Spa. They also stayed for the ‘season’ in various resort hotels such as at Buxton and Torquay. After moving to Adderbury Lady Paulet and her daughters continued to winter on the south coast or across the channel. Torquay and Cannes were two of her favourite destinations.

Towards the end of 1874 the Paulets arrived in Adderbury but why they choose here is unknown. During the twenty year period 1874 to 1894 the family played an important part in the life of the village including the church. The Paulets moved into Hall House in West Adderbury, known today as Le Halle Place. This was rented from the Risley family. The first thing Lady Paulet did was to change the name of the house to the Manor House. Although the house had never been a Manor presumably the new name was more in keeping with her status. The change of house name was quickly followed by a change in the name of the road from Mud End to Manor Road.

The first record of the Paulets in Adderbury comes in the Adderbury Parish Magazine for January 1875 when the ‘Misses Paulet gave their talents for a concert for the benefit of Mr Wells the organist and in February 1875 the Magazine stated that Lady Paulet entertained a large gathering of aged guests on the 6th January, who sat down to a good dinner, the women afterwards being entertained with tea, while the old men enjoyed their pipes. The Miss Paulets with Mr Crow were very active in attending to the wants of all present.

The Paulet’s generosity was a feature of their life in Adderbury and the wider world. Lady Paulet was involved in a lot of charitable work as a patron as well as an organiser of events.

Whilst living at Wellesbourne and Leamington she gave donations to a variety of charities, orphanages and causes such as the Girls Industrial School. She was patron of St James the Less church and school building fund in Liverpool and these good causes continued to be supported by her after the move to Adderbury. In 1877 £5 was given to the Stafford House committee for the relief of sick and wounded Turkish soldiers and The Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser for 26th January 1880 noted that Lady Charles Paulet had sent a present of twelve pairs of blankets for the Duchess of Marlborough’s Relief Fund.

Whilst living at Adderbury she continued her earlier connections by supporting national charities as well as those in Leamington and Birmingham. Lady Paulet was particularly keen on helping women in need. At Leamington she ran an annual stall to raise funds for the Charitable Repository for the benefit of gentlewomen in reduced circumstances and she also supported the Royal Patron of Temperance – a house for women inebriates.

In 1885 at the Adderbury Flower Show Lady Paulet showed her support for the elderly people of the village by supplying tea for those who were on Parish Relief and she also paid for them to have free entry to the show. At the same show she paid and arranged for children from the Banbury work house to attend. Again in 1887 she sent and paid for the transport, attendance and tea at the show of 30 Banbury workhouse children. During the winters of the 1880s soup kitchens were begun in the village to which Lady Paulet gave monetary donations. Between 1881 and 1894 Lady Paulet also made an annual donation to the village school’s clothing fund. By 1889 her daughter Eleanor had become secretary of the local district for the Oxfordshire Working Guild. This charity made garments for the poor and these were distributed around the parishes of the county.

Some other village groups that benefitted from Lady Paulet’s generosity were the Drum and Fife band (a donation for new musical instruments) and the fire brigade (new uniforms). She also gave £20 towards the parish room fund. The Milton Branch of the C of E Temperance Society was given a donation and there were several donations towards the Reading Room Club over the years. She regularly invited various village groups to the Manor House for a meal. These included the choir, the bell ringers and the farmers.

Both Adela and Eleanor followed in their mother’s footsteps by supporting what was happening in the village. They were involved in raising money and supporting the church. During the Paulets’ time in Adderbury the daughters made various things for the church. These included white silk offertory bags, two alms bags for Milton church and on another occasion some green embroidered silk hangings for the church. The daughters, along with Lady Paulet and Mrs. Cobb, produced a set of altar carpets for church festivals.

In 1878 at the Choral Association gathering of the local Deanery a new banner for the church, was given as a gift by Eleanor and Lady Paulet presented a violet Pall to the parish. This was a cloth that was spread over a coffin or hearse at a funeral.

Regular donations were made to the Sunday School between 1877 to 1894 and in 1889 a reredos for the side chapel was planned. Lady Paulet offered a piece of oak for a Triptych, i.e. a centre frame picture with sides to fold over. Miss Grace Wilson undertook to paint the picture, and when the organ needed retuning and cleaning Lady Paulet gave £2 towards the cost. She was also very generous in supporting the restoration of the church and hosted public sales of work at the Manor House to raise funds. In 1888 the Churchyard was improved on the north side by turfing the edge of the border, and by putting up fences to keep people off the grass. This was paid for by Lady Paulet as was the cost of repairing a seat which was originally a gift from her Ladyship.

In 1887 the village celebrated the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and decided to install a new clock and chimes to mark the occasion. The following article appeared in the The Bell News and Ringers Record for January 14th 1888.


In June Adderbury celebrated Her Majesty’s Jubilee in the manner that was followed in most places—viz.: by a substantial dinner to all the residents—but a movement was set on foot for the purpose of securing some permanent memorial of the occasion, and it was resolved a new clock and chimes in the tower of the parish church would be a fitting memento of one of the most memorable events of our time. Lady Charles Paulet took the greatest interest in the proposal, and through her well-directed efforts and those of others of the parishioners, the movement took a practical shape, and now in the old tower of Adderbury church there is a clock and chimes of the most modern construction. To celebrate the dedication of the new clock, and also as a memento of the Jubilee year, on Saturday week trees were planted at Adderbury East and West, and also near Milton by Masters Gepp, Master Cecil Granville, the Misses Bennett, the Misses Gardner, and the Misses Turner and the tree planting was the occasion of much interest.

In the evening Lady Charles Paulet entertained at her residence a number of the leading farmers and others to a supper of the most liberal description. The chair was occupied by the Rev. H. J. Gepp, and the vice-chair by Lieutenant Granville. At the conclusion of the repast, the Chairman proposed “The Queen,” which was loyally drunk..….In proposing the health of their generous hostess, Lady Charles Paulet, the Chairman said it was a very fortunate day for them when her ladyship determined to settle at Adderbury. She took the greatest interest in the parish, and in every possible way endeavoured to promote the welfare of the inhabitants. Among her many other acts of kindness they had only to look at the assistance she gave them in the restoration of their noble church, which by her generous help they were able to carry out.

The Chairman then gave ” Success to the new Church Clock,” and said that as Adderbury had now a railway station, it was only fitting that they should have a clock showing the correct time. If any one there took the trouble to go up to the belfry they would see that the clock was really a work of art. He was pleased that they had such a permanent memorial of the Queen’s Jubilee as the clock and chimes would form’, and considered they had a great deal to be proud of in Adderbury.

The same evening the choir and ringers were entertained to supper by Lady Charles Paulet, and at 11 o’clock the dedicatory service in the church began. The building was brilliantly lighted, and there was a large congregation. After prayers, the vicar gave a short but appropriate address upon the words—”Redeeming the time.” After the address, the choir and clergy proceeded to the end of the church near the tower, and the hymn ” O God, our help in ages past,” was sung, and then the Vicar said—” I do solemnly dedicate the clock placed in this tower as a memorial of the jubilee of our Queen, and to the glory of God, for the use of the inhabitants of this parish.” At five minutes to twelve Miss Paulet set the new clock going by pulling a rope in the tower, and the intervening five minutes were spent in silent prayer. At twelve the new clock in sonorous and melodious tones proclaimed the advent of a new year, and the Hymn “Father let me dedicate all this year to Thee,” was sung. The service then ended. Near the tower a brass has been placed on the wall bearing the following inscription:-” This clock with quarter chimes was erected in this tower by the inhabitants’ of Adderbury to the glory of God and in memory of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. December 31st, 1887. ‘Redeeming the time.’ The memorial plate, which is nicely engraved, was presented by Miss Paulet. The new-clock is replete with all the modem improvements so as to make a very accurate timekeeper, and form a standard for time in the village. The main frame of the clock is of one solid casting of iron, planed smooth and true, with all the various wheels, levers, and other working parts a fixed to it by screws in such a manner that any separate one may be removed without interfering with any of the rest. All the brass wheels have had their teeth cut from the solid, so as to he perfectly accurate and smooth. The clock shows time on two dials, facing east and west. It chimes the “Cambridge” quarters upon four bells, and strikes the hours upon the largest bell. The movement is nicely enclosed in a glass fronted case in the ringing room. Messrs. J. Smith and Sons, Midland Clock Works, Derby, carried out the work. The cost was about £130. Most of the inhabitants are bent upon adding the carillon machinery to their Jubilee clock, and are very anxious to have the Coronation Hymn at their next flower show. A considerable sum is already guaranteed for the purpose.”

The Adderbury Flower Show was first held in 1877 and Adderbury Horticultural Society was under the patronage of Lady Paulet and other notable gentlemen!! Competition entries were staged in a large marquee, and the appearance of the tent was added to by a number of pot plants being sent for decoration only. These were supplied annually by Lady Paulet, the Rev. H. J. Gepp, and others. During the years that Lady Paulet was in Adderbury she strongly supported the Flower Show. On five occasions the Manor House grounds were used for the event. In addition to the prizes given by the show committee extra prizes were given by her ladyship and her daughters. In 1878, for example, Lady Paulet gave a wheel barrow for the best 12 round white potatoes whilst Adela gave a basket for 8 culinary apples, and a basket for a collection of fruit. Eleanor gave a garden-line for the best lettuces and a garden line for the best marrow by weight.

Her Ladyship also entered exhibits through her head gardener, winning classes that included the best collection of Roses and best collection of Asters. Besides supporting the Adderbury Flower Show Lady Paulet also entered other local Flower Shows such as the one held annually at Banbury.

The first of the Adderbury Horse Races was run on the field at the back of the Manor House at the same time as the Flower Show took place on the Manor House grounds. Lady Paulet was a supporter of the races and two of her male relatives Lieut. C. D. Granville and George Granville were patrons. Being seen at events was an important aspect of Victorian Society and Lady Paulet and her daughters were often recorded in the local and national papers as guests at gatherings. For example they attended the County Ball at Banbury Town Hall, a garden party held by the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough at Blenheim Palace and a garden party held by Holford Cotton Risley at Deddington. In 1888 they attended the Warwickshire Hunt Ball and H. Duc Norris’s daughter’s wedding at Chacombe House.

In the 1880s both of the daughters got married. In 1886 Adela married Frederick Lecoq Thorne who lived in the Manor House in Mill Lane. Adela was his second wife. She had not been very well in the early 1890s and died in London on July 15th 1893 where she was being treated. The Deanery magazine records that …….”Mrs. Thorne having died in London was brought to Adderbury, and taken at once to the Church….The coffin, covered with purple velvet and brass ornaments, was placed on the wheeled bier, where it remained from Monday till Wednesday with standard lights at the foot and head. Relatives and friends kept constant vigil beside the beloved form, and many visited the Church to say a prayer and to shew their interest and sympathy on the occasion……. the Church being nearly full, and the coffin being borne to its final resting-place—a simple earth grave lined with moss situated on the west side of the Church—by choirmen vested in cassock and surplice. There was a wealth of beautiful flowers in cross and wreath round the bier and some way down the nave. The Choir sent a letter of condolence and sympathy to Lady Charles Paulet, signed on their behalf by Mr. Ward.”

In memory of his wife and daughter Dr Thorne paid to have a Lych Gate erected. This was dedicated on January 11th 1895 and the Deanery Magazine records that…”It has been built from designs by Mr. Webb…. and forms a very ornamental way of approach to the Churchyard and Church: The oak woodwork supports a Stonesfield slated roof, and rests on piers of Hornton stone. The ridge of the roof is of lead, and in the centre is a brass cross enclosed in a circle. On the upper beam facing east runs the inscription. “In memory of Adela Thorne, died July 13, 1893;” and on that facing west “In memory of Winifred Lillie Thorne, died July 26, 1892. “The gates themselves are low, of pretty design, and with brass fittings. Mr. Thorne has also given us a new gate for the side path. The whole harmonizes well with our fine old Church and well-kept Churchyard, and while standing as a suitable memorial to those who are gone, is a beautiful object for the passers-by and the parishioners to look at……”

In memory of her daughter Lady Paulet presented a stone figure of the Blessed Virgin to fill the large niche on the north side of the east window of the church. The work was entrusted to Messrs. Farmer and Brindley of London.

On June 4th 1889 the Morning Post recorded Eleanor’s marriage of June 1st to Edward Thomas Henry Hutton. The Parish Magazine also recorded the event.

“The people of Adderbury have taken so much interest in the marriage of Miss Paulet and Colonel Hutton, which took place at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge, on the 1st of this month that they will doubtless approve of their good wishes to the newly married pair for a long and happy life being expressed in the Parish Magazine. Miss Paulet belongs to a family which has for a long time been resident in Adderbury, and the members of which have always acted as kind neighbours as well as good friends to the church and the poor. She has herself been most kind and thoughtful for others, and always ready to assist in the various works which are carried on for the good of the parish.- Now that she is leaving Adderbury, she may be sure that she takes with her the good wishes and gratitude of many in the place.”

Parish Magazine July 1889

“The Bride and Bridegroom paid a short visit to Adderbury on the 14th and 15th of June and a triumphal arch was erected not far from the Green in Adderbury East, and another near the bride’s former home in Adderbury West. The bells rang out a merry peal as Colonel Hutton and his lady drove through the street, where many were assembled to greet them. To celebrate the event Lady Paulet gave a series of entertainments, on Friday to the Choir and Ringers, and on Saturday, in the afternoon to the women of Adderbury West, and in the evening to the men. All enjoyed very much her Ladyship’s hospitality, and responded most heartily to the toast of “Health and Happiness to the Bride and Bridegroom. By the kindness of the family, the people of Adderbury had an opportunity of inspecting the handsome wedding-presents, which filled a large room and were on view for two days. Although Mrs. Hutton has left us, we feel sure she will not forget her Adderbury friends in her new life and home.”

Colonel and Mrs. Hutton continued to support the Flower Show and Races whenever possible with both extra prizes at the races and their attendance. One great attraction for the Flower Show in 1889 was Colonel Hutton bringing a 30 strong band of the 1st Battalion the Kings Royal Rifles. Lady Paulet organized the transport of the band from Banbury Station to the Manor House where they were fed and looked after. Despite heavy rain in the morning, heavy showers in the afternoon and thick fog on the race course in the late afternoon there was a good attendance with visitors coming from as far away as Warwick and Leamington. Those attending were faced with whether to look at the exhibits, listen to the superior playing of the band or attend the horse races.

Most went to the races first!!

The death of Adela meant that Lady Paulet now had no family in Adderbury and as Colonel and Mrs. Hutton were due to travel to Australia in early 1894 Lady Paulet decided to travel with them to be near her daughter Eleanor.

In 1894 the Parish Magazine printed the following:-

The Lady Charles Paulet – Many of the parishioners were unwilling that Lady Charles, who has been such a public benefactress to the place for more than twenty years, should leave us without some acknowledgment in word and act. …. An address, signed by the Vicar and Churchwardens, together, with a framed picture was forwarded to her Ladyship before she left England.

“We, the Vicar and Churchwardens of Adderbury, on behalf of the parishioners, desire to express our sincere regret to your Ladyship at your departure from the parish after your long residence amongst us. We thank you for your many acts of kindness and liberality, and we wish to record our sense of your constant readiness to promote the well-being of the parish and the people of Adderbury, especially your generous help towards carrying out the restoration of the Parish Church. We trust that you may be spared in health and happiness for many coming years, and in the name of the subscribers to the accompanying picture, we ask your acceptance of it as a memento of our regard and esteem. – Henry J. Gepp, Vicar, Nathaniel Stilgoe, W. B. Bennett. Churchwardens – January, 1894.”

Lady Charles replied: –

“My dear Mr. Gepp, – Will you convey to all my friends in Adderbury my heartfelt thanks for their kind remembrance, which has touched me deeply. It is so little I have been able to do for them that I am surprised they should have thought of offering me anything. I shall value the beautiful gift greatly…… Hoping our thoughts and prayers may often unite us, Believe me, my dear Mr. Gepp, yours very sincerely, M. Paulet. – February 2, 1894.”

In 1894 they sailed to Australia where Lady Paulet made numerous friends during her visit there in company with her daughter and son-in-law, General Sir Edward Hutton, Commander of the New South Wales forces.

By May 1896 Lady Paulet, Colonel and Mrs Edward Hutton had taken a lease on 65, Cadogan Gardens, London for the season and between 1897 and 1899 Lady Paulet is recorded in Kingstown, Jamaica and New York.

Lady Charles Paulet died aged 83 on December 10th 1918 at Fox Hills, Chertsey, the home of her daughter and son in law.

“Endowed with great beauty,” wrote a correspondent of the “Times,” “a saintly mind, and a gracious presence. Lady Charles Paulet was a type grande dame whose whole life was spent in thinking of the welfare of others rather than of herself. It has been said of her that in all her long life she had never been known to say an unkind word nor do an unkind act to man, woman, or child about her. Accompanying her daughter and son-ln-law, General Sir Edward Hutton, in Australia and Canada, she exercised a remarkable influence upon all she met.

The funeral took place at Wellesbourne, a requiem service being held at Lyne Church, Chertsey before the body was removed to Wellesbourne, where it was interred in the family vault in Wellesbourne Church.”


Adderbury Parish Magazine and Deddington Deanery Magazine 1875-1893 National newspapers

Banbury Guardian and Banbury Advertiser 1875-1893

Barry Davis

The Religious Census of 1851 and Adderbury


The first half of the nineteenth century saw an unprecedented expansion in the efforts of central government to gather information about aspects of national life that had previously been held to be matters for purely local concern. For example, listing only enquiries which gave specific results for Adderbury, Arthur Young had reported on the state of agriculture in 1809, there was an enquiry into charities in 1826 and there would be the report of a commission into Friendly and Benefit Societies in 1874.

What the government wanted to know in 1851, however, was more far-reaching than any of these other enquiries. First, there was the “ordinary” ten-year census, the sixth of its type. This time round, however, the census not only recorded the names and numbers of all household residents in the United Kingdom on the night of 30th March; but it also wanted more precise details about their place of birth, age and occupation, as well as new information about their marital status, their relations to the head of the household and any disability they might have. Then there was an educational census which aimed to ascertain how many boys and girls were being taught in classes on a specified day and the type and size of the schools they were attending. The third census, a census of attendance at religious services, was the most contentious.

There were two major areas of enquiry in the religious census. First, the government wanted an exact measure of the number of sittings in places of worship compared with the number of the local population; with the country going through substantial change, especially with the creation of new, urban areas, finding out about the availability of places to worship seemed a reasonable enquiry at the time. Second, however, the government wanted to know exactly how many people actually sat on the available seats on 30th March 1851. It was the answer to this second question that was most eagerly anticipated in the country as a whole. On the one hand, the Anglican church feared that the results of the religious census would threaten the status of their church as the Established Church. On the other hand, members of dissenting congregations looked forward to having their increasing status and legitimacy confirmed by the survey results.

The Results of the Religious Census: National Trends

Although the figures and tables published in 1854 proved difficult to interpret, at the highest level of generalisation a fairly clear picture emerged. Cannadine (2017) puts it as follows:

“… it was generally agreed that in the case of England and Wales only half of the population who could have gone to church on that particular Sunday in fact did so; that half of those attending (which meant one quarter of the whole population) were Anglicans who worshipped at the established Church of England; but that the other half (and thus another quarter of the whole population) attended dissenting chapels or (in much smaller numbers) Catholic churches instead.” (pp.253-4)

The Census Locally

At the time of the census, the parish of Adderbury consisted of the ‘townships’ of Adderbury East and Adderbury West, the chapelries of Barford St John and Bodicote and the hamlet of Milton. Taken as a whole, the parish contained Anglican places of worship in Adderbury, Bodicote and Barford St John and dissenting congregations in Adderbury West (Quakers and Independents), Adderbury East (Wesleyan Methodists), Bodicote (Baptist and Wesleyan Methodist Chapels) and Milton (Primitive Methodists). All of the dissenting congregations had reached the stage of maturity where they had a permanent building for their exclusive use. The wider Adderbury Parish of the time hence clearly shared with others in “Banburyshire” an openness to dissent which revealed itself in the percentage of “dissenter sittings” in the Banbury registration district for the census, which, at 44.29%, was far higher than the 31.34% returned for the county as a whole.

Results for Adderbury and Milton

The census results for Adderbury and Milton, as summarised by Tiller (1987) are as follows. It should be noted that the census asked how many seats in places of worship were free and how many were paid for by subscription (a large source of income for many congregations).

ADDERBURY EAST, Population 978

St. Mary the Virgin: Average attendance 240 (This is, according to Tiller, an “unsigned and extremely scant Anglican return”. The vicar at the time, Rev Charles Alcock, was apparently an extremely assiduous and hard-working parish clergyman (Allen, 1995, pp. 23-24); it has to be assumed that, in failing to give a satisfactory return, Alcock was following the lead of his Bishop, Samuel Wilberforce, who told the House of Lords shortly before the census was issued that “if consulted by the clergy of his diocese as to the course they ought to pursue, he should be inclined to advise them not to answer the queries”. In the event 27.1% of the Anglican returns in the Oxford diocese show clerical failure to answer compulsory questions or carry statements of clerical refusal compared with just 10% nationally)

Wesleyan Methodist Chapel: Erected 1829. A separate and entire building, used exclusively for worship. Free sittings 112; other sittings 60. On 30 March In morning General Congregation 51, Sunday Scholars 20; in afternoon, Sunday Scholars 19; in evening General Congregation 120. Average attendance during previous 12 months In morning General Congregation 60, Sunday Scholars 20; in afternoon Sunday Scholars 20; in evening General Congregation 100. Signed James Claridge, Local Preacher, Blenheim Place, Banbury

ADDERBURY WEST, Population 370

Independent Chapel: Erected 1829. A separate and entire building used exclusively for worship. Free sittings 112; other sittings 60. On 30th March In morning General Congregation 51, Sunday Scholars 20; in afternoon Sunday Scholars 19; in evening General Congregation 120. Average attendance during previous 12 months: in morning General Congregation 60, Sunday Scholars 20; in afternoon Sunday Scholars 20; in evening General Congregation  100. [Remarks on the National School omitted] Signed James Crockett, Minister, Adderbury West.

Friends’ Meeting House: Erected 1675. A separate and entire building used exclusively for worship. Admeasurement in superficial feet, floor area 561; in galleries 402. Estimated Number of persons capable of being seated 102 and in galleries 60. On 30th March In morning 16 attendants; no meeting held this afternoon…. A meeting is held at 3 o’clock p.m. during the six winter months, and one at 5 o’clock p.m. during the six summer months, but both are omitted one week in four. The average attendance at these for the last 12 months is 12 persons. Signed Henry Beesley, Adderbury West.

MILTON, Population 164

Primitive Methodist Chapel: Erected before 1800. A separate and entire building used exclusively for worship. Free sittings 200. On 30th March In afternoon General Congregation 35, Sunday Scholars 25; in evening, General Congregation 27. Average attendance in morning General Congregation 35, Sunday Scholars 28. Signed Thomas Tarver, Steward, Bodicote.

Commentary on Results

It is obvious that the sketchy nature of the Anglican return for Adderbury makes futile any attempt to replicate the national results locally. But it is clear, however, that in Adderbury as in the nation as a whole, fewer than half of the inhabitants attended any form of religious service on the census Sunday. Tiller (1987, p. xxx) suggests that for many there was nevertheless a “strong moral code”, a sort of “popular religion”, which was “a loose combination of unofficial Christianity and large elements of superstition and custom, selectively validated by institutional religion”.  In support of this view, Tiller quotes from Flora Thompson’s description of Cottisford:

“Many in the hamlet who attended neither church nor chapel and said they had no use for religion, guided their lives by the light of a few homely precepts, such as ‘Pay your way and fear nobody’; ‘Right’s right and wrong’s no man’s right’; ‘Tell the truth and shame the devil’ and ‘Honesty is the best policy’”

We can also see in the census returns a clear contrast between the different dissenting congregations. At the time of the census, the Independents were the most numerous, while the Quakers were in decline. The Wesleyan Methodists in East Adderbury were well established, in their first small chapel in Chapel Lane, but had not yet made the strides which allowed them by the end of the century to build a much larger church on the High Street itself.

On from 1851

On the Anglican side, it is sometimes said that the growth of dissent and the relative weakness of the numbers attending Anglican worship could be attributed to a failure in the first half of the nineteenth century to meet the needs for regular services and pastoral support for all parts of the parish. After 1851 the main developments seem to have been intended to address such issues. In Bodicote, after restoration of the parish church in 1854, Bodicote was made into a separate parish in 1855. A new church was built in Milton in 1856-7 and consecrated in 1857. Change at Barford St John, however, had to wait until 1890, when it was annexed to Barford St Michael.

On the dissenting side, there were a number of national developments, which have been summarised as follows:

“The nineteenth century witnessed a very gradual easing of the legislation which had continued to restrict nonconformists. Laws which excluded all but practising Anglicans from government and municipal posts were repealed in 1828-9, and in 1871 it became illegal to debar Nonconformists from teaching or studying in English universities. Unitarians gained freedom of worship in 1813 and the Dissenters’ Chapels Act (of 1844) effectively secured for them those chapels in which they had worshipped for the past twenty-five years. After 1836 Nonconformists had the right to conduct marriage ceremonies and in 1880 they were granted the right to conduct burial services in parish churchyards.”  Wakeling (2016), p.4.

The Independent Chapel in West Adderbury continued in existence. It was registered as a place of worship for marriage 1854-60. The adjoining manse was pulled down in 1870, perhaps because the chapel had by that time had two honorary pastors, retired men with homes elsewhere; the manse was replaced with a school. The chapel closed in 1955 and was sold in 1957.

Despite continuing problems over the financing of their 1810 chapel, the Wesleyan Methodists of East Adderbury founded a much larger church at the junction of Chapel Lane and the High Street accommodating 130 and featuring an attached School Room. Ashbridge (2004) suggests that the members wished to “build a new chapel in the centre of the village and remain no longer in the background” (p.16). This was opened in 1893 and thanks to generous donations was able to begin its life unencumbered with debt (Allen, 1995, p.19). The Methodist Church continues to flourish.

Despite the relatively large number recorded at the Milton Methodist Chapel, it would appear that this nonconformist congregation was absorbed into the corresponding chapel at Bloxham, with whom it shared a pastor. The chapel building was used by the Church of England until their new church was built.

The single exception to the generally optimistic picture for dissenting congregations is that of the Quakers, where the number of worshippers at the Adderbury Meeting House had fallen to an average of 12 at the time of the census. This mirrored a national decline: while the population of England trebled between 1715 and 1851, the number of Quaker adherents had more than halved. The Quakers came to acknowledge that the rules which effectively prevented Friends from marrying outside the Quaker community were a major cause of the decline. An 1859 report, quoted in Thompson, 1972, pp 163-65, says that “Within … the present century, the Society of Friends in England has disowned nearly one third of all its members who have married, a total of not less than four thousand persons”. It was also believed that a general movement away from the land had affected the Quakers disproportionately. An 1806 report said “Almost all the Quakers were originally in the country … but this order of things is reversing fast. They are flocking into the towns and abandoning agricultural pursuits.” At Adderbury the decline in numbers continued: they were down to 4 by 1909 and the Meeting House closed in 1914.

Phil Mansell


Ashbridge, P. (2004): Village Chapels. Some aspects of rural methodism in the East Cotswolds and South Midlands 1800-2000. Kershaw Publishing.
Allen, N. (1995): Adderbury. A Thousand Years of History. Phillimore.
Cannadine, D. (2017): Victorious Century. The United Kingdom, 1800-1906. Allen Lane.
Stell, C. (1986): Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting Houses. Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire. HMSO.
Thompson, D,M, (1972): Nonconformity in the Nineteenth Century. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Tiller, K. (1987): Church and Chapel in Oxfordshire 1851. The Oxfordshire Record Society, Volume 55.
Wakeling, C. (2016): Nonconformist Places of Worship. Historic England.

Adderbury Mill and the Sor Brook


Wilfred Foreman in his definitive book, Oxfordshire Mills (Phillimore, 1983), records in excess of two hundred watermills in the county, many of which were mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086, suggesting that they are largely of Saxon origin. Foreman’s map shows a very high concentration of watermills in North Oxfordshire, with ten of the roughly fifty watermills in this area sited on the Sor Brook.

The main purpose of water mills was to grind corn into flour for baking bread; millers could also be involved in the brewing of beer. The manorial watermill was an integral part of the manorial system, with the revenue generated by the mill being an important element in the manorial lord’s income.

Mills differed in terms of how the water drove the water wheel: the mill could be under-shot (with the water passing under the wheel and driving the paddles upwards), breast-shot (with the flow of water striking the paddles at breast height and hence with more force) or over-shot. Adderbury’s eighteenth-century mill was of the breast-shot type. 

The Sor Brook

The Sor Brook rises in the North Oxfordshire Heights a little over a mile and a half north of Shenington and acts as a boundary between Shenington and neighbouring Alkerton. The source is just inside the county boundary north-east of Sugarswell Farm at a height of 175 metres (570 feet) above sea level. It flows in a generally south-eastern direction across North Oxfordshire, passing close to Broughton Castle where it acts as a spillway to the castle moat. The Brook then flows south east to the parish of Bodicote before dropping south to Adderbury. Here the Brook forms the boundary to three parishes: it makes Adderbury’s boundary with Bloxham and divides what were, until merger in 1971, the separate parishes of East and West Adderbury. The Sor Brook then continues almost due east to join the River Cherwell, alongside the River Swere, at the county boundary with Northamptonshire. The height of the Sor Brook at this point is 70 metres (225 feet) above sea level, making a hefty fall over its length of 105 metres (340 feet).

In geological terms, the parishes of Shenington and Alkerton rest on a bed of Marlstone rock formed many millions of years ago during the Jurassic period. The glaciers covering much of the country 10,000 years ago also covered what is now North Oxfordshire. They started to melt and retreat and produced a great deal of water carrying a rocky detritus. This would have found weaknesses in the rock below, scouring out valleys that would make courses for water to follow, creating the rivers and streams we have today. From its source the Sor Brook follows a shallow valley with the water flowing over alluvium (clays and silts) in a layer many metres thick and itself overaying a thick layer of clay.

“Sor” as a river name may possibly be of Celtic origin, with some place-name authorities considering that Sor is cognate with the continental river name Saar, deriving from the Celtic word sara (streaming water). There are River Soars in Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire. It is also possible that the name may have been derived from the Sor family, local to Shenington. It is equally possible that they took their name from the Brook – the Sor family were under-tenants of the earls of Gloucester, who were overlords of the manor of Shenington in the twelfth century.

Adderbury Mill

Two of the four mills mentioned in the Domesday Survey of Adderbury are considered by historians to have been the two belonging to the Winchester Manor (acquired by a bishop of Winchester in the eleventh century), both sited on the Sor Brook, one at Bodicote and one at Adderbury. The other two mills were on the River Cherwell.

The original Adderbury Mill was sited immediately west of the present Duchess Bridge, but was moved to its present location at the bottom of what was to become Mill Lane around 1764 on the orders of the Dowager Duchess of Argyll, then the tenant of Adderbury House. The move was part of a much larger reorganisation of roads and the bridge over the Sor Brook in the area south of the house which had previously been subject to extensive flooding for much of the year. The ancient mill, by then known as Gillett’s Mill, stood in the way of these developments and was hence moved upstream.

The mill stream running parallel to the Sor Brook was constructed to feed the newly located mill, providing a great deal of fast-moving water to power a breast-shot wheel. The narrow island created by the Brook and the mill stream came to be known locally as “The Parish”. The feoffes (a local medieval charity) had some small cottages built on this land, which provided accommodation for the very poor, who “lived off the parish”.

The 1764 complex consisting of stone mill buildings and brick out-houses were built to a lavish standard, as were the miller’s house and stables across the lane. Nonetheless, towards the end of the nineteenth century, the mill ceased working as the mill stream had silted up and clogged with weeds. 

The out-buildings to the south of the mill were used before and during World War I for a laundry business. One contract was doing the laundry for the Horton Hospital in Banbury. The large water-wheel which had powered the mill was taken out in the 1930s, when the mill stream was diverted under the garden to produce power to drive a turbine. The rest of the mill machinery was dismantled during the 1940s. About this time a Dr. John moved into the Mill, turning it into a home. It was the first home in the village to have electricity.

The Millers of Adderbury

1782-85: John Wheeler. He is mentioned in the estate accounts

1795: John Falkner, miller, was one of the parties cited in an indenture dated 9th October 1795, whereby he sold land north of the original Adderbury Mill site. His possession of this land may suggest that he was the last miller to work the mill in its original location.

1839-58: William Gardner and James Gardner junior. As well as Adderbury Mill the Gardners were involved in the running of two other mills on the Sor Brook, Bodicote Mill and Lower Grove Mill. They were also farmers, and employed 5 men, probably including the two journeyman millers, Wm Hawkins and Sam Blackwell, who lived in the village.

1860s: John King, master miller, plus wife and two children, together with a servant and a nanny. He also had a mill carter, William Hazelwood.

1870s: James Gardner, who farmed 108 acres in addition to being a miller. He had a wife and four children plus one servant and employed three men and a boy. He may have been the son of the James Gardner mentioned above.

1876: John Coles, who came from one of the mills on the Broughton Estate.

1884-late 1890s: John Henry Wallin. Prior to coming to Adderbury Mill with his wife and four children Wallin was working Wroxton Mill. Possibly through lack of water by 1891 John was running a steam mill at the end of Parsons Street. By 1901 the family had moved again and were running their steam mill in Chapel Lane along with a bakery.

Nick Allen

I am very grateful to Nick Allen for allowing me to create the above paper referring in the main to Adderbury Mill from his more broadly based 2014 publication: “Watermills on the Sor Brook”.

Phil Mansell

Anthony and Susan Crosland at the Old Mill, Adderbury

For a short period in the 1970s Adderbury played a role in international affairs. Government drivers delivered ministerial red boxes requiring decisions on topics such as the terms of an International Monetary Fund loan to the UK, yet another attempt to find a solution to the Rhodesia problem, the Cod War and the UK presidency of what was then known as the EEC.

All this because Anthony Crosland and his wife Susan had bought the mill on Mill Lane in Adderbury as their “country cottage”. And for part of their time together in Adderbury, Crosland, a senior Labour politician, was Foreign Secretary.

The Old Mill, Adderbury: sketch by Nick Allen

The Croslands had had the idea of a “country retreat” in mind for some years. What attracted them  to Adderbury in the first place is unknown; although North Oxfordshire as an area to search may have suggested itself because of the presence at Prescote Manor near Cropredy of Labour backbench stalwart Richard Crossman. Certainly the Croslands stayed with the Crossmans when they first came to see the Mill. Susan Crosland said they just followed up an estate agent’s advertisement. At all events, it seems to have been love at first sight: according to Susan Crosland in her 1982 biography of her husband, Crosland said later the first evening: “As soon as I saw it, my heart turned over”. The Croslands failed to secure the mill on this occasion, but were successful when it came onto the market again two years later, in 1975.

What the Croslands were looking for was somewhere they could be alone together as much as possible in their busy lives. He was in demand as the author of The Future of Socialism (1956), which has been described as “the most important theoretical treatise to be written from the moderate left of British politics in the first twenty-five post-war years” (Roy Jenkins), as a government minister and as a constituency MP (for Grimsby) and during times when attendance at House of Commons votes was an additional necessity. She was equally busy as a successful journalist who came to specialise in celebrity interviews for the national press, writing under the pen name “Susan Barnes”. Her profiles included ones of Barbara Cartland, Margot Fonteyn, Kenneth Tynan, Kingsley Amis and Jack Jones. Anthony Crosland and Susan Catling (as she then was) had met in 1956 and married in 1964. It was a second marriage for both, and Susan had two daughters from her previous marriage.

