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 Oxfordshire, 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

Please see the link at the bottom of this page to the Society's data protection privacy notice

On the 7 th October we started our season of talks with a truly wonderful presentation by Simon Townley from the VCH, of the history of the Wychwood Forest and Cornbury Park, from  early medieval origins up to the present day. The debate over whether the Forest was actually used as a royal hunting site , or merely a larder for the royal palaces was fully explored and we had a fascinating overview of the history of the House, familiar to many of you, and the changes to it and the Forest over the centuries.  

It was very encouraging to learn that we have around 100 members signed up for this season, and three quarters of you joined us for Simon’s excellent talk. On the 4 th November we had the benefit of Rod Evans’ expertise in explaining the Planning System to us, and on the 2 nd December we shall learn about the production, distribution and use of salt in Prehistoric Britain by Dr Janet Kinory 

We shall continue to hold our talks by Zoom for the time being as many of the excellent speakers we have invited would not be prepared to travel some distance to Charlbury. Most speakers now prefer to give their talks by Zoom and many members find listening and seeing the slides much easier in the comfort of their home. We hope you will understand this decision, although we know a few are disadvantaged without internet access. 

 2021/22 PROGRAMME

2nd December
Dr Janice Kinory
The Production, Distribution and Use of Salt in Prehistoric Britain

6th January
Trevor Jackson
RAF Brize Norton: Over 80 Years of Operational History

3rd February
Clare Shakya
Climate Ambition in the time of Covid-19

3rd March
Dr Kathy Haslam
The Kelmscott Manor Past, Present and Future Project:
‘a vision rather than a dream’

7th April
An Evening with the Charlbury Museum

5th May
Judith Curthoys
Cows and Curates: Christ Church’s Land and Livings in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds

Nikki Rycroft.


We were delighted to reopen in July after being closed for so long during the pandemic.  Although it meant we had a very short season this year, we were delighted to welcome visitors again and were very pleased with the number of people who came, particularly on Street Fair day in September.  

We are extremely grateful to our stewards who returned to look after the museum each weekend and cope with the demands of the Covid restrictions we had to impose.  We very much hope that things will be easier in 2022.

Over the winter we will be working hard behind the scenes to catalogue our many new acquisitions and maintain and arrange our existing collections.  We will also be planning for the future.  Please do get in touch if you have queries about the history of the town or if you would like to get involved in helping to run the museum. Contact  

The History of Charlbury through .... objects, photographs and memories from Charlbury Museum

As we were unable to open in 2020, we chose items from the museum to feature each week on the Charlbury website.  These proved very popular and we have brought them together in this 64 page booklet.

The booklet is fully illustrated in colour and is available from the museum for £8 each.  If you would like to purchase a copy please email or pop a note through the door of the museum.

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 Cinema and 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 at

Geoffrey Castle
Barbara Allison
Joint co-ordinators

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