The books we publish
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Paws for History
On each of these 35 walks there is something historical to see. It might be a civil war battlefield, a historic church, or perhaps a connection with a well-known figure like Samuel Pepys, George Orwell or King Alfred.
And each walk starts from a pub specially chosen by chef and food writer Helen Peacocke for the excellence of its beer and food and the welcome it offers her dog.
Helen writes extensively for the Oxford Times. She is an award-winning beer writer who has visited almost every pub in Oxfordshire and many beyond: all the pubs and walks in this book are in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds.
Her border collie, Pythius-Peacocke, accompanies her on each outing and gives his personal views of the pubs and walks from a uniquely canine perspective. He is the only dog to be a paid-up member of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.
£9.99 paperback 164 pages (including many photographs by the author and cartoons by Sue Mynall)
978-1-902279-41-1 Published June 2010
Click here for Helen's blog with more walks and photos that will be going in her next book!
This book brings to life the characters in Flora Thompson's book and the BBC television series, by searching out what is known about the real-life people Thompson was writing about and the circumstances in which they lived.
From the review in the Oxford Times by Peter Barrington:
£9.99 paperback 128pp (including 16pp of colour illustrations)
Local historian Martin Greenwood has just published a new book on Flora Thompson and the villages associated with her trilogy, Lark Rise to Candleford.
Martin, who lives in Fringford, had been planning the book, In Flora's Footsteps, for some time but was given an impetus by the BBC TV adaptation of the trilogy.
“Originally I was going to write the book more about the Shelswell group of ten parishes in the area. But the television series gave me a focus for my book,” said Martin, 73.
So the first chapter of the book is devoted to unravelling the differences between Flora Thompson's trilogy on Oxfordshire rural life at the turn of the century and the television series. He also explores the real locations of the trilogy as Flora, who was born in Juniper Hill, disguised all the villages.
Martin covers the social history of the area from the year Flora was born, 1876, until the present day, looking at the influences of the country estates, churches, chapels and schools plus the Bicester and Warden Hill Hunt, which is now the Bicester Hunt with the Whaddon Chase.
“I decided to write a social history of the area, rather than produce another biography of Flora. There have already been two biographies, one by Margaret Lane in the Cornhill magazine and a fuller work by Gillian Lindsay,” said Martin.
978 1 902279 37 4 Published June 2009
Helen Peacocke is a trained chef, food writer for the Oxford Times and an award-winning beer writer who boasts that she has visited and reviewed virtually every pub in Oxfordshire and many beyond.
Her border collie, Pythius-Peacocke, accompanies her on many of these visits, which always include a dog walk and (usually) a delicious pub lunch, which is why he is so well qualified to add his comments to the book.
£9.99 paperback, 142pp paperback, with numerous photographs and drawings.
Edited by Patricia Crutch, Antony Smith and Royston Taylor
For about 20 years, The Woodstock Society's local history group has been transcribing seventeenth-century documents from Woodstock. For this book, over 300 probate documents and more than 40 wills have also been transcribed, providing often detailed information on the following aspects of life in Woodstock in the 16th and 17th centuries:
Illustrated with line drawings by Brenda Cripps.
- an overview of probate documents outlining the wealth of testators and their economic management.
- the size, layout and contents of houses, providing a background to life in the town.
- widows, their role in the family and their involvement in town affairs.
- costumes and changing fashions in the town over 150 years.
- personal belongings, both personal and utilitarian, found in the homes of Woodstock residents.
- the occupations of local men and women.
£9.99 paperback 140pp 978-1-902279-32-9
Published May 2008
A celebration of the valley, its river, places and people by Godfrey Hodgson
"A gem of a book"The Oxford Times
This is an invitation to share the author's delight in his favourite valley, and to explore its places and people in the company of his family and dog.
In a very personal journey through the life of a river and its valley, the author explores the history of the townships, the villages and hamlets of the Evenlode, describing the shifting population and changing economy, the wonerfully varied landscape and wildlife, and the profound changes that have taken place in the last half-century.
Godfrey Hodgson moved to the Evenlode valley in 1975 with his wife Hilary, living first in Chastleton, then Chilson and now Finstock. This unusual and engaging book is part memoir, part meetings with inhabitants past and present, part history and part intrioduction to some beautiful walks and countryside.
