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 Treasurer, Peter Bennett (01608 810197), or the Secretary, Susan Merry (01608 811022; email:


The Society organises a series of monthly meetings each season. These start in October and run through to the following May. Meetings are normally held in the Memorial Hall at 8.00 pm (AGM 7.30 pm) on the second Friday of each month. Last year's season included talks on women's suffrage (marking the one hundredth anniversary of women getting the vote for the first time), maps, Oxfordshire's military heritage, and our local milestones.

Members and under 18s free. Non-members £3

Forthcoming talks for 2020 are:

14th February:  Alice Prochaska will speak on 'How it became respectable to educate women.  The past, present and future of the women's colleges at Oxford'.

13th March:  Dr John Blair, Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology based at Queen's College, Oxford, will explore 'Anglo-Saxon Wychwood: new thoughts and new discoveries'

3rd April:  Dr Janet Dickinson on 'Courting Elizabeth: Sir Henry Lee, the Ditchley portrait, and the cult of the Virgin Queen in late Elizabethan England'.  This meeting will take place in the Quaker Meeting House.

1st MayNB Change of date                                                                                                                                AGM and followed by Juliet Heslewood speaking on her latest book: Mr Nicholls, which tells the story of the Haworth curate who fell in love with the vicar's daughter, Charlotte Bronte.


The Society also organises visits to places of interest both locally and further afield. 

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. 


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.  Do make a point of visiting the museum this year to see it and find out about its history.

VE Day display  The museum is mounting a special display to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE day.  8th May is a bank holiday and the museum will be open all day for you to visit and find out about the men and women of Charlbury who served in the war, those who joined Charlbury's own 'Dad's Army', and how the area was used as a base for training and gathering supplies for D-Day.  

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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