Adderbury came to symbolise their marriage to quite a surprising extent. This is clear from the following passage describing one visit to Adderbury in 1976 taken from Susan Crosland’s biography of her husband:

“From the sitting-room we could see the brook, brown and swollen, rushing self-importantly past the bottom of the garden, spilling over into the garden. ‘Think I like Adderbury best of all in winter,’ [Tony] said. ‘Gives an even greater sense of being alone together.’”

In the short period they had owned it, their house in Adderbury had seen both disaster and subsequent triumph in Anthony Crosland’s political life. When they bought the mill, in 1975, Anthony Crosland was Secretary of State for the Environment, but in 1976 came the Labour Party leadership election which followed Harold Wilson’s resignation. Although his friends and supporters advised him against it, Crosland decided to put himself forward as a candidate, suggesting that he would “draw support from the common ground which unites Left and Right”, although with little hope of success. Interestingly, he said that he felt “I could get through the public humiliation because I have a happy marriage and we have just bought a country cottage”.

In the event, Crosland came bottom of the poll and was eliminated on the first round. Yet within weeks he was appointed Foreign Secretary by the incoming Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan, and the press was suggesting that this was just a prelude to the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer which had always attracted him and which, in turn, could lead to even higher things.

Susan Crosland came into her own as she accompanied her husband abroad (paying her own way in economy with Crosland popping through bearing glasses of champagne). One of the few concessions she made to being a minister’s wife was that she stopped dyeing her hair pink. The highlight for her of Crosland’s nine months as Foreign Secretary was the Queen’s Bicentennial visit to the United States. The Croslands went over on the Royal yacht Britannia, with the Queen showing her how to stand for hours without tiring. At the embassy dinner in Washington for President Ford, she fell and broke her jaw – which was set by presidential surgeons.

During Crosland’s time as Foreign Secretary, it wasn’t just red boxes that came to Adderbury. Dignitaries visited as well, none more exalted than Dr Henry Kissinger, the US Secretary of State. After initial awkwardness, Crosland and Kissinger came to have quite a close relationship. Two stories are told in the village about Dr Kissinger. The first concerns food: Kissinger was apparently very fond of onion soup made from especially sweet onions grown in the Croslands’ Adderbury garden, as well as of dishes made from their rhubarb (known thereafter as “Kissinger’s Rhubarb”). The other story concerns the Adderbury Scout troop, who on one occasion had their night exercises rudely interrupted by the armed security men who were guarding Kissinger.

The Crosland’s life together in their Adderbury weekend retreat was not to last for long. On Saturday, 12th February 1977, the day after their thirteenth wedding anniversary, Anthony Crosland suffered a major stroke. Susan Crosland’s account of events is as follows:

“When [Tony] returned from his morning walk it was long past noon. I was in the courtyard when he came striding down the lane, swinging his arms …. “Adderbury is an absolutely ravishing village. This is an ‘ultimate’ weekend,” he said.

Twenty minutes later we were having a belated mid-morning coffee, he working on Rhodesia papers. He had to refill his pen from the bottle in my desk, always grumbled about this task. “Are you sure pens used to run out this soon?” he said, returning to his chair. I was at the table in the window and had just started a letter to Sheila. “Something has happened,” he said.

Because he often mimed to entertain me, spoke in a solemn voice about things trivial, as I turned in my chair I imagined ink from the newly-filled pen had leaked onto something quite unimportant. [His secretary] said later how strange it was to see on the Rhodesia papers where the pen had stopped in mid-letter. “I can’t feel my right side,’ Tony said.””

Five days later Anthony Crosland died in the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. His ashes were later scattered by Susan Crosland in the sea off Grimsby, where Crosland had been the popular and successful MP. As David Owen, then a Junior Minister at the Foreign Office, said at the time: “His lifestyle, the long hours, good food, little exercise, alcohol and cigars could not have helped.”

Susan Crosland continued to visit Adderbury at weekends for just over twenty years after her husband’s death, receiving help from villagers with the garden and with the management of the sluice gate at the Old Mill. In 1982 she published her biography of Crosland, with the Preface written from Adderbury. This has been described as the outstanding inside portrait of what it was to be a leading politician in the second half of the twentieth century and of what it was to be his devoted supporter, wife, and lover. Thereafter, according to a friend, “though Susan Crosland lived for thirty-four years after Tony died, her grief never left her. Consequently her career did not hit its former heights”. Neither collections of her celebrity interviews, nor a series of what were known at the time as “airport novels” were particularly successful. She also suffered from ill health. She sold the mill in 1998, and on 26 February 2011 she died of pneumonia at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital after a short illness. She was survived by her first husband and the two daughters from her first marriage.

Jack Donaldson, (later to become Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge), who was Minister of Arts in the Wilson and Callaghan governments, and hence a cabinet colleague of Anthony Crosland,, said the following about the marriage of Anthony and Susan Crosland at the Service of Thanksgiving for Anthony Crosland, held at Westminster Abbey on 7th March 1977:

“… the thing which perhaps no one understood or allowed for was his capacity to love. Those of us who knew him well were not surprised when he found someone with whom he could settle down and mature … No, what surprised us was the ease and simplicity with which he slipped into the roles of husband, of step-father, and of head of the family. If he had not met Susan Barnes all this might never have been revealed and he might never have fulfilled his potential. But it was a marriage of two equals and he gave to it as much as he received.”

Phil Mansell


Crosland, S. (1982): Tony Crosland. Coronet Books.
Jeffreys, K. (1999): Anthony Crosland, A New Biography. Richard Cohen Books

I am grateful to the following for providing additional material: Robert Cooke, Nicola Wilson and Tim Woodall.

Note: I haven’t been able to find any images of the Croslands or their life in Adderbury that are not subject to copyright. However, you may want to follow up one particular image, which shows them seated on a bench at the Old Mill. The address of the image is:×612. If you copy this address into your browser you should be able to inspect the image.

Prize Fight Panic: Adderbury in 1837


Prize fights were enormously popular in the first four decades of the nineteenth century. The sport enjoyed the patronage of aristocrats and even of royalty, with enormous sums being gambled on the outcomes of matches. Nonetheless, local magistrates were determined to bring prize fighting under control. They had the power, they decided, to restrain fighting on the grounds of breach of the peace and unlawful assembly. After one such fight, held between Cassington and Eynsham in 1827, the magistrates effectively declared war, both on the fighters themselves and “against their backers and bottle-holders etc.”. In Jackson’s Oxford Journal of Saturday, July 28th 1827, it was announced that:

“The magistrates, as conservators of the peace of the county, at the last Quarter Sessions came to the resolution of prosecuting, by indictment, all who, for the sake of money, raise their arms against their fellow men in prize fights, and by such exhibitions bring riot and disorder into parishes; induce servants and labourers and apprentices to neglect and desert the business of their masters and employers, bring together the most abandoned characters from London, as well as the neighbourhood, who, in going or coming, commit robberies, and endanger the safety and disturb the peace of the county.”

The organisers of prize fights, on their side, reacted by trying to keep one step ahead of the authorities, not revealing the location of matches, other than in general terms, until the last moment and favouring places close to the limits of jurisdiction of different authorities so that they could move their operation across the border in case of trouble.

Ten years later, in 1837, it is reported (in Beesley’s History of Banbury) that the magistrates there had “driven two prize-fighters out of the borough”, so the promoters were no doubt looking for an alternative venue. On Saturday, April 15th, 1837 it was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal that:

“The village of Adderbury, which was for several years distinguished for the exemplary conduct of its curates and their zeal and usefulness in furthering the objects of every local and national institution calculated to promote the temporal and eternal welfare of mankind, has recently been fixed on for the scene of a prize fight; and, in order to bring about this brutal and inhuman show a man from Oxford is now training at one of the public houses in the place, to fight another man from Wroxton, we are informed, on the 25th inst. Where this barbarous exhibition, so disgraceful to a Christian country, will be allowed to take place, yet remains to be seen, as we are told that the agreement specifies the fight shall be between Banbury and Oxford.”

Faced with this impending scandal, some of the “peaceable inhabitants of the village”, led by the Church of England curates at the time, came to the view that their best course of action would be to try to limit the amount of drunkenness involved, especially as there were at the time 13 public houses or beer shops in the parish. They contacted the Banbury Temperance Society and set up a public meeting. This is what happened:

“John Hockings, the Birmingham blacksmith, who is well known for his ability in addressing the working classes of society on the evils resulting from drunkenness, having come to lecture in the neighbourhood, it was thought desirable that he should be engaged to come to Adderbury; and a member of the Society of Friends kindly offered to fit up one of his barns for the occasion. The evening of Saturday last was announced for the meeting to take place, and such was the desire to hear Mr Hockings that the barn, which was 44 feet long by 12 ½ wide, was crowded for some time before his arrival. Mr Faulkner was requested to take the chair, who, after having addressed the persons assembled, introduced the hero of the Temperance cause. Mr Hockings commenced his lecture with a most powerful appeal to the labourers and others on the evils and misery resulting from their frequenting the ale house; every word of which could not fail to carry conviction to every one disposed to hear him. For some time the greatest order was observed in the meeting, which, no doubt, would have continued till the close, had not some persons got a can of beer at the further end of the room, and made a disturbance, which prevented Mr. H. from being heard at that part of the room where it was most desirable that he should be. To request persons of this class, who had come to the meeting for the purpose of disturbing it, to observe order, was of course useless. Mr. H. therefore, having spoken for about an hour, concluded a lecture admirably adapted to do good to everyone present. A vote of thanks was given to Mr. H. for his kindness in coming to Adderbury. An attempt was made by some of the fellows, who had been partaking of the beer, to break some of the chairs and seats, but this was prevented by the praiseworthy conduct of many of the labourers.”

I haven’t  yet been able to discover where or, indeed, whether the prize fight took place. It seems likely that the prize fighter referred to as a “man from Wroxton” was Richard Palmer, who at the time was known as “The Banbury Pet”. But, whatever the outcome may have been, the story illustrates many of the divisions in nineteenth century Adderbury: between “rough” and “respectable” working men, between middle class and working class attitudes, and between traditional entertainment and organised religion.

Phil Mansell
June 2020


Three fights of Dick Palmer are recorded from around this time in Owen Swift’s The Handbook to Boxing, 1840:

On Feb 13th 1837 Palmer beat Crow Lockett over 30 rounds near Claydon, and in a rematch on April 25th 1837 again beat Lockett, this time over 65 rounds in Bedfordshire.

On May 4th 1838 Palmer was beaten by Jas Hart of Towcester over 73 rounds in a fight lasting 2 hours 10 minutes and held near Towcester.

Palmer survived at least until 1844 when he was part of a boxing ring side show at the Banbury Races (see E. Brown-Grant (1988): “The Banbury Horse Races Part IV” in Cake and Cock Horse Vol 10 No 8).

About the events at the 1844 Horse Races, the Oxford Chronicle had the following to say on August 8th that year:

“On Thursday, despite of the judge’s warning at Oxford, some gentlemen did their best to get up a fight between a country prize fighter, Richard Palmer, and a railwayman called Blackbird, and the parties went to the field, thus adding to the loss for hundreds of working men of a third day’s wages and a third day’s drunkenness.”

Adderbury’s Industrial Past I: The Oxford Road

Although there had previously been alternatives to agricultural work in Adderbury, notably with plush weaving, which involved some 34 inhabitants in 1841 (see Taylor, 1964), the first activity that could be properly called “industrial” in the village came with the quarrying of ironstone in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This took place along the present-day Aynho and Oxford Roads to the east and south of the village centre respectively.

In contrast to the earlier Aynho Road quarries, those along the Oxford Road had relatively easy access to transport, and the infrastructure developed in the early days for the ironstone workings encouraged a succession of activities with new uses taking over from old over a long period of time. And, although they were not the earliest ironstone quarries in Adderbury, the pits around the Oxford Road would have made the greatest impact on the countryside, transforming it into an industrial landscape, with tramways, tunnels and steam locomotives to be seen on all sides from the main road entering Adderbury from the south.

Banbury and Cheltenham Direct Railway

The major objective of the railway was to enable the North Oxfordshire ironstone quarries to communicate directly with the South Wales iron foundries, but it took many years from the start of work in 1875 for this to be possible. Adderbury station opened on the same day as the railway as a whole: April 6th, 1887. What remains of the station is best viewed from the entrance to the present Station Yard Industrial Estate. The main line followed the line of the present units; it was dualled to this point but resumed single track operation as it continued west beneath the Oxford Road.

The station at Adderbury was very similar in layout to the stations at King’s Sutton and Bloxham. It had two facing platforms, with the main station buildings on the north side, with only a shelter on the other side. The two platforms were connected by a “barrow crossing”. From the industrial point of view, however, the most important feature at Adderbury were the private sidings to the south of the main line. These were used in turn by every significant industrial concern in this part of Adderbury, beginning with the ironstone quarries and only ending with J. Bibby Agriculture, who continued to use them until 1969.

The Adderbury Sidings, showing the final goodss train in 1969

The BCDR company did not operate services on the line: it contracted the Great Western Railway to do so in return for a share of the receipts and, indeed, the GWR bought the railway in 1896. Ironstone traffic, local haulage (including coal for the gasworks) and passenger traffic, remained the bread and butter business of the line, although it was also unofficially known as the “ports to ports” line, served by an express which, in an eleven hour daily journey, linked the North East to the South Wales coast and provided the basis for many day excursions to Barry Island from Adderbury, particularly those funded by the village Friendly Societies.

Adderbury Ironstone Quarries

The Geological Survey for Oxfordshire was started in 1857, the resultant maps being published in 1860. These highlighted the fact that just below the surface of the fields in north Oxfordshire there lay vast quantities of ironstone – in some places this could be as much as 30,000 tons per acre. It is possible to extract the iron from ironstone, and mining companies were not slow to seek to exploit this. The Hook Norton Ironstone Partnership obtained leases to work ironstone on the south side of Adderbury Station in the late 1880s. “At Bloxham and Hook Norton there is a very rich bed of iron ore, which has been purchased by the Oxfordshire Ironstone Company, and a very large income is expected to be derived from this source over the Banbury and Cheltenham Railway”, reported the Banbury Guardian on 1st September, 1884.

The area occupied by the present Twyford Mill industrial estate provided the hub of the transport links between the quarry sites to the south and west and the railways sidings to the north.

Operations began in 1890 and the Partnership purchased a one foot eight inch gauge 0-4-0 Manning Wardle locomotive, Florence, from the Florence Colliery in Staffordshire. A tramway was built on which Florence could be used.  This ran south from a tipping dock in Adderbury Station goods yard, initially on a gradient of 1 in 17, then passed under the bridleway to Paper Mill Cottages to reach the working face next to the Oxford Road.  Company offices and locomotive shed were located at the top of the initial incline. Problems were experienced with locomotive operation and the incline was changed to cable haulage powered by a stationary steam engine. The subsequent, flatter route southwards to the quarries was horse-worked. Florence was eventually transferred to the Partnership’s quarries at Hook Norton. A further face was later opened closer to Adderbury Grounds Farm.

The Adderbury properties of the Hook Norton Ironstone Partnership, which went into liquidation in 1903, were taken over by Cochrane & Co (Woodside) Ltd. in about 1906 and were worked by them until 1922. They opened two further pits, both on the west side of the Oxford Road, Berryhill Pit, which was opened in the early 1900s and New College Pit, further to the south west. These had an even more complex route to the all-important sidings at Adderbury Station. The Berry Hill pit accessed the railway via a funicular under the Oxford Road itself, and the New College pit joined this via a tunnel. The full extent of the workings is shown in the map below, taken from Tonks (1988) (p.46).

A close up of a map

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The work was hard and the pay relatively low. An idea of the rates is taken from the nearby Astrop quarries, where four old pennies per ton for wet ore and threepence halfpenny for dry ore was paid, with twenty tons per day being the average output per man. Three pence per yard was paid for removing the earth and an extra farthing for tipping waggons. Nonetheless, mining work was popular in early twentieth-century Adderbury. There were 34 Ironstone workers listed in the 1901 census, and Cochrane & Co had 78 men at the beginning of the First World War. This was when the quarries were at their busiest, and when the shortage of iron became acute after 1916, men working in the ironstone quarries were eventually granted exemption from war service.

A vintage photo of a group of people posing for the camera

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Adderbury ironstone workers

“By August [1917] some of the Adderbury ironstone workers had been sent home from the trenches to resume work in the ironstone quarries. Clearly there was a great need for iron and steel and as the war continued ironstone workers became exempt from call-up. The shortage of such workers in the area meant that men from other areas came to the village as lodgers. A number came from Cornwall (possibly tin miners) to work on the local ironstone.” (Davis 2014, p. 77).

Cochrane’s plants at Woodside and Adderbury were put up for sale in 1924, but hopes that the quarries might be re-opened under new ownership were dashed by the 1926 General Strike. Little remains to be seen of the mining activities of a hundred years ago except that the surface of the fields to the west of the Oxford Road in this area are much lower than we would expect from the level of the hedges and surrounding roads and tracks, indicating that the fields have been backfilled after extraction of quantities of ironstone.

In the late 1950s a proposal was made to carry out open-cast mining to a depth of about 30 feet in this part of Adderbury, south to Deddington and west to Hook Norton. After the ore had been removed the top-soil would have been replaced and the land ‘re-instated’, but with the fields lowered and hedges standing proud on sharp embankments. The open-cast mining was due to last for 30 years or so. Two public enquiries eventually led to the rejection of the proposal. The full story can be read at,filmsandillustrations/ironstone.

The Duffield Iron Corporation Ltd

The next enterprise to exploit the area was, appropriately enough, the Duffield Iron Corporation Ltd. This enterprise was founded in 1928 with the intention of demonstrating the practicality and commercial viability of a new process for deriving iron from iron ore, invented by F. Lindley Duffield, which claimed to be considerably cheaper than conventional methods. One of the early aims of the company was the erection of a plant to demonstrate and refine the process.  The Board stated that “soft, friable rich ore, easily ‘got’, with which Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire abound, is ideally suited for our purposes”, and the choice eventually fell on Adderbury for their factory, and this was subsequently set up in the south east of the present site.

The Duffield Iron Works

The Corporation used a tractor to bring ore from the quarries to the west of the Oxford Road, using the existing funicular railway track. A furnace was erected and by Friday, 25th July 1930, the Corporation was reporting that “the retort furnace was lighted for the first trial on Monday morning last and continued until Tuesday evening. Our engineers are entirely satisfied with the heat conditions.”

Reports throughout the 1930s refer to the expansion of the site and to negotiations to sell rights to the process to concerns abroad, particularly in Ireland, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. A report in December 1938 spoke of the intention to start smelting 150,000 tons of ore a year “early in the New Year”, although Tonks (1988, p.45) says only that “the plant continued to operate in a small way up to the outbreak of war”. In 1939 a delegation visited on behalf of the Iron and Steel Controller as a result of a request by the Duffield Corporation to the Ministry of Supply to recognise their work as part of the war effort. Unfortunately for the company, the report was not in their favour and the site was instead requisitioned by the Ministry, and much of the factory was dismantled.

By the time the Corporation could report again in 1945, Mr Duffield said that it had taken “17 years to show, by a series of adaptations of plant design and method, the metallurgical practicability of direct reduction of iron ore”. The other directors, however, emphasize that “it has yet to be tested on a sufficiently large scale to ascertain its value commercially” and say that research into the process had ceased. F. Lindley Duffield died in Sydney, Australia, on July 22nd, 1949.

Image D005005a

A group of Duffield Iron Works employees

Ministry of Aircraft/Northern Aluminium

The Duffield site was hence taken over in 1939 by the Ministry of Aircraft. The war work at Adderbury was carried out as a subfactory of the Northern Aluminium (later Alcan/Alcoa) plant at Southam Road in Banbury. Northern Aluminium Company built and operated a major recycling plant here to process aluminium from both British and German aircraft crashes. The need for aircraft put huge demands on the aluminium industry as production of aircraft rose from 2,828 units in 1938 to 15,049 in 1940 and over 26,000 by 1944.

According to Potts’ A History of Banbury, in Adderbury and at the Southam Road plant in Banbury, a strong alloy for aircraft skins was made and frames and wing spans were extruded. Thousands of wing spans were made for the famous Lancaster bomber. The workforce at Adderbury and Banbury combined rose to a peak of 2300. Women constituted half the workforce, doing work previously considered quite unsuitable. Many shot-down aircraft, German and British, were dumped at Adderbury and re-processed, at one period to the extent of 50 tons per month. Large sections were produced for the famous Bailey Bridges, and aluminium powder for flares and incendiaries and landing strips for emergency airports were also produced.

The Lancaster bomber

A 1500 ton horizontal extrusion press, suppled to the Air Ministry, Adderbury, by Fielding and Platt in 1943

Some crashed planes came by rail and others were trucked to the factory in ‘Queen Marys’, which were 60ft long low loader trucks specially built for transporting aircraft. A yellow nosed, Me 109 with bullet holes across its fin, body and wing, was placed at the front gate of the factory for several weeks for all to see. Bert Lane was once Stationmaster for Adderbury; he recalled the sight of frames of wrecked aircraft, axis and allied, jammed into railway waggons on the siding.

Twyford Seeds/Bibbys

After a fire at the original Twyford Mill, on the Cherwell near Twyford Wharf, the Oxford Road site was taken over in 1946 by Twyford Seeds, which had been founded in 1936. In a move which still causes confusion today, Twyfords brought the “Twyford Mill” name with them from their original home. Twyford Seeds were one of the country’s leading plant breeding establishments, with an arable farm at Walton Grounds for seed breeding and multiplication and a pedigree seed farm at Cottisford. There was a plant breeding department in the former walled garden of Adderbury House.

Twyford Seeds was acquired in 1952 by what would eventually be known as the Feeds and Seeds division of J. Bibby & Sons Ltd. There were already strong connections between the companies, since Bibby’s had acted as selling agents for Twyford products in some areas and it was intended to merge the sales staff of the two companies. Bibbys, however, were careful to keep the use of the Twyford name for premium products, and continued to recruit scientific staff to Twyford Seeds, rather than to Bibby’s, throughout.

Bibbys established a seed mill on the site, since another reason for the acquisition was a wish to replace their original feed mill at Liverpool by a series of mills in different parts of the country. Adderbury was Bibby’s first true ‘country’ mill, and over the years was a very successful location for the firm.  A small feed plant was built on the site to manufacture pig and poultry feeds under the Bibby brand. In 1968-9 Bibby’s closed its mill in Wandsworth and re-allocated some of its tonnage to Adderbury. In 1970 Bibby’s seed cleaning plant at Colsterworth closed and its business also transferred to Adderbury. In 1973 the Adderbury mill was badly damaged by fire, but was re-equipped and brought back into production by 1974. The Headquarters of the Feeds and Seeds division of Bibbys moved to Adderbury in 1976. The Division was the largest in the company, with a workforce at the end of 1977 of 1150 nationally.

The site in Bibby’s time

Fired Earth

Fired Earth (a literal English translation of the Italian “terracotta”) began trading in 1983 from a lean-to on the side of a farmhouse in Middle Aston. Its range of floor tiles soon expanded to wall tiles and by 1990 it had outgrown its premises and Fired Earth became the new owners of Twyford Mill Estate. According to Nicholas Kneale, the founder, “Bibby found it could fulfil its needs on a smaller site. We refurbished a large building into a showroom, warehouse and offices.”

The firm continued to grow, with paint and wallpaper, bathrooms and kitchens being added to the range. By the mid-1990s Fired Earth had 15 showrooms across the country, with the first London showroom being added in 1996. Fired Earth was taken over by Silverfleet Capital in 1998, and then sold on to Agafood Services plc, who were looking to increase their retail activities. They now have an AGA showroom within the Fired Earth building.

The Site Today

The Twyford Mill site currently houses a range of commercial, service industry, educational and light engineering ventures, with the transition in little more than a century from mineral extraction and heavy engineering closely reflecting changes in the UK economy as a whole. At the same time, the industrial park framework both here and at the neighbouring Station Yard has kept intact the outlines of the infrastructure of Adderbury’s early industries.

Phil Mansell


Bibby, J.B. & C.L.Bibby (1978): A Miller’s Tale. A History of J.Bibby and Sons Ltd, Liverpool. J.Bibby and Sons Ltd.
Davis, B. (2014): In It Together, Adderbury at War. Robert Boyd Publications.
Potts, W.(1958): A History of Banbury. Banbury Guardian Offices.
Taylor, A.M. (1964): Gilletts. Bankers at Banbury and Oxford. Oxford, at the Clarendon Press.
Tonks, E. (1988): The Ironstone Quarries of the Midlands: History, Operation and Railways. Part II. The Oxfordshire Field. Runpast Publishing, Cheltenham

Adderbury and Milton Jubilee Trees 0f 1887

A beautiful old-fashioned English oak tree resides, in all its summer splendour, on a tiny green at the junction of Horn Hill and the Milton roads – does it have a story?

Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated nation-wide on 21st June, 1887. Adderbury marked this occasion by declaring a public holiday with a sit-down meal of beef, mutton and plum pudding for 350 men and boys and a meat tea for 650 women and children, costing a magnificent £75.13s.10d; the money was collected during the year. Also a loyal telegram was sent to the Queen.

Having fed a thousand people there was still a goodly sum of money left over – £12.13s.11d. It was decided to spend this money on three flagpoles (for where was not recorded) and six trees to be planted in the autumn in Adderbury and Milton

The Parish Magazine for January 1888 reported that on 31st December 1887 three trees were planted on the west side of Adderbury East green; these are the chestnuts we see today. Two were planted by the Reverend Henry Gepp’s sons and one by Miss Clara Gardner (presumably the daughter of Thomas Gardner who headed the fund-raising committee). A tree was planted by Master Cecil Granville on what is now Butler’s green at the junction of Horn Hill Road and Manor Road. The last, an oak tree, was planted by the Misses Bennett on the little green at the junction of Horn hill and the Milton road (then known as Bloxham Road). The Milton tree, a beech, was planted opposite Milton’s church by another member of the Turner family.

This jubilee year was an auspicious one for Adderbury as the new Banbury & Cheltenham Railway was opened on 6th April, 1887

The Misses Bennett lived with their two brothers at nearby Oak Tree Cottage on the corner of Berry Hill Road and Horn Hill Road.

A proper sit-down meal with meat, and trimmings, would rate as a special occasion as most of Adderbury’s male population worked in agriculture and were appalling badly paid so they and their families would rarely have been able to afford meat even once a week – and then only scrag-ends or, if fortunate, a rabbit caught while they were out in the fields. 

Barry Davis has noticed a reference in the Banbury Advertiser for 1905 that reports that the Little Green  (Colin Butler Green) was “the site rich in history where there growing upon it were three Waterloo trees and three Jubilee trees”.

Nick Allen

Rhoda Woodward Tribute 9: My Jubilees

From an early age I would have been familiar with the word “jubilee”, as my father was reminded of Queen Victoria’s jubilee on some occasions, often when we were out for a walk and heard the church clock playing one of its three-hourly chimes or passed one of the big oak trees either on the village green or at the Milton turn. Both had been purchased to commemorate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee in 1887. My father did not marry until into his forties and could just remember the tea and celebrations: he would have been six years old at that time.

We always knew a lot about our Royal families; people showed great respect for them, Many homes had a picture on the wall of King George V and Queen Elizabeth. We were taught about them at school and learned to stand to attention for the National Anthem in the Guides and Brownies. Newspapers published lots of photographs of their activities and if we were lucky on the odd occasion we went to the pictures we would see them on the Pathe News. The then Princess Elizabeth was about my age and the Duchess of York the same age as my Mother, who found a picture of the whole family in a magazine and framed it to hang on our wall.

One day in 1935 our headmistress told us that we were to start to practise our may pole dances ready for the Jubilee and that there was to be a May Queen and maids of honour of which I was one. We had to wear white dresses and shoes; we were to wear a crown made from flowers and carry a broom stick with more flowers tied to the top. After the parade we were given a tea and a coronation mug; there were sports for both young and old and dancing in the evening. Every house in the village had been decorated and there were hundreds of different souvenirs in all the shops.

Forty-two years later when I had a grown-up family we were again to have a Jubilee. My mother had died the year before and I was approached by a much younger friend of hers to see if I had any of her old photographs or treasures that I would be willing to loan to an Exhibition that was to be part of the celebrations. The next time I saw her she said the rest of the committee had lost interest and would I help her with the exhibition. Neither of us had done anything like it before. People were just asked to bring anything that they could find. One old lady brought a black crinoline and bonnet. We borrowed a dressmaker’s dummy and fixed on a polystyrene head and I drew a face – which made a perfect model to show off the dress and bonnet. Time and time again we rearranged the tables to make room for more and more exhibits, as people brought one thing and then went back for something else.

We were open for three days. We had borrowed some old fire engine uniforms etc. and one gentleman who had driven our fire engine stayed the whole time to talk about the days when we had a fire brigade to anyone that showed the slightest interest.

I did not see much of the other celebrations, but I certainly caught the bug and my life changed as I began to take an interest in researching and writing about local history. I have made many friends through my work and still get a lot of pleasure from what I do.

Another twenty-five years have passed. This time our committee decided we would have a golden jubilee weekend. However, mine started on the Friday when, as a Parish Councillor, In went with one of the School Governors to the primary school to present each child with a mug. In the evening I took my albums with my collections of village photographs and documents and china memorabilia to the Chapel Schoolroom then helped to set up the Adderbury History Group’s exhibition.

I took a day off on Saturday to attend my granddaughter’s wedding, then on Sunday there was a lovely united service in the Church (well attended in spite of the football). Wearing my Parish Councillor’s hat once more I was off to the playing field for the cutting of the tape to open the newly-equipped play area, finished only just in time. I had my garden, one of seventeen small village gardens, open in the afternoon to make money for the improvements to the Institute, which raised almost £700.

Eight fifteen saw me getting a lift down to the village to set up the over-sixties stall in the street market. In spite of a heavy shower people stayed and were able to shelter under Queen Victoria’s Jubilee tree. We mopped up and sold a lot more raffle tickets, taking £132, and managed to make the draw in time to join both the senior citizens and the children in a street party outside the library. I had not seen much else that say, so went into the library to look at the entries to a photograph competition and discovered I had won first prize in the people’s section. I then waited to receive my prize, a camera, and managed to make the last hour at the History exhibition and collect my things and pack up.

The evening entertainment in the playing field was a long walk down and I was tired. However, I was able to hear all the music and spent the evening watching television and popping out from time to time to listen to the singing which came across from the park quite plain. The fireworks on the TV were over in time for me to go outside and watch our own firework display. A wonderful, unforgettable weekend, but a pity more people did not decorate their houses.

Rhoda Woodward

Aynho Station Accident – 30th September 1852

The day before the opening of the broad gauge line to Birmingham, a special train for Directors, Officers and friends left London at 9 a.m. for Birmingham. The train was heavier than had been expected, consisting of ten carriages, weighing together including passengers about 102 tons. Only an empty second class carriage was equipped with a brake and this was located next to the tender. The train was drawn by the powerful engine, “Lord of the Isles”, which had been much admired at the Great Exhibition in London.

A vintage photo of a train on a track

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“Lord of the Isles

The Officers on the train enquired at Oxford how long the local train had been gone. The station staff made a hasty calculation and replied thirty-three or thirty-four minutes. This was a mistake of ten minutes that tended to throw the parties in charge off their guard.

As the special train drew near the Aynho station the speed was slightly checked and the crew looked out for the first appearance  of the station’s signals to know whether the line through the station was clear. Unfortunately, none of the crew were familiar with the district and this lack of knowledge of the local features of the line caused them to make a mistake.

The Aynho station is situated on a curve which sweeps round to the left on a radius of about two miles. The sweep prevents the station signal being seen until 800 yards from the station. A fixed signal 1000 yards from the station indicated the line was clear. The engine crew on the footplate, which included Daniel Gooch, did not know that the signal had ceased to be used and put on steam to accelerate their speed. While speeding onwards, the engine driver (Bob Roscoe, my great-grandfather) suddenly called out that the station signal was at “danger” and every effort was made to stop the train. It was too late, however, because the braking power attached to the train was very small as compared to the heavy load, and the train was running at high speed on a descending line.

The local train was late, as it had been for weeks, and had only been at Aynho station for five minutes as the high speed special train approached. The “Lord of the Isles” struck the goods wagon, which had been detached from the local train, breaking off the body from the wheels and throwing the whole body forwards onto the next goods wagon, whose rear wheels were thrown across the left hand rail. This obstruction threw the massive engine off the rails, which came to a stop rubbing along the platform side. Bob “stuck by his engine”. Fortunately, no-one on the special train was injured as the stability provided by the wider gauge meant all the carriages remained upright.

The passengers on the local train were not so fortunate. On seeing the special train approaching, the driver put on steam to get away, but only pulled the carriages which composed the passenger portion of the train. The coupling which connected the last carriage to the goods van had snapped under the sudden jerk and the goods van with the three wagons attached to it remained behind. The special train hit the stationary van and wagons with such force that they overtook and came into violent collision with the receding carriages.

The carriages were not damaged very much, but the passengers who rode in them were shaken and some injured. Six passengers who had intended to travel further ended their journey at Aynho as a consequence of their injuries. The local train took its carriages to Banbury and then returned to Aynho to take the special carriages to Leamington Spa where the company officers spent the night.

Clive Mortimer


1, My great-grandfather, Robert (“Bob”) Roscoe, was born in Worsley, Lancashire, in 1818. He joined the Great Western Railway in 1844 as an engine driver after ten years on the Manchester and Leeds Railway. He drove the locomotive “Bright Star” from 1844 to 1847, then the Iron Duke “Sultan” on expresses from Paddington to Bristol and Paddington to Birmingham. From 1867 to his retirement in 1883 he drove “Lord of the Isles” and was available as the Royal Train driver when required. The Windsor to Paddington line was known as “the Roscoe Line”.

Bob Roscoe

2. Bob Roscoe’s work and character has been well described by Adrian Vaughan in his book Grub, Water and Relief: Tales of the Great Western 1835-1892, John Murray, 1985 (p.90):

“Bob drove Sultan on the Paddington to Bristol and the Paddington to Birmingham expresses for twenty years, working twelve-hour shifts on a cabless locomotive at speeds of 60 mph through nights of bitter cold or drenching rain with the same unfaltering concentration as through a warm summer’s day. When his eyes were half frozen in the frosty slipstream and his brain craved sleep, ceaseless vigilance was essential if he was to keep check of where he was in the darkness so as to know what lay ahead and where to look to spot the next little signal lamp as early as possible. The signalling system was primitive, his brakes were quite useless for an emergency stop and his life and those of his passengers depended on his seeing his signals well before he got to them. In this his life was no more difficult than any other ‘top link’ driver, but he was notable, if not unique among express train drivers, for the relaxed and good-humoured manner he adopted towards the rest of humanity in spite of every difficulty”.

3. After the Aynho accident the following safety recommendations were made

  • Discontinue the practice of mixing up goods wagons with passenger carriages on the same train to avoid irregular delays
  • The Company should make an effort to ensure a greater degree of punctuality
  • No train should run without a guard and a guard’s brake upon the last carriage.

Memories of World War II

In 2019 Adderbury History Association was asked by Christopher Rawlins School if any older residents of the village could come into school and share their memories of the last war.  In the end only Jean Moore was able to talk to the children; her mother had run the Telephone Exchange (now Tinkle Cottage) near the Red Lion.  However, several other people who had been in Adderbury as children shared their reminiscences with me, and so did some current Adderbury residents who were in other parts of the country.  I passed some of these on to the children, and here they are in full.