A journalist and historian, the author has worked for The Times, The Independent, The Observer and The Sunday Times as well as for television and radio. He has written a dozen books, mostly about American politics and history.
The book includes over 40 black and white photographs by Sarah Tyzack.
Click here to read the review in the Oxford Times.
£10 paperback, 128 pages. 978 1902279 31 2
Dorothy Calcutt was born in Combe, near Woodstock, in 1920 and lives
there still. In this account of changing village life, Dorothy draws on
her own experiences and those of her family and friends to create a
vivid picture of rural Oxfordshire that few of us would recognise
today, even though it remains very much alive in the memories of the
The physical hardship of work for both women and men, the difficulty of
keeping yourself warm, clothed and shod, the problem of getting to the
nearest town, the absence of medicines, shortages of food and the
prevailing poverty all meant life was tough beyond our imagination. In
the 1880s two-thirds of children were dead before they reached 10 years
old, and many old people died in the workhouse. If a man died young --
Dorothy's grandfather died at the age of 34 -- his widow and children
were dependent on the goodwill of friends, relatives and the parish to
survive. Dorothy's father worked in Canada before the first world war,
sending money home to his mother. Yet there were good times too, and
village life could be idyllic for a child.
Shortly after the war, the first 'incomer' arrived in the village: the
sculptor, Sir Hamo Thornycroft. Cars began to appear and a farmer
bought a tractor. Children travelled away from their village, only to
find that no one could understand their broad accent. Then, in 1939,
everything changed for ever.
Dorothy concludes her memoir with an eloquent plea for the appreciation
of village life, and the unique values it embodies.
The book includes a unique archive of photographs of Combe Cricket Club dating back to 1885.
£8.99 paperback, c. 80pp, with many b/w photographs
1-902279-30-1 Published July 2007
The Salt of the Earth: Diary of a Poor Woodstock Family in Woodstock, 1900
This is the story of one year in the life of a large family living on the edge of the Blenheim estate in Woodstock, Oxfordshire in the year 1900. The author’s mother, Dora, told her daughter many tales of her childhood at the turn of the century, and this book is based on those stories.
Life in a poor family at that time was a precarious balance, weighted on one side by the pleasures of alcohol and on the other by the influence of John Wesley and General Booth. The biggest enemy was unemployment. But Dora’s mother found hope even at the saddest times, which she would attribute to a gypsy and her magic good influence on the family’s lives.
Dora’s father, George, begins the year as a farm labourer, too fond of his whisky; but he proves himself an adept midwife when the farm cow produces two heifer calves. Later he answers an emergency call to the Palace when one of the Duchess's spaniels is whelping. As the year passes Dad spends more time at the Palace, and each time a bitch whelps successfully he is secretly given a guinea. The puppies are sold when they are six weeks, and George is employed to deliver them to their new owners; by the end of October he has twenty-five guineas hidden in a cocoa tin buried in the garden.
For this and other reasons Georgina has every reason to believe that things are really looking up for her family. But good fortune is tempered with bad. There are to be four deaths in the family in this year alone. Georgina also conceals the fact that she is pregnant. As a result, and to his great surprise, Dad’s midwifery skills are suddenly called on again on New Year’s Eve.
But the family’s troubles are not yet over, and there are still more tragic events to follow.
The story is true to the extremes of poverty and wealth of the period, and all the characters described in both the family and the town were real. Dorothy Calcutt, Dora’s daughter, was a schoolteacher in Woodstock. Now retired, she lives in Combe.
With contemporary photographs of the people and places in the story.
£8 paperback, 120pp, 9781902279060
Born in a Stable
Tells the true story of John Ashton, illegitimate son of a Northumberland nobleman and an Oxfordshire village barmaid.
Leo has inherited the family mansion in Northumberland, but is frustrated in his desire to have a son to continue the name and inherit his estate. To ‘prove’ his manhood, he is unfaithful to his wife. The barmaid at an inn in the Oxfordshire village of Long Hanborough (Emma, the author’s great-grandmother) bears him a son, John.
This book tells the story of Leo’s ambitions, of John’s birth in extreme poverty in a farmyard stable, and of his upbringing and occasional meetings with his father. We also hear how Leo tried to have a second son with Emma.
