Our May 2024 Evening Event: AGM and “From Our Archive”

The Wychwoods Local History AGM took place in Milton Village Hall on May 8th 2024

Agenda (PDF) | Chairmans Report (PDF)

After the AGM, our final talk of the season included 3 presentations from WLHS Committee members, featuring stories from our archive using newly-discovered historic photographs, letters and oral history recordings

First we had a short review of the society’s work on audio recordings and oral histories by David Betterton. He played a few sample clips which typified the variety and human interest found in this archive. [ Overview here ]

John Bennett gave a review of a recently-acquired album of photographs of Milton under Wychwood dating from 1891. This album – we call it the “Marshall Album”  is a treasure trove of historic images of Milton houses, from which John selected several individual properties and compared them to their appearance today. The Album itself was a gift from the guest of a prominent Baptist family in the village. 

In the final presentation, Carol Anderson took us on a fascinating audit trail of the Baughan family in Milton, derived from her research around an intriguing box containing apparently random notes, receipts and letters – a box she titled “A Box of Baughans”.  Her work on this revealed fascinating insights, for example, on the role of women in business administration.

Wychwoods Local History Archive Room

Further research is planned for the Marshall Album and the “Box of Baughans”, and work continues on creating extracts from the society’s oral history files.

A Selection of Audio File Extracts

Wychwoods Local History Archive Display Notice

Our collection of Oral History audio files has recently been digitised. Almost 100 audio records of selected society talks, BBC features and many interviews of Wychwoods residents are included in the WLHS archive.

To offer a brief flavour of the many interviews from the 1980s-2000s, here are a few out-takes.

By autumn of 2024, we hope to make the full selection of these audio files available on request.

Janet Wallace (née Scott) 1934-2024

Janet Wallace Wychwoods Local HistorySociety
Janet Wallace (née Scott) 1934-2024

With the death of Janet Wallace in April, the Wychwoods Local History Society, has lost one of the last of the generation still living in the Wychwoods, who created our Society and made it what it is.

For a fuller account of her life written by Trudy Yates, please see Journal 25 here.

Janet was born in Hammersmith, the eldest child of Dr Gordon Scott and his wife Betty. She had two sisters and a brother, Dr Sandy Scott. She worked for a year at the Chipping Norton Memorial Hospital before training as a nurse at the Middlesex Hospital and then doing midwifery training at the Radcliffe in Oxford. While her family was very young, she worked at the Cokethorpe School in the sanatorium and then as a classroom assistant and later secretary at Milton primary school.

She joined her father and brother as a typist/nurse in the Wychwood surgery in 1972 and worked there as practice nurse for 25 years.

She joined the committee of the Wychwoods Local History Society in 1992 and, after 25 years of service, stepped down in 2017. She wrote articles for the annual Journal, especially looking at emigration during the latter part of the 19th century. Janet was a pioneer in carrying out recorded interviews with local inhabitants. She produced many hours of such in-depth recordings, making a priceless contribution to the society’s oral history archive.

For many years she organised refreshments for members at speaker evenings. She manned the Society’s stands at village fetes. As somebody who worked with her on our committee for more than fifteen years, I remember her as an efficient and engaged local historian but someone also prepared to do the humblest of tasks for the good of the membership and to share her wide knowledge of the Wychwoods and its people.

Alan Vickers

Schooldays and Childhood in the Wychwoods: A Review

Part of our latest Wychwoods Library Display

Here is an article by Carol Anderson written to accompany an exhibition of photographs currently on show in the Wychwoods Library in Milton

Our library exhibition has an interesting set of photos of Wychwoods children at school in the mid 20th century.

We invite you to recognise some of the individuals in these pictures!

Perhaps you might even be one of them?

Education in the Wychwoods

In the Wychwoods, private education sporadically existed from at least the 18th century. Anglican and Nonconformist churches ran Sunday Schools, teaching reading but not writing. Gradually, industrialists championed mass education as crucial for maintaining the nation’s manufacturing edge.

Yet, not everyone agreed. Some feared that widespread education would discourage people from performing essential agricultural work, leaving others hungry. Fortunately, this fear did not prevail. For over 120 years, each of the three Wychwood villages—Ascott, Milton, and Shipton—had its own school.

These schools received support from local benefactors. Board schools, established by the 1870 Education Act, offered non-denominational education, while National schools adhered to Church of England teachings.

Read the full story in Carol’s review, either online here by downloading the article to read later.