Peter Coombs came to this part of the world as an evacuee from Kent.  He and his brother travelled in a lorry and when they reached Oxfordshire, they got increasingly anxious, as the lorry kept stopping and dropping off children, but not them.  They were left until last, and found themselves in   Sibford Ferris.

They settled happily – they enjoyed playing in the fields, and every day they crossed two fields to collect fresh milk.  The best part of their new life was the absence of bombs.  In Kent they had been under the flight path of German planes heading for London.  There had been a shelter at the end of their road, but if they didn’t have time to get to it, they just had to take refuge under the stairs.

At first Peter and his brother went to school in Sibford; later they cycled to school in Banbury, and after the war Peter’s family left Kent and settled in North Newington.

Louise Harris lived in Ledwell (near Sandford St Martin).  Her family hosted several evacuees.  Two soon went home because they were homesick.  One girl became a good friend of Louise; they kept up afterwards and when Louise got married, the former evacuee was her bridesmaid.

Peter Dance’s family, like many in Adderbury, had people staying with them during the war.  First there were two boy evacuees,who didn’t stay long.   Later the Dances hosted two women teachers; one of them kept up with Peter’s mother for some time after the war.  Later still there was an army officer and his batman.   Peter’s next door neighbour had two boy evacuees who stayed for some time, and a family friend in The Crescent hosted two girls.

Peter’s wife, Grace, lived in London, and was evacuated at the age of three to stay with an aunt in a village in Ayrshire.  When she was old enough she went to the village school and remembers the kindness of the headmaster who let her borrow some of his books.  She was notable as the only evacuee  in the village, and when she went back many years later as an adult, she was greeted with “It’s the wee vaccy!”

Schoolboys, soldiers and tanks

The Boys’ School soon had only one teacher, Mr Bradbury, as his colleague had been called up.   Peter Dance remembers that the school’s numbers were boosted when the evacuees from London came to Adderbury.  The boys from West Ham were accompanied by their teacher, Mr Farmer.

Several people recalled tanks in the village.  A number of troops were stationed in Adderbury, and so there were plenty of tanks around.  Peter Dance attended the Boy’s School (now Rawlins House) and the boys used to play football on the Green in break.  He remembers being a bit annoyed when they couldn’t play because of the tanks on the grass.  Tanks were also to be seen on the tennis courts; there were troops billetted at the Tennis Club.  Some small boys were given rides up from the tennis courts to the baker’s in Chapel Lane (not a journey that would normally require a lift!).

There were various schemes to raise funds for the troops.  Louise Harris still has the certificate which she received from the Red Cross at the end of the war for collecting a penny a week for “Soldiers, sailors and airmen”.


Peter’s father, Phil Dance, was a Special Constable, covering  an  area including Shenington, Alkerton, the Sibfords, Epwell and Broughton. So he was one of the few people in the village to have a car (the doctor was another).  His duties included enforcing the blackout.  

In October 1940 two bombs fell near the Aynho road, in Ashmole’s Field (between Bo-Peep Farm and Nell Bridge)  They exploded and left holes, but did no harm; the aim had probably been to damage the railway line.  Peter Dance remembers his father had to walk along the  line to check that there was no damage.

No bombs fell in Adderbury, but there were air raid practices, and when the siren sounded everyone took shelter.  Peter Dance recalls that the first time the siren went off, he and his mother  sheltered under the stairs.  When his father came back, he pointed out that they had chosen a bad spot, as they were directly underneath the hot water tank!  

They had a shock one night, when a barrage balloon which had somehow come loose, hit the window of Peter’s parents’ bedroom with a loud bang and shattered it.  Peter remained asleep throughout the drama, and was furious to have missed it!

Several people mentioned seeing a glow in the sky over Aynho from the London blitz, and recognising the distinctive sound  of German planes heading for Coventry.  Some also remembered being taken to Croft Lane, to see the glow in the sky to the north, as Coventry burnt in November 1940.  


Graham Collier was actually in Coventry.  He was eight when war broke out. The city was bombed a number of times and Graham and his friends used to collect bits of shrapnel and swap them.  They also played with the incendiary bombs which had landed, but not gone off.  One boy kept a collection of them in a shed, until they were discovered and safely disposed of!

Graham’s father was too old to be conscripted so continued working in a small company making car components.  When the war started production switched to the rear turrets of Wellington bombers.  After work he served as an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) Warden.  When there was a raid on, he was kept busy putting out fires and rescuing people.  Graham recalls that some people tried to escape danger during raids by migrating to the outskirts of Coventry and sleeping in tents.

Graham never felt frightened in wartime, although going to the Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden was a regular occurrence.  His  mother kept important items, like ration books and identity cards, in a tin, and Graham, as the eldest child, was responsible for taking it to the shelter, and ensuring that the documents were kept safe.  When the siren sounded, his mother would just say, “Tin!”, and Graham would know what to do.

One building destroyed in the Coventry blitz was Graham’s school.  He and his friends were delighted that there was no school to go to, and very disappointed that after only two days another school was found for them!

Graham’s wife, Iris, grew up in the same city.  Her father had been gassed in the First World War.  He never spoke of his experiences then, but on the morning after the bombing of Coventry in November 1940 he took Iris and her two brothers into Coventry to see the devastation in the flattened city.  Iris never forgot him saying to them: “Just look at that!  That’s war.  And in ten years time, they will be friends again”. 

When the war ended Graham’s mother organised the street party.  By this time Graham was an apprentice electrician.  One of his jobs was especially memorable; he helped to fix an illuminated star to shine out on the cathedral spire (which survived the bombing) for the first Christmas of peacetime.


Jill Boss was further away, living on the Cornish coast in Looe.  She was a baby at the start of the war, but learnt later that the family boat building business was taken over by the Admiralty.  It was kept very busy with men working in shifts for 24 hours of the day. 

Jill remembers their Anderson shelter; it frightened her because there was  no light and it smelt musty, but luckily they never had to use it.  The kitchen table had steel legs and top, to act as a shelter, if necessary.  She also remembers her Mickey Mouse gas mask; she hated it when her mother tried it on, because it fitted so tightly.

When she was older she used to walk home from school.  She remembers the day when she looked down at the beach from the cliff top and saw what she thought was one of her father’s small boats bobbing up and down at the edge of the waves.  She started to run down the zigzag path to save the boat from being washed out to sea.  But suddenly a large hand came out from a green door, and pulled her inside.  She was furious and bit it!  But it turned out that the hand belonged to a local policeman and he had saved her life – the “boat” was a German mine!  

Her most dramatic memory was of a walk with her grandmother, when they saw a German plane flying low with its tail on fire.  They took shelter as it turned in their direction and saw the pilot jump from the plane. His parachute carried him above their heads – she still remembers vividly the terrified look in the pilot’s eyes – the plane did a nose dive on to the rocks far below, and they heard a loud bang and saw a huge ball of fire.  The pilot was soon captured.

On the day war ended Jill helped her mother and grandmother paint jam jars, tie string around the tops and put a nightlight in each.  Many little flags were also ironed and hung on string.  That evening she found out why, when she saw the river at Looe full of boats, large and small covered with flags.  Her Dad’s boat had all the painted jam jars hanging below the flags.  When a gun fired, all the candles were lit and the boats made their way out of the river to the sea.  Jill and her family were aboard their boat and did a big circle in the bay.  It was a night to remember! 

Fiona Gow
June 2020

With many thanks to: Jill Boss, Graham Collier, Peter Coombs, Grace and Peter Dance and Louise Harris

And if any readers have their own memories of World War Two, I would be happy to record them.

Adderbury at war is the subject of the 2014 Adderbury History Association publication In It Together by Barry Davis, which deals with the actions and the lives of Adderbury people both in the forces and on the home front, in World War II and the Great War 1914-18 as well as earlier conflicts. Details of this publication can be found on the home page of the website.

Rhoda Woodward Tribute 8: My memories of Banbury

Going to Banbury in the late 1920s and early 30s was considered to be a special treat, although I grew up in Adderbury, which was only three and a half miles away. We had almost all that we needed in the village, with a Co-op, two high class grocers, another small shop that sold everything, including groceries, sweets, tobacco, second-hand pots and pans and even the odd piece of furniture. There was also a butcher’s shop and two bakeries where, before electricity came, we would cook the Sunday dinner in their bread ovens. About three times a week the bakers would deliver their lovely home-made loaves and the milkman would call with large buckets of milk which he would measure into a jug with a pint or half pint measure, while Amos the butcher brought meat round in his van twice a week. Then there was Billy Hobs, known as the oil man, but he brought much more than the paraffin needed for light and cooking: his van was a travelling hardware store with polishes of every description, brushes and brooms, mats, candles, spare parts for oil stoves, tin kettles, saucepans or maybe a pot mender to mend an old one. As he bowled along the streets, his goods would rattle and bang together and sometimes fall off the back. Another reason for not going into town was that Carrier Will Howes would bring back anything that was needed for twopence – less than half the bus fare, which was fourpence halfpenny return.

One of my first memories of Banbury was of my Dad lifting me up in the High Street in about 1930 and asking me if I could see the big Red Lion. When I said that I could, he said, “You remember that you saw it as they are going to knock it down to build a Woolworths.” This caused great exceitement and, when built, a new way of shopping. People had not been used to picking up their own purchases: in other shops goods were kept behind the counter and had to be asked for and placed on the counter by the assistants. I was taken to Woolworths shortly after it opened and all I could see was the high dark brown varnished counters – I was much too small to see the goods. Everything was either threepence or sixpence. Sandals or plimsoles would be sixpence for each shoe. At that time, they sold almost anything. In fact, there was a couple of quite elderly village characters who had been courting for a good many years. When at last Eva persuaded her Sam to tie the knot, he complained bitterly that he had had to pay seven and a tanner (seven shillings and sixpence) for a wedding ring not long before Woolworths opened; if he hadn’t been in such a hurry he could have bought one in Woolworths for sixpence. On Saturdays there was such a crowd in there that it was a job to fight your way round.

Of course, I did appreciate Woolworths when I got older, especially as we could buy so many things at a reasonable price and could see exactly how much everything cost before parting with our pocket money or later our hard-earned money. At one time they had a milk bar and we would treat ourselves to a chocolate milk shake on pay day.

Banbury Fair was considered a great event for both young and old. It was the only time some of the older generation came into Banbury and it was quite a gathering of the clans as people pushed their way through the crowds looking for relatives and friends that they had probably not seen since the year before.

The biggest crush was usually outside the boxing booth: I can remember being lifted up to see the Turpin brothers wearing their gloves and shorts and challenging anyone to beat them. I think there was a considerable cash reward but I don’t think many chaps managed to win it! It was a novelty to hear the music and see the bright coloured lights and the big steam engines that powered them. When we had had our rides Mam would say that she hadn’t any money left and that we would have to catch the bus home – though she would sometimes discover that she had enough to call at Needles for fish and chips to take home. Once, I remember, we actually ate them at a table inside the shop. The first time I went to the pictures was what should have been a trip to the fair; it started to bucket down with rain so my Mam took me into the Palace Cinema. The film was “The End of the Road”, starring Harry Lauder, I believe.

On the markets before the war, the stalls stayed open until dark. Each stall had bright flared napthene lights which made a loud hissing noise and had a large naked flame. Everything was sold off cheaply as it got later and I have known my Dad get a paper carrier bag full of fruit for about six pence.

My Dad did not approve of going to the pictures. He said that everybody who had been off work ill went to the pictures and you could catch anything. The only thing I remember catching was the odd flea, which was quite a common occurrence and the bites a nasty itch until caught. However, he could be persuaded to take me to see George Formby.

As I got older, I was allowed to go to Banbury to the Saturday afternoon matinee if there was a suitable film on; I remember going to see “Victoria the Great”. There used to be a man stand outside the Grand in Broad Street with a brown uniform trimmed with gold buttons and braid. He used to shout, “Fourpence and Sixpence in the Queue and tuppence round Pepper Alley”. There was always a lot of noise and some of the kids used to try and sneak in through the back way and sometimes we would see them being taken out. I did not often go myself, but I believe the Saturday morning kids’ shows were even noisier.

Although the villages did not depend on the town for food, they would have needed to buy clothing and shoes. The Co-op was, I would think, the nearest we had to a department store and sold most everything in the drapery line. Children were not often taken to choose their clothes: mothers would buy what they thought was suitable. A lot of our clothes were home-made; Pilsworths had a good selection of materials. Our school had a clothing club, which meant children paid a few coppers each week and when the schools broke up in July, vouchers would be issued. Mam always had ours made out to the Co-op as they sold shoes as well as the other drapery.

Living in a village, there were quite a few things we found different in the town. I remember being taken to the town’s toilets: the flush toilets and stiff white squares of toilet paper in china white holders were a novelty to some of the country folk, not forgetting the enamel notices offering a substantial reward for information on anyone using these toilets suffering from venereal disease. I did not understand anything except the reward and once asked my Mam how we could obtain what seemed to me to be a small fortune and was quickly dragged outside. There was always an attendant with her mops, Brasso and cleaning cloths. All the taps were highly polished and I am sure she would have been capable of dealing with anyone who threatened to damage her domain.

Unless a child had been fortunate to pass the scholarship and go to what was then known as Banbury County School, the rest of us left school at the age of fourteen. My turn came in July, 1939. My mother had a small tea shop so I did not go to work straight away. It was a lovely summer: I had a stall outside and I sold what must have been hundreds of soft drinks and ice creams. A great many people went on cycling holidays and I remember a sense of foreboding as they were saying that they were making the most of this year as there would be a war. Soon we were measured and issued with gas masks; sand bags and paper strips on all the windows appeared in the town. A few weeks later we were at war, our village had a whole battalion of soldiers arrive, and huts sprang up it seemed almost overnight.

After a couple of years, Mam closed the shop and I went to work at Spencer’s corset factory, which made surgical corsets and belts. There were very strict rules: no talking allowed on any of the benches. This was when I really began to love Banbury; I met girls of my own age and began to go to the Saturday night dances at the Town Hall, where we danced to records of well-known bands of that time. There were crowds of RAF personnel coming into the town from several surrounding airfields, as well as all the soldiers, and, surprisingly, not very much trouble. There was no alcohol sold on the premises, but we were all quite happy with the powdered lemonade or coffee and a sausage roll. So there was no shortage of partners. In spite of clothes rationing we always managed to look nice. We queued at the market stalls in our dinner hour or on Saturdays for makeup or curtain material to make into a blouse. Many a lad came home on leave to find his grey flannel trousers had been made into a skirt by one of his sisters. One time a stall came with a lot of bomb-damaged Celanese underwear, mostly camiknickers, all soaking wet and sooty but only half coupons and certainly too expensive for us to have bought in new condition. However, they washed up nice and clean and we really appreciated them. It was also possible to buy seconds in silk stockings (nylons had not come our way then) and after careful examination find some where the mend did not show. We had many devious ways of stretching our clothing coupons.

As well as the dances in other villages and the Town Hall, there were the three picture houses: The Grand in Broad Street with double seats at the back for courting couples, the Palace in the Market Place, now a bank, and the Regal, which is the only one left out of the three and now has another name. With so many of the armed forces coming into town there were always long queues to get in, but that was all part of the fun. There were several good musicals and we watched Betty Grable, Alice Faye and all the glamorous film stars: we fell in love with the men and dreamed we could look like the girls. When the Pathe News came on we booed the Italians and the German soldiers and cheered our boys.

It was a sad time, a romantic time; it was easy to fall in love with the boys in uniform and a strange feeling knowing that in a few weeks or less they would maybe be killed in action. We also heard the same of lads we had known all our lives.

Even during the war years there was a fairly good bus service from Adderbury into both Banbury and Oxford, the last bus being at 10.30 p.m., but most of the time I used to cycle. Bikes could be left at Caves store in Bridge Street and collected quite late on dance nights. I think he charged us about 6d. Front lamps had to be half covered with black paper and the street lamps, where there were any, very dim, but we still managed to find our way around quite safely.

I still remember the words of one elderly lady when she said, “If there be a war things will never be the same again”. How right she was.

Rhoda Woodward

The Brickworks at Twyford Wharf

There is a short entry in the Victoria County History Vol. IX, Bloxham Hundred, 1969, mentioning that there was a brickworks at Twyford Wharf. The next mention is contained in Vera Wood’s book The Licencees of the Inns, Taverns and Beerhouses of Adderbury & Milton Oxfordshire. She lists The ‘Old’ Red Lion, Twyford, mentioning the first known publican as Thomas Wilkins c 1832. She recorded that Wilkins was a multi-tasking publican as he was also owner of the coal wharf, brickworks and nearly sixty acres of well-watered farmland. Four years later, there was an announcement in the Banbury Guardian for 18th October, 1836, of a sale of this farm land, public house, cottage and wharf and a brickworks and domestic buildings. It would seem for much of its history the publicans of the Red Lion at Twyford Wharf were multi-tasking men. The last recorded publican was William Henry Twynham who was mine host from 1911-1929. He died in harness with the whole operation then closing down in 1930.

The Twyford Wharf site was examined in detail in 1971 by Susanna Everett of the Oxford and City Museum. In addition to the public house, the site consisted of a wharf house, a brick kiln and a limekiln, two drying sheds and one clay pit in use as well as an old, worked-out clay pit and a brick-built cottage-cum-office.  The clay dug on site was used to produce bricks, tiles, pipes and lime. The geological map of this area shows a belt of two types of clay to the west of and shadowing the River Cherwell . The canal was dug through one sort of clay and the brickworks the other. On the other side of the road, still on the west bank of the canal, was a cottage, coal wharf and warehouse. 

Brickmaking required sulphurous coal to fire the bricks as it burnt much hotter than domestic ‘sweet coal’. Much of the coal consumed in Adderbury came from Wednesbury near Wolverhampton; conveyed by long boats working the Coventry/Oxford Canal.  The special bricks needed to construct the kilns themselves may well have come from the new brickworks opened up at Stourport on Severn on land acquired by the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal Company in 1769. The company had acquired a close of land near the River Severn, near where they were building the new inland port, connecting the Severn and the new canal, fed by the River Stour. This canal eventually joined the newly-opened Coventry to Oxford canal which passed through Twyford. This would have been a slow tortuous journey across the Midlands – but the only way a heavy load of bricks could have been transported in the nineteenth century. The railway passed nearby but there was no halt or station or facilities for unloading.

What of today? Twyford Wharf has morphed into a modern leisure facility. The brickworks is a well presented caravan park with attractive canal moorings alongside, with one of the former brick kilns acting as a toilet block. The old coal wharf is a long boat hire business – it all looks well- presented and thriving. 

Nick Allen

Note:                                                                                                                                 This article has taken the view that the Twyford Brick Works arose after the building of the Oxford Canal and as a consequence of it. Others have suggested that there was a working, commercial, brickworks on this site in the eighteenth century prior to the building of the canal through Adderbury c1787. This premise was built around a field name said to be shown in the Inclosure Award of 1774 as Brick Kiln Field. The field the brickworks still stands on today is shown, on the 1735 plan of the land holdings of the 2nd Duke of Argyll, as Brickill Hill Furlong. Might the cartographer have got the name of the field incorrectly by writing Brickiln Hill Furlong by mistake?  Another possibility is that the then farmer/landowner might have set up a small locally made kiln to bake bricks for local use and pipes for land drainage purposes.

Cyril Beeson: Adderbury’s Historian of Clocks

Cyril Beeson (1889-1975) chose to retire to Adderbury in 1946 and lived in Westway Cottage, West Adderbury, until shortly before his death in 1975. During his time in Adderbury he gained a reputation as a local historian and particularly as a historian of clocks, especially North Oxfordshire clocks, including Quaker clocks.


Cyril Beeson was born in Oxford on 10 February 1889 to Walter Thomas Beeson and Rose Eliza Beeson, née Clacey. Walter Beeson was Surveyor to St John’s College, Oxford. and a lifelong college employee. Beeson attended Oxford High School for Boys. His best friend there was T.E. Lawrence (known to Beeson as “Ned”, but better remembered today as “Lawrence of Arabia”). Lawrence called him by his nickname of “Scroggs”. In this photograph of the sixth form Ned (who took the photograph with home-made remote control) is on the right, with Cyril Beeson standing next to him.
Beeson in the Sixth Form (standing, second from right)

The pair had a passion for medieval history and were well-known for cycling here, there and everywhere together in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, looking at churches and rubbing brasses. Closer to home, the two schoolboys took advantage of a great deal of building and rebuilding work in Oxford and toured building sites on a daily basis to collect any medieval glass or pottery that the workmen had found, paying them a few pence each time. They passed the most important of their finds on to the Ashmolean Museum. The Ashmolean’s Annual Report for 1906 said that the pair “by incessant watchfulness secured everything of antiquarian value which has been found”.


After school both boys went up to Oxford, Lawrence to read history and Beeson to read Geology at St John’s. Despite their Arts/Science difference Beeson and Lawrence remained in touch. Lawrence discovered that there was a rather obscure provision in his degree regulations which allowed him to write an undergraduate thesis and submit it for consideration alongside his compulsory papers. He decided he would write about what had become one of his interests – the history of castles during the crusades. On two long and gruelling bicycle trips across France, Lawrence studied the European castles of the time, and Beeson was there on both occasions to support parts of the journey. Lawrence went on to walk through the Holy Land gathering final material on the castles there before writing his thesis. Time ran short and Lawrence needed help in preparing the illustrations. Once again, Beeson was able to help, drawing numbers of the illustrations, based on photographs, postcards, plans and textbooks such as Viollet-le-Duc’s “Dictionnaire”.

Illustration by Beeson, drawn for T.E.Lawrence

This was perhaps the high point of the association of the two undergraduates. Lawrence, according to Beeson, “had never possessed the average boy’s interest in natural history” and showed little interest in Beeson’s “budding enthusiasm for biology”. After graduation, Beeson embarked on a Diploma course in forestry, while Lawrence started the first of three years as an archaeologist at Carcemish in Syria. Thirty years later Beeson described their last full day together, in the Christmas week of 1908:

“Oxford lay under many inches of snow. We set out to explore its unfamiliarity and, by a route as devious as our conversation, reached the top of Cumnor Hurst in a snowstorm. On the heights the wind blew keenly, sweeping the snow from the domed hill as fast as it fell, piling it in the gloom of the pine-clump or whirling over the cliffs of the brick-pit beyond.”

Lawrence decided that they should return home simply on a compass bearing, and Beeson, faithful friend, dutifully agreed. He writes:

“We held to our compass-bearing, ploughed through snow-banks, climbed hedges and fences, waded icy streams shallow and deep, and were spared the Thames only by the intersection of Folly Bridge and the imminence of night. So finished five years that had reflected one facet of the personality of T.E.Lawrence”

This is a poignant farewell, both to Lawrence and to Beeson’s undergraduate self.


By 1922, Cyril Beeson was thousands of miles from Oxford. He had gained a Master’s in Forestry, followed by a D.Sc. He had seen war service as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps, going through the Mesopotamian campaign. He had married Marion Cossentine Fitze, a Surrey girl, and their only child, Barbara Rose, had been born. He had had a period as a scientist in the field and had been called back to the central offices of his organisation to serve in a senior capacity. He was, in fact, now living and working in India, for the India Forest Service, and the label on his door said “Forest Entomologist”, a position he held for the next twenty years. He was in charge of forest entomology for the whole of India, a country where forest covered 20% of the surface area, and where a nineteenth-century law had brought all of it under the direct control of the British Raj.

The Forestry Service was a key part of the colonial administration, and Beeson was a Head of Department in its central administration, research and training establishment at Dehra Dun in Uttar Pradesh. These lavish and impressive buildings give an idea of the esteem in which the service was held.
Forest Services Buildings in Dehra Dun

Over the years, Beeson greatly expanded the research undertaken by the department and oversaw the appointment of highly trained, professional staff. This photograph shows Beeson with colleagues.

Beeson (seated, third from right) with colleagues at Dehra Dun

A huge amount of information on Indian forest insects was produced and published in his time, much of it by Beeson himself in more than sixty scientific articles, and his career was crowned by the publication in 1941 of his book, The Ecology and Control of the Forest Insects of India and the Neighbouring Countries. This 767-page work has been called “the holy book of Indian forest entomology” and remains the standard textbook to this day, having been republished in 1961 and 1993. There are two things to say for the non-expert. First we can see yet again the practical hands-on Beeson in the fact that the volume was actually printed at Dehra Dun, with many of the illustrations are being drawn by Beeson himself. Second, for all that this is the crowning achievement of twenty and more years’ work abroad, the text still shows a characteristic British humour, being interspersed with quotations from Lewis Carrol.


For his services to India, Beeson was made a Companion of the Order of the British Empire when he retired in 1941. On his return to this country, he served as the Director of the Imperial Forestry Bureau in Oxford 1945-7. It was in 1946 that Cyril Beeson moved to Adderbury, taking up residence at Westway Cottage on Horn Hill Road. We don’t know why he and his wife chose Adderbury, but it may have had something to do with their daughter, Barbara Rose. At the end of the Second World War, the twenty-year-old Barbara had found herself in Lagos, and there at some point she met a man from Adderbury, Bennet Humphreys Brackenbury, a colonial administrator. At any event, we next hear of her arriving in Liverpool from Lagos on 7th June, 1949, with the 29-year-old Bennet following on 6th November that year. On 19th November the couple were married at St Mary’s Church, Adderbury.


It is said that the first clock that Beeson bought was part of the process of furnishing Westway Cottage. He and his wife thought an antique clock would suit their new home. Once bought, however, apparently they didn’t like its tick, so another was bought. Whatever the truth of this, the death of his wife shortly thereafter seemed to propel Beeson inn two directions. First as collector and secondly as a historian. He was apparently a passionate collector and the obituary in Cake and Cock Horse says that

“those who visited him in his tiny cottage in Adderbury West will remember how its walls were lined with them – longcase clocks, bracket clocks, every sort, on shelves, on the floor, hanging from walls”

At the same time, he was not the sort of collector who wanted to keep everything for himself. Quite early on, he donated a clock to Banbury Museum, and in 1966 he donated his entire collection, comprising 42 longcase clocks, 24 other clocks and 13 watches, to the Museum of the History of Science at the University of Oxford. The museum created the Beeson Room to house the collection.

Beeson in the Beeson Room, Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford

In terms of the history of clocks and clock-making, it really is very surprising how little developed the field was in the 1950s and how much progress Beeson made as soon as he turned his attention to it.  He first published Clockmaking in Oxfordshire in 1962, and this was followed in 1971 by English Church Clocks 1280 –1850. His final work, Perpignan 1356: The Making of a Tower Clock and Bell for the King’s Castle, was published posthumously in 1982. It is clear that Beeson’s study of clocks was helped by his facility for languages as well as by the fact that he didn’t mind “boldly climbing towers”. But there were two further strengths that Beeson brought to the area. First, he was a scientist, one who was used to classifying huge amounts of data. If we look at this classification of tower clocks, I think we see clearly the same processes at work which had enabled him to make sense of the insect life of Indian forests.

The other strength that Beeson brought to the study of clocks is that he was genuinely interested in history and, in particular, in local history, not just in the technical aspects of clock mechanisms for their own sakes. He joined Banbury Historical Society as a founder member in 1958, was Chairman 1959-60, committee member until 1967, and founding editor of its journal, Cake and Cockhorse from 1959 to 1962 – and it was he, apparently who dreamed up its rather unusual title.  He was also a practising local historian, contributing, for example, an article on “Halle Place, Adderbury, and its occupants” in 1960.

Beeson didn’t finish his long life in Adderbury: he married again in 1971 and moved away, his death in 1975 being registered in Abingdon. But in the quarter century he spent here at the end of his life he certainly did more than enough to qualify as a “man of Adderbury”.

Phil Mansell

Family History: Being in the right place at the right time

Over the years I have done a great deal of family history and at first this was research into my own family then it progressed into other people’s families and trying to solve the ‘’brick walls’’ they had run up against. I have never believed in those because there should always be a logical way through. Naturally, the absence of documentary evidence, parish records etc., does not help, but I try to find an answer if I can. And, of course, a little bit of luck, of “being in the right place at the right time” is also a great help!

Let me give an example. With my husband Bill (who also also enjoyed genealogy and specialised in finding people who had become estranged from their families and helped many people achieve their aims) I lived in North Aston near Steeple Aston for a great number of years and I discovered that I was related to some old families there from c17 to early c20. When in the Churchyard one day I was reading some of the gravestone inscriptions; one in particular intrigued me: “Died in a mysterious way”, it said. I found that this man was my 3rd x Great Grandfather.  A friend in the village had a newspaper cutting which showed that in 1842 George Mobbs had been robbed and murdered on his way home from a scientific lecture at Steeple Aston. His body was found on a heap of stones just off the cross roads at the Fox Inn along the Duns Tew road. His horse had cantered off home and was found, complete with tack, in his field the next day. It was said at the time that the motive was robbery but no one was found to answer for this dreadful crime. George, a farmer, left a wife and numerous children. 

My parents retired to Adderbury in 1985 and lived opposite Mr John Fox who had been a founder member of the Adderbury History Association. He asked me one day whether I would like to see some old Banbury Guardians which he had stored in his house. In one of them I was astounded to see that the murder of Mr George Mobbs had been solved by the capture of the culprit and this had taken four years to come to light. There had been a witness behind the hedge who had at last come forward to tell his story. It’s not the story so much as the fact that that particular news item had been placed in front of me to read …amazing! There was more to come: at around the same time I bid at a Holloway’s auction for a large quantity of Banbury Historical Society Journals. The first one I opened when I arrived home, out dropped a newspaper cutting with Inscriptions from North Aston and Steeple Aston Churches and notably the one written on poor George Mobbs’s grave!

I have always loved auctions and at another Holloway’s sale I put in a bid for a box of Oxfordshirre Record Society books. I had been working on a family tree from Hook Norton. I followed the fortunes of Dinah French who had married a William Jaques of Stourton near Whichford  . Dinah became a deeply religious person and as a girl had struggled to find a formal home for her beliefs. During the early 1800s  she had tried attending the Baptists in Hook Norton , ‘’The Mother Church ‘’, St Peters, Hook Norton , the Friends and finally found the Methodist Church to be the most sympathetic and where she felt the most comfortable . Dinah married William Jacques in 1813, who later went to America in search of land so that the whole family could prosper. Eventually, Dinah and children joined William. She wrote her life story, which included religious writings and her poems. It was published in Syracuse USA 1853. 

When I paid for the box of ORS books the porter put some odd books on top to make up the Lot. I didn’t know what they were as I had not viewed them – but there it was …. Dinah’s book! I couldn’t believe it! I wonder how it made its way back to England? Presumably, it was forwarded to an English relative. So sad it wasn’t passed down the family as a treasured heirloom instead of ending up in a sale room in Banbury. The Jaques family are distantly related to my mother’s family so I shall look after Dinah’s book!

Before the widespread use of home computers and extensive genealogy web sites, I used to spend some of my spare time in ‘’Banburyshire”, the upstairs research room in Banbury Library. Martin Allit was the Librarian who looked after all the Family History customers, including Brian Little, who was always researching for his weekly article in the Banbury Guardian. Martin was often on duty in that area of the Library and on one particular occasion he was at his desk on the telephone. I couldn’t help but overhear some of the conversation. Martin was getting grilled it appeared and it seemed he was expected to be undertaking research for this caller. I overheard the name “ Fardon”…..and yes! You have guessed it, I was working on the Quaker Clockmaker family of Fardon from North Newington and Deddington at that time. I intimated to Martin that I could perhaps help. He passed the receiver over to me. How odd that now I was talking to Peter, a descendant of the Fardons I was working on. So was I in the right place at the right time? 

One has to be patient, though, and Peter told me that he was descended from a female line, a Juliana Fardon . He believed Juliana to be the daughter of John Fardon, Clockmaker, 1736-1786. Her birth or baptism was not recorded in the Quaker records or anywhere that he could find. I worked with Peter for a few years and I never established that Juliana was the daughter of this John Fardon until something quite unrelated happened. I wrote to the Archivist at New College Oxford to enquire about any available papers on my father’s family in this area. She sent me printed pages from their archives. Along with some tenancy agreements and deeds was a list of similar items from Milton. My grandfather farmed at Manor Farm, Milton, until his death in 1939. However, along with some documents about the Cox family of Milton lay the Will of John Fardon, 1786! John had been married to Sarah Cox. I was very excited because perhaps this was my only chance of proving to Peter that Juliana was indeed John’s daughter! So it wasn’t long before a visit to the Archives in New College was arranged and I read through John Fardon’s Will carefully. He named his daughter Juliana! Who would have thought it possible that Juliana could be identified after all the previous research had come to nothing? The Will had been with the Cox New College records for all those years and maybe I was the first person to discover and read it. Everyone was pleased.

Here’s a final example. I have been working over half my life on an ancestor in my father’s family and over the years have collected a lot of information about him and recently quite by chance other pieces of his life are coming to light to help me complete his story. During the early 1980s I was in the old Record Office in the Council Building in Oxford. I was (and actually now I do not remember why) looking through the Wolvercote Parish register transcript. Out dropped a fairly crudely  hand drawn map of Fawler, a hamlet of Finstock. I had known that my ancestor’s mother had lived there c1830s but had no idea where she and her husband resided. However, on this map her name and cottage was clearly marked! Her name only, so I guess this sketch was drawn from someone’s memory and after she had become a widow in the 1840s. This meant I was able to go and look at the cottage and another piece of this family jigsaw was in place. Was this luck or “meant to be?”

One of my Cousins said to me a very long time ago when I was just starting out on my family history quest: ’I have a black tin box containing some family papers, would you like to have a look at them?’’ The contents really set me off with genealogy as a hobby since they allowed me to discover that my father’s family (c19th) and my mother’s ancestors (c17th) had all lived in my cousin’s house but, as you can see, in different centuries! Mother’s relations came back and still live there. 

These are some of my family history ‘surprise moments’ which helped me and others. I hope they still appear to fill those gaps in my research. The History Centre at Cowley will be one of the first places I will visit when it’s open and people are allowed to research again. But I shan’t forget what I’ve learned over the years: if you have lost something, look for something else and perhaps fate will place you in the right place at the right time to find what you are really looking for!

Jill Adams
May 2020

Note: Incidentally, John Fardon has his own story, which you can read by following the link below: 

Rhoda Woodward Tribute 7: Having Babies at Home

Three of my family of four children were born at home.

When I first realised I was pregnant in 1948 my mother said I should find where the District Nurse lived. We had just moved into a tied one-bedroom farm bungalow, which was a mile each way from the nearest village. The nurse came to see me, gave me a list of things I would need and said she would visit me again nearer my time. A few days later, a tall Irishmen came to the house; he said he was the local doctor and that the nurse had asked him to call. He examined me and afterwards called in every few weeks when he was in the area.

The nurse started to visit again when I was seven months pregnant, but I went into early labour. Phone messages from the farm called the nurse and my mother. By the time they had arrived it was realised my baby was the wrong way round so the doctor was needed. I had very little idea what was happening. It was too late to get me to hospital so the doctor sat on the bed and held me and gave me what was then called gas and air while he instructed the nurse on delivering my baby girl. Fortunately, she weighed eight pounds and, except for a very dry skin, was very healthy; she had to be rubbed with olive oil instead of bathed for the first two weeks. In those days we had to stay in bed for ten days. The nurse came every day for a fortnight, I had one visit from the health visitor, and the doctor called in a few times.