The identity of the benefactor who provided him with a home and an income was John’s lifelong secret, but with careful detective work the reader can unearth the secret from the clues given. John never married, but was always involved in the village community and greatly feared and respected. About 1880 he started taking groups of young men on foot to the Fens to work on drainage schemes and earn much-needed extra income for their families.
The true story of Leo and Emma, and their children John and Georgina (heroine of The Salt of the Earth), has been unravelled after painstaking research by the author. The life of Leo is freely based on the lives of other landed nobility, but the events and people in Long Hanborough and Freeland are all real, and John’s expeditions took place as described.
£7.50 paperback, 80pp, 9781902279138
My Three Hats
Dorothy tells her own life story in terms of the three hats she has worn: first as a schoolgirl at Milham Ford, then as a member of Stonesfield silver band, and finally as a keen Oxford United supporter.
Her early life revolves around the family’s tiny cottage, their smallholding and her parents’ simple Methodist faith. In 1931 she wins a scholarship to Milham Ford School in Oxford, and begins the tortuous journeys by bicycle and train from Combe to the school on The Plain. A country girl in a school of sophisticated middle-class city girls, and her accent and family life the object of open ridicule, Dorothy’s experiences both good and bad remain firmly imprinted in her memory for life. And she still has the hat!
From Milham Ford Dorothy goes into teaching, cycling the seven miles to the school in Kiddington. In 1944 she marries Frank and children follow. All become musical enthusiasts, playing in the Stonesfield Silver Band. Another hat!
As the children grow up, Dorothy and Frank find time for football, and become avid supporters of Oxford United. Dorothy acquires her third hat…
This tale of personal adventure, triumph and tragedy, social change and rural transformation, recalls the experiences of millions of country people struggling to adapt to the rapid changes of the twentieth century.
£8 paperback, 112 pages, illustrated, 9781902279252
I Love Life
The NHS is Ours, so Let's Take Care of It
“I was born in 1920. I received no medical attention at birth. I suffered from all the children’s illnesses but no doctor was ever called.
"I was taken to the local practitioner in 1927 with a broken arm. That cost my parents seven shillings and sixpence, the price of a farm worker’s weekly wage at the time. Because we paid a hospital weekly subscription, I was allowed into the maternity unit for my first baby in 1946. My second baby, born in 1947, I had at home and needed to pay for visits by the district nurse and doctor. The hospital did not cater for any babies after the first.
"Now we are fully catered for, yet people grumble about the health service and badly abuse it. Let’s take care of ourselves and each other; the hospitals get filled with many that smoke, or are too fat, drink too much alcohol or are careless road users. There are enough illnesses without self-inflicted ones. I hope you enjoy this book and contribute in one small way to improving the situation.”
Dorothy Calcutt continues her autobiographical series of books with a vigorous defence of the NHS, combined with a brief history of hospital provision in Oxford and a not uncritical account of her experiences during a recent illness.
Includes photographs of the hospitals and hospices Dorothy visited, and the wonderful staff at Witney Community Hospital.
£6.99 paperback, 60pp, illustrated, 9781902279190
Wychwood is a familiar name, though the forest it refers to has largely disappeared. In the Middle Ages the Royal Hunting Forest of Wychwood occupied much of what is now West Oxfordshire. Gradually it decayed, until it consisted only of the much smaller Royal Demesne Forest around Leafield. In its turn most of this was converted to farmland in the 1850s, leaving only a small portion surviving as part of the Cornbury Estate.
Cornbury too was once a Royal Forest, but in the 1300s it became a park. In 1660 it was given by Charles II to the first Earl of Clarendon, who built there one of the great houses of Oxfordshire.
In 1910 Vernon Watney, then owner of Cornbury, published his magnificent but rare history, Cornbury and the Forest of Wychwood, itself now a valuable collector¹s item. Taking this as his starting point, but including the results of more recent research, Charles Tyzack retells the story of the Forest and its slow decline, together with the building of Cornbury and its links with some of the great names of English history.
The present book includes a number of portraits reproduced from Watney's book, together with illustrations from other sources and maps specially drawn by Ann Buckmaster.
Charles Tyzack retired to Charlbury in 1998, after teaching English at universities in Wales and China.