WLHS Photo Displays in Milton under Wychwood Library

Our programme of photograph displays continues in the Wychwoods Library in Milton. We aim to change the theme regularly throughout the year. In doing so, we will be hoping to demonstrate the huge variety and breadth of subjects to be found in our archive.

Part of our Ellis Groves Slides display

The Library Display Programme

Here is a record of our 2023/24 programme so far:

Sept 22nd : Ellis Groves Slides
Oct 27th : Transport in the Wychwoods
Dec 8th : Christmas and Pantomimes
Jan 20th : Snow Scenes: “A Winter’s Tale in The Wychwoods”
Mar 9th: “Wriggly Tin” – Corrugated Iron in the Wychwoods
Apr 20th:“Back to School” in the Wychwoods

More subjects coming soon.

When to Visit

Details of the Milton under Wychwood Library opening times are here

Your Thoughts?

We would welcome your feedback and comments – and especially would like to hear from you if you recognise individuals in our photo displays, or have any stories or memories relating to any particular image

Dorothy Thomson and the Tale of Mr Samuda’s Model T Ford

Here is a snippet from one of our many Oral History audio files. In it, former 1920s Shipton Court resident Dorothy “Dor” Thomson tells the apocryphal tale of Mr Samuda and his Model T Ford.

Catherine “Bay” Thomson and her first child Dorothy, known as “Dor”
Left to Right: Siblings “Dor”, David and Joan Thomson
Dorothy Thomson with Mary McNeill 2004


“Mr Samuda was a great character who at that time lived at Bruern Abbey, and he was well known to all of us because he was a gentleman that always drove about in a cart, a sort of dog-cart with a cob, a nice smart cob, and to everybody’s surprise – it was very early in the twenties – he suddenly bought a T-model Ford which was really quite adventurous ‘cos he was quite an elderly gentlemen at that time. And his stud groom whose name was Tustain was absolutely horrified at this. However, Tustain was told that he had to learn to drive this terrible thing.

And they drove around the roads, the two of them – they could both drive it- and the story went around (I don’t know how true it was) that one day Mr Samuda was driving, and he’d had enough, he got rather bored with it, and he said to Tustain as they were bowling along the road “I’ve had enough of this Tustain, now you can take over”.

And in the old days of course, with carriages, you just passed over the reins to the other man. Well when you’re driving a car it’s not quite as simple as that, so the two of them had to cross over while. – it never occurred to them to stop the car meantime – they had to cross over and fortunately it was a straight road and fortunately they survived, but this story went round the locality for quite some months.”

The Full Interview

In this set of reminiscences, Dororothy Thomson recalls many details and anecdotes from her life as child and growing up at Shipton Court. The 2004 WLHS Journal No 19 [ available here ] contains many excerpts from these memoirs, as well as a summary of her life during and after her time at Shipton Court.

See both of Dorothy’s audio files here and here

More Extracts

Corrugated Iron in the Wychwoods: A Review

Here is an article written to accompany an exhibition of photographs currently on show in the Wychwoods Library in Milton, depicting local examples of corrugated iron.

Corrugated iron, sometimes affectionately referred to as “wriggly tin”, once ruled the world as a cladding material for many kinds of building: housing, factories, workshops, schools, churches, chapels, barns, and all types of farm buildings. Its ease of use, durability, and speed of construction were all factors in its success all over the globe.

It is not surprising to find that there were many interesting examples of buildings in corrugated iron across the Wychwoods, though most have now disappeared.

Our Wychwoods Library exhibition celebrates some fascinating examples of this versatile building material in use.

When to Visit

Details of the Wychwoods Library in Milton opening times are here

Datchet Gate Lodge, Windsor – Some Snapshot Research

Among the many photographs scanned by the Society photo scanning group, was a picture of a village outing, for which no information was (or could be) supplied at the time of the scan.

We noticed that there is a similar image which Burford Tolsey Museum and Archive posted on Facebook, but also with no information about its subject matter!

We felt it should be identifiable from that distinctive bit of architecture in the background, but we could not relate it to anything local that we knew.

However, with the aid of Google Lens we were able to identify the location of this photo as ….. Windsor Castle!

Here is another photo which shows the lodge and the distinctive brick wall also visible in the photograph. 

© Jaggery and licenced for reuse under cc-by-sa2.0

So, we know that our photo was taken just beside Datchet Gate Lodge, close to Windsor and Eton Riverside railway station. The lodge was built circa 1820-30, and is grade II listed.