We were not really expected to make a fuss over pregnancy – after all, most married women had babies. I was alone most of the day while my husband was at work; I made all my baby clothes except for nappies, which could be bought in strips, separated and hemmed at home. We did not have any electricity, but did have a wash house with one rusty cold tap. There was a coal range in the kitchen for cooking, and a front room with a fireplace. We bought a primus stove from a friend of my mother’s, who also gave me a large jam pan, which she said would do to boil the baby’s nappies. Having a baby at the end of October, I had to dry most of the washing on the fire guard. I managed to afford a small mangle with rubber rollers which clamped onto the sink.

The bungalow was very damp and before my second, a son, was born we had moved into a row of cottages, but were still a mile from the nearest village. We no longer needed our lamps as we now had electric light, but no cooker, as points were still restricted from wartime. Water was fetched from a pump along the yard, and a row of bucket loos, which had to be emptied into a hole in the garden, stood about twenty yards from our house.

We saved all the rainwater. I kept our brick copper alight through the summer with cinders collected from the heap near the loos where everyone dumped their ashes from the coal fires. This meant I always had free hot water for our use.

About this time (1950) there was a family allowance of five shillings (25p) for the second child. I saved ours to buy the four bags of coal each month which was our ration. Sometimes there would be a bag of slack or coke, and a few coppers change.

At both of these places our grocery was delivered, usually on Fridays. A man called on Tuesdays to collect the order and mark the ration books. The baker and milkman also called several times a week – nobody had heard of supermarkets then.

Unless the weather was very bad, my babies were out in their prams all morning and we went out for an afternoon walk sometimes to the shops or to visit friends I had made in the village. With open fires, coppers and oil stoves they had to be kept out of danger.

By the time my third child, another girl, was born, we had just moved into a council house. I thought I was in heaven with a gas copper, real taps with hot water and a bath that did not need emptying. This time, I had visited the hospital for check-ups but still had my baby in my own home. Those district nurses really knew their job: they were kind and helped to get things moving. I was lucky; there were no more problems, and I managed each time to be a few days early. By the way, if nothing had happened by the due date it was common practice to be told to take a bottle of caster oil and within a few hours the baby would be on its way.

Fathers, of course, were kept well out of the way until the baby was born,

Rhoda Woodward

Quaker Meeting House Adderbury: A Guide


The Quaker Meeting House in Adderbury was built in 1675 on the estate of the Lord of the Manor of Adderbury West, Bray D’Oyly.

This guide has been prepared to help visitors to appreciate this unique building. It contains some background to life and worship in England in the seventeenth century  and an account of how Quakerism arose. Then it tells the stories of the early Adderbury Quakers before giving a guided tour of the exterior of the building and the graveyard, followed by a description of the interior. The guide finishes with a short account of the Quakers of Adderbury from the early nineteenth century up to the present.


Religion played a central role in the life of English people in the seventeenth century in ways that seem very unfamiliar to most of us, looking back from the twenty-first century.

By the time the Quaker story started in the second half of the century, by law you had to attend regularly the services of the Church of England and support its activities by paying to the Church a tithe of either your income or your produce. Religion had in large part lain behind the turbulent national politics of England in the 1600s, which had seen a divisive civil war and the deposition and execution of King Charles I. Religion, too, (particularly in terms of the opposition between Protestant and Roman Catholic beliefs) had determined, and would continue to determine, the international politics of the time.

What is also plain, however, from countless letters and journals of the time, is that at a personal level people thought and felt deeply and intensely about their own relation to God, about their  tendency to sin, and about their fitness for the eternal life in heaven which the Christian religion offered to true believers. For many this internal struggle was particularly intense because there was a belief that the Second Coming (when Christ would return to earth in judgement) could happen at any time. As the century progressed it was true for large numbers of believers that the established church did not address their urgent concerns. They began to form themselves into groups and movements that have generally been given the name of “Dissenters”, and prominent among these were the Quakers.

The founder of Quakerism (although it was not called that at that time) was George Fox, who was born in 1624, the son of a Leicestershire weaver. He experienced in full the doubts and confusions described above, and, as a young man, went from preacher to preacher, sect to sect, in search of enlightenment and comfort. As his Journal tells us, it was only when there was “nothing outwardly” left that he found the answer. Then he heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition”; Fox tells us that when he heard this “my heart did leap for joy”. What Fox was proposing was that he and others could learn directly from the living Christ within, the “Inward Light”, needing no priest or minister as intermediary.

George Fox (1624-91)

Almost immediately Fox, believing that it was God’s commandment that he should do so, embarked upon a missionary crusade, one which was to occupy the remaining forty or so years of his life. He achieved his first successes in North West England but had soon established strong centres in both London and Bristol. From the early 1650s itinerant preachers, known as “Publishers of Truth”, brought their message to the Midlands, and, as far as we know, it was John Audland and John Camm, who visited Banbury in 1654, who first made the contacts, later confirmed on a number of occasions by Fox himself, that established the Quaker connection with Adderbury.

Before we come directly to the Adderbury Quakers themselves, however, a word is necessary about the term “Quaker”. Fox’s co-religionists called themselves the ”Society of Friends” and the term “Quaker” was originally one of abuse, though it was subsequently adopted as a general term. It was in Derby in 1650 that magistrate Gervase Bennet first called Fox and his followers “Quakers”, since they called on men to “tremble at the word of God”. Fox himself was convinced that the “quakings” were the work of God. People’s hearts, he explained, “had to be shaken before the seed of God was raised out of the earth.”


The mission of John Audland  and John Camm to Banbury in 1654 must have been a particularly effective one, since their message engaged the attention and won the belief, not only of Edward Vivers, a leading Banbury merchant, but particularly of Bray D’Oyly, the Lord of the Manor of West Adderbury. Both men went on to form Quaker meetings of their own. The first meeting in Adderbury was in 1656 and took place at D’Oyly’s Little Manor in West Adderbury.  This still stands, though much altered, on the corner of Cross Hill Road and Colin Butler Green, a short distance from the Meeting House.

D’Oyly’s social position and leadership were very important, since the initial years of Quakerism, from the 1650s to the Act of Toleration in 1689, saw great persecution for Friends, including those of Adderbury. It is hard today to understand why this should be so. Quaker religious practices, for example, seem to us today to be the very opposite of provocative. Martin Greenwood describes these as follows:

“The Friends or Quakers … meet in silence, sometimes called the ‘listening silence’, seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit in their own hearts or through words which individual Friends may feel called upon to speak. The Quaker ‘Inward Light’ linked an individual directly with God, making the prayers and rites of the Church unnecessary. They have no creed, no sacraments, their children are not baptised, they have no consecrated buildings, they do not sing hymns and have no formal prayers.”

Yet these very beliefs brought Quakers into conflict with the established church, for, with their belief in direct guidance from God, they believed in a “priesthood of all believers” and disparaged what they called “steeplehouses” [churches] and their “hireling priests”. They saw no reason why they should attend church services or contribute to church expenses through the payment of tithes, something which infuriated both the clergy and the gentry who made up the magistracy. What is more, Quakers developed a set of attitudes and behaviours that brought them into day-to-day conflict with others. They would not use titles, addressed each other and everybody else as “thee” and “thou”, and refused to doff their hats to anyone, or take off their hats in church, courtroom or private house. All this gave grave offence in the strict social hierarchy of seventeenth-century England. Finally, they would not swear any form of oath, something which time and time again disadvantaged them when they were brought to court. And, of course, seventeenth-century Quakers were instantly recognisable, since the clothes they wore reflected their belief in simplicity, the women in plain grey dresses, white scarves and poke bonnets, and the men in broadcloth with wide-brimmed hats.

D’Oyly was seen by his peers as “a sober and discrete gentleman”, although “wrought upon by these seduced and seducing people [Quakers]”. He himself was fined and imprisoned for attending meetings during this period, but was able to avoid harsher penalties through the good offices of others. D’Oyly was first prosecuted for non-payment of tithes in 1661 and he subsequently refused to pay them right up to his death in 1695. Other Adderbury Quakers were fined and imprisoned for attending meetings either in the village or elsewhere in the county. Thomas Baylis and Christopher Barret were taken at a meeting at Banbury in 1660 and were imprisoned for two months. Members of the Adderbury families of Poultney, Treppas, Aris, and Garner were all fined for being at meetings at Milcombe, Banbury, Adderbury, and Milton between 1660 and 1674. Prosecutions for non-payment of tithes began in 1659 when Timothy Poultney was imprisoned for 15 months. Imprisonment, however, was exceptional after about 1666, but seizure of goods went on until well into the later eighteenth century. D’Oyly played a prominent part in Quaker affairs both at local and national levels. He was frequently appointed to act for the Banbury Meeting in financial matters, or to attend the assizes to look after local Friends who were in trouble with the law.

In 1675, some years before it was legal to do so, D’Oyly built Adderbury Meeting House on his own land and at his own expense.  Why was it built? Some suggest that early Meeting Houses were built out of bravado, some that a Meeting House provided simply  the opportunity to establish a Quaker burial ground, since Quakers neither sought burial in consecrated ground nor would have been permitted burial there. What is certain is that the need for a purpose-built Meeting House had become more urgent as Quakerism established itself. In about 1668 Fox laid down the organisation of Quaker life, partly as a means of keeping the movement together at a time of persecution. The same basic principles of organisation, however, have persisted to the present day. All Quaker groups at a local level were to hold, in addition to meetings for worship, a monthly business meeting, known as a Preparatory Meeting, which would prepare business for a Monthly Meetings, which concerned themselves with district matters and where each Preparatory Meeting in the area would be represented. Beyond this there were regular regional and national meetings. Importantly, Monthly Meetings were held in turn in all the localities in the district, and a purpose-built Meeting House which could cope with a periodic influx of Friends from elsewhere was a clear advantage. The opening of Adderbury Meeting House was attended by George Fox himself, who stayed with Bray D’Oyly several times, as did Margaret Fell, the organising genius behind the new structure to Quaker life, later to become Fox’s wife. Of one of these meetings, in 1673, Fox’s Journal records ‘ … and thence to Bray D’Oyly’s in Adderbury, in Oxfordshire, where, on First-day, we had a large and precious meeting’.

At Preparatory and Monthly Meetings, Friends were concerned with a wide range of topics. They might discuss, for example, ways of raising money to support either the national cause or local Friends in trouble with the law as a result of the prevailing legislation, or in financial need for other reasons. They might also make enquiries into cases where the conduct of particular Friends was felt to be unsatisfactory, or investigate the background of Friends who wished to get married, or provide reports on the standing of Friends who were intending to move from one area to another within the Quaker organisation. In 1671 George Fox introduced a significant innovation when he required that there be Women’s Meetings held at the same time as the men’s meetings. Men and women had always worshipped together, although sitting separately, but this was the first time that Quaker women were encouraged to be, in Fox’s term “serviceable in their own places and stations”. As a result, they were able to exercise responsibilities within their own religious organisation denied to any other Englishwomen of their time. A contemporary document urged women in their meetings to “administer counsel, wisdom and instruction…to enquire into the necessities of the poor and to relieve the widows and the fatherless and to visit the sick and the afflicted … to reprove the fallen, but mildly … to be teachers of good things … and to be good examples and patterns of prudence.”

With Preparatory Meetings, Monthly Meetings and any follow up that might be needed, as well as two meetings for worship on Sundays and one mid-week, the Quaker way of life must have been quite an all-embracing one. Adderbury’s Quakers were originally in the main farmers and agricultural workers, and particularly, of course, Bray D’Oyly’s estate workers.  D’Oyly was so zealous in his support of the movement that the vicar complained in 1682 that whenever houses D’Oyly owned became vacant, he filled them with Quakers from outside the parish and would have no other tenants. This would have been a valuable service to Quakers in nearby parishes such as Broughton, where they were being evicted for their beliefs. In the early eighteenth century the range of Friends’ occupations was increased when Quaker clock-making, first developed in the nearby village of Sibford, came to Adderbury.  Richard Gilkes set up his workshop in 1735 and started a tradition which was to last until the death of William Williams in 1862. The clocks made in Adderbury were both highly distinctive, with their zig-zag engraving on the clock faces, and, at least in their simplest form – the “hoop and spike clock” – affordable for the better-off inhabitants. Adderbury customers would also have experienced for the first time the Quaker habit of charging fixed prices for goods. In society as a whole, it was common for purchaser and provider to haggle over the costs of goods or services; Quakers, however, felt that it was a more honest way of working to state a price and to stick to it. Outside the practice of their trade, the clockmakers of Adderbury were throughout zealous and hard-working supporters of the Meeting House.


As you turn in from Horn Hill Road and look up the path to the Meeting House on the right, what immediately strikes you is that the building before you is very unlike most other religious buildings. A survey of Quaker Meeting Houses built before 1720 puts it this way:

“No other group of buildings is quite comparable to these plain but dignified and beautiful old Meeting Houses…. Churches are, for example, built to impress… to create awe in the eyes of the beholder [and] … as monuments to the glory of God. They were designed by the best architects of the day. Meeting Houses, on the other hand, were planned for use, for the very practical purpose of shelter in inclement weather. They were in many cases erected by the cooperative labour of the most experienced members of a Meeting, and of course local materials were used, sometimes actually given by the members themselves.”

As a result, of course, a Friends Meeting House is much more like a house in appearance than a church, and it has little or no architectural pretension. It makes no effort to be other than a meeting place, unconsecrated, and sanctified only by the purpose for which it was designed and used.

The scene before today’s visitor is, however, considerably changed from the seventeenth century. Where the path now continues past the Meeting House to the Adderbury Parish Cemetery beyond, there would originally have been a wall running across north-south just beyond the Meeting House and closing off the view. And in what is now a sort of empty alcove on the left opposite the Meeting House,  a thatched cottage was built in the 1680s, intended for use by the Women’s Meeting, and a smaller cottage which was used to house poor members of the Meeting; the cottages were demolished in the 1950s. In 1954 Adderbury Parish Council took a ninety-year lease on the property, gaining the land to the west of the Meeting House for use as a graveyard and opening up the access. In return, the Parish Council assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the Meeting House. The building was re-roofed with modern slate in the 1970s, but would originally have been covered with Stonesfield stone slates, graded in size from rooftop to eaves.  Despite these changes, however, it is clear that at Adderbury, almost uniquely, we have inherited a building largely unchanged in its design since the seventeenth century.

In terms of the graveyard itself, plans show there were some forty graves sited, sometimes three and four deep, on either side of the present path. It was the Quaker habit to level the ground above graves, so that the individual plots are no longer discernible today. The very earliest graves would have had no headstones at all, since at first they were forbidden as a ‘vain and empty’ custom. From 1850, however, Yearly Meeting permitted simple gravestones citing name, age and death date, so as to mark location. The accepted design for generations has been the square-edged stone with a curved top and it is headstones of this type that we now see ranged around the edges of the graveyard. Unfortunately, some of the stone headstones are too worn to permit us to decipher the names. The exception is the headstone of Sophie Fanny Buck, the last Quaker to be buried at Adderbury. Her headstone, recording her death in 1945, can be found on the right, close to the Meeting house itself. It is also easy to read a number of headstones on the left relating to members of the family of the nineteenth-century solicitor Francis Francillon, which still maintain the shape of the other Quaker headstones, but are rather unusually made of cast metal.

Quaker records tell us that no fewer than six Quaker clockmakers are buried here at Adderbury – John Farden of Deddington, died 1786, Richard Gilkes of Adderbury, died 1787, Thomas Harris of Deddington, died 1797, Richard Tyler of Wallingford, died 1800, and Joseph and William Williams, both of Adderbury, who died in 1835 and 1862 respectively.

If we now approach the Meeting House itself, constructed of local coursed square marlstone with some ashlar dressings and wooden lintels, we notice ground floor windows on the east and west sides, with two further windows on the south side flanking the wide front door.  It is worth pausing to look at the detailing on the stone carving on the eaves to either side of the front elevation: they illustrate a point made by David Butler, who says:

“Despite the need for simplicity, early meeting houses were not crudely executed. The local craftsmen built as they were accustomed, decorating their work as they knew was needed for a reasonable degree of refinement”

Dormer windows are let into the roof, again on three sides, to provide illumination to the loft area. The date of construction, 1675, is shown in a panel on the chimney, although this feature is not original.


Quakers needed no altar and their worship did not include music, bible readings or a sermon, the features which give many nonconformist chapels their essential strucrure. This means that Quaker Meeting Houses can seem particularly lacking in architectural features, and this may be the visitor’s first impression of the interior of the Meeting House at Adderbury. Hubert Lidbetter’s history of Meeting Houses tends to confirm this:

“A plain whitened ceiling, plain plastered walls, likewise whitened, over plain deal panelling forming a back to a seat fixed round at least two sides of the room – that is a fair description of an early Friends Meeting House…. The panelling was almost always deal, unpolished and without mouldings … bare necessities and no more – forms or pews of simple design and more than doubtful comfort.”

As we look around it is indeed clear, as the same writer observes, that “the austerity of the Quaker way of living was mirrored not only in their dress and speech, but in their homes and places of worship, where they are enjoined ‘to choose what is simple and beautiful’”.

In the early days worshippers would meet here twice on a Sunday and once on a Wednesday. The times of afternoon meetings would be varied between summer and winter to ensure that they could take place in natural light.  Friends would come through the wide front door, the men and women would separate, each to their own side, then take their places on benches, facing a raised gallery or stand against the north wall opposite. The seats here were occupied by elders of the meeting, recorded ministers (Friends whose gifts for ministry were specially recognised by the Meeting) and occasionally visiting preachers or missionaries.

The raised gallery and the seats around the edge of the room, together with the stone flags of the floor are original features from the earliest days of the Meeting House. The free-standing pine benches in the centre of the room have come from the Meeting Houses in Banbury and Sibford. The pillars that support the gallery or loft, the flooring for the loft itself and the roof tiles and the lining of the roof were all replaced in the 1970s. Of the two watercolours on display, one, showing the interior, is a copy of the 1966 original by Mary Baker, which is held at Sibford Meeting House; the other, showing the exterior with adjacent cottages, is an original of 1831.

Tables, like the pleasant eighteenth century one now in the Meeting House, were  important in business meetings to enable the Clerk of the meeting to take minutes and draft documents for signature. The predecessor of the present table was venerable indeed, a gate-leg table which was used by George Fox at the opening of the Adderbury Meeting House in 1675. It remained in the Meeting House (together with three coffin stools) even after it was closed to regular meetings in 1914. In 1940, the Meeting House was taken over by the Rural District Council to house wartime evacuees from London. Although, then as now, there was no artificial light or running water in the building, cooking stoves were provided for these families. One day, two local women Friends visited the Meeting House to see how the evacuees were getting on. To their horror they saw someone putting a hot pan on the table and marking it. They promptly replaced it and took the original to the house of Sophie Buck in Church Lane. When Sophie Buck died in 1945, the table was included in her effects and put up for auction. Luckily two Banbury Friends were able to intervene and persuade the auctioneer that the table belonged to the Meeting House, by showing knowledge of that most traditional of things – the presence of a secret drawer, containing ink and a pad of Quaker forms! The table is now in Swarthmoor Hall in Cumbria.

The ground floor of the Meeting House (area  561 square feet) was designed to seat 102 Friends. The Meeting House would rarely have seen more than this number, but if further seating was needed, there was space for a further 60 attendees in the gallery or loft above, reached by the curving staircase on the left of the main room. The design of the loft at Adderbury is unusual, because so much of the upper area is floored in, leaving effectively only a well over the stand occupied by the elders. The reason for this is apparent from the first space we come to at the head of the stairs, since it is almost domestic in character, with, very unusually for early Meeting Houses, a fireplace. In fact, this was used for the women’s meeting. As is quite common in early Meeting Houses, the space could be rendered quite private either by mounting screens or by using a curtain or hanging to separate this area from the main Meeting House area below. In time, the space became too small for this purpose and, as we have seen, a separate building had to be provided. On one windowsill is now displayed the original exterior date plaque of 1675.

As you take in the atmosphere of this building with what the architectural historian John Summerson called its “endearing simplicity”, you may like to hear some Quaker voices of the past. First comes an account from Robert Barclay, like Bray D’Oyly a Quaker convert from the gentry, written in 1678, only three years after this Meeting House was built, of what you could expect to experience in a Quaker meeting in those very early days:

“There will be such a painful travail found in the soul, that it will even work upon the outward man, so that … the body will be greatly shaken, and many groans, sighs and tears …. Sometimes the Power of God will break forth into a whole meeting … and thereby trembling … will be upon most … which as the power of truth prevails, will from pangs and groans end with the sweet sound of thanksgiving and praise.”

Secondly, we can imagine, by contrast, a business meeting in the eighteenth century, when the evangelical years of George Fox were over. Much of the activity of Monthly Meetings at that time was taken up with the enquiries which were deemed necessary when a Friend moved away and wished to join another Monthly Meeting, or wished to get married, or on issues of general conduct. Here is a typical Minute:

“From our Monthly Meeting held at Adderbury for Banbury Division in the County of Oxford. To the Monthly Meeting of Friends to be held at Campden or elsewhere in that Division of the County of Gloucester. Dear Friends, whereas Elizabeth Franklin, a member hereof, but is now removed into the compass of yours, a certificate has been requested of this meeting on her behalf. Therefore, this may certify, after due enquiry being made, it appears she was of sober life and conversation, and free from marriage entanglements. As such, we recommend her to your tender regard ….”

Finally, since the Adderbury Meeting House is still used for Quaker worship, here is an account of a contemporary Quaker meeting for worship:

“A Quaker meeting creates a space of gathered stillness. We come together where we can listen to the promptings of truth and love in our hearts, which we understand as rising from God. Our meetings are based on silence: a silence of waiting and listening. Most meetings last for about an hour.

The silence is different from the silence of solitary meditation, as the listening and waiting in a Quaker meeting is a shared experience in which worshippers seek to experience God for themselves. The seating is usually arranged in a circle or a square to help people be aware of one another and conscious of the fact that they are worshipping together as equals. There are no priests or ministers.

The silence may be broken if someone present feels called to say something which will deepen and enrich the worship. Anyone is free to speak, pray or read aloud if they feel strongly led to do so. This breaks the silence for the moment but does not interrupt it.

In the quietness of the meeting, we can become aware of a deep and powerful spirit of love and truth, transcending our ordinary, day-to-day experiences. This sense of direct contact with the divine is at the heart of the Quaker way of worship and nourishes Quakers in the rest of their daily lives.”


The story of the Adderbury Quakers from the death of William Williams, the last Adderbury clockmaker, in 1862, to the end of the nineteenth century is unfortunately one of continuous decline. In this, the Adderbury meeting was partly sharing the fate of Quaker congregations nationally; as one study starkly puts it:

“While the population of England had trebled between 1715 and 1851, the number of Quaker adherents had more than halved.”

One cause of this decline in numbers related to the rules that prevented Friends from marrying outside the Quaker community, and the Quaker movement began to relax these restrictions. But in Adderbury, there was the additional problem of agricultural decline. An 1806 report says:

“Almost all the Quakers were originally in the country … but this order of things is reversing fast. They are flocking into the towns and abandoning agricultural pursuits.”

Attendances at Adderbury meetings had shrunk to an average of 12 in 1851, were down to 4 by 1909 and the Meeting House closed in 1914. One remaining Adderbury Friend, however, Sophie Fanny Buck, whose gravestone we have already seen, continued her personal worship at the Meeting House, something she did, frequently wearing traditional Quaker dress, until her death in 1945.

Paradoxically, as local and especially rural numbers declined, so the reputation of Quakerism grew on the national stage. Their honesty and fair dealing in business and trade was even more appreciated as Quaker firms such as Fry and Cadbury became of national importance, Quaker probity played an important role in banking and insurance, and the Quakers’ long-standing pacifism gained increased respect. Quakers were involved in adult education as well as in evangelical work abroad and charitable activities at home. A Quaker residential home for the elderly, East House, was maintained in Adderbury from the late 1960s until its closure in 2008.

The Adderbury Meeting House is currently (2014) used for Quaker meetings four times a year, with a special meeting once a year which takes the form of a lecture on a Quaker theme of general interest. There has been considerable debate of recent years about the best way to secure the future of Adderbury’s historic Meeting House. We hope that the present Guide will at least help to alert people to the important part of the village heritage that the Meeting House represents.


This guide has benefited from the following works on Quaker Meeting Houses generally: David M. Butler (1995), Quaker Meeting Houses, Quaker Tapestry Booklets; Hubert Lidbetter (1961), The Friends Meeting House, William Sessions Ltd., York;  Kenneth H. Southall (1974), Our Quaker Heritage: early meeting houses, Friends Home Service Committee in association  with Sessions of York.  In addition to the standard histories of Quakerism and Dissent generally, we have found the following local studies particularly useful:  Nicholas Allen (2012), “The Doylys of Adderbury and their Quaker Meeting House, Cake and Cock Horse, Spring 2012; Martin Greenwood (2013), Pilgrim’s Progress Revisited: The Nonconformists of Banburyshire 1662-2012, The Wychwood Press;  Jack V. Wood (1991), Some Rural Quakers, William Sessions Ltd., York. We are grateful to Nick Allen for encouraging us to write this guide, for supplying material and for guidance throughout its writing. We would like to thank Janice Johnson for agreeing to read the manuscript and for suggesting improvements. Any remaining errors are our own.

Phil Mansell
Fiona Gow

Rhoda Woodward Tribute 6: Wallins Bake House

When I see a large crusty loaf in a shop window I always remember our local bake house that I used to visit as a child. On Sunday mornings my father, carrying a large baking tray containing our Sunday dinner, would leave me at the door of the Chapel Sunday School, then go further down the lane to the baker’s. After Sunday School we younger ones were required to attend the first half of the chapel service: we were allowed to go home before the sermon.

Dad would be waiting with several Sunday newspapers he had purchased from a builder’s yard on the way to meet me. There was no Sunday delivery so the local builder had the papers left at his yard for collection. We would take them to Aunt Hannah and Aunt Eva; they were really my Dad’s cousins, but I called them “Aunt” as we were not allowed to call adults by their Christian names then. Maybe Dad would have brought some vegetables or some of Mam’s jam. They would find something for us, perhaps a cake or some home-made wine. That’s how it was then.

Soon Dad would say it was time to go back to the bakehouse, where a lot of people would be waiting, laughing, joking and catching up on each other’s news. Suddenly, all would go quiet and Mr Wallin and his son would appear wearing long white aprons. As they opened the door of the big oven, the whole place would be filled with a wonderful aroma from the beautifully cooked joints, each one resting on a trivet with a large, thick Yorkshire pudding underneath. The baking tins would be skilfully brought out of the oven with a long-handled wooden shovel called a peel. In no time at all the dinners had been claimed, covered by a white cloth, and hurried home before the contents got cold. On occasions, somebody would take the wrong one; this happened to Dad once and I remember that he put a couple of split rings on the handle of the baking tin so that he could recognise which one was ours. This procedure had gone on for many years, but faded out when in 1933 the electricity came to the village.

Although the baker delivered three times a week, there were still times when we needed to visit the bakehouse on weekdays. It was a lovely place, smelling of newly-baked bread, dusty and warm. There was a large metal drum for mixing the dough. The flour would come down a cloth chute from a loft into the drum. Mr Wallin was very kind and would tell us to stand well away so that we didn’t get the dust in our eyes. When there was the right amount of flour he would tie the chute in a knot to keep it out of the way. Then he would tip in the frothy yeast liquid and lock the lid on very tightly. To mix the dough, the drum had to be turned with a handle at the side. This would have been very hard work. Later they were able to instal an electric motor to do the job.

Three men, two of them the baker’s sons, might be standing at a bench kneading the dough that had been put to rise in a large wooden trough. They worked like clockwork, pulling the dough forward with their hands and pushing it back with their forearms. When the dough was ready, it was cut into pieces, weighed, and put into tins, or if they were making my favourites, cottage loaves, they would be put onto flat trays.

I was always sorry when someone had time to serve me, as I would have like to stay all day. Sometimes I would be lucky enough to be there when the bread was brought out of the oven. They had a long, hinged gas pipe which flared at the end when lit and could be pushed right inside the oven so that the men could see to reach the loaves, as the oven went quite a long way back. Often, if  was sent to get a cottage loaf, I would lift the top slightly so I could get some nice soft pieces out to eat on the way home. One day, my Dad said he would have to see Bern Wallin about his bread. “He must have got a mouse”, he said. “This bread has got a hole in it.” I expect he knew it was me.

During the war the flour was not so white, which made the loaves a darker colour, although the Ministry of Food said it was better for us. At that time, too, the baker made powder cakes, a rather dry fruit cake, but things were scarce and it went down fine with some of our tea ration. We also bought our toppings from there to feed the chickens and sometimes bran for the pet rabbits. During the war you had to apply for a card to buy meal if you kept chickens.

After the bakehouse closed and Mum started to buy “shop bread”, as we called it, my Dad would complain that it had no crust. “It’s not baked now, it’s boiled” he would say. I often wonder what he and Mr Wallin would think of today’s microwaves and such like.

Rhoda Woodward

Note: Mr Wallins’ sons. John and Lawrence, who Rhoda watched kneading bread before the war, moved to Deddington in 1941 and set up their own bakery there. This continued in business until 1989, when the Banbury Guardian announced the closure of the bakery.

William Cole of Adderbury, Herbalist (1626-62)

William Cole was brought up in Adderbury from birth to the age of sixteen, a son of the local schoolmaster. He remains of interest to us today because in his twenties he became “the most famous simpler of his age”, a simpler being a herbalist. This is quite some claim, given that William Cole was an almost exact contemporary of a herbalist much better known to us today, Nicolas Culpeper.

The claim about William’s fame comes in a volume compiled by Anthony Wood (1632- 95), called Athenae Oxoniensis [roughly, the Oxford Athens], in which he set out to provide biographies of all the writers and bishops who had received their education to date at Oxford University, documenting the lives and publications of over 1500 writers associated with the University, creating an indispensable record for historians.

This huge work went alongside other books of his which charted the history of the university, its colleges and officers, and which described the university’s buildings. Wood’s work was published in the 1680s. He has been described as “to Restoration Oxford what Pepys was to Restoration London”, although the two men were very different in character, with Wood being a cantankerous and vituperative character who fell out with everyone sooner or later.

This is what Wood has to say about William Cole:

“William Cole, son of Joh. Cole of Adderbury in Oxfordshire bach of div and sometime Fellow of New College, was born and educated in grammar learning there, entered one of the clerks of New College in 1642 and soon after was made one of the portionists commonly called post-masters of Merton Coll. By his mother’s brother John French one of the senior fellows of that house and public registrar of the University.”

Wood also mentions the older brother of William, called John after his father, who was born about 1624 and who went on to make a reputation for himself as a translator of French. The Dictionary of National Biography indeed says that William was one of at least three sons and five daughters of John Coles. John the father was a bachelor of divinity and one of the three seventeenth-century Adderbury grammar school masters who were university graduates. He is remembered for having been particularly zealous about the building and its repair. William’s mother’s maiden name was French, and since John Cole senior’s predecessor as master was also called French, the possibility exists that William’s mother was a daughter of this French. As far as we know, the Cole family lived in the school house, part of the grammar school building. The whole was described by Warden Woodward in 1659 as “nothing but a Schole, a Schoolehouse & about 6 or 7 roomes above staires … A Barne built by one Mr. Coles, a Little court before the doore etc.” The rooms above, Warden Woodward judged, “might be made good, one of them doth want fflooreing!”

We can assume that the accommodation for the master and his family was not particularly spacious, since a later schoolmaster, Mr Taylor, made an unsuccessful bid for some common land to build a house on. Nor can we imagine that the schoolmaster was particularly well paid. The same Mr Taylor asked that his wages be paid to him quarterly rather than half-yearly “the better to maintain his family”. This was refused on the grounds that Christopher Rawlins had specified both the amount and the timing of the payments to the master – namely “Twentie Nobles at the Annunciation & Twentie Nobles at Michaelmas”.

Wood says that William was “educated in grammar learning” at the School and then proceeded to New College as a clerk. These words would have had a meaning for Wood’s audience which we can’t catch nowadays. The “grammar learning” would, of course, have been had at the Boys School, founded and endowed by the vicar of Adderbury, Christopher Rawlins, in his will of 7th August, 1589, opened in 1599 and hence only some thirty years old when William was a pupil. The purpose of the school was to teach grammar to boys who had already had some elementary education, since all scholars were expected to read, write and cast accounts to gain entry to the school. Nick Allen, in Adderbury, A Thousand Years of History, tells us about the curriculum and the rules of conduct for the school, basing his account on the archives of New College, which was from the outset responsible for the administration the of the school.

“The education given at the Boys School was comprehensive, giving the boys a good grounding in the basics… By the time a boy was 12 … he should have been [in addition] instructed in religious knowledge, Church of England liturgy, higher rules of arithmetic , the rules of simple compound numeration (fractions), writing from dictation and memory, multiplication tables and the outlines of geography. When a boy was due to leave the Boys School he would also have studied the outlines of ecclesiastical history, Latin, English grammar, composition, algebra, mapping, mental arithmetic, bookkeeping, penmanship and mensuration.

Several sets of rules for the conduct of the Boys School are still extant … A summary of one of the earliest sets, dated between 1648 and 1658, states: ‘That the hours shall be from 7 am to 11 am and from 1 pm to 4 pm. Each morning boys are required to say a prayer, a psalm and a collect, and another prayer and collect at the end of the day. Saturday afternoon to be given over for the teaching of the Catechism. Scholars are expected to attend Church on Sundays and behave in an orderly manner.”

Once William entered New College in 1642 he came under the influence of his uncle, John French, who was a senior member of Merton College and Registrar of the University. John French obtained for William a post of “Portioner” or “Post master” at Merton College, a position which apparently attracted a grant from the college. French also encouraged William to qualify as a public notary, so that William would be able to stand in for John as University Registrar. By all accounts the support of a bright youngster, especially one indebted to you, would have been welcome to John French, because elsewhere Wood says of him that, although he was a fine scholar “he was a careless man” and neglected some of his duties.

At the same time William became interested in biology and botany. This was the time when Jacob Bobart was gradually forming the first University collection of plants in the new Physic Garden, the catalogue of which was produced in 1648. When he eventually came to publish his own botanical studies William would acknowledge the help he received from “Master Bobart” and particularly from his “much honoured friend” Master William Brown of Magdalene College (1629-1678). Brown eventually had a very distinguished academic career at Magdalene, but in the 1640s was known for his keenness for field botany, ranging widely over the Oxford region and as far afield as Northamptonshire and Sussex in search of plants.

Master Bobart and the Oxford Botanic Garden

So far so good, you might think, for the young man from Adderbury. But then in 1650 things began to go disastrously wrong. First, his uncle died and was buried by his stall in Merton College Chapel. Then, if you like, the elephant came into the room. Because the 1640s were not the simplest or most auspicious time to be up at Oxford. This was the time of the first Civil War and Oxford was a royalist stronghold and the headquarters of the King’s forces, – and the dwelling place of the King and Queen and their household.

After the execution of King Charles I and the end of the first Civil War, Parliament turned its attention to Oxford and to its troublesome University in particular. Parliament set up a Commission, and the Commisssion was charged with asking all at the University two questions:

  • Do you acknowledge the supremacy of Parliament over the (previously autonomous) University
  • In your personal and communal worship will you follow the precepts of the Directory of Public Worship

The University tried to ignore the Commission, a strategy which worked quite well at first, but eventually Parliament would not be denied and there were wholesale expulsions, with staff replacements drafted in from other universities. New College fared particularly badly, with the Warden, forty fellows and numerous scholars expelled, William Coles included.

