Charlbury Society


Formed in 1949, the Charlbury Society grew out of the first Charlbury Historical Exhibition. Its aims are to foster an understanding of the history of Charlbury and encourage interest in the character and appearance of the town. It does this through talks, supporting the Charlbury Museum, and arranging outings to places of interest.

Individual membership £8.50
Family membership - two adults at same address - £17.00

For further information, contact the Secretary, Susan Merry (01608 811022; email:

Message from the new Chair

In this strangest of times, I am looking forward to the challenge of becoming the chair of the Charlbury Society, and I should like to thank Peter very much for his commitment to the Society and his guidance since I joined the Committee a couple of years ago.

At the time of writing, it is impossible to say whether we shall be able to resume our talks in the Memorial Hall starting in October, but rest assured we have an excellent series planned for the coming season, and we would like your views on holding virtual lectures by Zoom or similar if we are unable to meet physically. However we could observe social distancing in the Memorial Hall if necessary and safe, and are lucky to have access to such a large venue.

May I remind you that from now on we shall hold meetings on the first Thursday of the month, which seems to suit members better and is less likely to clash with other Charlbury events.

We are keen to hear your views on our society, making it as inclusive as possible, and encouraging new members through you. Do please contact any of the committee, who I know will be a great support to me, with ideas and suggestions going forward over the rest of this season, and we shall keep you updated with plans for the autumn, both by email and on our CS page on

Keep safe everyone

Nikki Rycroft


Sadly all spring meetings of the Society were cancelled owing to the lockdown restrictions. We hope to be able to resume the talks when the present restrictions are relaxed, whenever that may be, and whether remotely, by Zoom or similar, or if safe to do so, in the Memorial Hall, well spaced out. 

The first planned talk in October will be by Neil Clenell of the Wychwood Project, with an update on recent work and rewilding particularly during lockdown, and plans for the future. Following that we have asked Liz Woolley to talk on children’s experiences as evacuees in WW11, and then the Historical Research Group with an update of their work.  Dr Janet Dickinson will give her postponed talk on Sir Henry Lee and the Virgin Queen sometime in early 2021. 

Meetings are held from October to May in the Memorial Hall at 8.00 pm (AGM 7.30 pm) on the first Thursday of each month.


The Society also organises visits to places of interest both locally and further afield. Although we have had to cancel our much anticipated trip to Owlpen Manor as well , for those who have not been there, to Ditchley Park, these will take place as soon as appropriate.

We spent a wonderful day at the end of June 2019 at Chavenage House, near Tetbury, which is Trenwith in the Poldark series, and we were given a quite exceptional and fascinating tour by the owner, Caroline Lowesley Williams.

Everyone was absolutely full of praise and many said it was their best tour ever in a long series of historic house visits. 



Sadly the museum has been unable to reopen as planned in April and is likely to remain closed for the rest of the season.  An item from the collection is featured each week on the Charlbury website while the current health emergency lasts.  Do look out for it and read about some of the fascinating items we have.  We put up three special postings over the VE Day 75 weekend 8-10 May which you can still view on the News pages from May.

The Museum is housed in part of the Corner House and houses a wealth of objects and records relating to the history of the town. Last autumn saw the return of the wagon which has been undergoing restoration for many years.  It is now on display in the wagon room and looks resplendent in its traditional colours of yellow and red.  

link to Charlbury Museum:


. Have you ever considered what Charlbury was like in the past?
. Was Charlbury a mainly rural or urban community?
. How were people housed?
. What possessions did they have?
. How did they earn a living?

The Charlbury Society Historical Research Group have for the last five years been looking for clues to the answers to these questions in the wills and inventories that survive from the town and some surrounding villages. These are stored either in the History Centre in Oxford or in the National Archives at Kew. Some are fragile and many are hard to read. So the group of volunteers learnt how to read old handwriting and how to transcribe the documents into an accessible and usable format.

The project is now in its final stages. The documents cover three centuries, from the 1550s to 1857, and offer a fascinating glimpse into changing social conditions and expectations over these years. The documents should form an invaluable resource for historical research into the history of the town. Through their work, some members of the group have started their own research into some of the families who lived here, into old maps and field names and other topics which have caught their interest.

We could not have progressed with this undertaking without generous grants from Charlbury Town Council, Charlbury Overseas & Community Projects The Beer Festival", ChOC Charlbury's Own Cinemaand the Charlbury Motor Fire Brigade Fund; these have made it possible for us to obtain copies of the documents held by The National Archives and The Oxfordshire History Centre. We are extremely grateful for their help.

If anyone has a particular interest or skill that would relate well to this work and would like to be involved then please contact Geoffrey Castle on 01608 811122 or email .

If you would like to enquire about seeing any of the transcribed wills, please contact Barbara Allison".

Geoffrey Castle
Barbara Allison
Joint co-ordinators

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