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

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

The meetings held by Zoom have been incredibly well attended and we are delighted to have been able to welcome so many new members, with membership now the largest for quite some time . We are keen to hear your views on our society, making it as inclusive as possible, and encouraging you to submit ideas for talks.  Do please contact any of the committee with suggestions going forward, and we shall keep you updated with plans for the season, both by email and on this page on

We should particularly like to encourage members to join our committee, especially new members , and we shall have a vacancy at the end of the season, which it will be vital to fill. 

So far this season we have had excellent and extremely popular speakers, and we know that some of you may have missed some of our talks, which unfortunately, we are unable to film or repeat. Do let us know if you are having difficulty logging on, by emailing and we shall do our best to help you.  But we have had many messages of appreciation stating how much easier it is to hear or see the presentation, so that has encouraged us to consider continuing with our programme by Zoom, or possibly alternating with meetings at the MH . We shall canvas opinion on moving back to the Memorial Hall when it is safe and we are allowed to meet again.

Dr Janet Dickinson will give her postponed talk on Sir Henry Lee and the Virgin Queen  on February 4 th

Following that we have Stephen Barker on the Civil War, on March 4 th, Carol Anderson, on the Ascot Martyrs on April the 1 st, and we shall let you know arrangements for the AGM in due course. 

Meetings are currently held by Zoom on the first Thursday of each month. If you are a member you will receive a link and should log on around 7.45 , the meeting will start at 8.


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 remained closed last year because of the Covid pandemic.  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 a 64 page booklet titled 

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

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 phone 07530 012332.

We very much hope that we will be able to open for the 2021 season but we will have to see what the situation is nearer our scheduled opening time just before Easter.  

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.  A recent addition is 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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