William acted quite swiftly, it seems. He took his degree in February 1651 and later that year withdrew from Oxford, moving to live instead downstream at Putney. Why he chose Putney is not clear – there doesn’t seem to be a New College connection, for example. But if we take William to be a royalist, a traditionalist in religion and a scholar deeply interested in botany, then we may be able to make some guesses. First, there were a number of important Royalist sympathisers who lived by the banks of the Thames to the ewst of London. The most important was Christian, Duchess of Devonshire. So active was she in the Royalist cause and so seemingly immune from prosecution as a result of her great wealth and willingness to bribe every court in the land that she soon became almost synonymous with the Royalist cause. General Monk is said to have informed her in advance of his intention to return Charles II to the throne.

Christian, Duchess of Devonshire

The other inhabitant of the Putney/Richmond area at the time was Bishop Duppa, another staunch Royalist, a great favourite of Charles I, and tutor to the future Charles II. Duppa was deeply involved with the King in the run-up to his execution, and read the text of a publication, “Eikon Basilike” to Charles at Carisbrooke Castle. This text was later published only ten days after the King’s execution, and, written as a diary in a simple, moving and starightforward manner aims to show a “Portraiture of His Sacred Majestie in his Solitude and Sufferings”. Despite official disapproval, the work was hugely popular.

Bishop Duppa

Duppa’s life had been involved throughout with Oxford, the King and the Laudian Church of England. He had been a fellow of All Souls, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford 1632, Dean of Christ Church, Chaplain to Charles 1 from 1634 and tutor to his two sons, Bishop of Chichester 1638 and Bishop of Salisbury from 1641. Uniquely in Cromwellian England he held on to his bishopric throughout the 1640s and 1650s.

One of the reasons for Duppa’s survival may well be that he lived as much as possible out of the public eye. It is interesting to read the words of a letter he wrote to a friend in the early 1650s, because of the picture they give of the trials of everyday life in the Royalist camp if you didn’t have the prestige and resources of the Duchess of Devonshire. It may well be that we also hear in this an echo of what life was like at that time for other royalist sympathisers and traditionalists in religion, not least, of course, for William Coles.

‘I wrote you word in my last that I had confined my self like an anchoret within my own walls, but this being not under the religion of a vow, I was the very next day drawn out by the importunity of friends as far as Fulham; and it was well that I was not out of the compass of my circle, for the evill spirits were abroad that day, and seeking whom they should devour, seas’d upon som guilty of my faults, loyalty, and religion.

But I thank God, having considered all things, I have sett up my rest, and
whether I escape, or suffer, I hope I shall keep that evenness of mind, as to be aequally affected to either… yet I shall strive to be so much a Christian, as neither to please nor displease myself too much with whatsoever shall happen. Those few words, “Thy will be don,” settle the soul more than the loadstone can possibly operate upon the needle…’

‘I could heartily wish (if the conditions of the times might give you leave) that you fill’d a room among us, but how wide soever the lines of the circumference may be, yet meet they shall in the center. We are yet suffer’d to offer up the publick prayers and Sacrifice of the Church, though it be under private roofs, nor do I hear of any for the present either disturb’d or troubled for doing it. When the persecution goes higher, we must be content to go lower, and to serve God as the antient Christians did, in dens, and caves, and deserts. For all the world is His chapel, and from what corner of it soever, we lift up our devotions to Him, He is ready to listen to the lowest whispers of them.’

Looking at William’s move from the point of view of his biological interests, it seems probable that from his base to the west of London he took advantage of the expertise of William How, who William refers to as “Doctor How, one of the masters of the Physick Garden at Westminster”, the forerunner of the Chelsea Physick Garden, “one of the most famous botanists of my time”. William How had been born in 1620, went to Merchant Taylors’ School, graduated BA and MA from St John’s College, Oxford, then entered on the study of medicine. This he interrupted to take up arms in the king’s cause, and for his loyalty was promoted to the command of a troop of horse. On the decline of the royal fortunes he resumed his medical profession, and practised in London until his death in 1656. Howe published among other titles Phytologia Britannica (1650), which is the earliest work on botany restricted to the plants of this island, and is a very full catalogue for the time.

No doubt with How’s support and with help of How’s gardener at Westminster, William Coles himself produced the two works which led Wood later to call him the “greatest simpler of his age”. In 1656 he produced The Art of Simpling, or an Introduction to the Knowledge and Gathering of Plants, London, while in 1657 appeared Adam in Eden, or Nature’s Paradise. The full title of the second book gives a clear idea of the contents, and of why the books would prove to be popular, giving as they do a guide in English through the often confusing terminology typically used in scientific textbooks:

Adam in Eden, or, Natures paradise, the history of plants, fruits, herbs and flowers with their several names, whether Greek, Latin or English, the places where they grow, their descriptions and kinds, their times of flourishing and decreasing, as also their several signatures, anatomical appropriations, and particular physical vertues, together with necessary observations on the seasons of planting, and gathering of our English simples with directions how to preserve them in their compositions or otherwise … For the herbalists greater benefit, there is annexed a Latin and English table of the several names of simples, with another more particular table of the diseases, and their cures, treated of in this so necessary a work /by William Coles …

William’s books were immediately popular and remain so today. The Art of Simpling, for example, went through six editions in its first year, and saw eighteen further editions between then and 2000. Adam in Eden went through 20 editions between 1657 and 1962. In the face of these sorts of figures we must suppose that it was his publishing activities that supported William Coles during this period.

Unfortunately for William’s reputation as an academic and scientist, however, as soon as he turned his attention away from the practicalities of the gathering and use of herbs, and considered instead the biological and botanical theory behind the practice, William showed himself to be rather traditional and backward-looking, relying on classical and medieval theories rather than taking part in the growing rational and scientific debate that would see, for example, moves to establish the Royal Society from 1660 onwards. Indeed, William was happy to look for theological rather than scientific explanations. He believed that God created the world for man’s benefit, and that God gave plants particular attributes from which we can deduce the use to which they can be put in medicine. This is known as the Doctrine of Signatures. In the words of William himself:

“The mercy of God which is over all his workes…hath not onely stemped upon them (as upon every man) a distinct forme, but also given them particular signatures, whereby a man may read even in legible characters the use of them… Hounds Tongue hath a forme not much different from its name which will tye the tongues of houndes so that they shall not barke at you…”.

In other words, he believed that herbs resemble various parts of the body and can be used to treat ailments of that part of the body and do so deliberately as part of God’s mercy to man. Thus, walnuts were good for curing head ailments because in his opinion, “they Have the perfect Signatures of the Head”. Regarding Hypericum, he wrote, “The little holes whereof the leaves of Saint Johns wort are full, doe resemble all the pores of the skin and therefore it is profitable for all hurts and wounds that can happen thereunto.” The doctrine of signatures is ancient, going back at least to the time of Dioscurides and Galen. But it was William Coles who gave the fullest account of this in modern times.

So, as the 1650s go on, we have William Coles, a successful author of popular science, but not one of the new breed of scientist who would shortly establish the Royal Society. 1660 came, and with it the restoration of the monarchy. Bishop Duppa benefited almost immediately, becoming in that year the Bishop of Winchester, the third most important see in the country after the archbishoprics of Canterbury and York as well as Lord Almoner. And who should be appointed his Secretary in the same year? No other than the man from Adderbury, William Coles.

This is not quite the happy end you might imagine, however, since both Duppa and Coles only lived another two years, both dying in 1662. Such was the importance to the new King, Charles II, of Duppa, his old tutor and the confidant of his father, that, learning of Duppa’s final illness, the King came himself to Winchester to kneel at the feet of the bishop and ask his blessing before he died. It would be good to feel that William Coles lived at least to see this extraordinary scene and that he gained some comfort from the fact that the world as he saw it had resumed its right course after the troubles of the 1640s and 1650s.

Phil Mansell
May 2020

Janet Blunt: For and Against

In 1976 Michael Pickering published a paper in Folk Music Journal entitled “Janet Blunt – Folk Song Collector and Lady of the Manor”. This biographical work was a part of the research for his doctoral thesis, which eventually led to the publication of Village Song and Culture (Croom Helm) in 1982, an attempt to characterise the “singing tradition” in the village of Adderbury.

The paper is an extremely interesting and valuable one, describing in some detail the phases of Janet Blunt’s long life (1859-1950), including her time in India as a child as well as at Le Halle Place in Manor Road, Adderbury, where she lived alone for fifty years after the death of her father and sister in 1900. Pickering, of course, pays particular attention to Miss Blunt’s activities as a collector of folk songs and Morris dances but also includes analyses of the social structure of Adderbury and Miss Blunt’s place in it. The views of villagers about Miss Blunt are recorded at length.

Janet Blunt

The problem is that Pickering’s views of Miss Blunt are almost wholly negative. He sees her song and dance collecting as the work of a rather slipshod amateur. He also characterises her attitude towards the villagers as being condescending and typical of the behaviour of someone of her class and social standing in a village like Adderbury.

This negativity contrasts strongly, of course, with the view of Miss Blunt current in the Adderbury of today. Here she is seen to have played her part assiduously in the life of the village across a range of activities and her interventions in meticulously recording the music, words and dance steps of the Adderbury Morris men are seen to have been so important in the revival of Morris dancing in the village in the twentieth century that Le Halle Place is distinguished with a blue plaque and is an obligatory stop on the itinerary of the annual Adderbury Day of Dance. See also the article “Female influence on Morris Dance in Adderbury” in the Historical Miscellany section of this website.

So, which view of Miss Blunt is the correct one?

Pickering is undoubtedly right that the Adderbury of Blunt’s time was a very stratified society and that Miss Blunt, as one of the “dozen or so” most influential people in the village played her part in this. He quotes Mrs Powell (nee Keyte) as saying in the 1970s:

“In the old days it was the gentry who used to run the village. They ran it round the church … And the gentry used to run the cultural life of the village as well, so what with one thing and another you couldn’t afford to offend them.”

But Pickering does not give enough weight to the evidence (some collected by himself) that hers was a light hand, and that it was her interest in the lives of villagers that gave her the entrée for collecting. Her servant of 34 years, Winnie Wyatt, whose evidence Pickering disregards throughout as “more or less uncritical”, claims that:

“As a person, everybody loved her, because, you see, she mixed with everybody, you know, chatted with them”.

Pickering is also right to point out that there was a sustained attempt by the gentry to make the singing of Adderbury men and women more respectable, and that the concerts that Miss Blunt organised would have been part of this. Yet Pickering does not acknowledge sufficiently the feeling, which motivated Janet Blunt and other collectors of both songs and dances at the time, that they were engaged in important rescue work. Janet Blunt wrote in a letter in 1926:

“We all should try to ‘gather up the fragments that remain’ that they should not be lost. Such a terrible deal of it is vanishing all the time.”

Nor does Pickering give credit for Miss Blunt’s place in the range of significant people engaged in this rescue work: she was a personal friend, after all, of Vaughan Williams, and arranged for Cecil Sharp himself to visit Adderbury to collect songs and dances. We also have to remember that Pickering’s interest is principally in the performance of songs rather than in the songs themselves and much more in songs than in dance, where perhaps Janet Blunt’s greatest importance has proved to be.

It must also be said that Pickering’s characterisation of Miss Blunt’s life and achievements is distinctly sexist in tone.

“A girl in her position could, if inclined, inform herself on other topics than embroidery or crochet. Janet Blunt’s range of interests was wide, but she was mistress of none. Comfort induced an inability to do anything but develop the art of cultivatedly passing away the days, weeks, months. Even her folksong and music collecting were among these prolific diversions … It was not a profession.”

Even though Pickering acknowledged that Janet Blunt felt that “public service and work for charity were part of her duty to the village, to society” and that “she did not shun them”, it is clear that the lack of a (male) “profession” is what sidelines her importance for Pickering.

Perhaps the most balanced summary of the affair comes from Steve Roud’s 2017 encyclopaedic survey, Folk Song in England (Faber & Faber) and it is a summary that very definitely restores Janet Blunt to the position we have been accustomed to give her:

“Janet Heatley Blunt … is an excellent example of the educated women who did some folk-song collecting as one of many hobbies, but can easily be dismissed as dilettantes of little importance. In fact, all such enthusiasts add their mite to the pile of evidence and, in some cases, their contribution turns out to be surprisingly significant. … her manuscripts enabled Michael Pickering to examine a song community to a depth which is not usually possible …. It has to be said, though, that these studies are marred by the writer’s evident disdain for Blunt and her class, and for folk-song collections in general, which is particularly ungracious as his work would have been impossible without hers.”


The story of how Janet Blunt’s papers recording her folk song and dance researches were rescued from the bonfire after her death is told in Adderbury: A Thousand Years of History (p.67). Her papers are now available to be studied online at the Vaughan Williams Library of the English Folk Song and Dance Society (URL

Phil Mansell
May 2020

The First Known Mention of Adderbury in Writing

The first known mention of Adderbury in writing is contained in an Anglo-Saxon Charter dated c 995 – a little over 1,000 years ago.

Wynflaed, a very wealthy woman with possible royal connections, lived in Berkshire; she owned many properties and manors with thousands of acres of land in the South and South-West of England. Sometime around the year AD 995, she wished to make provision for Edward, her grandson’s, future. She would have used the services of a scribe or a clerk in holy orders to write her statement of intent or charter as official documents were known.

Her instructions to her son Edmund stated: ‘And if it is God’s will that Edward be old enough in his father’s lifetime to hold land then I ask Edmund to relinquish to him one of two estates, either Coleshill or Adderbury’ (Coleshill is in Berkshire). Later on in her charter she wishes her son Edmund, on his death, to ensure that he passes on to Edward both estates.

This, then, is the first known written mention of the name Adderbury. This charter is written in Early English (Anglo-Saxon): the name Adderbury actually appears on the charter as ‘EADBURGGEBYRIG’ Eadburgge’s – byrig. The suffix ‘byrig’ was the Saxon term for a fortified settlement. The Saxon nobility had the right, by birth, to fortify their properties and settlements. These fortifications could be just a ditch, strong paling or something more elaborate. One needs to remember that wild animals such as wolves and wild boar and gangs of landless men proliferated in Saxon and Norman England; so some form of defence for a settlement was a necessity. This Saxon suffix has morphed into the modern ‘bury’ and, as we all know, there are many places in England whose names are rounded-off with a ‘bury’.

Incidentally, there were in the 8th and 9th centuries any number of royal/noble women who all sported the name Edburgga. Bicester’s parish church to this day is dedicated to a St Edburg. The daughter of King Offa of Mercia was named Edburga.

Nick Allen

George Henry Davis (1915-1975): Adderbury’s Professional Boxer

George Henry Davis was given various headline titles by the local and national newspapers. These included – The Giant Brickie from Banbury and Britain’s Biggest Boxer. George Henry Davis, along with his brother Norman, was born at Deddington in their grandfather’s pub the Kings Arms. George was born in 1915 and Norman in 1917. They were the sons of George Isaac and Nora Beatrice Davis. At Christmas 1918 their father died in Salonika from Spanish flu as he was about to return from WW1. In 1920 their mother married Ernest Browning and in 1925 the family moved from Duns Tew to the Dog and Partridge in Adderbury where Nora was the licensee from 1925 until 1955. Both of the brothers grew up taking part in local sport and George developed into a very big and strong lad. By 1921 George weighed 19st 4lbs and stood 6ft 6ins in his stockinged feet. He also took a size 17 shoe. There were a number of rumours about his strength including one that said he hit a cricket ball from the cricket pitch in Lucy Plackett playing field over the top of the railway embankment and his strength can be seen in the photo.

On leaving school George joined the local building firm of Bray and Sons as a labourer progressing on to be a bricklayer. What sparked his love for boxing is unknown but he joined the local boxing club in Banbury and fought in the local area as an amateur boxer. I n 1935 with Jack Robeson as his manager. George turned professional and was entered in the Daily Mail £1,000 tournament for novices at Wembley. His manager said ‘this is just what we have been waiting for. We see our big chance in the competition. George is so big and hits so hard I can’t get anyone to meet him.’ He eventually lost to the winner Jack Stanner. The following year George was one of the eight contestants selected for the London and South of England Daily Mail £2,000 Heavy Weight Novices Competition at The Ring in Blackfriars. Because of George’s size and weight he began to make an impression with the various trainers of the top flight boxers He joined the likes of Jack Doyle and Len Harvey’s camps as a sparring partner.

Here he would be paid so much a week, found his board and lodging and paid extra if he could knock the star boxer down. In demand as a sparring partner George began to get his photo in national newspapers alongside the boxing stars. In the picture George on the left is with Jack Doyle at a training camp at Windsor. In one training bout with Doyle, George ‘sustained a bloody nose but couldn’t be knocked off his feet.’ During his career George fought and was a sparring partner or took part in exhibition bouts with a wide range of well known boxers of the time. These included Jack Doyle, Len Harvey, Jack Peterson, Jack London, Bruce Woodcock, Freddie Mills, George Muir, Walter Neuesl, Alf Brown, and Jack Stanner.

George was often compared to Primo Carnera, the World Heavy Weight Champion boxer, in terms of size and weight. In 1937 brother Norman was woken around midnight by George’s trainer throwing gravel at his bedroom window in the Dog and Partridge. There was a message for George saying he was needed down in London first thing in the morning to fight Carnera. Apparently George just said ok and went back to sleep whilst Norman worried all night about the bout. George was needed to spar with Carnera in public and also fight him behind closed doors. Carnera had been refused a boxing licence by the British Boxing Board and needed to prove he was fit to hold a licence. George went to London to the Blackfriars ring but was not needed immediately as Carnera had been arrested and accused of tax evasion. However things were cleared up and the next day George sparred with Carnera in public. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that Carnera when told he was facing George, remarked ‘the bigger the better.’ George was also reported to have gone 6 rounds with Carnera behind closed doors before being knocked out. Carnera didn’t get a licence.

World War 2 saw George in the Adderbury Home Guard with the rank of lance corporal and this allowed him to continue as a professional boxer. He won his way to the Western Command finals of the new Army Professional Championships which he won not only in 1942 but also 1943/44 and 1945. He also won the North West District Army heavy weight competition. During 1942 he was particularly busy with at least 6 bouts against such opponents as George Muir the New Zealand heavy weight champion. This he lost having beaten Muir earlier in his career. Late in 1942 George was called up to the Royal Army Service Corps as a driver and served his time out in the United Kingdom.

In June 1943 he boxed in a tournament that raised £600 for the Merchant Navy Fund and in August of the same year, as Western Command Champion, he gave a demonstration bout. 1944 saw George defend his Lancs. and Border title and he also boxed Jack London in March 1944 in an interservices competition. In 1945 he knocked out his opponent in the Western Command final in 1 minute and 40 seconds. He was now favourite to win the British Army Heavy Weight Championship. On March 14th at the Blackpool Tower he won the semifinal but on March 24th lost in the final at the Belle Vue arena Manchester. After leaving the army George still had the odd fight. Probably the last one was a ’needle match’ in 1949 against Jim Buster Brown at the Marshes in Southam Road Banbury. A crowd of 1,200 attended the match which ended in a draw. During George’s career before joining the RASC he trained with his good friend Sam Eley. They could be seen running around the village as part of their training schedule and they worked out with a home-made punch bag. Sam related to me how he and George brought back a large sack of sawdust from Banbury builders Hinkins and Frewin. This rested on the handlebars and saddle of George’s bike and when they got it back to Adderbury they filled a canvas punch bag with the sawdust. In 1941 George married Ruby Barrett and they rented the Infant School house. George turned the front room into a small gym complete with punch bag. After the war he returned to the building trade as a foreman and took on the training of some local boys. In the years after the war until his death in 1975 aged 60 he could always be found in Banbury’s Winter Gardens on Boxing or Wrestling night.

Barry Davis

John Hone: From poverty to patronage in Adderbury

John Hone was born in Adderbury in 1844 and lived with his parents, William and Mary Ann, plus five siblings in Parsons Street. William, his father, was a plush weaver, a skilled occupation. Nevertheless, their family circumstances were very humble. It is possible that John might have had some education at the Boys Grammar School on The Green.

By 1856 John, at just 12 years of age, was working as a carrier, a job usually performed by men. John started the hard way by carrying a basket and walking to Banbury to purchase goods for local residents that they were unable to buy in the village. Long before the advent of the railway and omnibuses (as they were known) the only way an ordinary villager could obtain goods from the outside world was via a village carrier. They took surplus produce to be sold in town, even livestock, collected items of clothing, material and bits and pieces for sewing and picked up prescriptions, charging a small fee for their efforts.

Carriers usually had a horse and cart or a trap that could transport someone who might have a hospital appointment. They would be busiest on market days. Banbury had two markets– on a Thursday and a Saturday. The Market Place and Horsefair was where the carriers usually congregated – there is a report of one market day in the mid-1800s when there were 300 carriers’ carts parked in Banbury. They brought a great deal of business to the town. Adderbury had at least two or three carriers operating at any one time.

Hone’s business prospered such that he was able to purchase a donkey to carry him and a pannier to Market, then later a cart to go with the donkey. Eventually, he was able to sport a horse and cart to do his business. By about 1880 when he was in his mid-thirties, he married and raised two children, Elizabeth and Horace. By 1891 the Hones had moved to West Adderbury, to live at The Leys just off Tanners Lane (or White Hart Lane as it would have been known as then). Hone was working as a butcher at that point and doing well enough for Elizabeth to have acquired an education to be a school teacher.

John Hone

The Hones were Wesleyan Methodists and their little chapel at the bottom of Chapel Lane was only able to house 22 congregants. At that time the congregation was growing rapidly so in October 1882 the elders made the decision to build a new and much larger building, a church. Hone by then was able to purchase for £235 the group of five cottages that were sited on the corner of the High Street and Chapel Lane. He had them demolished then he offered the site to the Methodists to build their new church on. Ten years later, on 25th October 1892, the foundation stones were laid. Towards the end of that day the chairman read out the financial statement and said that they had already collected £624.3s.3d towards the £800 needed; by the time the church was built all £800 had been collected. At the opening of the new church on 2nd May, 1893 the chairman remarked that it was rare thing for a church to be fully paid for by the time it was built. To round off that day, the chairman and Hone gave sufficient money to buy a new harmonium.

John’s uncle, Henry Hone, who also lived in the village, had been working as a butcher, but changed horses in 1890 to take over, with his wife Sarah Ann, the running of the Red Lion on The Green. This they did for four years. It is possible that John took over the butchery business for this period. In the 1901 census John Hone is shown as a retired carrier at only 56 years of age. He died in 1915.

The Methodist Church’s schoolroom has been the home to Adderbury History Association for nearly thirty-six years – I wonder how many of the eagle-eyed members have spotted a row of small, square, white foundation stones set into the front wall, about fifteen inches above ground level They have the following names carved into them: Garrett, Hone, Morris, Edmunds, Mewburn, Rowell, Horace and Elizabeth Hone and Kirby: the names of the benefactors and generous donors.

Nick Allen

Charles Harris – Violin maker of Adderbury

The Adderbury violin-maker, Charles Harris (1791-1851), came to Adderbury after serving his apprenticeship, established his family here and carried on his trade in the village for a decade or so in the 1820s. He is interesting to us principally because of the enduring quality of the musical instruments, violins and cellos chiefly, he made while he was here – and because of the unfortunate set of events that turned his life upside down once he had left the village.

Charles Harris was born (some say in Northampton) in 1791. His father, Charles Harris senior, had married Marian Drew at Somerton in 1787, the first of a lattice of connections with this part of the world. Charles Harris junior did his apprenticeship with his father at the latter’s workshop in Cannon Street Road, Ratcliffe Highway, London. By the time he was in his early twenties he was ready to strike out on his own. He married his wife, Elizabeth, probably in 1815, and set up his business initially in Woodstock, where his first child was christened in 1816. After three years or so in Woodstock and another two children he moved to Adderbury in about 1819.

And in Adderbury he stayed for nearly ten years. Village tradition has him setting up his workshop next to “The Bell”. The first Adderbury records we have for Charles and his wife Elizabeth are for the baptism of their fourth child, Sarah, in July 1820. There is also a Harris violin dated “Adderbury 1820” illustrated in Adderbury: A Thousand Years of History. Sarah was followed by Charles, Marian, Elizabeth, and Ruth, all before 1827. Two further children were born after Harris had left Adderbury, bringing the total to ten, four boys and six girls. Later accounts of the family suggest that seven survived to adulthood.

But do we have any independent judgements on the quality of the instruments that Adderbury Charles produced? Well, a contemporary, George Herbert, a Banbury shoemaker born in 1814, recalls in his memoirs that when he was a boy he always wanted a violin. He saved up all his pocket money and bought one, describing it as a “fairly good one (it was one of Harris’ make that used to live in Adderbury)”.  More important, perhaps, is the view of Henry Lockey Hill, one of the best makers of the turn of the century who left a very distinguished legacy of fine violins, violas and cellos. According to him, Charles Harris was “a good workman, who made some sound instruments, which have an agreeable quality of tone and a fair amount of power.” This admiration has continued to the present day, with one current handbook of antique violins saying that : “His work is very precise and recalls that of contemporary London makers …, with golden amber coloured varnish and a generally Stradivarian or Amatisé model. Cellos are particularly admired.”

A Harris violin

One of the best known professional violinists in this country, Lucy Russell, leader of the Fitzwilliam Quartet since 1995 and Professor of Baroque Violin at the Royal College of Music, plays regularly on an instrument produced by Charles Harris of Adderbury.  This is what she has to say about the character of the instrument she knows so well:

“My Charles Harris violin has often received compliments for sounding like a fine Italian instrument. The sound is both warm and direct and the g string has a depth and darkness which I particularly relish. It has always been easy to play – its ‘temperament’ is even (which is much appreciated when having to perform in adverse circumstances, i.e. too cold, too hot, too humid). Only very occasionally does it ‘sulk’. As someone who also plays a Gagliano, I can say that my Harris can communicate and move a listener just as well (and at a fraction of the price.)” (Personal communication)

Lucy Russell playing her Harris violin

Having now given Charles Harris due credit for his high standrads of craftsmanship, there are two things about him that we must recognise about him, even from his Adderbury days, and which may help to explain his subsequent career. First, it is possible that, despite his expertise, Charles Harris suffered from an inferiority complex. Because the same authorities that typically praise him, even more typically praise his father much more highly. One handbook says that our Charles Harris exhibits “fairly good workmanship but separated in neatness from that of the father by a considerable gap.” We can only guess what effect this sort of judgement had on Harris’s self-confidence.

The other thing we can’t help noticing, when we compare Charles Harris with his contemporaries, is that Harris never shows much in the way of business acumen. This was far from true of his contemporaries. For example, the man who was a fellow apprentice, Samuel Gilkes, was credited with understanding and catering for an emerging market of well-off middle-class citizens who wanted fine instruments for themselves and particularly for their daughters. And Harris’s own apprentice, William Ebsworth Hill, part of the longest-running and most respected of English violin-making dynasties, became in time one of the world’s leading authorities, supervising one of the greatest workshops in Europe. All these successful people continued to use Charles Harris to produce and repair instruments, but Charles Harris must have been keenly aware of the differences, and must have felt his relative poverty and insignificance as irksome. It is recorded, by the way, that poverty was one of the things that he shared with his father.

In the late 1820s Harris’s personal circumstances changed radically, in a way which was to lead him to leave Adderbury. In 1829 Charles Harris learned that he had inherited a part of the Lordship of the Manor of the neighbouring Oxfordshire village of Steeple Aston. This had come about because his mother was a relative of an Aynho surgeon and apothecary, John Webster, whose proudest possession was the Steeple Aston Lordship of the Manor. He determined that this Lordship should go to his closest male relative, who turned out to be Charles Harris due to his marriage to Elizabeth. When John Webster died in 1829, the title with land and buildings reckoned to be worth £200 a year came to Charles. Suddenly the craftsman, not yet thirty, hitherto uncertain of his standing in the world, could call himself a gentleman and could make proper provision for his growing family. So, sometime between the baptism of Ruth in August 1827 and the baptism of Jacob in March 1830, the Harrises moved to Steeple Aston, living at first in the Webster farmhouse there.

The first thing that happened is that, once in Steeple Aston, Harris began to give himself airs – we know this to be true because the first historians of Steeple Aston were eye-witnesses of the story: they report that the villagers began to call him “Lord Harris” behind his back. The second thing that happened was that, maybe quite reasonably from his point of view, Harris decided that he needed a new house, a new manor house indeed, both to house his large family (which was swelled about this time by his newly widowed mother), and to reflect his new position in society.

He began construction of his new manor house in 1831. The building has been many things subsequently – a baker’s, a public house, a private house – but is not huge or overly grand.

The new Harris manor house

Nonetheless, the project was enough to ruin him, in a story worthy of one of Charles Dickens’ tales of lawyers, debts, prison and so on. The problem was, that Harris had not understood that his inheritance was only worth the £200 that people had talked about if you farmed the land – and Harris was no farmer. So, to build his house he began to borrow and to mortgage whatever small properties belonging to his estate that he could; and, as the costs of the building accrued and the first loans began to fall due, he borrowed some more. He couldn’t mortgage the estate itself because John Webster had so expressed his will that it was to continue in perpetuity from eldest son to eldest son – in other words, in that expression we again hear so often in 19th century novels, it was entailed.

However, someone did suggest a solution even to this, and that someone was Charles Cottrell Dormer of Rousham and his lawyer. Cottrell Dormer had been increasing his land holdings and influence in the neighbourhood for some time, and what he suggested was really Dickensian: they should together apply to the House of Lords to break the entail on a legal technicality. This is how farmer and land agent, Harris’s contemporary and early historian of Steeple Aston, William Wing, described what happened next:

“In the first year of the reign of Her present Majesty, namely on the twelfth of July, 1837, a private Act of Parliament … received the Royal Assent. This unique statute recites that John Marten Watson, who died in 1828 … directed by his will that neither his manorial privileges nor his estate should be alienated by Charles Harris, his devisee, but should continue from right heir to right heir of his family for ever: but that as the intrinsic value of the estate had been valued at £4,335, and Mr. Cottrell Dormer was willing to purchase it at the larger sum of £5,800, in order to make his property more compact, Watson’s will might be deviated from and the privileges and property alienated by Watson’s devisee, upon the condition of his purchasing other land elsewhere at the lesser sum, and retaining the difference, upon the astonishing figment that the next heir was entitled to the intrinsic value and no more. This private Act was carried out, but the attendant expenses and difficulties were so great that instead of benefiting it ruined the person whom Watson intended to do good to.”

So Charles Harris had his Act of Parliament, but he still had the loans and mortgages to settle. He tried various things, including building workers’ cottages for rent in an area called Harrisville as well as, according to his obituary years later in the Banbury Guardian, regularly visiting the gambling dens of Oxford! In any event, less than two years later in 1843, pursued for the repayment of his mortgage, Harris applied to the Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors. Eventually, Harris’s mansion was sold to a new owner, George Robert Stratton, a currier (leather-finisher) from Bicester.

In telling the Steeple Aston side of the Charles Harris story I’ve been very reliant on the work of local historian, Geoffrey Lane, in his Cake & Cock Horse article on “The fiddle-making Squire of Steeple Aston”; and I’m simply going to quote Geoffrey Lane’s words to round the story off:

“Charles Harris himself lived on until July 1851, when he died at the Oxford Infirmary. His body was brought back to Steeple Aston for burial on 7 July, although no headstone marks his grave. Little is known of his final years, which cannot have brought him much joy. Despite describing himself variously as a farmer and a gentleman, he had never completely abandoned violin-making, as the inscriptions on some of his later instruments show, although relatively few from this period have surfaced in recent years. His move to Broad Street, Oxford, in 1840, and his description of himself then as a musical instrument maker, may have marked an attempt to return to what he did best, following his failure as a farmer. He evidently encouraged his second son, Richard, to take up the craft. The 1851 census shows Richard — described as a musical instrument maker — sharing a cottage on South Side with his sister Elizabeth, the only Harris children still in the village. Richard later moved to “Old Tom’s” in Northside where he continued making violins, married his landlady Martha Spittle, and ended up as a corn and hay merchant. The shop built by Wall and Louch on the corner of Paines Hill eventually became “Harris Stores” in the hands of Richard’s son, John Watson Harris.”

Phil Mansell
April 2020

Rhoda Woodward Tribute 5: The Garage

The Garage

I suppose I must have been about three years old when we moved to a cottage on the main road a few yards opposite was what was known as Tommy Thacker’s Garage and it is one of my earliest memories. The House was at one time thatched. I used to watch the swallows as they disappeared into their nests under the eaves to feed their young. They came back about the same time every year.

Thomas William Thacker, born 1886 was the son of Thomas Thacker farrier and blacksmith and his wife Fanny. According to the 1901 census at the age of 15 he was living with his parents, sister Minnie aged 11, brother Rowland. aged 8, and sister Kathleen aged 3. All the family were living at Bodicote although they seem to have originated from Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire. In January or February 1911 aged 24 he married, Edith Maude Clarke daughter of Joseph Clarke from Emscote Warwickshire. She was age 34.

Tommy Thacker’s Garage

On the 1911 census Tommy was listed as a cabinet maker working at Stone’s box factory in Banbury and living at Frog lane Bodicote. Their only son William was born in December 1911. For what must have been a few years Tom had a cycle repair shop in the yard at the back of the Red Lion. It is not known if it was a full or part time business and it seems to have closed during the first world war. It is not certain if he was in the army in WW1. There are two listings of a Thomas William Thacker serving in the R.A.S.C. but neither may be him. He probably set up the garage business in the early 1920s and it about 40years.

I seem to remember Mrs. Thacker as a short slightly stocky lady. She always wore her hair in a bun with a flowered overall over an assortment of cardigans according to the weather. She was a very hardy person and every morning, about eight or earlier, we would hear the clonk of metal as she unlocked the doors of the petrol pumps. Petrol was dispensed by winding a handle. When a gallon had been pumped through, then the handle was wound back ready for the next gallon. It was possible to move a clip if only half a gallon was required. A dial face showed a count of the sales. The hose would swing out over the car much as they still do today.

I never recall either of them leaving the premises or joining in any village affairs, except maybe for Mrs. Thacker popping the few yards down to the Co-op. At that time there was a milkman, baker, butcher and fish man who came round from door to door. I remember she would talk to my Mother whenever we were passing. They were very proud of their son who, after University went abroad collecting antiquities from Egypt and the far east. Later he was appointed as a professor of Hebrew and Oriental Languages. Many of his finds are displayed in a special room called Thacker’s room in the Oriental Museum belonging to Durham University. There he became a teacher creating a school of study and a research centre for the study and teaching of not only the language and literature of these countries but their culture. In March 1939 Bill married Kathleen Hawthorn. They had one son and lived at 28 Church Street Durham. Bill died in April 1984.

I seem to remember Tom as a tall well spoken man. He had a small moustache and a stiff leg which I think was due to rheumatism. At one time the family adopted a stray black dog and Tommy walked it down Long Wall twice a day and he said the walking helped his bad leg. Each morning he would be seen rolling back the large door that housed his workshop. There were several small windows along the top of the door. Inside was his work bench, tools and a miniature hardware store, spare tyres and inner tubes for bicycles, puncture outfits, small tins of oil and black enamel for domestic use, sticky tapes, screws, bolts (on which he could make and cut a thread and find a nut to fit) and nails. In fact he kept anything that would save a trip into Banbury.

Out in the yard there was a building where he kept large drums of paraffin which he sold by the gallon and at some time he set up a machine to charge car batteries and accumulators which were needed to power early wirelesses. Large bottles of acid were needed for this purpose and one had to be very careful when carrying the accumulators home. Spills could burn skin or holes in clothing; most had a carrying handle. There was a black and a red cap on the top to loosen to attach the connectors for charging.

