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The History of Charlbury through ... the Wychwood Forest

Judy Dod for Charlbury Museum

Today we refer to the area of woodland between Charlbury, Finstock and Leafield as the Wychwood Forest but this is but a small remnant of what was once one of the biggest royal forests in the country. Under William the Conqueror large tracts of land became subject to Forest law which protected the deer and their habitat for the king’s use. Medieval forests were by no means all wooded and included settlements and areas often belonging to landowners other than the king.

Wychwood Forest reached its greatest extent under Henry II in the late 12th century when Charlbury was well within its boundary. The Forest later split into three areas, one of them concentrated around Cornbury, and gradually reduced in size. By the mid-1800s only 10 sq miles of royal forest remained and these were taken out of forest law in 1853 by Act of Parliament. Land was enclosed, cleared and turned over to agriculture.

Caroline Pumphrey, in her memoirs* remembered the disafforesting. “They had some mechanical contrivance by which they pulled up all but very big trees by the roots. There were wild deer in the forest in those days and badgers and otters and such like. There were no roads across the Forest then, only grassy tracks……..In those days [the late 1840s, 1850s] the Park was much more open to the public than of late years…. Old women used to go to the Park to pick up firewood. …. Tea in the Forest was a frequent summer pastime. We used to have it under the tree on the brow of the hill overlooking Newell Pond… We picked up sticks to make a fire and had great fun. The ponies used to be kept very busy going to and fro to bring the party.”

Bill Campbell (b.1905) was brought up in Cornbury where his father was Head Gardener to the Watney family. He recalled that the forest was full of red squirrels, while redstarts nested on the family cottage and swallows, spotted flycatchers, barn owls, snipe and woodcock were regularly seen.

Wychwood today is the largest area of ancient woodland in Oxfordshire. The central part is a National Nature Reserve with over 360 species of flowering plants and ferns, and most of the rest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

* Caroline Pumphrey: Charlbury of our Childhood. 1990, Sessions Book Trust

See also Discovering Wychwood  Ed.Charles Keighley. 2000, Wychwood Press

Charlbury Society talk on the Wychwood Project Friday 1st October 8pm
Neil Clennell, CEO of the Wychwood Project will give the season’s first talk via Zoom.

 He will talk about what the project hopes to achieve by encouraging us to understand, conserve and restore the varied landscapes and wildlife habitats of the area. 

Not yet a member of the Society?  Please contact Susan Merry, to join and attend the meeting via Zoom. Annual sub £8.50/£17 single/joint membership 

Judy Dod · Fri 25 Sep, 20:01 · Link

Charlbury Street Fair Auction

We still got three Amazing Auction Prize 

1x Personal Training Session and programme with Jason at Charlbury Community Centre Gym.

Two month gym membership of Charlbury Community Centre Gym

Breakfast for two at Lucy's Tea Room, Stow on the Wold with a trip in a Morgan sports car there and back from Charlbury this will happen in 2021

To Make a bid Please email

Rachael Lunney · Fri 25 Sep, 09:33 · Link

Vaccinations, immunisations, A cold? Flu? Covid-19?

All this and more in the Autumn Newsletter from Charlbury Patient Participation Group:

Flu vaccinations: for people aged 65 and over: on 29 and 30 September between 8am and 4pm. Essential information about the clinics for Charlbury Practice patients.

The childhood immunisation programme. Make sure your child is fully up to date with their immunisations.

Young people going to college and university: Ensure you have had all your jabs and immunisations.

The eradication of polio in the UK. A vaccine success story

Is it a cold?  Is it flu?  Is it Covid-19?  A chart to help tell the difference.

Click on the PDF below to read the latest  newsletter from Charlbury Patient Participation Group.

susan smith · Thu 24 Sep, 12:14 · Link

CRAG publishes a new digital recipe book

CRAG's new digital recipe booklet Cracking Cakes and Brilliant Bakes features 23 recipes for the mouth-watering teatime treats enjoyed by so many at our concerts, cafés, and tea parties.

It includes maple nut cake, toll house cookies, macaroons, cheese scones, orange and almond cake, Earl Grey and raspberry cake, honey almond cake and much more.

All donations will be used to support charities working on Lesvos who are helping homeless refugees after the Moria camp burnt down earlier this month. 

To find out how to get a copy (we're suggesting a minimum donation of £5) please email - thank you!

Vicky Buser · Wed 23 Sep, 17:49 · Link

Charlbury Street Fair Children's Art Winners

A big thank you to all who submitted their paintings for the Superhero Art Competition.

The winning entries can be seen in Cotswold Frames window.  Judging was certainly not easy but here they are:

1st - Positivity Girl by Bailey Burroughs aged 10

2nd - Captain Adorable  by Jem Hosking aged 4

Joint 3rds - Riley Burroughs aged 8 and Violet Sharpe aged 5

Highly commended - Leo Hosking aged 8 and Harrison Houzet aged 10

Maureen Sparling · Mon 21 Sep, 09:39 · Link

Latest planning applications to West Oxfordshire District Council

The following planning applications have recently been lodged. Click on the address to see full details at the WODC website.