£12.50 pbk 176pp illustrated with maps, photographs and paintings 978-1-902279-04-6
Foreword by Harold Fox, Head of the Department of English Local History, Leicester University
As both a Royal Forest and an extensive area of woodland, Wychwood was a dominant feature in the life and landscape of West Oxfordshire for at least 800 years. This book complements the story of the Forest and its people by following the history of the woodland of the region. It shows exactly how extensive the tree cover was in the Norman period, what it was like, and which settlements were already in existence. The author then follows the later developments which have created the landscape of the present day.
In recent years our understanding of the development of the landscape has changed radically. The original clearance of the primeval woodland, once assumed to have been the work largely of Anglo-Saxon settlers, is now attributed to Neolithic and Bronze Age populations many times larger than previously thought. Much of the medieval woodland of Wychwood is now known to have been secondary re-growth over land that had once been cleared, settled and cultivated. Medieval Wychwood had clearly defined and stable boundaries and a considerable variety of landscape, offering valuable resources which were systematically conserved and managed.
Beryl Schumer also corrects the traditional view that the 'new villages' like Leafield, Finstock, Ramsden, Hailey and Crawley were carved out of the virgin forest some time after the late 11th century.
Includes the 1830 Ordnance Survey one-inch maps of the area, other maps, tables and photographs.
First published 1984 by Leicester University Press as 'The Evolution of Wychwood to 1400: Pioneers, Frontiers and Forests', and long out of print.
This is a revised and enlarged edition.
£7.50 pbk 128pp 978-1-902279-02-2
This book tells the story of life in Winchcombe from earliest times.
The main themes are the parallel development of the borough and the abbey from Saxon times to the abbey¹s dissolution in 1539; various attempts to revive the borough¹s fortunes between 1540 and 1840; and the town¹s Victorian renewal, leading to the present day.
The aim is to encourage residents and visitors alike to understand and cherish their inheritance in this gem of the Cotswolds.
The book is illustrated with many historic photographs and illustrations.
D.N. Donaldson has lived in or near Winchcombe and explored the town¹s history for over 25 years. His abiding concern is for environmental conservation, founded on a true understanding of how the community¹s past shapes the present and helps to influence the future.
£14.95 pbk 272pp 978-1-902279-12-1
including My Personal Memories, by Doris Warner
A graphic and often moving account of life between the wars in a poor family that can trace its ancestors back to the seventeenth century. Dad works on the railway, the children struggle against economic and social odds, and young Eric's ambitions to become a schoolteacher are cruelly defeated when his family cannot afford the training college fees.
Eric Moss has a detailed memory for cottage life of the times, including raising (and slaughtering) the pig, watching and helping the village blacksmith, bringing in the crops, emptying the cottage closet and fertilising the garden with the product, and a description of how the vaults at the school got emptied at dead of night! He tells of ferreting, bird trapping, the importance of the allotment, kitchens before electricity, Mr Benfield's milk lorry, the doings of Slasher Moss, the coming of the crystal set, the art of ringing pigs, family Christmases, the village pubs and pub games and much besides.
We re-live the author's schooldays and share the games and mischievous pranks of the children.
The book is rich in anecdote and full of the tensions of life in a small community.
Doris Warner won first prize in a county competition for her Memories, which include both world wars and their impact on village life in Ascott. Doris became village postmistress, and like Eric Moss she recalls the building of the Tiddy Hall and the enthusiasm for folk song and country dancing. Her grandmother was one of the Ascott martyrs, and Doris wrote a musical to celebrate the centenary of their imprisonment, Over the Hills to Glory.
Both authors convey the decline of village life and the loss of community after the second world war as rural jobs disappeared and newcomers moved into the village, bringing very different expectations.
The book is illustrated with many historic photographs.
£8 pbk 144pp 978-1-902279-07-7
A lively, knowledgeable and enchanting guide to this little known part of North Oxfordshire, including the three villages immortalised by Flora Thompson in Lark Rise to Candleford. The other villages included are Cropredy, Fritwell, Lower Heyford, Horley, King's Sutton, Sibford Ferris, Sibford Gower and Great Tew.
The history of each village is followed by a walking tour, taking in the buildings, streets and memorable inhabitants.
There are about 60 historic photographs, and a map of each village.
Martin Greenwood is a well-known local historian.