All the repairs for cars and cycles were done on the footpath at the front of the building. He had what was known as a sledge made from slats of polished wood with a leather headrest and mounted on wheels. It must have been painful for Tom at times with his stiff leg to lie on it and lever himself underneath the cars.

During the WW2 one of the petrol pumps was taken over by the army. With just the handle to work the pump it took quite some time to fill up the big army lorries and bren gun carriers. One day we saw some of the highland division lorries filling up. They were on their way to the second front. The soldiers were all sitting under our garden wall waiting and we took them cups of tea.

Cars were a magnet for all the young lads and they could be seen peering under the bonnets when one was being attended to. Tom often chose one to help him on Saturdays and school holidays. The last one I remember was Bernard Locke the policeman’s son. A low wall divided the yard from the footpath in front of the pumps and was a regular meeting place for a group of young chaps on Sunday afternoons when the garage was closed. I never heard of them doing any damage they just used to sit and smoke their woodbines.

Although I cannot say we had a personal relationship with the Thacker’s my mum and dad used to talk to them a lot.

Tom once gave my small son a wooden replica of a lawnmower painted green and red, perfect in detail except I do not think the curved blades would have actually cut grass. My son loved it he called it his mowlawner. He was also very interested in clocks and had a collection of coins which sadly were stolen when there was a break in during the early 1950’s, something I believe he found hard to get over

Not long after we were married they gave us two big comfortable easy chairs. As we moved away we still heard their news from my parents. Edith died on December 18th 1961 aged 85. I do not think Tom did much afterwards and eventually went to live with his sister. A near neighbour used to bring him back from time to time. Tom died on February 14th 1973. He and Edith are remembered with a grave stone in Adderbury Cemetery.

Rhoda Woodward

Rhoda Woodward Tribute 4: “Memories are made of this”

All my dancing days were during World War II. I had been asked to act as partner by our tap dancing teacher to some young men that wanted to learn ballroom dancing early in 1939. I was only 14 at the time and was longing to be old enough to go to real dances and to wear an ankle length dreaa as everyone did at that time.

It was just as well that I had had those lessons as my first dances were in our local hall. We were at war and we had soldiers stationed in our village. There was no shortage of partners, all wearing army boots. So it was very necessary not to make a wrong move.

Clothes were becoming scarce, yet somehow we always managed to look nice. I had some white suede sandals; when they got marked I dyed them maroon and when they got shabby I polished them with black shoe polish. With help from our local cobbler, new soles and heels kept them good for quite a few miles of dancing.

I worked in a corset factory in Banbury and word soon got round when Boots or Woolworth’s had a new stock of make-up and we could hardly wait for lunch hour to see what was left. Silk stockings would be carefully examined on the “seconds” stall to find a pair where the flaws did not show as they were only half coupons, Blouses, skirts and dresses were made out of all kinds of unusual materials.

Along with some of the girls from work I biked to dances in surrounding villages; we were country lasses and the blackout did not worry us unduly. Our cycle lamps had to be half covered so as not to show too much light, and of course we had to carry our gas masks. The high spot of the week was Saturday nights at the Town Hall: the floor was like glass and we could just glide around. In the village halls they used boracic powder, soap flakes or talcum powder on the floors; it worked, but made our shoes a bit slippery. Or out on a bombing raid

As well as the soldiers there were quite a few airmen, as there were several airfields within a few miles. Sometimes there would be a regimental or R.A.F. band, but mostly they would play gramophone records, Victor (remember “Slow,Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow”?), Joe Loss and Glen Miller – in fact, all the leading bands of that time.

Dances in those days were very romantic affairs, though often tinged with sadness. Music brought memories of those far away, the lad you were dancing cheek to cheek with could maybe within a few weeks be sent on active service. This was especially true for me when in 1943 I was sent to work in the N.A.A.F.I. on several R.A.F. camps.

However, we were young and through it ALL WE Waltzed, Tangoed, Fox Trotted and Quick Stepped. We formed lines for the Palais Glide and wandered around singing the Lambeth Walk and Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree, We learnt the eightsome reel and other highland dances when we had a Scottish regiment stationed with us, and to jive and jitterbug when the Americans came.

Whenever I hear some of those old melodies – “I’ll Get By”, “You’ll Never Know”, “Deep Purple”, to name just a few, I can imagine myself back in that sea of airforce blue, the revolving ball reflecting the colours of the landing lights they always fixed up in each corner, and hear the faint strains of the last waltz.

I never did get to dance in a long dress, but “Thanks for the Memory”.

Rhoda Woodward

Anthony Burgess in Adderbury in the 1950s

Late in 1950 John Burgess Wilson, who was later to find fame as the prolific writer Anthony Burgess, moved to 4, Water Lane, Adderbury with his wife Lynne. He had accepted a post as a junior English master at Banbury Grammar School, and a loan from Lynne’s father had enabled the couple to get a mortgage on the cottage. Although Burgess would write thirty-three novels and more than twenty-five works of non-fiction in his life, including two volumes of autobiography and three volumes of essays, in his Adderbury days as John Wilson he was only at the very beginning of his writing career.

There are many problems to writing about Anthony Burgess: there are two biographies which take very different approaches to their subject and an autobiography which sometimes prefers a good story to the strict truth. But there is one thing on which everybody seems to agree, and that is that Wilson was a very good teacher. He was required to teach English Language in the lower forms and English Literature higher up the school. Audrey Smith, in those days Audrey Froggatt, was both a neighbour of Wilson’s in Adderbury and his pupil at the Grammar School: she was in the second form in 1950; in the third form Wilson was her English teacher and in the fourth form he was her Form Master. She says he was a very modern teacher, very relaxed, who never sat behind his desk. He never had any difficulty in getting people to listen; he was softly spoken with a beautiful voice. He was willing to diversify his lessons: he didn’t just teach English grammar, he introduced the class to Esperanto and to the Cyrillic alphabet. He had his pupils read Aldous Huxley (“Brave New World”), George Orwell (“1984”) and Evelyn Waugh in class and then discussed the books with them. In school he wore a tatty gown; outside he had a rather hippy style and wore corduroys and baggy sweaters. He was always rather scruffy.

Other opinions from higher up the school have been collected by Andrew Biswell, his biographer (The Real Life of Anthony Burgess, Picador 2005) and confirm that, as a school teacher Burgess was almost universally well liked:

“… Jackie Adkins remembers ‘ He was my teacher and I thought he was great. He used to wear outrageous clothes – gaudy waistcoats and a terrible ginger suit. His fingers were stained with nicotine.’ Another pupil at the school, Susie Kerridge, found his enthusiasm for literature infectious … and she attributes her pleasure in reading to Burgess’s inspiring presence in the classroom …. Sonia Blinkhorn, who studies under Burgess in the sixth form, says: ‘We regarded him as extremely clever. He eWe regarded him as extremely clever. He exerted control because he was unpredictable. He gave us an awareness of the joy of learning and made us feel good about English literature.’ She remembers his lessons on the metaphysical poets as a ‘huge adventure’”.

Wilson’s efforts in the classroom were supported by his enthusiasm both for grammar school education generally and for the particular staff at Banbury, which he described in his autobiography as “good … a staff with brilliant side-talents which produced brilliant children”. Wilson was opposed to the growth of secondary modern schools. He felt that grammar schools were “the backbone of bourgeois culture and gave the community its plays, concerts, even operas, as well as its better citizens.”

Although he did do some journalism for the Banbury Guardian, Wilson’s contribution to the cultural life of Adderbury and Banburyshire was much more as a producer of plays and as a musician than as a writer. He claimed, however, in his autobiography to have written a novel in 1953 in the “box-like study-second-bedroom” of his Adderbury cottage. This was based on his wartime experiences in Gibraltar and would eventually be published in 1965 as “A Vision of Battlements”. In 1950 he formed a group, the Adderbury Players, (“few of them living in Adderbury” according to Wilson himself) and put on, among other plays, O’Casey’s “Juno and the Paycock”, T.S.Eliot’s “Sweeney Agonistes”, Christopher Fry’s “A Phoenix Too Frequent”, and Aldous Huxley’s “The Giaconda Smile”. The productions took place in The Institute, Adderbury, although there was sometimes a tour to neighbouring villages. As a musician, Wilson composed instrumental and vocal pieces for talented pupils at the grammar school, a Partita for the school string orchestra, incidental music for a school production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and worked on the libretto for an intended opera. But it was during his time in Adderbury that he reports himself to have given up on the idea of becoming a professional composer.

Wilson seems to have been very ambivalent about life in Adderbury. On the one hand, he could write in his autobiography that:

“There were times, especially in spring when the may appeared, when the life of an Oxfordshire village with … seven pubs was idyllic enough. Long country walks with a dog. Cider in the midst of a Midlands dialect. Little money, but money was not everything.”

On the other hand, it is clear that the bohemian lifestyle that Wilson and his wife went in for was alien to the village. His wife in particular was felt to be scandalous in her drinking and her behaviour generally – “and even after half a century her behaviour is still the subject of village gossip” according to Andrew Biswell. Audrey Smith calls Lynne Wilson “a nice friendly Welsh lady with a Siamese cat”, but even she has to admit that when Lynne and John would come round to their house occasionally for a social evening, while John Wilson would play the piano so that everyone could sing carols, Lynne would scandalise the company by drinking a whole bottle of port and insisting on singing “On Ilkley Moor bah t’at” all the way through although no one else knew it. This background disapproval presumably combined with the feeling that, as Wilson expressed it in his autobiography:

“The danger of becoming settled at a provincial grammar school lay in habituation to the satisfaction of local achievements – well-produced plays which London never heard about, speech and drama festivals that London actors condescended to judge … I seemed likely to stay on at Banbury Grammar School until I was sixty-five, with lowered artistic sights, poor, vaguely discontented … bullying myself into believing I was happy.”

Wilson began to apply for jobs elsewhere, and eventually, under rather strange circumstances, was offered and accepted a post in Malaya, to teach English at a school sometimes known as “the Eton of Asia” at a much increased salary.

When Wilson and his wife set sail from Southampton on 5th August 1954, having disposed of their cottage and sold most of their possessions, it should have been the end of his connection with this part of the world. But in 1960, having returned from abroad and now writing under the name of Anthony Burgess, Wilson published a novel, “The Worm and the Ring”, which narrated events at a school which was clearly related to his time at Banbury Grammar School. There were parallels with characters at the real school and one, the school secretary Gwendoline Bustin, considered herself libelled by the book. She was shown as pursuing the headmaster and characterised as “the sort of woman who should have got married ages ago … just pitiable … suppressing an old maid’s excitement” and as “definitely unbalanced, the sort who might shout out dirty words under an anaesthetic”. She went to law and Wilson’s publisher withdrew the novel and pulped the unsold remainder. While there was a great deal of sympathy and support for Wilson (“We felt Gwendoline Buston had got her come-uppance”, Audrey Smith remembers), the local and national scandal that resulted brought Wilson’s connection with Adderbury and Banburyshire to a definite and far from pleasant end.

Phil Mansell

Henry Gepp: The importance of the pre-Adderbury years

Henry Gepp became vicar of Adderbury in 1874 and held the post until his retirement through illness in 1913. This made him the longest-serving vicar of Adderbury since 1381. Despite its length, his incumbency was to a large degree without incident, the well-known exception being his disagreements with the church bellringers. The main outcome from his years at Adderbury was a major restoration and reparation of the church. (See Nicholas Allen. Adderbury, A Thousand Years of History, 1995, Philimore & Co Ltd, pp 24-28).

One way of characterising Gepp’s incumbency would be as someone who, having achieved the living he desired, relaxed into the comfortable lifestyle that some of his ecclesiastical colleagues enjoyed. Anthony Russell (The Clerical Profession. London, SPCK, 1980, p. 237) represents this lifestyle as follows:

“The … last decades of the nineteenth century and the years before the First World War are often spoken of as a ‘golden era’ for the clergy, particularly those in rural areas. In some rectories, where the income was sufficient to allow the employment of many servants, the clergyman was able to sustain a style of life which approximated to that of the manor or hall, to send his sons to public schools and professional careers in the Army.”

Although there are elements in this picture which apply to Gepp, overall it goes against everything we know about him. From all contemporary accounts, he was a devoted and hard-working clergyman, dedicated to the spiritual well-being of his congregation. An alternative – and preferable – explanation of Gepp’s relatively trouble-free reign in Adderbury comes from recognising the degree to which Gepp was prepared for and skilled at the tasks which lay before him, and, as a result, able to achieve results with the minimum of trouble.

The first element in Gepp’s preparedness for clerical office was his family background. He came from a professional family who had been practising law successfully in Chelmsford since 1768. His father, Thomas Morgan Gepp, was the second generation to control the family firm. He had six sons and planned their futures much in accordance with the conventional wisdom of his day (see, for example, Parent’s Handbook by J.C.Hudson, first published in 1842): two to the armed forces, two to the church and two to the law and hence the family firm. After the death of Lieutenant Thomas Sydney, his elder brother, in action in India in 1858, Gepp took on the role of eldest son.

At a time when the apparatus of local government was in its infancy a country law firm would be deeply involved in a wide range of local enterprises. The following account of the community activities of Gepp’s father gives an idea of this:

“It would appear that he was almost hyperactive in the amount he took on: from 1832 the firm was almost continuously Undersheriff [Chief Administrative Officer for the locality, often held by a firm rather than an individual]; he was the steward of some thirty-five manors and was himself Lord of the Manor of Braintree.  Gepp was the Essex County Treasurer; Registrar of Chelmsford County Court; Registrar of the Archdeaconry of St Albans; Registrar of the Archdeaconry of Chelmsford; Clerk to the Commissioners of Income Tax (not long introduced); Clerk to Chelmsford Lunatic Asylum; Clerk to the Commissioners of Sewers for Dengie, Foulness and Fobbing; Governor of Chelmsford Grammar School; Trustee of Chelmsford Charity School; Trustee of Chelmsford Dispensary and Infirmary; Trustee of the Chelmsford and Dengie Savings Bank; Chairman of the Chelmsford Gas Lighting & Coke Company … Possibly the most powerful and time consuming of all T M Gepp’s extra activities was in his role as Rector’s Warden at St Mary’s Church a role which was not one open to election, but rather selection by the incumbent of the day.” (J.B.Gilder: The Way We Worked. Gepp & Sons Solicitors: Lawyers in the County Town, Published by Gepp & Son, 2010, pp 39-40)

With this sort of family background, it seems likely that Gepp would have had a broad-ranging appreciation of how country society operated and would therefore have been more prepared than most for any challenges that his Adderbury role might present.

The second influence on Gepp before he came to Adderbury will have been the process of ordination into the priesthood that he went through at the conclusion of his university studies at New College, Oxford. The Victorian period saw a great change in attitudes towards ordination, with a general revival of emphasis on its spiritual importance and function. In the vanguard of this change was Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford at the time of Gepp’s ordination. Wilberforce’s twenty-five years at Oxford was described by Gladstone, incidentally, as “that truly great episcopate” (Alan Haig: The Victorian Clergy. Croom Helm. 1984, p.178)

Wilberforce saw the pastoral role of the clergyman as being key, and, within this, concern for the spiritual well-being of parishioners. He warned candidates for ordination against undertaking the cure of souls “just as other men go to the counting-house or to the court of law, or to the senate, meaning to live by it, to be respected, to be able to respect themselves … Rather, the pastor must have some desire at least to live nearer to Christ in employment and pursuit than worldly callings render possible.” In particular, Wilberforce believed that the whole of a clergyman’s life should be lived in an exemplary fashion; he cautioned against allowing any “earthly parentheses in our ministerial life”. (Samuel Wilberforce: Addresses to the Candidates for Ordination Oxford, 1860). On a less exalted level, Wilberforce was a champion of good communications and provided an example of persuasiveness through what has been called his “eloquent pragmatism”.

So it is in his rather austere presence, in his habitual clerical dress, in his emphasis from early in his incumbency on communication via the parochial newsletter, in his pursuit of a parish meeting place, in his renowned powers of persuasion which gave rise to so many donations to support church improvements, and especially after 1906 in his assumption of the role of Rural Dean, that we can see Gepp as a true pupil of Samuel Wilberforce – and recognise the degree to which Wilberforce’s teachings prepared Gepp for his parish role.

The third factor which will have prepared Gepp for his incumbency here is the wide range of other parishes he had already experienced as a curate before coming to Adderbury. A curate was usually a young man just recently ordained, who assisted or sometimes performed the duties of a clergyman and whose wages would be paid from the vicar’s own pocket. To have the promise of a curacy was a necessary part of the ordination process, and an ordinand often had to employ an agent to find one. Gepp’s first curacy was at the church of SS Trinio, Peter & Paul in Llandrinio, between Oswestry and Shrewsbury in Shropshire. After a year in this position he moved to St Dunstan’s in Cranbrook, before coming to this locality with a curacy at Broughton for the period 1864-71. Finally, he spent 1871-74 at St Martin’s in Dorking. It is difficult at this distance in time and lacking any sort of personal diary to provide reasons for Gepp’s choice of curacies – ranging in geographical terms from the Welsh Marches to the Kentish Weald and from Oxfordshire to Surrey. Looking at the churches he cared for, it is possible that a common theme is church restoration, and it may well be that Gepp developed his ideas and learned techniques while observing developments at these parishes and also more than likely that he built up a range of contacts with architects and craftsmen that would serve him well when he came to plan and carry out similar developments at Adderbury.

Henry Gepp died in 1919, five years after leaving Adderbury. His widow published his History of Adderbury “in which his love for both New College and for the parish he served so long is abundantly clear” (Jennifer Thorp, Note to Cover Illustration, Portrait of Henry John Gepp, New College Record 2011).

Phil Mansell
April 2020

Sad Affairs


A Century of Stories about the Oxford Canal at Adderbury, taken from Jackson’s Oxford Journal

Jackson’s Oxford Journal, Sat Nov 26th 1808, Issue 2900

A few days since an inquisition was taken at Adderbury, before Mr Gough, one of the coroners of this county, on view of the body of Henry George, who was drowned in the navigation at Nell Bridge; and it appears, from the account given by his companion, that suddenly stopping his horse, as the boat entered the lock, the night being very dark, he got too near the edge of the bank, which gave way and he fell into the water. Jurors’ verdict, accidental death.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal, October 16th, 1824

At Adderbury, on view of the body of William Wilkins, a child about two years old, who being left in the coal yard, near the canal, fell into it and was drowned. Verdict: accidental death

Jackson’s Oxford Journal June 9th 1827

On Tuesday last Mary Wise, a single woman, between 30 and 40 years of age, left her home for the purpose of going to Boddicot [sic], and was afterwards found drowned in the Oxford Canal. A bonnet on the hedge and pattens near the spot attracted the notice of two boys who gave information to some labourers, and after some time her body was found near a brick bridge in the parish of Boddicot. An inquest was held before Mr Gough and a verdict of insanity was returned by the jury

Jackson’s Oxford Journal April 3rd 1841

An inquest was holden at the Three Pigeons at Neithrop, on Monday last, before J. Churchill Esq., one of the county coroners, on the body of Martha Elliot, aged 50, wife of Alexander Elliot of Adderbury. It appeared that the unfortunate woman, who had been in a desponding way for 18 months, left her home about two o’clock in the afternoon of Saturday last, and before 6 o’clock was found drowned in that part of the Oxford Canal which runs through Hardwick Farm, upwards of four miles from her home; but there being no evidence to show how she came in the water, the jury returned a verdict of found drowned.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal 27th March 11th  1848


On Tuesday last an inquest was held at Nell Bridge Wharf in the parish of Adderbury, before J Churchill Esq, one of the coroners for Oxfordshire, on view of the body of Elizabeth Townsend of Adderbury, aged 78, who was killed on the previous Saturday when walking on the turnpike road between Adderbury and Aynhoe, and near the canal bridge. From the depositions it appeared the deceased, who was staying with her son, Richard Townsend of Nell Bridge, canal foreman, was out for a walk on Saturday afternoon by the side of the road and near to the canal. Joseph Fisher, boatman for Mr Robert Farmer of Oxford was on his way from Banbury to Heyford with the Tantivy laden with coal. On arriving at the canal bridge he, instead of unfastening the boat rope as he is required by the laws of the Canal Company, allowed the horse to ascend the turnpike road, and go down into the towing-path again, with the boat cord attached. The cord was consequently across the road, and was prevented from lying flat on the ground by the parapets of the bridge. At the time, John Auger, servant to the Rev John Ballard, staying at Woodeaton, came up on horseback.

Fisher told him to stay while he unfastened the rope, and Auger pulled up. At this instant Thomas Huxford, servant to E Ethelstone Esq, staying at the Crown Hotel Bicester, who was on his way home from Chipping Warden on a hack which his master had ridden to cover, came along at a furious rate, the horse having bolted with him and become unmanageable. Fisher and Auger both called to him to stop, but he could not manage the horse, and he went over the bridge; the force of the horse against the rope broke it in two, and that portion of it attached to the mast flew off from the force into the road, striking the deceased on the neck and face, and so injuring her as to cause her death before the arrival of John Griffin Esq, surgeon of Adderbury, who was quickly on the spot. Mr G described the injuries, which were sufficient to cause death. It appeared that Huxford did not see the rope nor the unfortunate woman till after the disaster, and that he stopped his horse as soon as he could; that he went back and stayed some time, and that he voluntarily attended the inquest. He expressed great regret at the occurrence, as did the boatman, who was in attendance.

The Jury, of which Mr James Garner was foreman, after a consultation, returned a verdict of “Accidental death”. Fisher was censured and was given to understand that he would be proceeded against, under the Act of Parliament, for having allowed the rope to be across the road. It appears that many boatmen act thus negligently and endanger the lives of persons passing along the road. We understood, while at the inquest, that no less than three ropes were thus allowed to be across the road while the inquiry was going on.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal, Sat May 12th 1900, Issue 7678


A somewhat singular fatality occurred on Saturday morning, the unfortunate individual being John Stilgoe, the well-known keeper of Grant’s Lock, near Twyford, on the Oxford Canal. The deceased left his home about half-past six for Banbury and left the lock here on the return journey shortly before seven o’clock, with one of the company’s iron boats, which he was towing by means of a line. All went well apparently until he was within half a mile of his home, when it is supposed he had a fit or some other seizure and either fell into the canal or  on the towing path and was pulled into the water by the progress of the boat. …. Verdict “Death from Natural Causes”

Jackson’s Oxford Journal, Saturday, October 6th 1900, Issue 7699


A pathetic story was revealed at an inquest held at the Red Lion Inn, Twyford, on Saturday, by Mr George Coggins, the Coroner, who had to enquire into the death of James Lewis, a young man of twenty-four, and Alice Tuffrey, a married woman, the wife of a Reservist, whose husband, after serving in South Africa, had been sent to China. Mrs Tuffrey was a native of Aynho, and her husband had been in the employ of Messrs. Foster and Dicksee, the well-known builders of Rugby. They had only been married eight months when her husband was called out, and their home broken up. Mrs. Tuffrey came home to her mother at Aynho for a time, and afterwards went back to service. The fact of her husband being ordered to China, after serving in South Africa appears to have affected her health, and she had to leave her situation in London. For the sake of change she went on a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, who live at Sandell farm, near Grant’s Lock on the Oxford Canal. A son of Mr Lewis’ from Woolwich was also living with his father at the time, and on Wednesday night he suggested to Mrs. Tuffrey that they might take a walk as far as the Red Lion in Twyford. Mrs. Tuffrey assented, and they walked over the fields to the inn, where, in the porch, they had some refreshment and some conversation with Mrs. Twynham, the landlady, Lewis remarking to her that it showed courage to come from Sandell farm in such a rough night. They left at ten o’clock, and instead of going over the fields to the farm, they went by the towing path of the canal; but they never reached their destination, for they were found in the canal the following morning – the woman in Grant’s Lock and the man just outside it. At the lock there is a footpath which leads to Sandell’s farm, and it is conjectured that in the darkness of the night they had fallen into the lock from the side of the canal or from the footboard on the lock-gate which is used for crossing the canal. The lock-keeper heard no noise of any kind during the night. In the course of Thursday morning while a boat was in the lock, the lock-keeper found he could not close the lock gate, and he discovered the body of the woman jammed between the wall of the lock and the gate. He afterwards found the body of the man a yard-and-a-half from the lock gate, and it had no doubt been washed out of the lock while the boats were passing through. The place is an exceedingly dangerous one on a dark and rough night such as Wednesday night was, and the probability is that the unfortunate people took the towing path in preference to walking through the wet grass to the farm. There were no signs of any struggle on the side of the canal. Mrs. Tuffrey was to have returned home to Aynho that very night, but the state of the weather prevented her, and Lewis was to have returned to Woolwich on Saturday. A watch found on Lewis had stopped at half-past ten.

Compiled by Phil Mansell
April 2020

The Hamlet of Milton: An Introduction

The small Hamlet of Milton is the focal point of the civil parish which consists of 328 hectares (810 acres), mostly of farmland. A sizeable area was requisitioned during the second World War as an airfield and is still occupied by the Ministry of Defence (RAF Barford St John) as an extensive radio communication base. The ground is leased for grazing. The Parish is wedged between Bloxham to the West & North, Adderbury to the East and the Barfords to the South.

Until the formation of civil parish councils in 1894, Milton lay within the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Adderbury which was part of the Bloxham Hundred. A tax roll of 1316 refers to ‘Villa de Abberbury cum Bodicote et Middleton’. Other records show that, in common with many place names during the reign of Edward III a transition to later phonetic spelling took place resulting in Middleton becoming Milton.

In medieval times the Milton lands appear to have been held principally by the Manor of St Amand and the Bishop of Winchester, there being no manor based in Milton itself.

The tax roll of 1334 shows that Middleton (Milton) was assessed for £2 18s 3d as against £2 13s Od for Bodicote and £10 12s 2d for Adderbury village. This indicates the relative population and activity of each settlement. The existence of free tenants at an early stage is indicated by the reference, in 1240, to Richard, the Clerk of Middleton (Milton) whose son, Ralph, included some land in Milton in a grant to the hospital of St John the Baptist in Oxford, and the will of John de Abberbury (note the spelling of the period), who died in 1347. He left his relative Thomas, a piece of land in Middleton yielding 13 shillings and 4 pence (68p) yearly rent from a ‘certain free tenant’. Three years later, a parcel of land at Middleton was given to Wroxton Priory of which William de Abberbury had been Prior for the past 10 years. Historians believe that it is likely that a medieval chapel dependent on the mother church in Adderbury would have existed in Milton as they did in Bodicote and Barford St John. There are, however, no known records of it and it is thought that it was demolished at the time of the Reformation.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the Wroxton Abbey lands were obtained by the Bishop of Winchester thus adding to existing holdings, many of which had become part of the endowment of New College in 1381.

The Hamlet has maintained its separate identity throughout the centuries having its own officers, i.e. a Clerk and later an Overseer who frequently is mentioned as having witnessed documents.

There was a strong puritan/non conformist element amongst the population of the Banbury area. Christopher Newell, the ejected Vicar of Bloxham took to meeting with other ‘dissenters’ in Milton in the house in Chapel Lane now known as The Cottage. The house was licensed in 1672 as a Presbyterian/Unitarian meeting place. A few years later a chapel of 3 bays was erected behind it.

Some 150 years ago it had ceased to be used and was demolished. the present Yew Tree Cottage stands adjacent to the site. The Friends movement of Quakers was quite strong around Adderbury during the 17th century but started to decline from 1780. At its height the Maule family of Milton was a leading influence, paying annual fines between 1692 and 1766 for organising meetings and not paying tithes. At this time, nine Quaker families lived in Milton. The Maule Family had a long association with Milton going back to 1638, when William held land, and carrying on until the turn of that century.

A document of 1665 records that Milton consisted of 7 substantial houses and 14 smaller ones. By 1754 an electoral return shows that of 11 free holders of Milton entitled to vote, 7 lived there, suggesting that little building development had taken place during the previous 90 years. They voted Tory 7 to 4! It is known that several of the bigger houses were built in the first half of the 17th century. One of these, ‘The Old House’, has been written up as a classical example of the vernacular architecture of that period.

In 1768 the Open fields of Milton were Enclosed thus changing the agricultural pattern.

By 1786, of 19 Milton landowners only 6 were owner occupiers. A study of church registers indicates that, for the period either side of 1800, the bulk of the population were labourers along with supporting craftsmen (harness workers, shoemakers, and plush weavers). Several women were in service. Of the population of 105 in 1801 some 39 Poor Law support at a cost of £156 raised by a rate of 4 shillings and 2 pence in the pound of rateable value. The support was supplemented by the feoffees.

The Black Boy Inn dates from late-16th century and early-17th century having external evidence of the typical round stairwell of that period. During the 18th century it probably flourished as the now ‘gated’ road from Deddington to Banbury via Milton and on past Way House, as a Bridle-Way was a well-used route to avoid paying the toll on the turnpike at Adderbury. Plans to develop this route into an ‘adopted’ road remained till the late 1800’s.

The present church in Milton, dedicated to St John the Evangelist, was built in 1856/7 after the villagers had complained about the problem of going to Adderbury. New College paid most of the total cost (£1339) having retained Butterfield, who built Keeble College, as architect. It is, as it’s possible medieval predecessor would have been, a Chapel-of-ease to St Mary’s, Adderbury.

The various charities and endowments for the purposes of fostering education locally, the relief of the poor and the repair of the church constitute together the feoffees of Adderbury and Milton. Milton by decree elects 2 of the trustees. In 1811 the feoffees sold some of its land in Milton to raise £203 to redeem land tax. The distribution of the feoffees income contains a requirement for the income in respect of the ‘Town Hook’ to benefit Milton only! The total feoffee contribution to Milton in 1823 was £60 12s. 5 1/ 4d. The feoffees continues to this day.

A copper beach tree – planted to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee was sited in the green triangle at the entrance to the Hamlet and was removed in recent years due to age. 2 new trees have been planted to mark the Jubilee Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

A later industry to come to Milton was the development of the Ironstone mining for use in smelting. While this was developed principally around Hook Norton, especially after the opening of the Banbury to Cheltenham railway in 1887, further workings were opened at sites convenient to the railway in Adderbury, Milton and Bloxham.

In Milton, the quarry was up the hill to the north of the Hamlet and serviced by a tramway (now a farm road) which connected with rail sidings and engine shed to the north west of the Hamlet. Mining commenced here in 1918 just before the end of the first World War. Work continued actively till 1924 but declined thereafter, finally ceasing in 1929. The quarry served as the municipal rubbish dump for many years till finally being covered over and grassed for pasture. A series of cement block bungalows were built for the ironstone mine workers at the western end of the Hamlet adjacent to Ironstone Farm. These have recently been demolished and replaced by new houses.

The Banbury to Cheltenham railway, having been routed along the north edge of the Hamlet eventually established a Halt here in 1908, thus at one stage, connecting Milton to the wider world by train several times per day. When the Hook Norton viaduct became unsafe the line was finally closed in 1962, although passengers services had ceased earlier, in 1953.

The population of Milton has not varied very much over the years. In 1801 it was 105 rising to 205 in 1831 then falling to 160 in 1921. The censuses of 1981 and 1991 showed 190 and 219 respectively. These latter figures include some 70 or so on a caravan site within the western boundary of the parish. The Hamlet, outwardly, remains virtually unchanged despite often massive development in nearby villages. There has been some ‘in-filling’ and replacement of Ironstone Quarry workers’ bungalows and upgrading of older cottages.

John Cordingley

Rhoda Woodward Tribute 1: Adderbury Lakes

For just over two hundred years the lakes have lain quietly hidden behind the grounds of Adderbury House.

Of course, we all knew that they were there. My father would tell me about the skating parties held by the Miss Cawleys. All the village would be welcome, lanterns were hung in the trees, bowls of hot soup and refreshments served. A lot of the village functions were held in the field. The hounds met, Jubilee celebrations for King George the Fifth, the Coronation of George the Sixth, fetes and flower shows. On these occasions we were taken across to look at the lakes, and told not to climb the fence or to go any closer in case we fell in. Sometimes we would hear someone say that the swans had arrived on the lakes and that that was a sign of bad weather, but they belonged to the big people who worked there and that was as far as it went with regards to the rest of the village.

In 1983 I read in the Banbury Guardian that the lakes were to be restored by the Manpower Services Commission. I had not been a member of the Parish Council for long and was thrilled to learn that we were to be invited to meet with representatives from the Oxfordshire County Council to discuss the plans for the project.

It was a clear bright morning in January. There had been an overnight frost. The wall alongside the lakes had collapsed in one place and this is where we made our entrance, having first inspected the spring in Long Wall that feeds the lakes. We fought and scrambled our way through elder bushes, brambles, decayed undergrowth and fallen trees, clinging on to branches to save ourselves from slipping down the sloping banks into the somewhat murky water as the frost was coming out of the ground making it very slippery.

Suddenly we came to a clearing and I was able to see the whole of the top lake. I had not realised it was so big. Many times I have been there since but I shall never forget that first view. The beauty of the sun shining on the water and the tangle of faded herbage and trees, still white with frost. There was even a pair of ducks over on the far side.

Farther along we discovered another smaller lake badly silted up and overgrown, fed by a waterfall from the first lake. We were told this would be dredged and the sluice repaired. We made another visit a month later. There were huge drifts of snowdrops. We saw a pair of fingfishers. It was St Valentine’s Day. Work started and for the rest of the year the whole place looked like a battlefield. Machinery was brought in, the dredging was completed, paths made, old wood burnt, the summer house and boat house restored, and two wooden bridges built.

By the following spring the snowdrops had bloomed. Not many daffodils had survived, but there was still a large patch of ransoms, which are not seen much in these parts. The bare ground so churned up the year before was soon covered with wild flowers. The white anenomies had not been disturbed and soon there was an abundance of colour. There were two wooden stages built for disabled fishing, the lakes having been restocked with several kinds of fish. The ducks and moorhens produced babies which dashed about on the water like small clockwork toys.

Now people were coming to the lakes to walk round, sit in the summer houses and on the new benches and, of course, to feed the sucks. There was a grand opening in July 1985 and at last we could feel it was really ours to enjoy. No matter how many times I visit, there is always something different: the moorhens, a pair of goldfinches, a grey wagtail or a kingfisher. One unforgettable evening last summer a large damselfly accompanies me half way round the lower lake, twisting and turning to show off its lovely colours. I have watched a water vole having his lunch and fed the roach as they sunbathed on top of the water on a warm day. The trees change their colours with the seasons and the light and shade.

There are not many who do not appreciate our lakes just for what they are. But I am sure that to some of us old “Adderburys” the main attraction is that at one time it was private and belonged to the gentry, but now is something we can all enjoy.

Rhoda Woodward

Rhoda Woodward Tribute 2: First came the evacuees

This article was composed in 1995 and formed part of the Special Edition of Adderbury Contact published in May, 1995, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of VE Day.

For most of 1939 everyone talked of war, with the older ones reliving their memories of other wars. We were issued with gas masks, two air raid shelters were build at each end of the village and an assessment made as to how many evacuees each house could Accommodate.

On 1 September the first evacuees accompanied by two teachers arrived from Barking and West Ham. Adderbury then had three schools, the Infants (now “Shepherd’s Keep”), the Girls’ School (now Church House) and the Boys’ School next to the Institute (now called “Rawlins House”)

He evacuees were divided up among the schools. Many soon returned to London as no bombing had taken place. Another contingent of children came from Kent on 12 September 1940, when German bombs made safe haven a necessity.