  • 5 Cotswold View Charlbury
    Alterations to increase size of garage and new pitched roof.
    WODC reference: 20/02208/HHD - Fri 21 Aug 2020 - Under consideration
  • Crantock Hixet Wood Charlbury
    Erection of a two storey rear and single storey side extension. Conversion of roof space to create extra living space.
    WODC reference: 20/02467/HHD - Tue 18 Aug 2020 - Under consideration
  • Melody House Hixet Wood Charlbury
    Works to include alterations to widen existing vehicular access, provision of off-street car parking and the installation of entrance gates. Construction of covered bin store.
    WODC reference: 20/02058/HHD - Mon 14 Sep 2020 - Under consideration

Mon 21 Sep, 06:15 · Link

Charlbury Street Fair Superhero Winners

Charlbury Street Fair Superhero ( Scarecrow) Winners

First we like to say a big thank you for all the entries to the first Superhero (Scarecrow) Competition, it was a very tough to judge and pick winners as they all very good but we have finally managed to pick.

1st Captain Tom

We picked this one as it looked amazing and life like. Also, we think he was a Superhero. The Family has Kindly donated the £50 prize money back to Street Fair.

2nd Little Monkeys

We Picked this one as they were made by children of Key workers and they made us to think.

Little Monkey has Kindly donated there £30 Prize money back to Street Fair.

3nd WI Sally the Domestic Superhero

We choose this one as the WI Ladies have been working hard making Scrubs for NHS Workers.  The WI have also kindly donated their winnings back to Street Fair.

Thanks again and we are planning to do it again next year and the possible theme will be Olympic and Paralympic Stars.

Rachael Lunney · Sun 20 Sep, 18:55 · Link

The History of Charlbury through .... the beginnings of the Street Fair

Janet Jeffs for Charlbury Museum

Fund-raising had begun before 1945 for the war memorial tablet in St Mary's Church and a War Memorial Hall. So when the Corner House was presented to the town in 1949, its garden was chosen as the ideal site for the Hall. A committee set up in accordance with the Corner House trust deed included representatives from the Parish Council, Red Triangle Club, St John’s Ambulance Brigade, the five Churches, the Dramatic Society, British Legion, Tennis Club, Old Time Dance Club, Charlbury Charity Cup and the Choral Society. They all set about raising money through brains trusts, bazaars, quizzes, keep fit classes, spelling bees, and a house to house collection.

In 1955 the Leaflet announced a Street Fair in Church Street in aid of the War Memorial Hall, on Saturday 24th September 1955. The Fair raised £140, and the proceeds increased every year, rising to £10,000 in more recent years. Eventually the Foundation Stone was laid by Mrs Watney of Cornbury on 21st April 1956, and the Opening Ceremony was held on 1st December 1956, chaired by Mr Watney who had contributed generously to the Hall fund. Street Fair proceeds still make a major contribution to the maintenance and improvement of both the Corner House and the Hall.

Charlbury Street Fairs bring people back home to meet old friends and family. Photos over the years illustrate Charlbury people's love of fancy dress, the children's processions in the afternoon, and (in the past) the long evening processions of floats from the Scout Hut round to Church Street. There was fierce rivalry between local groups about the design of floats for the evening procession. Intensely secret preparations took place in various barns, and the Cricket Club could always be relied on to spray water on the crowd. Regular dressers-up in included Mrs Claridge, Sam Godden, the Kearseys, Baldwins and generations of children. Do you remember hoop-la, dances in the street, huge steam organs playing loudly, vintage cars, cuckoos in the nest in shop windows, wheelbarrow, pram and slow bicycle races, bowling for the pig, hot dogs from the butchers, fish and chips from Market Street, egg throwing, and the odd celebrities to open the Fair?

It has taken a global pandemic to halt the 2020 Street Fair, despite all the careful preparation by the committee. Let's hope that 2021 will bring better news for us all.

Judy Dod · Fri 18 Sep, 19:43 · Link

Charlbury Street Fair Draw tickets on sale

This weekend is the last chance you have to buy Charlbury Street Fair Draw tickets.

We be outside the Corner House on Friday morning and then on Saturday, which would have been Street Fair Day itself, we be outside the Corner House and by the Playing Close selling draw tickets from 10am till 2pm and in the Museum garden from 2pm to 3.30pm

Some great prizes,  . 

Rachael Lunney · Thu 17 Sep, 09:33 · Link

Charlbury Primary School - new website

Charlbury Primary School has a brand new website! It is just up and running in a functional format, and will be added to with pictures and more information shortly.  The new address is:

Catriona Pitt · Thu 17 Sep, 09:26 · Link

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