£9.99 pbk 176pp 978-1-902279-24-4
Foreword by Mary Hodges
Local history is about ordinary people and their everyday lives. Research into ten families has provided a basis for further study. Incorporating over 100 surnames, 416 individuals are named, many achieving office within the borough; these include 18 aldermen who served terms as mayor, 7 chamberlains who did not become aldermen, 3 members of parliament, 6 town clerks, 3 churchwardens and one rector of Bladon with Woodstock. In addition 6 comptrollers of Woodstock Park are studied along with their associates, the neighbouring gentry and nobility.
Seven of the main families represent the core of influence within the town, reinforced by judicious marriages and trade links. The remaining families lived in the three adjoining parishes; one each from Bladon (Hensington), Old Woodstock and Woodstock Park, and these represent the gentry and working classes with their contrasting lifestyles. The stories include the following families: Ayres, Bradshaw (2 families), Browne, Cooper, Fletcher, Glover, Johnson, Nash, Whitton.
£9.99 paperback 124pp ISBN 978-1-902279-22-0
The stories of twelve actual murders that have occurred within the county of Oxford over the last two hundred years are told here by a former CID officer with unique access to some of the investigating officers and police records.
• deadly encounters with poachers
• a widow murdered for her money near Henley
• murders committed for lust in Witney and Cassington
• the man who went berserk in Blenheim Park and killed a workmate
• a fatal domestic dispute at Chipping Norton
• the roving gypsy who murdered his wife at Headington
• a commercial traveller who killed within the city
• an Oxford taxi driver found murdered at Hampton Poyle
• the body of a Finnish hitch-hiker found on the Duke of Marlborough's estate
Len Woodley served for thirty years in the Buckinghamshire and Thames Valley police forces. He served at various towns within that area either in uniform or in the CID.
£9.99 pbk 126pp illustrated 978-1-902279-21-3
by Clive A. Spinage
The only book about one of the most important prehistoric sites in Britain and the Wayland myth
Wayland Smith¹s Cave on the Berkshire Downs is the most important Stone Age burial site in Britain. First recorded as Wayland¹s Smithy¹ by the Anglo-Saxons over a thousand years ago, it is the only place in Britain to keep alive the ancient legend of Wayland Smith.
In this, the only book on the site, Clive Spinage describes the cave¹ in fact an exposed chambered long barrow and the examinations by the first antiquaries, followed by the archaeological investigations of the twentieth century, up to the restoration of the site to its presumed original appearance in 1963.
The barrow actually contains two burial sites. The first, constructed 6000 years ago, was a wooden structure covered with earth. Up to 300 years later the chambered stone tomb was constructed with its huge sarsen stones (which later became the cave¹), signifying an important change in burial practice. There is evidence of the site being used for witchcraft in modern times.
The book also examines the different versions of the Wayland Smith legend. These were mainly kept alive in Teutonic mythology but had their origins in Mycenean times in the Aegean region 3500 years ago. It is suggested that the legend may derive from the earliest Bronze Age workers in precious metals, such as the Amesbury archer¹ unearthed in 2002 near Stonehenge.
Popularisation of the legend by Sir Walter Scott in his romance Kenilworth focused interest on a site that had hitherto been largely forgotten.
With 43 illustrations and photographs.
Clive Spinage is a retired African wildlife ecologist with an interest in local topograpy.
£10 pbk 102pp 978-1-902279-16-9
This fascinating, detailed and highly entertaining book is the definitive account of the customs and festivities that took place in Oxfordshire before the days of mass entertainment.
Traditions dovetailed neatly into the farming year. Recreation and celebration, coupled with practices relating to fertility of both crops and people, often harked back to pre-Christian times: their evolution is evidence of changing religious beliefs and social patterns. Traditions could
also provide an opportunity for making money, perhaps for a good cause (such as the whit ales that raised money for the parish) or for private gain (as when morris dancers toured the countryside or children made May garlands to show).
Among hundreds of different customs described, often in the words of
contemporary sources from the last 400 years, particular mention should be
made of the very many customs associated with May Day, the strong morris
tradition that survives in certain towns and villages, the mock mayor-making
in Abingdon, Banbury, Oxford and Woodstock, the Burford dragon ceremony,
various traditions of beating the bounds, the mummers plays that are still
performed, bun throwing in Abingdon, and the ritual of hunting the mallard
that takes place once a century at All Souls College, Oxford.