Evacuees were not our only wartime visitors. Soldiers of the Oxford and Bucks Regiments moved into Greenhill and Adderbury House – some were local lads just called up.

Huts sprang up all over the village in the most unlikely places. Lorries and tanks were parked on the Green – the only playground for the boys’ school. The headmaster protested on two counts to the Commanding Officer – 1) the bad state of the Green, and 2) the sound of the Scottish Regiments’ bagpipes (played twice daily for the Changing of the Guard) being such that the teacher could not make herself heard.

Weekly dances and film shows were held in the Institute, and a canteen set up in the Methodist schoolroom. Between 1939 and 1945 the village was host to nine British battaions, six American Army divisions and, finally, in 1945 a transit camp.  One of the most memorable occasions was on 1 April 1942 when King George VI came to inspect the Cameron Highlanders part of the Southern Command who moved out on 11 April. Many convoys passed through on the main Oxford road. It was a strange feeling watching all those lads going off to fight and wondering how many would be coming back.

Food rationing had, of course, begun. Many men were highly amused at the “Dig for Victory” posters as they had always grown their own vegetables, many keeping pigs and hens. Now they had to have a special card to get meal for their livestock and surrender their meat coupons for a certain time if a pig was killed.

Agricultural workers were allowed an extra ration of cheese. “Bevin’s pies” or agricultural pies were deposited at a volunteer’s house for collection: they cost about 4d … We probably managed better in the country than in the towns. Although many local people must have been worried for their own lads, they made welcome quite a number of soldiers’ wives, enabling couples to have a few more hours together.

At the age of seventeen and a half it was compulsory to register for thw Forces or war work. When VE Day came I was serving in the NAAFI on an RAF camp at nearby Hinton-in-the=Hedges. I remember there was an open-air service out on the runway. All personnel were allowed a 48-hour pass. We fed the ones living too far away to go home. I remember I did not feel any joy – relief, yes, but a great sadness for those who would not be coming home.

Rhoda Woodward

Rhoda Woodward Tribute 3: NAAFI Girls

This article was composed in May 2005 as part of a BBC survey of women’s voluntary groups in World War 2 edited by Ian Billingsley.

In 1942, I was working in a factory making surgical corsets. I didn’t like it there very much, but in the war years you could not leave your place of employment without special permission. So I was more than pleased when I was 18 years old, and had to go and register for War Work. While I was being interviewed, I had said, that before working in the factory I had served teas in my mother’s small tea shop, which had since closed. My fate was sealed.

I was given the relevant forms and literature to join the N.A.A.F.I. Having passed my medical, I then had to get a passport photograph for a special identity card, that would allow me to gain entrance to military camps.
My first posting was to a Royal Air Force camp about eight miles from home. I arrived on my bicycle at about ten o’clock, and was then issued with a cap, overalls, sheets and blankets and told to make my bed. I was rather dubious when I found that it had lost a leg. It was propped up with a biscuit tin, but tins were tins in those days and it did the job.
I reported to the kitchen, a small Nissen hut, on the side of a larger one, which turned out to be the W.A.A.F. canteen. Morning break had just finished and it was now the staff coffee break. It was a very large kitchen with four large sinks, two on each side. In the centre was the biggest kitchen range I had ever seen. There were also, two large scrubbed top tables, and a smaller one with an aluminium top. This was called the beverage table. It was used for making tea and coffee etc. It was one of my many jobs to keep that table top highly polished with whitening.
I was just finishing my coffee and getting to know Nellie, the other assistant and the cook, when this voice seemed to come from nowhere saying,
“All R.A.F. personnel will assemble in the W.A.A.F. canteen, at 1930hrs. The bar will remain closed.”
This was my first experience of the Tannoy. It was something I would soon to get used too, as in all military camps, we were never too far away from a speaker. They were even installed in the bathrooms. Our manageress laughed.
“You will have an easy night tonight.” she said.
Nellie looked up and answered.
“Yes.We’ll have to keep the kettle boiling, just in case we have any bodies.” I kept quiet, not liking to ask what was going on.
I soon found out what they were talking about. A couple of young airmen were brought into the kitchen. They had passed out during what I thought in my innocence, was a first aid lecture. I was then informed that it had been a men only lecture on Venereal Disease.
At the lunch-time break, I was shown how to weigh the tea and coffee into white cloth bags, ready for putting into the tea urn and coffee pans. I began to adapt and was soon out on the bar serving. In the mornings, I had to be up at 0700hrs, to rake out the flu’s, clear the ashes and get the fire lit. The kettle had to be boiling on the big old range, so the girls could have a morning cuppa at 0730hrs
The cook would have breakfast ready for 0800hrs. Then there was the bar and our billet to clean. The cook had to get about 200 cakes ready for morning break. Everything was done on those ranges. There was always a constant supply of hot water for the tea urns and large pans of coffee. The only electricity we used, was for the lights.
After morning break, there would be more cleaning to do in readiness, for the lunch break. During this time, the cook would be making pies and puddings for the evening suppers.
One of my jobs, was to make sure that the big yellow boiler was kept stoked up with coke.
“Watch the dial.” I was often warned. “Watch the dial.”
Nobody told me why, until one night I found out for myself. It began rumbling like thunder and spat all the hot water, out onto the roof. It didn’t stop until it had completely emptied and filled with cold water again. As you can imagine, I wasn’t very popular that night. It was nearly closing time and we still had all the washing up to do.
We used to serve about 200 suppers a night. Each one having to be carried from the kitchen through to the bar. We also sold beer. It came in quart bottles and there was a special way to tip the glasses, so that each one, held a full pint. You could soon hear the loud complaints, if someone had a short measure.
Sweets, soap and cigarettes were all rationed. We had to collect special coupons. We were sent an assortment of brands which were quite unheard of: Robins, Walters and Sunripe are three that I remember. I think that the ration may have been 40 each, twenty of the more popular brands like Players, Craven A, or Senior Service and twenty of whatever else we had. Most of the girls would just take the well known brands, so we used to keep the rest in a box for the lads.
We got into trouble one day when the supervisor was paying us a visit, as she’d heard one of the airmen asking for cigs off ration. I told her, that we had already collected the coupons. She knew what was going on, and told us to make sure that we sold them to the W.A.A.F.’s. first. Then the lads could have them.
Occasionally we got a consignment of cosmetics. The girls always had first choice, but after a week, they would be available to the airmen, to buy for their wives.
It was always very hard work. Some of the larger N.A.A.F.I.’s had more staff, but the girls often got posted or left. We really needed our three hours off in the afternoon; although we had to take turns in starting back half an hour early to get tea. We had one day off a week and one weekend a month.
There were no modern aids or washing up liquid. We just used to use soda or dry powders like ‘Freedom’, ‘Vim soap’ and scrubbing brushes, but as the saying was then “There’s a ruddy war on”, so we just had to get on with it. Most of us hadn’t got mod cons at home anyway, so we really appreciated having the luxury of a bathroom and hot water; at least most of the time. We did have some hard winters though, when the pipes froze and burst during the thaw. We really were flooded out.
Of course we got to know quite a few of the W.A.A.F.’s and airmen, as they spent their evenings in the canteen. A couple of the camps I was stationed at, had a piano and one or two good pianists. Once a week we would have a camp dance, when we’d serve refreshments until 2130hrs. We were convinced, that we would be too tired to go to the dance afterwards but we went just the same. The manageress would usually let our dancing partner’s come and help with the last of the washing up, while we got ourselves dressed and ready.
We were lucky, we were allowed to wear Civvies. Our hair had to be kept above our collars on duty. We used to make a head band out of the top of an old stocking and roll our hair round the band. This style was known as the ‘Victory Roll’. Afterwards, when brushed out, our hair turned under into a pageboy style quite easily.
These evenings, were very romantic affairs, with aircraft lights in the corners of the room, that shone onto a large mirrored ball in the centre of the ceiling. The coloured reflection used to flicker amongst, us as we danced to the R.A.F. Band.
Although we were not in an area suffering the air raids, we watched a lot of the devastation they were causing, on the Pathe News at the local pictures house. We heard of boys we had grown up with being wounded, killed or taken prisoner.
At one camp, there was a lot of Polish personal. Often, the new arrivals, had come straight from the Concentration Camps where they had suffered terrible injuries from the torture. Many of them didn’t have any hair. It was surprising though, how after a few weeks they looked years younger and were wanting all the best makes of shampoo and even hair nets. Their one burning ambition was to train as air crew in order to return to the fighting. Some were just boys when they were taken prisoner from their school. Probably because of their parents politics.
We hardly saw the air crews, it was mainly at the dances. It was a strange feeling seeing these young lads enjoying themselves, knowing that maybe they would soon be flying off and getting killed within a short time. We used to lay awake in bed listening to the planes taking off or going over from other bases. I can still see so clearly in my mind, how I sat up one night with the manageress, listening to them flying overhead for the D.Day landings.
During those times there were laughter and tears. We seemed to live for the post as we waited for letters from home, bringing news of brothers, boyfriends and husbands. I can also remember how we all felt one morning, when one of our staff received the sad news that her brother had been killed.
At last, it all ended. We all gathered on the airfield, Officers, Airmen and W.A.A.F.’s for an open air service, and as the camps closed, we all went back to a very much changed, ‘Civvie Street’. Things would never be quite the same again.

Rhoda Woodward.

Bound for New Zealand in 1874

In 1874, Sarah and Thomas Joines of Adderbury, were emigrating to New Zealand. They had assisted passage on the Carisbrooke Castle that was sailing from London to Lyttelton, NZ. Sarah 24, and Thomas 22, had three children, Alice who was five, William three and George who was one year old. The decision was made to take the two boys with them, but to leave Alice with her grandmother, Mary Tew, who was Sarah’s mother and lived in a cottage in Back Lane, Adderbury. Sarah and Thomas were cousins, Thomas’s mother, Patience, was Mary’s sister, (My great, great grandmother, Joice Tew, was another sister. It was a very large family).

On the 30th May, the Carisbrooke Castle was to sail with 510 passengers on board, all looking for a better life as settlers in New Zealand. The ship was still at Gravesend, when a child on board developed measles. The child was sent home with all its bedding, and its berth was thoroughly cleaned, with Condy’s Fluid. (A solution of potassium permanganate and water). And the ship sailed. On 11th June, measles broke out again and affected 87 of the 178 children on board, and during the voyage 25 of them died. All were under five years old and most were two or under. One family lost two little girls, one was two years old and the other was 11 months. The two little Joines boys were not affected.

Five babies were born during the voyage and one crew member died when he fell from ‘the fore topsail yard’. After suffering gales and disputes over rations, and mischievous older children, they arrived at Lyttelton on the 3rd September, after a voyage of 93 days. Thomas and Sarah and the two little boys eventually made their way to Porter’s Pass, in the Canterbury area of the South Island, and made a home there, and had more children. According to one of their descendants, the place was extremely isolated and Thomas used a team of bullocks to clear the bush: they were real pioneers.

I do not know if Alice, who stayed in Adderbury with her gran, ever saw her parents again, but she did see one of her brothers, who visited her and Mary when he was in the army and came to England. In 1885 Mary Tew married a neighbour, John Townsend a widower, and in 1890 Alice married his grandson, William Townsend. There is more information on the internet about the ship and details of the voyage; a passenger list, and a sad and shocking list of the 25 children who died of measles. – a hundred years too soon for the MMR vaccine.

Brenda Kirkham

Mr Chamberlin’s New Garden at Adderbury House


“Several years ago, the magnificent mansion at Adderbury, which had been the abode, successively, of the Earls of Rochester, the Duke of Argyle and the Duke of Buccleuch, was reduced to the dimensions of a commodious modern mansion, which is now the residence of W.H.Chamberlin, Esq.”

Alfred Beesley, History of Banbury, p.488


In the early nineteenth century Adderbury House and its estate reverted to the ownership of the Bishop of Winchester. It was at this point that William Hunt Chamberlin (1777-1851), a land agent and property expert, who at that time lived in Cropredy, enters the picture, although there is not enough evidence at present to be sure about the extent or timing of his involvement.

We do have a survey of 1808 which suggests that Chamberlin was the owner of Adderbury House at that time. If this is true, then it is probable that it was he who decided to “reduce” Adderbury House in size, to make it easier to let and to give it the proportions that Chamberlin would himself want when he eventually retired to Adderbury. In any case, the two wings of the house were demolished, and the costs covered by selling the building materials and contents at an auction held in February 1808. Once this had been done, Chamberlin leased the house to John Field, only taking up residence himself twenty or so years later.

When he did retire to Adderbury in the late 1820s, William Hunt Chamberlin was a new experience for the village – the owner of a large house and park who was not either an aristocrat or a military man or on the staff of a large estate. He was, in fact, an independent professional, a surveyor, one of those who had made possible behind the scenes, for example, the widespread enclosures of recent times. He knew all about land, its value and how it could be transferred, and made a number of shrewd purchases on his own account throughout his career. His friends were fellow professionals, lawyers and successful go-ahead farmers, and he soon settled into a bachelor semi-retirement in Adderbury, with his friends, his pictures, his maps, his household of male and female servants – and, eventually, his new garden.

At this time, tastes in garden design were moving on from the eighteenth century preference for natural-looking parkland around great houses. Under the influence particularly of the designer John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843) gardeners were encouraged to treat gardens as distinct from “nature”. They were encouraged to lay out ornamental gardens immediately surrounding their houses, using the brighter colours newly available in bedding plants, as well as seeking to create spaces throughout their gardens where the exotic plants and trees nurseries could now supply would be displayed to advantage. The new style was called the “gardenesque” style and was promoted by Loudon in “The Gardener’s Magazine”, first published in 1826, as well as in the numerous editions of his Encyclopedia of Gardening, first edition 1822.

William Hunt Chamberlin described himself in the 1841 census as a farmer, with thirty acres. His land was bounded on the west by the Oxford Road, extended as far south as the River Swere, and east roughly to the present edge of the village. His first act was very much in the spirit of the gardenesque style. Around his house he established flower gardens and an orchard, stretching in a rectangle from south of the house to the area now covered by Lake House. Next he created an irregular loop of wrought iron fencing to separate his garden off from his farmland. The fencing led down from the present-day Lake Walk, where it is still in place, then swooped southwards, then east and north again to circle both lakes. We still have the iron fence on the eastern side of the lakes. To the north the iron fence met up with Long Wall, which then completed the loop back up to Lake Walk.

Within this perimeter Mr Chamberlin established a number of garden features, all related to his leisuretime activities and those of his friends. Leading down from the formal gardens, the winding woodland path would have provided shade even on the hottest day, and led past the icehouse which, by this date, might have functioned in Mr Chamberlin’s mind simply as a fashionable ruin. Where the path then met the top lake you could either go left to a viewing point from which you could see right down the lake, or continue right along the esplanade that Mr Chamberlin had established on the western side by strengthening the banks, where he and his friends could saunter side by side along the lake, shaded by the trees that he planted alongside. One of these, the very large plane tree, survives to this day.

At the southern end of the upper lake, Mr Chamberlin built himself a boathouse (today’s boathouse is a much later replacement) and dismantled the rather elaborate eighteenth-century arrangement for connecting the upper lake from what lay below (involving, it’s said, a pump and a lion’s mouth spouting water) with a much more natural-seeming waterfall. This gentle cascade watered Mr Chamberlin’s greatest innovation – a bog garden where we currently have a second, lower lake.

This garden had a meandering path through it and would have been an area where Mr Chamberlin could display some of the exotic plants that were increasingly becoming available to the nineteenth-century gardener as a result of the efforts of plant-hunters across the world. We might get an idea of what the appearance and atmosphere of this was by thinking of the Bog Garden at Upton House – recognising, of course, that this was a 1930s creation (by Kitty Lloyd-Jones). Clumps of bamboos are all that remain today of this exotic garden.

As we turn north along the far side of the lower lake, we come across a number of the buildings that Mr Chamberlain erected in his new garden. They confirm that his gardening was not on a grand scale. They are simple, rustic stone structures, although well-enough finished, made from ironstone which may even have been quarried on Mr. Chamberlin’s estate: a summerhouse, from which a group of friends could look out onto the bog garden, or a sort of sentry box structure where one man alone could sit in shelter and look south down the bog garden to the countryside and riverbank below. We must remember that Mr Chamberlin had just three outside men for the farm and the garden and only one of these, Edward Andrews, describes himself in the 1851 census as a gardener rather than as an agricultural labourer. As well as the pleasure garden and the 30 acres of pasture with its stock, these three would also have had to run the walled garden (nowadays the Parish Council allotments), which would have supplied fruit, vegetables and flowers for the house.

Near to the summerhouse is a curious small stone structure, which could be a seat, or possibly a cap to a spring. It has a date, 1848, carved above it. While we have no means of knowing the significance of this date, it would be nice to feel that it was at this date, some twenty years after he had started to construct his new garden, that Mr Chamberlin felt his work was finished. He died three years later.


Phil Mansell
September 2017

The Crescent

At the end of WWI there was a housing crisis for the returning soldiers and their families and at the end of 1918 the Banbury Rural District Council attempted to devise a housing scheme to meet this need. Potential sites were inspected in a number of villages including Adderbury. The numbers needed at surrounding villages other than at Adderbury were not as many as first thought and it was decided to build 20 new council houses on a 5 acre site adjoining Twyford Gardens. In the event just 12 houses were built in The Crescent just off the Banbury Road and were ready for occupation in the autumn of 1922.

The setting was described as on an elevated position away from the road and its dust and with splendid views to the west. At the time the new houses were described as of the parlour type with each house planned so that the scullery became part of the kitchen, with a neat little arrangement in the corner nearest the window containing a sink, plate rack and dresser with cupboards above and below. Beside the living room and parlour there was a convenient larder, a separate washhouse, an inside wc and a large space under the stairs.

Upstairs there were three bedrooms, one with a wardrobe let into the wall, another with triangular dressing table fitted into one corner, whilst the third bedroom in compliance with the usual habit of keeping apples in there to ripen had an apple loft in the upper part of one of the walls.

The entrance doors were painted blue with a yellow frame and there was an outside porch and small verandah.

Barry Davis

Twyford Tea Gardens

The Twyford Tea Gardens (house and grounds) were developed as part of the Twyford Garden Estate. This was an attempt to develop a rural Garden Suburb outside Banbury. The Garden Suburbs and Cities movement became popular in the early 20th century and the wording Twyford Garden City is used in one of the local newspapers of that period. Continue reading

Adderbury and the Oxford Canal over Two Hundred Years

When it was completed in 1790 the Oxford Canal provided a vital link between the industrial Midlands and the markets of Oxford and London, and completed the “Grand Cross” of waterways intended by James Brindley and others to provide the transport infrastructure for the Industrial Revolution. The canal was initially very successful, but later suffered a long period of decline as a commercial waterway. During the two hundred years of changing fortunes, what was the relationship between the Canal and the Parish of Adderbury East, through which it makes its way from Banbury to Oxford? Continue reading



  1.  1922 OS map covering the whole of the village, east and west. Three sheets.
  2.  Field ownership maps (3 copies), believed to be of the period Enclosure – 1769.
  3.  William Hunt Chamberlin Estate Map 1808.
  4.  Photocopy of map of The Field Names of Adderbury West according to the Survey of Richard Davis in 1838.
  5.  Photocopy of commercial map, early 1800s (?) date can be checked.
  6.  Series of photocopies of maps of two parts of village, after enclosure and turnpiking.
  7.  Hand drawn map enumerating the fields in Bodicote, Adderbury & Milton. Date & Purpose unknown.
  8.  Hand drawn and coloured map showing some 17th century field and property names. Date and purpose unknown.
  9.  Partial maps of Banbury and North Newington, OS 1938 revision.
  10.  Tracing of map of village, date and purpose not clear, bears reference V.13(c)(i).
  11. 1891 map of the Adderbury House Estate. Prepared in advance of the auction hgeld by Geo.R.Castle at the Red Lion Hotel, Banbury, on July 22nd 1891. It bears the label “Repaired: February 1978”.
  12. Pair of OS 1923 maps, showing East Adderbury and West Adderbury respectively. The East Adderbury map has fields numbered and named in pencil and has been photocopied twice over. The West Adderbury map has some fields to the north numbered and named in pencil.
  13. Two versions of the map prepared in 1957 by Prof.T.W.Thacker for Lord Elton, showing the possible ownership of land in the parish after 1760. One version of the map is a hand-coloured photocopy.
  14. Three OS National Grid Plans: SP 4635-4735; SP 4636-4736; SP 4835-4938.

Parish and Deanery Magazines 1875-1995

Adderbury Parish had its own magazine, which appeared monthly from January 1875, the year after the Reverend Henry Gepp became Vicar of Adderbury, until the end of 1892. At this point, parish information was subsumed within the Deddington Deanery Magazine, which went on to publish monthly until December 1995.

You will find more detail about our holdings and their significance below.

Adderbury Parish Magazine:

The AHA archive contains photocopies of all of the issues of this magazine, from 1875 to 1892 in 18 spirally bound photocopied volumes. The local material was originally bound in with nationally produced material, which accounts for the title pages giving a London publisher and editor. According to Adderbury: A Thousand Years of History (p.25), the national “illustrated section consisted of sermons, poems, songs and domestic hints”.

Deddington Deanery Magazine:

The following form the AHA archive:

1893-1929: Photocopied volumes (1899 missing; 1919 missing since Adderbury took no part in the Deanery Magazine that year)

1930-1962: Photocopied volumes, with some years bound together. (1956, 1957, and 1958 missing)

1963: Original, not photocopied, only November issue. (January-October and December missing)

1964-1981: Originals, not photocopies, all years, all months.

1982-1995: Photocopies, with some years bound together. (1989, 1990 and January 1991 missing).

Some of the Deanery Magazines have apparently been photocopied on a number of occasions, leading to duplicate copies. These are shelved separately, in chronological order.

Editorial policies: Overall policy was in the hands of a Magazine Committee, which took decisions about pricing, the inclusion of adverts and so on. Each parish was given a certain amount of space, apparently related to the size of parish. Contributions were sent to the printers, with the editor proof-reading the copy, deciding what elements should be included as general deanery material, and cutting out parish material where there was not enough space. The post of editor was filled by one of the vicars of the deanery, until the final decade or so of the magazine’s life, when there was a lay editor.

Content: Local copy was bound in with a national religious magazine. The magazine chosen was “The Dawn of Day”, published by the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. The photocopy of the 1893 inaugural edition includes the full text of “The Dawn of Day”.

Cost: The cost of the Adderbury Parish and then the Deddington Deanery Magazine was 1d, rising to 2d in 1919. It was 3d from 1949 and 6d a copy from 1962. In the 1990s, when there were two editions a year, in January and July, each edition cost 23p. Local advertisements began to be displayed from 1915 as a means of defraying costs; readers were periodically encouraged to patronise the establishments that advertised. There were occasions when parishes were not prompt in paying for the copies they had received, with the result that the Treasurer had insufficient funds to pay the printer.

Readership: Reports were made in editorials on the readership as a means of demonstrating the success of the magazine. In 1893 “over 19,000 copies” were claimed, and in 1987 22,463 copies were sold. These must be totals over all twelve months of the year. A more realistic readership claim comes in 1911 where reference is made to “eighteen hundred readers”.

Distribution: The most common form of distribution appears to have been for the parish orders to be delivered to a central location from which a parish representative would pick up the copies and deliver them around the parish. It was, however, possible to have your copy sent by post for an additional charge. Since the magazine was printed by the Banbury Guardian for many years, the central location was in Banbury, initially at a post office in the main square, and later at a carpet shop.

Usefulness to local and family historians: The following are among the many uses to which the parish and deanery magazines might be put:

  • Since baptisms, marriages and burials are recorded month by month, they can provide a cross-check with other records
  • The magazines record many significant events (e.g. the parish millennium celebrations) from the perspective of the church
  • The magazines record acts of individual altruism together with collective fundraising
  • The magazines show the many institutions and committees required to support the work of a parish

Phil Mansell

A History of Road and Street Names in Adderbury and Twyford

This list of the origins of the street and road names in Adderbury and Twyford was prepared at the request of members of the Adderbury History Association. It is based on a number of printed sources, particularly Nicholas Allen: Adderbury: A Thousand Years of History; the Adderbury History Association pamphlet, Walks around Adderbury; the Adderbury History Association CD, Adderbury, Then and Now; Vera Wood: The Licensees of the Inns, Taverns and Beerhouses of Adderbury & Milton Oxfordshire; Rhoda Woodward: Wartime Memories of a Parish and Village Chapels by Pauline Ashbridge. I have also benefited from the comments and suggestions of many in the village, including Nicholas Allen, Barry Davies, Robert Cooke, David and Aline Griffiths, Keith Mitchell, Anne Neal, Robert and June Stilgoe, Jim Thomas and Hilda Zimmer. I am grateful to David Williams, Chief Executive of Ability Housing Association, for information on Summers Close and to Adderbury Parish Council for information on very recent street names.

The list was compiled in February 2015, revised in October 2016 and reflects the state of our historical knowledge at that time. If any readers know of further information or want to suggest improvements, I would be very glad to hear from them. I can be contacted via

Phil Mansell


Adderbury Court Adderbury Court was built on a site opened as a garage in the early 20th century when Richard Plackett, a local carrier, decided to move from horse and carrier’s cart into motorised transport. The garage house was filmed being knocked down for the TV adaption of Tom Sharpe’s book A Blot on the Landscape in 1983.
Adderbury Park This was a name presumably given by the developer to suggest luxurious surroundings. Before development the site had been used during the Second World War to house huts for the use of the military.
Berry Hill Road This road was formerly known as Gas Works Road, and the current name was presumably adopted as preferable once Adderbury stopped supplying its own gas. By 1956, integration mains had been laid from the Banbury gas works. The village belief that this was the site where suicides were buried (hence “Bury Hill”) seems unlikely, since it does not agree with either the law on burials or church or chapel practice; it also seems to be an inappropriate site given the extensive ironstone mining operations in the neighbourhood. The fields around the road are shown on maps to have the name “Beryl”, and this is thought to be a much more likely origin of Berry Hill (so, “Beryl Hill”). “Beryl” is a term used in connection with the growing of barley.
Cawley Road This commemorates the Cawley family in general. They lived at one time in Adderbury House and were noted village benefactors. After Hugh Cawley died the Miss Crawleys lived at Moorey House. Ada Blanche Cawley died there in 1956.
Chapel Lane When it was named, Chapel Lane led to the original Methodist chapel, a sturdy little ironstone structure built in 1810 and still standing, although in the garden of a private house. As the congregation expanded, five cottages belonging to John Hone, originally a village carrier, were donated by him and demolished to make way for the chapel on the corner of High Street that we know today. It was built in 1893 to seat 200 worshippers. Attached to it is the chapel schoolroom (now a meeting room) and a stable for the circuit minister’s horse (now a kitchen and cloakroom). The lane was originally named Penn’s Lane. It is possible that this original name reflects the number of Quakers living in the village at one time. It could refer to William Penn (1644-1718), the founder of Pennsylvania, who was a prominent Quaker on the national and international stage. On the other hand, Penn is a quite common name in the midlands, and Adderbury had its own Penns.  Thomas Penn, for example, is recorded as having been buried at Adderbury Quaker Meeting House in 1698, and Martha Penn was also buried there in 1702.
Church Close Church Close is a small close of modern houses. These are built on the site of fish ponds which appear on early 19th century maps. Believed to be medieval in date, the ponds were filled in at the end of the 19th century.
Church Lane This was formerly known as “Back Lane”. Some sources say it had an “unsavoury reputation” so possibly it was renamed to counteract this.
Colin Butler Green This was named in the late 20th Century after the village’s long serving postman. On the green is the only example of a gas lamp to survive in the village (now converted to electricity). It is the smallest listed structure in the village.
Croft Lane This lane contains Croft Farm, which was until quite recently the last remaining working farm actually in the village. It seems, though, that both the farm and the lane were named for the “northern crofts” belonging to the Cobb family. Beyond Croft Farm the lane peters out into a public footpath to Bodicote.
Cross Hill Road Cross Hill starts just after Round Close Road and stops around the Quaker Meeting House, where it meets Horn Hill. It is believed that the road was named after Cross Hill House. This probably originates in the 16th century, but it is thought to have been rebuilt at the end of the seventeenth century by the Doyly family. In the early part of the twentieth century it was home to George Norris, a keen amateur photographer, who recorded many scenes of Adderbury between 1905 and 1910.
Deene Close Rhoda Woodward, in her Wartime Memories of a Parish, records that the land on which Deene Close and the school now stand were formerly allotments created to alleviate the poverty of workers made redundant from the ironstone workings in the 1930s. Deene Close was built in 1967. It was named for Deene, the village in East Northamptonshire, where the developer, Mr. Piggot, grew up.
Dog Close It is believed that the name came from the Duke of Buccleugh’s kennels being sited here. The road was previously known as Turner’s Close.
East End Lane This is the eastern end of the original road to Aylesbury and London, the Oxford Road end of which is now the Long Wall footpath. East End Lane at this point is not narrowed by the Long Wall, and looking back from the Aynho direction it is still possible to get a sense of it being a main road with substantial houses on either side.
Falkner’s Close This was named for Fred Falkner, a long-standing local Parish Councillor, who lived with his family in Mill Lane. When the Close opened he moved there and lived at No 1 until his death.
Fleet Farm Way This is a new street name, one of those agreed by the Parish Council for the new development to the north of the Aynho Road. The development is on land that used to belong to Fleet Farm.
Green Farm The farm was originally a public house, the Crowne, which had a very short life in the early 17th century as licensed premises. Later it became Green Farm. To the right of the farmhouse were the farmyard and farm buildings. When the farm closed the buildings were converted into houses. The village Green has been a focal point for activities for centuries. In 1218 the village was granted a charter to hold a market every Monday. How long the market ran for is unknown. Here village justice was administered using a pillory, stocks and whipping post. The stocks were removed about 1882. The village clubs met on the Green on Club Day and members’ families enjoyed all the fun of the fair. The Boys School used the Green as a playground until the new school opened, so the Green was just bare earth in the centre for many years.
Greenhill Now the name of a private road leading to two blocks of flats, Greenhill was built as a private house in 1906, and was the first development along the Banbury Road. By 1969 the house and land had been purchased by the Cheshire Homes. One of the two blocks of flats in the current development is named Blunt House, commemorating Janet Blunt of Le Halle Place, West Adderbury, a collector of folk songs and Morris dances, who lived from 1859 to 1950.
Griffin Close A brown field site, formerly a fruit and vegetable wholesaler’s, Tom Griffin (Wholesale) Ltd., and named for him.
Henry Gepp Close Part of a development in 2008, named for Henry Gepp, Vicar of Adderbury. During the incumbency of Henry Gepp (1874– 1913) there were daily matins and evensong on Fridays besides a full complement of Sunday services. Bible and communicant classes were held and a parish-room opened in Water Lane in 1890. Gepp took an active part in organizing educational projects in the parish and in many of the social clubs which flourished in the late 19th century. He promoted the building of the Institute and was responsible for letting out allotments in Barford on his own ground; all tenants were to maintain a character for morality and sobriety, and it was hoped that tenants would attend church at least once a day on Sundays. Before development the land was used as sheep pasture.
Horn Hill Road Horn Hill is the area at the top of the slope just before and around the Milton turn area. It has the last remaining drinking well. The village pound was here. In An English Parish Church: Its Story, Nick Allen describes the Horne Tablet to be found on the north-west pillar of the nave in St. Mary’s, Adderbury.  He tells us that the Horne family came from Sarsden and says that village tradition has it that the family gave their name to Horn Hill Road.
Home Farm Court The name shows us where Home Farm buildings used to be. The 17th century farmhouse is next door and now known as The Old Farm. The name Home Farm has been taken by the modern farmhouse and outbuildings further out of the village on the north side of Aynho Road.
John Harper Road Another recently agreed name for one of the roads in the development to the north of Aynho Road. It is named in memory of John Harper, who was a Parish and District Councillor, and who was very active in the local community.
Katharine House The hospice stands as a living memorial to the life of Katharine Gadsby who in 1984, tragically died of cancer at the age of twenty. It is an independent sector hospice and relies largely on charitable donations for funding, receiving only about 35% of its costs from the NHS. The Day Hospice was opened in 1991, followed the next year by the inpatient unit, which offers short stays for symptom management, respite care or when a patient is near to the end of life. The Hospice aims to create a homely rather than a hospital atmosphere. Staff don’t wear uniform and patients are encouraged to make the bed spaces their own. The Hospice is built on the original kitchen garden of East House and was gifted the land when East House closed as a retirement home.
Kemps Road This leads to Kemps Farm, which stands above the Cherwell valley in the fields to the east of Walton Avenue, Twyford. The farm was marked on a 1735 map, but it has not yet been possible to trace the family. A Thomas Kemp crops up in deeds associated with the buildings at Twyford Wharf, particularly with the sale in 1921 of the Old Red Lion and other land to the then Hunt Edmunds Brewery. There was a right of way over the land from Kemps Farm to the road to King’s Sutton. This right of way was for William Henry Twynham (died 1929) who at the time was the occupier of Kemps Farm and also licensee of the Red Lion.
Keytes Close From the late 1850s three generations of Keytes were blacksmiths in Adderbury. The first was George from Harbury in Warwickshire, followed by son Charles in 1876. His third son,Ted, was the last blacksmith. The smithy, the brick building on the corner of Aynho Road and Oxford Road, eventually closed at the end of the 1940s and remained unused until conversion to a private house in 2007. This modern development was built on the paddock adjoining the smithy. It is reported that at the Adderbury Club Day festivities of 1st June 1904, this paddock was used to set up a new, large and very fast fairground roundabout called “Noah’s Ark”.
Lake Walk This area was once part of the ornamental gardens to Adderbury House, which would indeed have provided a walk to the Lakes. After the last war this land was used by villagers as allotments. In the 1990s the County Council sold the land for this estate. In 1996 before work started the developers called in the Thames Valley Archaeological Services who conducted a dig lasting six weeks. The archaeologists found a few prehistoric finds and some artefacts from the 13th and 14th centuries; they also unearthed an extensive collection of post-medieval finds including a perfectly preserved cellar, a metalled road and many other buildings.
Lambourne Way This was the old road to Deddington, which fell out of use after the mill on the Sor Brook was relocated and the current Oxford Road taken over the Brook by a new bridge. The new houses here were built when Adderbury House was sold for redevelopment. Even before the main house was sold, it is believed that the former stable block had been converted into dwellings and rented out, the complex being given at that point the name it still retains, Lambourne House. The road itself took this name over. It may be that the original name was suggested by the fact that it was devised for the stable block and the fact that the one-time owner of Adderbury House, Major James Walter Lanarch, had extensive horse breeding and racing interests. However, Lambourn in Berkshire, with its National Hunt training stables, is spelt differently from Lambourne in Epping Forest, which has no racing connections at all.  And there is no indication that any of Major Lanarch’s horses had any connection with Lambourn.
Lester Close This is believed to commemorate a Twyford family, the Lesters, who occupied a bungalow near to this site. Mr Lester is thought to have been an academic. On his death, his two sisters gave piano lessons in the locality.
Long Wall Close and Long Wall Nowadays a footpath runs east from the Oxford Road, joining East Lane and then the Aynho Road at the eastern end of the village. This footpath was originally the main road to Aynho and thence to Aylesbury. The name Long Wall comes from the high stone wall that borders the path throughout its length. The path was originally much wider and formed the main road between Adderbury and Buckingham and thence to London. It was reduced in size following the wholesale reorganisation of this part of the village after the eighteenth century enclosure, whereby the route to Aylesbury was provided by what is now the Aynho Road. The wall was put up to mark the northern boundary of the grounds of Adderbury House, and was constructed from recycled stones taken from the many houses demolished to allow the required changes. The footpath runs behind Henry Gepp Close and Long  Wall Close, giving the latter its name. Confusingly, the final few yards of the footpath to the east are known as Long Wall.
Lucy Plackett Playing Field This field has been a venue for sports for over a century. Cricket has been played here since the end of the 19th Century. The field was originally owned by Richard Plackett, a local carrier, and in 1938 it was left to the young people of the village by his daughter, Lucy Plackett, in a will proved at Gloucester on 8th November 1938. A charitable scheme was drawn up in July 1976 and registered with the Charity Commission in September of that year. The Parish Council is the sole trustee of the Lucy Plackett Charity and manages the playing field in this capacity. The children’s play area was owned by Hunt Edmunds, the Banbury Brewery, and was part of the Carriers Arms Public House. The land was sold to the Parish Council in 1948.
Manor Road This road was renamed, having previously been known as Mud End, a name that was still current for the further end of the road in the 1890s. The end by Crosshill probably became Manor Road sometime after Lady Paulet moved into Le Halle Place and renamed it the Manor House circa 1872. The Blunts continued with this name until Janet Blunt died and the house was sold.
Margaret Road This was named for one of Mr. Piggot’s, the developer’s, daughters.
Meadow View This was built by local builders Bray and Sons in the 1930s and named Meadow View – because of the view!
Mill Lane The Duchess of Argyll and her successors had the mill moved to its present location in the late 18th century. Village tradition has it that this was because it spoilt her view from Adderbury House, but the previous mill had been located where it flooded very often in winter and was hence unusable for a large part of the year. By 1920 the present mill was run by a miller and a baker; it ceased to function in 1939 and remained derelict until 1963. The Mill Stream serving the mill was cut in the 18th century for the water to flow to the Mill from the Sor Brook.
Nell Bridge This is clearly a very old name indeed and, equally clearly, derives from a proper name. This is where the old Salt Way crossed the Cherwell, having made its way down from Weeping Cross, keeping to the higher ground until the last. The bridge appears on the earliest of maps, and is first named on the Saxton/Lea map of 1693, and again on the Jeffreys map of 1767. There is a village belief that the bridge was named for Nell Gwynne (1650-1687), mistress to Charles II, but there is no evidence to support this. It is not impossible on the grounds of dates, since it is believed that Nell Gwynne might have followed the King to Oxford in the 1660s. The further belief that Nell Gwynne stayed at Nell Bridge House, however, is impossible, since that building is of nineteenth-century origin. Henry Gepp, in his history of Adderbury, writes that “The idea that this bridge was named after Nell Gwyn, the Drury Lane orange girl and famous beauty of Charles the Second’s reign, is disposed of by the fact that the name, as applied to the bridge, appears in a charity decree of the reign of Queen Elizabeth”. Probably the most likely explanation is the one given in Adderbury: A Thousand Years of History, that “the name Nel(l) is probably derived from a family of that name who lived in the area.”
New Road The main village road originally forded the Sor Brook and then turned left along the Parish (where the poor of the parish were temporarily housed). New Road was built to short-cut this narrow stretch.
Norris Close Named for Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Everard Du Cane Norris, JP, DL and Knight of St John (1869-1960) of Cross Hill House. Norris was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Oxford in 1896 and a Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire in 1935. He was High Sheriff of the county in 1939 and from 1948 to 1954 was Vice-Lieutenant.
Pargeter Close This is the first of the roads in the Milton Road development to be named after Adderbury Morris dancers killed in the First World War. There were two Pargeter brothers. Percy Wallace B. Pargeter (20) was killed in action during the battle of Transloy Ridges on the Somme on 7th October 1916. He was serving with the Oxon and Bucks Regiment. Ronald Leonard Pargeter (19) was killed in action on the Somme on 27th April 1918 while serving with the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
Parsons Street This was originally named Whites Lane. The new name may be connected to Rev Robert Parsons, appointed curate in Adderbury by William Beaw after his election as Bishop of Llandaff in 1679.
Rawlins Close Named for The Rev Dr Christopher Rawlins, Vicar of Adderbury 1554-1589. Rawlins also held a canonry at Lincoln Cathedral and had extensive land-holdings. In his will he left money to fund a free grammar school for educating 50 boys from the parish of Adderbury. The school opened in 1599. Rawlins’ successor vicars also founded schools in Adderbury – the Sunday school built in 1831 by the Rev Christopher Baring, which became the girls’ school (now Church House), and the infants school built in 1854 by the Rev Charles Alcock (now Shepherd’s Keep, a private house). All three schools were closed when a new primary school opened in 1962, named after Rawlins and bearing the coat of arms of the Rawlins family.
Rochester Way Named for John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, one time inhabitant of Adderbury House. He was born in 1647 or 1648, succeeding his father to the earldom at the age of ten. After Oxford he proceeded to make a tour, as was the custom of people of his class, in France and Italy. On his return to this country at the age of eighteen, he was presented to the Court at Whitehall, and set about achieving his notoriety as “the leading libertine in the gay court of Charles II”. He died in 1680.
Round Close Round Close occurs on the 1838 map of post-enclosure Adderbury as a field rather than a road name. Originally the road to the Dog and Partridge from New Road was known as Dark Lane. Perhaps it was renamed in 1950 when council houses were built on Round Close field. Another pub in Dark Lane was The Carriers Arms, opened in the 1850s by Thomas Nutt, one of the village carriers. The pub overlooked the sports field and did a roaring trade during each cricket week until it closed in 1939.
St Mary’s Road Presumably the road and the development were built on a field originally belonging to St Mary’s Farm, although some remember the land being used for football before it was developed.
Sir George’s Lane This is named after Sir George Cobb, the last of the family to live in the Mansion, at one time the grandest of Adderbury’s houses, now demolished. In 1762 he drowned in the moat of Southcote Manor, Reading.
Summers Close Summers Close was constructed in 1993 by the then Cheshire Foundation Housing Association (now Ability HA) on land acquired from the neighbouring Greenhill House Cheshire Home (owned and operated by the Leonard Cheshire Foundation, now Leonard Cheshire Disability). The Cheshire Foundation Housing Association was founded by Leonard Cheshire Foundation in 1976 and changed its name to Ability Housing Association in 1999. The estate comprises 6 semi-detached bungalows plus a complex of 6 studios providing supported living. All the homes on the estate are built to full wheelchair standards. The estate was named ‘Summers Close’ in memory of the first Development Manager employed by the housing association, Mr Norman Summers. Norman Summers had previously worked for Habinteg Housing Association, who also specialise in developing housing for people who use wheelchairs.
Sydenham Close These new houses were built in 2005 on what was once an industrial site which housed a variety of engineering businesses, including Modern Conveyors and Bowater Engineering. The name presumably derives either from the Sydenham Farm, to the north beyond the Aynho Road, which also gave the name to the Sydenham ironstone quarries or from Sydenham House, which stood behind The Plough and was the home of Edward Railton, who owned all the land in question.
Tarvers Way This is another of the new names agreed by the Parish Council for the development to the north of the Aynho Road, and commemorates the fact that the development lies a short distance across the fields from Tarvers Lock on the Oxford Canal
Tanner’s Lane The building at the junction of Tanner’s Lane and Round Close Road was opened as a public house in 1721. It was in the hands of the Godfrey family until 1871. The Godfreys were also fellmongers (people who prepared skins for tanning). The tannery was here – hence the name Tanner’s Lane. The pub closed in 1998 and was converted into flats.
The Crescent Named presumably from the shape of the road in plan, The Crescent was built by the District Council just after the end of World War I and was originally intended for ex-servicemen who had served their country. Rhoda Woodward, in Wartime Memories of a Parish, remembers what would at the time have been considered “quite modern dwellings”:  “There were three bedrooms, a front room, and a kitchen with a sink and a coal range. The wash house housed a copper with a fire hole and an iron bath. Water could be heated for bath nights as well as for the week’s washing. There was gas for lighting and cooking and an outside tap for water. All the rooms were quite small although some families had several children.”
The Leys A ley is a piece of land sown with grass for one or more years. Short term leys usually yield heavier crops than longer leys due to the grass varieties used. They may be noted as a three year ley, five year ley etc. Ley farming is an agricultural system where the field is alternately seeded for grain and left fallow. Another name for the method is “alternate husbandry”. The word is Anglo-Saxon for fallow.
The Rise The Rise was built during World War II, with the first tenants moving in between 1946 and 1947. The street was built on rising ground ending at a cornfield. This is today the site of Rochester Way and Walton Avenue.
The Robins This is the second road on the Milton Road development to be named after an Adderbury Morris dancer killed in the First World War. Edward George Robins, 23, died of his wounds on 9th September 1917. His regiment, the Gloucestershire Regiment, had been fighting at Ypres.
Twyford Grove In the early twentieth century Twyford was very rural in character. It had its own nurseries, set up in 1911 by Harold Johnson, and the main road to Banbury, little used at that time, consisted only of crushed stone rolled out by the District Council roller. Nonetheless, between 1911 and 1922 more houses were built on land opposite Greenhill House known as Twyford Gardens; hence the development became known as Twyford Gardens. In 1911 the Banbury Guardian commented approvingly on the plans, noting that the plots were laid out on a very liberal scale, with even the smallest being a quarter of an acre. Photographs of Twyford Grove under construction show no evidence of a pre-existing “grove”, so perhaps the name was part of the marketing of the development. The focus of the new development was the Tea Garden, otherwise known as Morgan’s Orchard, to be found behind the present-day postbox. There were lawns to the rear and a tennis court, while behind the bay window was a shop and post office. When the shop was run by Lizzie Pollard it was even possible to board at the Tea Garden.
Wallin Road This is the third road in the Milton Road development to be named after an Adderbury Morris dancer who died in the First World War. This road commemorates Harry Laurence Wallin who was killed in action on the Somme on 19th May 1917 while serving with the Border Regiment.
Water Lane Presumably named because it was the road leading to the Sor Brook.
Walton Avenue Named for either William “Binx” Walton, (1836-1919), singer and Morris dancer from Adderbury who was the chief source of songs and dances for the collector Janet Blunt or for long-time twentieth century Parish Councillor and resident of Twyford, Wilf Walton.
White Hart Lane Contains a former public house called the White Hart. It was licensed in 1716 to a Robert Robinson. During the 19th century the licensees were also farmers and butchers. The Adderbury West ‘sick club’ was held here. Trade ceased in January 2003 and it was converted to a house