Our investigations showed that outings to Windsor Castle were popular in the Edwardian period. There were also the annual Royal Windsor flower shows, started in 1892, which meant that some parts of the castle grounds were opened up, and which may have been a cause of many outings.

Though we still have no details of this group, or indeed have not researched into any of the names, it is to be hoped that one day we will know more. However, the use of AI and image recognition technology is likely to be of growing help to us in the near future.

A Winter’s Tale in the Wychwoods: Our Latest Milton Library Exhibition

To complement our latest photo-sampler exhibition in the The Wychwoods Library in Milton, here we revisit a few recent and historic weather events courtesy of WLHS members and other contributors locally.

Shipton in the Snow

First-off, we were pleased to find this superb aerial view of Shipton under Wychwood created by Hamish Fenton, which forms part of his library of Shipton images.

From around 2am on Dec 10th 2017, around 6 inches of snow had fallen with temperatures around freezing. Trees heavily loaded with snow brought powerlines down resulting in no electricity for most of the village and some neighbouring areas.

More of Hamish’s Shipton images are here .

Revelations in the Snow

In Jim Pearse’s article ( here), he explains the abandoned benefits of the old ridge and furrow system. The width of modern machinery – drills, sprayers and combines – causes difficulties on ridge and furrowed land. They hit the ridges too hard and miss the furrows. Jim tells us this is the main reason for the modern levelling of these fields.

Ridge and furrow in the Evenlode valley looking south from the Ascott Road near Shipton. Ridge and furrow often shows up clearly in frost or snow (as here), or in the early morning or late evening in oblique, low sunlight.

But ridge and furrow has an advantage on grassland since, after prolonged heavy rain, a flat field will be waterlogged whilst furrows channel away all the excess water allowing the ridges to dry more rapidly. We witness the effects in recent years, and this year included, of prolonged rain on fields locally.

Another Discovery

Here [ Link ] was another contribution from local resident Ian Sanders. Again, the arrival of a dusting of snow can reveal hitherto invisible lines in the landscape.

Old course of the Evenlode from Shipton bridge

On Sunday 24th January 2021 the snow came, transforming the landscape, and revealed a watercourse running across the field to the left of the Evenlode as you look northwards from the bridge.

Ian tells us that if we compare this to the 1830 map of the area, we see that the river did not run straight to the bridge as now, but meandered across this field in very much the same pattern as the watercourse that shows up in this snowy scene. 

If this watercourse is in fact the old course of the river, then it confirms the accuracy of the 1830 map.

Weather Related Features – The Wychwood Magazine

Readers of The Wychwood magazine are regularly updated by the weather reports of local meteorological expert John Miskin. Examples of his reports can be found here, and here.

In his 2018 article “Let’s Talk About the Weather” , John mentions particularly the winter of 1981/2. This winter features also in a couple of the images in our January 2024 library display.

Joey out for his walk in January 1982 in Ascott Road
Joey out for his walk in January 1982 in Ascott Road
Large digger from local quarry in Shipton High Street
Large digger from local quarry in Shipton High Street. Spent days clearing snow in January 1982 from Chipping Norton road and then the village roads

John tells us that 1981/2 was particularly hit by snow, when over 40cm of snow fell in December and January. It was on the night of the 12/13th January 1982 that he recorded the lowest temperature of -20.7°C (-5.2°F). In fact, it is possible that the temperature could have been as low as -22°C in the frost hollow 450 metres on the Ascott Road heading away from Shipton.

The thermometer reading from the night of 12th/13th January 1982

The maximum temperature on the 13th was only -9.8°C (14.3°F) after a particularly heavy snowfall and under clear skies.

Here are some images of winter 1982 in and around Shipton from John’s collection

.. and finally, for now…

Log Barn Ascott under Wychwood in the Snow
Long Barn – Ascott under Wychwood

The Rector Returns: A Follow-Up

The Reverend Doctor Thomas Brookes was the Rector at Shipton from 1773 to 1814. The story of how his rather powerful portrait came to be returned to Shipton in 2013 was told in the Wychwood Volume 34 number 2 of 2013, and is also available here >>>

Recently the Wychwoods Local History Society heard from a lady called Vicky Sangster who lives in Sydney. She is a direct descendant of Dr Brookes’ daughter and wondered whether it would be possible to see his portrait while she was on holiday in England.

Vicky duly came to Shipton and, although time was tight, we arranged for her to see the portrait in the Prebendal where Dr Brookes formerly lived and St Mary’s where he preached.

Vicky Sangster with the Portrait at the Prebendal