The book includes the text of two mummers' plays (from Islip, dating from
about 1780, and Westcott Barton, recorded in 1870) and a Christmas miracle
play collected in Thame in 1853.
Includes many rare and unusual photographs, as well as photographs of modern
revivals of ancient customs.
Christine Bloxham is a former assistant keeper of antiquities at the
Oxfordshire Museum. Her previous books include The World of Flora Thompson
(1998). She has been collecting local folklore for thirty years.
£12.99 pbk 320pp 978-1-902279-11-4
One day, during the Roman occupation of Britain, two people carved their names on a set of clay pipes. The pipes were found in the excavation of Shakenoak Roman villa (near Witney, Oxfordshire) in the 1960s; and though damaged, a male name, Satavacus, was quite clear. The second name had been truncated by a break but reads Bellicia and belongs to a female.
Besides possibly identifying a lover and his lass, both names are from the pre-Roman Iron Age tradition, even though the pipes were found in the debris of a building that was dated to almost two hundred years after the Roman invasion. The names on the pipes demonstrate continuity between the people living in Wychwood before the arrival of the Romans and those who worked the land for centuries after that event.
Today's roads and parish boundaries, the location of villages and the
distribution of vegetation have evolved in part from decisions taken to meet
the needs of inhabitants in the period 800 BC 400 AD.
This profusely illustrated book is about the evidence in Wychwood for the
Iron Age and Roman periods, including hill forts, Akeman Street, Grim¹s
Ditch, Roman villas, religious sites, and much besides. It also chronicles
the evolution of our understanding of the period by examining the records
and conclusions of archaeologists over the centuries, showing how their
findings were shaped by their historical and cultural assumptions and the
scientific tools at their disposal.
Includes a gazeteer of Iron Age and Roman remains that can be seen and
accessed from public land, and a great deal of information for people
visiting West Oxfordshire and the sites described.
Tim Copeland is Head of the International Centre for Heritage Education at the University of Gloucester, Chairman of the Council of Europe's Cultural
Heritage Expert Committee and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Recent
and forthcoming publications include work for the Council of Europe, the
National Trust, the Royal Fine Art Commission and English Heritage.
£12 pbk 144pp, with b/w photographs, maps and line drawings
The first mention of the Pratleys at Fairspear is in the 1881 census. James Pratley is 23 and works as a carter on the farm, his wife 19-year-old Jane is a gloveress and they have an eight-month-old baby, Walter James. Gloving was a common local industry with outworkers, mainly female, supplementing their family income.
The Pratleys lived in what is now the north end of 'Cotswold View' on the Ascott road out of Leafield. The house was built in 1873, evidenced by a stone set in the south end of the building. Their home consisted of a kitchen with a range and a scullery with a larder downstairs; and three bedrooms upstairs.
The main bedroom stretched across the whole of the front of the house and
two smaller rooms were at the back. The only outside door was at the front
of the house. The privy was at the end of the wash house on the northern
edge of the property. Their garden covered about one third of an acre.
By 1891 the Pratley family has increased. James is still the carter on the
farm but he and Jane now have four children, Walter (10), Kate (9), Frank
(5) and Henry (2). Kate, Frank and Henry appear to have all been born in the
cottage on the farm. During the 1890s more children were born, Eden in 1893,
Victor in 1896 and Alice Maude (known as Maude) in 1897. Mabel was born in
In 1911 Maude went to London as a lady's maid. Shortly after war broke out,
she went to live with an aunt in Hull, where she met her husband, George
At the age of 83 Maude wrote this account of her childhood in Leafield as
well as her later life in Hull. She creates a vivid and evocative account of
village life in the early years of the twentieth century seen through the
eyes of a growing girl.
£9.99 pbk 88 pp Profusely illustrated 978-1-902279-23-7
W. D. (Bill) Campbell was known to thousands of Guardian readers for his Country Diary column, published every week from 1964 to 1994.
In the Cotswold town of Charlbury, where he was brought up on the Cornbury estate and lived for much of his life, he made his mark as a popular schoolteacher and naturalist with a gift for sharing his intimate knowledge of the history, language, flora and fauna of Wychwood Forest with children and adults alike.