Female Influences on Morris Dance in Adderbury

This year 2014 will see the 40th Anniversary of the modern day revival of dancing within the village of Adderbury, Oxfordshire. It would seem a good time to put the whole existence of the Tradition of Dancing – and particularly the role taken by women – into some sort of context, both historically and currently, and to fill in some gaps.

The history of the dancing in the village is very well documented by the major collectors of the tradition, Cecil Sharp and Janet Heatley Blunt, and by subsequent village-based teams. Overall, it is interesting to look at what has happened over the time since 1880, the date which seems to mark the end of dancing by the original traditional team. Because of the time in history, there was probably very little, if any, female influence on that 1880 team. Women’s place in society at that time was pretty domestic and they were largely dominated by a strict male orientated way of life. Women were still included with a man’s  “chattels”. By the turn of the 20th century things were changing, and some women, mainly from the higher classes, were beginning to have a greater say in how they led their lives.

In Morris Dance terms, 1908 is a very early date for any sort of revival of dance within the villages. There were still traditional teams dancing, notably Headington Quarry, Abingdon and Bampton, but very little was happening elsewhere. Cecil Sharp did not publish the first edition of his Morris Book Part 1 until 1907, and although he met the Headington Morris in 1899, he really didn’t start collecting seriously until 1906 after some prompting by Miss Mary Neal and her Esperance Dancers, to whom Sharp dedicated this first edition. In the annals of The Morris in Adderbury we first see interest in reviving the dance in the year 1908, at the celebration of Empire Day, and there are photos to prove this. A committee was formed in April of that year, and it was decided to include Morris and Country Dancing in the day’s events.

After much research and help from friends at The Adderbury History Association, particularly Barry Davis and the late Vera Wood, we can now say who taught that Empire Day boys’ team how to dance.

The following newspaper cutting is from the Banbury Guardian dated 28th May 1908.

This cutting shows that Morris was taught by Miss Frances Etrenne Hoskyns, who was one of the daughters of Sir and Mrs. Leigh Hoskyns of Cotefield House, which can still be found on the main road to Banbury between Adderbury and Bodicote. Miss Hoskyns was helped with teaching by Mr. & Mrs. Walker (school headmaster and wife). The Walkers taught Maypole dances to the boys and the girls, and I also believe the children were at the school and teaching happened during the school day. Frances Etrenne Hoskyns was 21 years old at the time, and I assume that she used Sharp’s 1907 Morris Book as her only reference. I also believe that this is where details of the boys’ kit was also found and it also provides the reason for the inclusion of the Hobby Horse. I have asked the Library at the head quarters of The EFDSS if they have any early records of Miss Hoskyns and The Walkers, and they have none – even in old members lists.


Click on article to enlarge

It transpires that some of the boys taught by Miss Hoskyns went to war in 1914; they did not return, with the exception of Charlie Coleman. This story is featured in Tim Plester’s wonderful film The Way of The Morris.

Empire Day – Adderbury 1908 at The Vicarage Gates.

Mr. Walker, the Headmaster, is in white boater hat next to the Hobby Horse on the right side of photo. Charlie Coleman is front second on right.

We are not really sure when collector Janet Heatley Blunt first took an interest in the village traditions.

New-Picture-1Born 1859 in India, she moved to Le Halle Place, Adderbury with her father in 1896. He died in 1900, and from that time until her death in 1950 she took on the role of Lady of The Manor. From her manuscripts we can see she started collecting songs as early as 1907, but she did not start collecting Morris dances until 1914. In 1913 she was certainly involved with the next phase of village dancing, when she helped arrange for the teaching of Morris to boys and social dance to the boys and girls of the village. Searches of the Parish Magazine on my behalf by the late Vera Wood, show that this teaching actually began in February 1913. The teaching at that time was actually undertaken by Miss Daisy Caroline Daking of TheOxford School of Folk Dancing, founded by Cecil Sharp.

Adderbury Parish Magazine – Feb. 1913 written by the Rev, Gepp – A revival of the old English national and country dances is taking place in many parts of England, thanks to Mr. Cecil Sharp, who has sought with un-wearied enthusiasm to recover not only our almost forgotten treasures of traditional songs, but also the ancient Morris dances, and other dance steps and tunes, from the memories of those who could still recall them, and also from an old manual of English Country Dancing, called “Playford’s Dancing Master,” published three or four centuries ago. Adderbury has now a chance to learn these gay and delightful dances, for Mrs. Gepp, assisted by Miss Blunt, has arranged for a course of lessons in various dances to be given by Miss Daking, from the Oxford School of Folk Dancing, founded by Mr. Cecil Sharp. Women and girls 4.0 pm to 5.0pm and 5.30pm. – 6.30pm. 2 shillings for the course. For Men and lads, from 8.0pm – 9.0pm. 2 shillings for the same class. The men will learn, besides Morris, some of the ancient “Sword Dances” from the North of England, and also some of the Country Dances, in which the women’s class will occasionally join.

In a letter dated 28th February 1913 sent to Clive Carey, Miss Blunt talks about the onset of the classes in the village. –  “My other old acquaintance here, an old man named James Locke (who used to Morris Dance) & who gave me the verse of a song, words only, & also hummed a bit of Morris tune, has never been able or inclined to tell me any Morris – There were several Morris dancers in this village – but only one or two who survive. A dear old man from Bledington who has been staying near here with a daughter, showed 2 Morris Jigs last week to our Boys Morris class (under Miss Daking). He danced The Princess Royal and Bacca Pipes Jig, both of which Mr. Sharp had noted down from him some years ago, when his agility was a little more equal to his memory and enthusiasm than it is now, for he (Mr. Gibbs) has been very ill since Xmas; and I really feared the effort would be too much for him. He is quite deaf, so danced without music – and in excellent time.”

Regarding these 1913 classes in Morris, at that time it was the policy of the English Dance Society, formed in 1911, to teach Morris in levels; they would teach Headington first and only progress to more difficult dances later.

It would seem that Miss Blunt did not know William Walton, the last leader of the Traditional village team, until 1914 at the earliest. If she knew Walton at the time of her letter to Carey shown above, I am sure she would have mentioned him there. We do know that Blunt started to collect songs and dances from Walton during 1914, and continued to do so until 1919. She was also responsible for introducing Walton to Cecil Sharp, and arranging for Walton to meet Sharp in Hampstead Heath in 1919. It was at those meetings (also with Maude Karples) that Sharp collected from Walton and later published The Adderbury Dances in his Morris Book Part 2 in 1919. Walton died aged 83 in 1919 not long after meeting Sharp. As stated earlier, Janet Blunt collected the dances from Adderbury over a number of years, but first, in 1914, she started collecting dances from Mr. Fred Webb who was living in the neighbouring village of Bloxham, but he was actually an old dancer at Longborough. When actually collecting in Adderbury from Walton during those earlier years, Blunt did get the assistance of several friends from the Oxford area, including Miss Phyllis Marshall, Miss Daking and Mrs. May Elliott Hobbs. There is also a minor reference to “Miss Kennedy”, and I am not sure who that was.

There is a very good article about Phyllis Marshall written by Geoff Woolfe available on the Musical Tradition web site at
There is also included in this a small piece about Daisy Daking and her involvement. Without the efforts of Miss Blunt and her cohorts, there would be very little information about the village song and dance traditions, and we should all be grateful for their contributions.

However, if it were not for the efforts of another woman after Miss Blunt’s death in 1950, even this contribution would have been lost. Winnie Wyatt and her husband Fred worked for Miss Blunt for many years, and when Winnie saw that the Blunt family did not understand the importance of her written collection, she persuaded them not to throw it all on the fire, but have it sent to the EFDSS, where it remained largely ignored until the 1970’s. In 1974 the revival team, of which I was a member, used Blunt’s manuscripts, along with Sharp’s original information held at Clare College, Cambridge, to re-create the dances from the village.


Winnie and Fred Wyatt in the centre

Bryan Sheppard and I, when we started deciding what to do in each dance, could not read music (Bryan could play Recorder), and in those early days of the revival the task of learning the tunes in the manuscripts fell on my first wife Annie Radford (English Concertina), who subsequently taught the tunes to the other musicians and played for the team in the first year.

One of the reasons that the team split into The Adderbury Morris Men (AMM) and Adderbury Village Morris Men (AVMM) in late 1975 was the question of having female musicians on the team. At the first AGM, because Annie was phasing herself out of playing and Sheena Powell (Fiddle) was thinking about taking her place, Bryan tabled a motion that the team should not have female musicians. This motion was defeated; AMM has continued to have female musicians as part of the group, and so it continues today. The AVMM have gone their own way. There was also a long period when Verna Wass was the Bagman of AMM, and she still is involved today as one of the team musicians (Fiddle).

The latest female phenomenon in the village is the emergence of “Sharp and Blunt,” a team of female dancers. This team has added significantly to the village dancing, bringing a renewed enthusiasm and another dimension to the rich heritage of the village.

New Picture (2)

Sharp & Blunt Morris of Adderbury

This team are all local with some members being wives of The AMM, and they dance their own versions of the village dances originally taught them by members of AMM, plus some of their own making in the style. One of their musicians is the former, but still occasional, AMM musician Sheena Powell Mccormack  (second in front left).

Long may Adderbury be a centre for all things Morris, where women as well as men can find a place among its three vibrant teams and continue the tradition.

Tim Radford. – February 2014, Woods Hole, MA. USA

Adderbury Lakes Nature Reserve

The two stretches of water we now know as The Lakes first make their appearance in the historical record as an ornamental feature in the early eighteenth century when the Duke of Argyll was in residence at Adderbury House. They formed part of the formal grounds of what was then a rather grand Classical house, and were fed, as the Lakes are today, by five springs to the north of the top water. Plans to have “Capability” Brown reshape the oblong ponds into something more in keeping with later, more “natural” landscaping tastes came to nothing, and it was not until 1848 that the Lakes took on a character close to what we have today.

At that date Mr W.H.Chamberlin, who had bought the house and park in 1826, set about making the Lakes more ornamental. He lined and reinforced parts of the top Lake and installed a sluice, with a spillway to the lower water. He constructed a boathouse and a summer house, as well as the little “sentry box” shelter that faces south; all three of these survive today. What was very different from today, however, was that he had the bottom water converted into a water or bog garden, with a serpentine stream running through it and a path alongside.

Between the time of Mr Chamberlin and 1939, Adderbury House had many owners. On the outbreak of the Second World War the house was requisitioned and subsequently used to house troops. After the war, the Oxfordshire County Council took over the house and park for use as an old people’s home, a situation which continued up to the 1980s. Through all this time the Lakes were left unattended, with no maintenance since 1939. Both waters were completely silted up, the top Lake was blocked with the trunks of the five large trees that had fallen into it, all the paths had disintegrated, and the undergrowth had become so dense that entrance was only possible on hands and knees.

It was in 1982 that it was proposed at the Adderbury Parish Council that this derelict area would make an attractive leisure facility for village residents. The leader of the Council, Colonel Hadfield, pressed for the area to be a nature reserve open to visitors and fishermen, and this was the plan that began to be carried out in May 1983 under the supervision of Andrew Barnes. There was a major clearance of the area and urgent repairs were carried out on the sluice gates. Something like six hundred tons of silt were removed and disposed of. All the paths were dug out to six inches, lined with heavy-duty plastic and bordered with timber planks. Over a hundred trees were planted, the waters stocked with fish, two sturdy fishing platforms were built together with three timber bridges, and water plants put in place. The labour for all this was provided by a dozen youngsters provided by the Manpower Services Commission, an agency of the government of the day, set up to help young people to acquire skills that would equip them eventually to find a permanent job.

The nature reserve was opened to the public in May 1984 and to fishermen in June 1985. The work had cost a total of £70,000. Since that time the Lakes have been well used by walkers, families and schoolchildren, and wild life has been preserved. Major policy decisions, such as the dredging of both Lakes in 2013, are determined by a Management Committee and funded by and through the Parish Council. The Parish Council, under the chairmanship of Mrs Diane Bratt, has raised sufficient money to purchase the Lakes from the Oxfordshire County Council and ensure that this facility will be owned by Adderbury in perpetuity.

This is an edited version of a 2014 article by Nick Allen.

Manorial Court Rolls (Elton Papers)

The Elton Papers which are deposited at Oxford Study Centre are the Court Rolls etc. for the Manor of Adderbury. They came into the possession of Lord Elton when he became Lord of the Manor in 1954. The Association was granted access to make copies of the documents but before the the task was completed the documents were removed to Oxford. The Association holds copies of most of the Elton papers but not all.

Vellum Bound Volumes.
The Association has copies for most of these.
Adderbury Court Rolls 1587-1591
Court Proceedings 1603-1616
Court Minutes 27/10/1798-10/10/1809
Court Minutes 15/12/1809-04/12/1821
Chief Rent Rolls 1816-1833
Court Rolls 04/11/1822-01/08/1839
Adderbury Chief Rent Roll 1836-1863
Minute Book 05/11/1838-1850
Chief Rent Roll 1864-1914
Minute Book 06/11/1865-1871
Chief Rent Roll 1915,1916-1924

Leather Bound Volumes.
The Association has copies of all of these.
Customary, Terrier, Leases, Rents 1707-1744
Court Rolls 06/11/1769-13/10/1780
Court Rolls 20/11/1826-26/01/1843
Court Rolls 27/05/1843-24/01/1861
Court rolls 02/04/1862-29/10/1884
Court Rolls 03/11/1884-17/12/1935

Adderbury Manor Bill Book 02/11/1846-04/11/1873
Index to Adderbury Court Rolls A-L undated (2 typed copies)
Adderbury East Rate book 1846 (226 dwellings and 27 parcels of land)

Twyford – its origins and recent history

The Twyford that is now part of Adderbury was never a place!

Twi-ford is a topographical description in Anglo-Saxon, the language spoken in this country over a thousand years ago. “Twi” is the Saxon word for two – our modern word “twin” derives from it. The word “ford”, also Saxon, describes, as in modern English, a place where one can cross water easily on foot or by horse. So the modern name Twyford originally described a point somewhere on a river where it could be crossed at two closely related places, or where the river divides into two, both parts of which could be forded.

At the top (north) of the 1735 map of East Adderbury, three tracks can be seen travelling roughly west/east, one of which starts near Weeping Cross, running ESE and then SE to Twyford Mill, which was situated on the River Cherwell, just in Northamptonshire. The second track started from the Banbury Road and ran roughly along the line of the present Twyford Road and on to the mill, while the third track also started from the Banbury Road on what is now Kemp’s Road and led via Kemp’s Farm, still with us, of course, again down to the mill. As there was no bridge over the Cherwell at that point and at that time, farmers taking their sacks of grain from farms in the northern part of the parish would have had to use the “twi-fords” to get to the mill.

These three tracks can be clearly seen on the 1948 Ordnance Survey map 1/25000 Sheet SP43. Twyford Mill today is still a grain silo where many local farmers take their grain for storage. Once the Enclosure Act of 1766 was put into effect in 1768, the road system in Adderbury was changed and a proper road was constructed between Adderbury and King’s Sutton, with a stone bridge crossing the Cherwell. The two fords became redundant, but their existence is perpetuated by today’s name.

The first house to be built in what is now Twyford was Greenhill House, in 1906. (This later became the Cheshire Home in 1969 and is today blocks of flats). In those days Twyford was very rural in character. It had its own nurseries, set up in 1911 by Harold Johnson, and the main road to Banbury, little used at that time, consisted only of crushed stone rolled out by the District Council roller. Nonetheless, between 1911 and 1922 more houses were built on land opposite Greenhill House known as Twyford Gardens; hence the development became known as Twyford Gardens. In 1911 the Banbury Guardian commented approvingly on the plans, noting that the plots were laid out on a very liberal scale, with even the smallest being a quarter of an acre! The focus of the new development was the Tea Garden, otherwise known as Morgan’s Orchard, to be found behind the present-day postbox. There were lawns to the rear and a tennis court while behind the bay window was a shop and post office. When the shop was run by Lizzie Pollard it was even possible to board at the Tea Garden.

The Crescent was built by the District Council just after the end of World War I and was originally intended for ex-servicemen who had served their country. The Grove came next, during the 1920s, while The Rise was built during World War II, with the first tenants moving in between 1946 and. 1947. The street ended at a cornfield, which today is occupied by Rochester Way and Walton Avenue. The remaining streets of what we now know as Twyford developed piecemeal and in a variety of building styles after World War II.

Nick Allen, 2007, with additional material taken from the Association’s CD, “Adderbury Then and Now”.

Thomas Hayward – Adderbury musician and composer

Thomas Hayward, born in 1781 and a basketmaker by trade, came from a musical family. He himself was a member of and trained the Adderbury church choir in the late 1830s and 1840s. This was a time when country choirs provided the main musical interest in Church of England services, singing a mixture of metrical psalms (the precursors of our modern “hymns”), anthems and other pieces, all delivered in what to our ears would sound like a very “folksy” style. Academics call this sort of church music “country psalmody”, while others refer to it as “West Gallery music” to reflect the fact that many choirs, as at Adderbury, sang from a gallery built at the west end of the church. When the choir started singing, the rest of the congregation would need to turn round to “face the music”.

Most of this music is forgotten today, but one West Gallery tune at least has come down to us. This is “On Ilkla Moor baht ’at”! The words were those of the carol “While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night” and the vigorous singing style we usually use for the modern words, and the ways in which the different parts overlap and echo each other would have been just what you would have heard in Thomas Hayward’s day.

In the early nineteenth century the church choir was made up of mixed voices, men, women and boys, supported by a small village orchestra – Violins, Bass Viol, Flutes, Clarinet and ‘The Old Sarpint’ (serpent), which took the bass part. The instrumentalists often sat in with the singers, helping them find and keep the note.

Thomas Hayward was unusual in that, as well leading the singers and instrumentalists, he also composed works, both for his choir and the village waits. We know about him because of Janet Blunt (1859-1950), who lived at Le Halle Place in West Adderbury and who collected folk songs from village singers as well as Morris dance tunes and routines. One of Miss Blunt’s main informants was William “Binx” Walton (1836-1919). Walton had joined the village choir in 1846 at the age of 10 as a boy treble under Thomas Hayward, and, as his voice matured, learned the tenor and bass parts as well and so was able to give her a complete account of what was sung. Walton told Miss Blunt that Thomas Haywood had been landlord of the Coach and Horses, but from the licensing records, this seems not to have been true, although he may well have helped the widowed Kezia Hayward to run the pub from 1835 onwards.

Thomas Hayward certainly wrote the music to the carol known as “Adderbury Church” with words by Charles Wesley. William Walton thought he had also composed the carol, “As Shepherds Watched their Fleecy Care” and “The Old, Hark! Hark!”, as it was known locally from the first line, “Hark! Hark What news the angels bring!”. Miss Blunt’s notebooks, including her version of Hayward’s “Adderbury Church”, are now held by the English Folk Song and Dance Society and can be seen on their website. Oxford choirleader Dave Townsend has recently published a collection of Oxfordshire Carols, which includes a modern performing version of “Adderbury Church” (Serpent Press, 2013).

Phil Mansell, 2014

Coach and Horses in the 1930s

Hearing about the 200 year celebrations brought back memories of the Coach and Horses being the first public house I went into.

It would have been the late 1930s. I had been with my Dad and he said we would go in for a drink. I was not old enough to be in there in the first place and thought I would be asked to leave, BUT Dad ordered his usual half and a glass of lemonade for me, which would have been brought up from the cellar as there was no bar at that time. There were two high-backed settles each side of the window divided by a long scrubbed top table.

Two old gentlemen sat each side the fire place in two wooden armchairs as they chatted to one another. As well as enjoying their pint they would (very disgustingly I thought) pare a small sliver of tobacco from what was bought as a plug and after a few minutes and they had enjoyed the flavour deposit it in what was known as a spittoon – an ornate iron dish filled with sawdust.

In later years I played in the darts team and in what must have been the early 1970s I met John Lowe* when he visited The Coach.

There are photographs of a white pump outside and a flight of steps leading to what was the club room. The pub is now much larger, taking up most of the ground floor. In those early days there was just the tap room and a small snug which was just for friends of the landlady where they could enjoy a discreet port and lemon.

Rhoda Woodward 2014

*John Lowe, born 1945, one of the best known and most skilled darts players in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s. He is one of only six players to have won the World Championship three times, in 1979, 1987 and 1993, and the first two win the World Championship in three separate decades.

Paper Mill at Adderbury Grounds

The bridle path off the Oxford Road at the end of Berry Hill Road is still known as Paper Mill Lane from the days when it led to a mill making watermarked paper for bank notes. A mill existed here as long ago as 1086 when it is recorded in the Domesday Book , which mentions that in the parish of Dadintone (Deddington) there were three flour mills. Although, according to the Ordnance Survey map, the mill site is just inside Deddington parish, it has always been associated with Adderbury. All that remains on the site today are Paper Mill Cottages.

The first paper was made in England probably in the 1490s, when Thomas Tate’s watermark is found overprinted with Caxton’s mark. Although it is known that countless small mills began producing paper from time to time, there is little information on them. However, the 1983 edition of the Victoria History of Oxfordshire records that in 1660 Christopher Doyley of Adderbury asked leave of John Cartwright to convert the Old Mill into a paper mill. Michael Hutton of Hampton Gay made a similar proposal in 1684 and workmen were then engaged to make the conversion.

Good quality writing and bank note paper were made at the mill until 1873 according to one authority. A mineral spring produced water for pulping and this enhanced its suitability for bank note paper. Records show that John Emberlin (1791) carried on his business of papermaking here and Sophia Emberlin (1846) was probably the last of the papermakers of that name. Subsequently a Mr Hobday occupied the mill, and then in the 1870s Zachariah Walden Stilgoe of Adderbury Grounds purchased it and converted it into a corn mill, for which purpose it remained in use until 1962. Apart from minor repairs the mill wheel, 15 feet in diameter, is still in its original state.

The only other relic of the mill’s papermaking days is the double foolscap laid-mould for the watermark. Dusty, worn and partly disfigured, the watermarks were discovered when an old type meat safe was removed from one of the farm buildings. They had been used as two sides of the safe!

The reason for the introduction of watermarks is not well established. It is possible they served as a trade mark, showed the location of the mill, the owner’s name or indicated the size or quality of the sheet or date of manufacture. The laid hand mould was a rectangular frame on which a delicate mesh of wires was sewn forming a sieve through which water could drain, leaving the paper pulp on the surface of the mould.


June Stilgoe, writing in Contact in April 1983

The Quaker Clockmakers of Adderbury and North Oxfordshire

In June 2013 the Adderbury History Association organised an exhibition of Quaker clockmaking, which illustrated the output of local Quaker clockmakers from around 1700 to the middle of the nineteenth century, from the early works of Thomas Gilkes senior of Sibford Gower to the last Quaker clockmaker working locally, Ezra Enoch, also of Sibford Gower. This article is taken from the introduction to the catalogue for the exhibition.

The history of Quakerism in North Oxfordshire is almost as long as that of Quakerism itself. It arrived in Puritan Banbury during the 1650s and quickly established itself in the rural area to the west and south of the town in the second half of the seventeenth century. Adderbury Quaker Meeting House was opened by George Fox in 1675 and the first Sibford Gower Meeting House followed in 1681.

The same could almost be said about the longevity of Quaker domestic clockmaking, although it was not until the 1689 Act of Toleration created stability and safety for the Quakers that the two converged. We see then the emergence of a group of Quaker blacksmith-turned-clockmakers, in the form of the Gilkes family of Sibford Gower and later the Fardons of Deddington who went on, through their descendants, relatives and apprentices, to dominate the craft and create a clockmaking tradition that was to last throughout the eighteenth century.

During this time they produced one of the most iconic styles of English country clockmaking, instantly recognisable to enthusiasts everywhere – the iron-posted hoop and spike clocks with distinctive ring and zig-zag engraved dials. These were most probably first produced in the workshop of Thomas Gilkes senior of Sibford Gower around 1700, and were continued by his three sons, Thomas junior, who remained at Sibford, John, who moved to Shipston on Stour, and Richard, who became the Adderbury clockmaker. Thomas senior’s apprentice, John Fardon, went on to establish the Fardon dynasty of clockmakers at Deddington.

These pioneers were followed by further generations, each in turn providing an example of the Quaker ideals of education, apprenticeship and travel within their working lives. From this group of clockmakers a network of trade was created throughout North Oxfordshire, extending, after 1750, further afield, to Charlbury, Burford and Milton under Wychwood. At each location we find the local clockmaker taking a prominent role in the running of their local Quaker meeting.

It was this organisational system, set up by George Fox in the early years of Quakerism and then administered via a network of meetings radiating out from the London Yearly Meeting,that underpinned the Quakers’ success and reinforced their core principles of simplicity and truth in all aspects of life. By these means Quaker clockmakers, or, for that matter, Quakers in general, exercised economic power way beyond what their number alone would have justified.

You can learn more about Quaker clockmakers at the Oxford Museum of the History of Science, from the Quaker records held at the Oxford History Centre at St Luke’s Church, Cowley, from the Victoria History of Oxfordshire, or from the following books:

C. F. C. Beeson & A. V. Simcock (1989):Clockmaking in Oxfordshire 1400-1850. Oxford. Museum of the History of Science

Tim Marshall (2013): The Quaker Clockmakers of North Oxfordshire. Mayfield Books