Although his teaching career later took him to Shipton-under-Wychwood and
Cholsey, on retirement in 1970 he returned to Charlbury where he lived until
his death in 1994. He was granted a privileged access to the Cornbury estate
and the forest which few others have enjoyed.
In this book, two of Bill¹s friends tell the story of his life and bring
together an enchanting collection of his Country Diaries, poems, talks,
stories and broadcasts. The foreword is by Jeannette Page, Bill's editor at
£12 pbk 172pp, illustrated 978-1-902279-01-5
John Kibble published Charlbury and its Nine Hamlets in 1927 and Charming Charlbury in 1930. Re-issued for the first time in a single volume, these two books give a tantalising and unique insight into two hundred years of life in this quiet corner of the Cotswolds, conveyed in the memories, stories and records of the people Kibble knew and met.
Kibble was born in Finstock in 1865, moving later to Charlbury where he died in 1951. His father and grandfather were stonemasons, unusually literate and
well-versed in local affairs.
Kibble draws freely on family memories, but also on countless conversations with people he met from childhood on, many of whom showed him family heirlooms and lent him documents from which he quotes. Some of the old men and women he listened to as a boy will have been born before the French Revolution. Kibble describes many trades and crafts, including those of the baker, blacksmith, clockmaker, glovemaker, mason, slater, shoemaker, pipemaker and
woodworker, and includes a fascinating guide to local dialect. Among countless other stories, he recounts the legend of the Rollright Stones and Charlbury's involvement in the Battle of Otmoor, and describes many games he played as a child.
As well as Charlbury, the places included in this volume are Chadlington,
Chilson, Chipping Norton, Churchill, Coate, Fawler, Finstock, Kingham,
Pudlicote, Shorthampton, Spelsbury, Tappewell and Walcot.
The book includes some personal reminiscences from people who remember
Kibble, and photographs of some of his work.
£10 paperback 224pp 978-1-902279- 05- 3
Foreword by Roy Townsend
One of Charlbury's best known raconteurs and an inveterate collector of
anecdotes, stories and legends, John Kibble published several collections of
his work in the 1930s. This is the first to be re-issued, complete with Kibble's original illustrations, and a foreword by a local historian who knew the author at first hand.
Like his father and grandfather before him, John Kibble was a stonemason.
Born in 1865, his memories are of people who lived and worked in, and
remembered the life of, the forest villages in the 1700s and 1800s. He is a
fluent and accessible writer, great fun to read, and his books are much in
£7.50 pbk 128pp 978-1-902279- 00-8
This book charts for the first time the religious history of a very special
parish: for good or ill, the village of Cuddesdon in Oxfordshire with its
Bishop¹s Palace and Theological College, has left its own indelible mark on
the Church of England.
Using many unpublished sources, the author traces the history of a village
whose life has been inextricably bound up with abbots, bishops and clergy
for well over a thousand years. Even before the coming of Christianity it
was an important Saxon burial site. From as early as 956 it was an major
source of revenue for the monks of the great Abbey of Abingdon, who built
its beautiful church of All Saints.
After the Reformation Cuddesdon became the home of the Bishops of Oxford for
much of the time from the 1630s to the 1970s. From 1854 it has housed a
Theological College founded by the great Bishop Samuel Wilberforce which has
educated many thousands of clergy in the Anglican Communion.
It would be fair to say that the whole history of Christianity in England
has been expressed in microcosm in this one small Oxfordshire village. As
many of the events in the book reveal, Cuddesdon played a supporting role in
many of the great events in the history of the English church and state.
Mark Chapman is vice-principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon, curate of All
Saints church, and a member of the theology faculty of Oxford University.
His books include Ernst Troeltsch and Liberal Theology (Oxford) and The
Coming Crisis (Continuum).
£12.99 pbk 224pp 978-1-902279-20-6 With 110 b/w illustrations
By Lois Hey
The history of the Cotswold town of Charlbury, from pre-history to the present day.
Illustrated with many historical photographs from local collections.
From earliest days
The Manor of Charlbury and Eynsham Abbey
The Lees of Ditchley as Lords of the Manor of Charlbury (1590–1776)
The President and Scholars of St John the Baptist College, Oxford, resume the Lordship of the Manor (1776–1857)
The owners of Cornbury as Lords of the Manor (since 1857)
Schools, dissenters, gloving, pubs
A new century
A geological view of the history of Charlbury, by Professor Geoffrey Walton
£8.99 pbk 144 pp 978-1-902279-03-9
By Elsie Corbett
The history of the parish of Spelsbury (which includes the hamlets of Dean, Taston and Fulwell and the great house and estate at Ditchley) was written by the Hon. Elsie Corbett and first published in 1931, but Miss Corbett continued to work on the history of the parish and a revised edition – reproduced here without the plates and with a few corrections by the Charlbury historian, the late Lois Hey – appeared in 1962.
Ditchley was purchased in 1583 by Sir Henry Lee, whose descendants lived there until 1933. But if the parish has a claim to fame today, it is as the birth and burial place of John Wilmot, second earl of Rochester.
The rake and poet was born at Ditchley in 1647 and educated at Burford Grammar School and Oxford. Elsie Corbett describes him as ‘possibly the wickedest figure at the Restoration court’. He was to drink himself to death by the age of 33. Famous for the obscenity of his amorous poems, he also wrote some of the most moving, witty and lyrical love poetry of all time. He was infamous for his atheism, yet in his final year of life he stunned his friends and turned to God and is buried in the crypt of Spelsbury church.
About the author
Born in 1896, Elsie Corbett met Miss Kathleen Dillon on a ship to Serbia with the Red Cross in 1915, an experience she described in her book The Red Cross in Serbia, 1915-1919. The two women remained unmarried and lived together in Spelsbury House. Elsie was descended from the Ayrshire Corbetts, and her brother, Lord Rowallan, was chief scout and later governor-general of Tasmania. A determined tea-totaller and responsible for the fact that Spelsbury no longer has a pub, she devoted herself to the village and to the welfare of animals, giving a home to rescued pit ponies and seaside donkeys. She died in 1977, nineteen years after Miss Dillon, to whose ‘dear and gallant memory’ this book is dedicated.
£14.99 paperback 338pp 978-1-902279-26-8
Edited by Charles Keighley
A history and guide for visitors and residents alike. The only book of its kind.
The book describes the evolution and natural history of the royal hunting forest of Wychwood, its legends, industries and folklore.
The area covered is bordered by, or includes, the towns of Woodstock, Chipping Norton, Eynsham, Witney, Charlbury and Burford.
The medieval forest (Beryl Schumer)
Disafforestation in the nineteenth century (Kate Tiller)
Local forest industries (Richard Bidgood)
Wychwood legends, stories and folklore (Christine Bloxham)
Flora and fauna (Alan Spicer)
The Wychwood Project (Belinda Flitter and Alan Spicer)
Evidence of Wychwood’s historic landscape (Mary Webb)
Three guided walks (Alan Spicer)
A gazetteer of the towns and villages (Charles Keighley)
With a foreword by the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire
Includes about 100 photographs and line drawings, and two colour plates
Royalties from the sale of this book go to the Friends of Wychwood, who support the Wychwood Project. The Project aims to raise awareness of, and appreciation for, the history and identity of Wychwood and to conserve and restore the special character and habitats of the local forest landscape.
£8.99 pbk 168pp 978-1-902279-09-1
by Mildred Masheder
A vibrant picture of village life in the Oxfordshire village of Elsfield, home in later life of John Buchan, seen through the eyes of a child growing up in the 1920s. It is a realistic account of her family life on the farm and in the village, and of her schooling. It depicts a bygone age when village children roamed freely in the countryside, making the fields, the farm buildings and the road their playground.
However, this is not a nostalgia trip. There were fears as well as joys and everyone knew their station in life, which meant hard work for the majority of adults and soon servitude for many of the young. Meanwhile children enjoyed the rhythm of country life in a stable, well-ordered community.
“I am delighted to commend Carrier's Cart to Oxford as an absolutely fascinating, absorbing social history of village life in the 1920s. This delightful history may be favourably compared with well-known works such as Lark Rise to Candleford and Cider With Rosie.”
Dr Neil Hawkes, former Senior Education Adviser for Oxfordshire.
£10 pbk 140pp 978-1902279-28-2
40 photographs. With line drawings by Susanna Masheder