The Wychwoods Local History Society – The First 40 Years 1981-2021

The Initial Vision | 1981: The First Meetings of the Society | 1984/5: Meeting Patterns Established – First Publications | The 1990s: Highlights of the Decade | The New Millennium| Looking Ahead – Members’ Survey | Towards Digitalisation | Embracing Technology – Photograph Archive Scanning | 2016/18: Website Re-launched | The 2020s: Moving Forward

Wychwoods Local History Society and The New Millennium

In 2000 the millennium was celebrated in grand style with an outstanding exhibition of the Society’s work in Shipton’s New Beaconsfield hall. The attractions included a 1940s-style kitchen and a thatched Saxon hut with weaving loom and our own friendly Saxon, David Wilson.

Also on sale was the Society’s latest publication – That’s How It Was – the story of women in the Wychwoods in the Second World War, and commemorative plates and prints designed by Wendy Pearse.

About 800 people were thought to have visited the exhibition over the weekend.

2002 saw the publication of the seventeenth Wychwoods History, with the last six issues produced by an editorial committee. In addition to the published work, the Society’s archives grew to contain a considerable storehouse of information, including a carefully annotated photographic record maintained by John Rawlins.

That’s How it Was – Republished online here

Two members had the distinction of having books published: Dr Anthea Jones on Tewkesbury and The Cotswolds among others, while Jack Howard-Drakes’s Church Court Depositions run from 1542 to 1616 in seven volumes.

Membership was maintained over the years at between 150 and 200 plus and included people from various parts of the UK as well as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. These were often people researching their family histories, and the Society was able to supply a great deal of information on local origins to a growing number of enquirers.

Vibrant Evenings | Annual Journals Continue

The first dozen years of the new century ran like a well-oiled machine with a complete run of Society Journals and full speaker programmes.  All those programmes can be viewed here.

A glance shows some of the regular subject areas and regular contributing speakers.

See a photo archive of events and activities here.

  • Ralph Mann on Murder, Mystery and Mayhem in Kingham
  • Alan Watkins looking at aspects of history in Sarsden and Churchill
  • Tim Porter with one or two talks per season on aspects of Medieval life and especially church life and architecture.

The researchers of the Victoria Oxford History group made several appearances during this time, tasters before they worked in the next decade on the Volume covering the Wychwoods when the Society was able to assist them in many ways and particularly with illustrations.

Towards the end of the period, Liz Woolley made an appearance, to talk of the 800-year history of the Parish of St Thomas the Martyr in Oxford. She would return for more appearances in the next decade.

Highlights from the Journals  

  • The Hartley Family by Trudy Yates (2001 and 2003)
  • Wychwood Neighbourhoods  (2002 and 2003) and the People of the Wychwoods in 1881 by Anthea Jones and Sue Jourdan (2005)
  • A special issue on Shipton Court in 2004 marking the 400th anniversary of that building
  • A History of the Shipton Tillyards by Alan Vickers (2007)
  • Jack Howard Drake boiling down volumes of Church and legal records with Shipton and the Church Courts (2005), The Manor Courts of Ascott D’Oilly (2006), Shipton under Wychwood Churchwardens’ Accounts 1554-1696 (2009)
  • A detailed feature on The Shaven Crown by David Clark in 2010
  • There were in addition several articles on St Michael’s Home for girls and memories by some of the inmates for example in 2011 by Wendy Pearse.
  • Similarly on emigration to New Zealand by Wendy Pearse and Janet Wallace

By the end of this period almost all significant families, buildings or institutions in the Wychwoods had received attention in the Society’s Journal. Janet Wallace had carried out many recorded interviews with older Wychwood citizens and these interviews were later transcribed for the Society’s archives.

Additional Publications | Website Launched

In 2005 the Society published The Shipton under Wychwood Constables’ Book edited by Margaret Ware from the original included in Richard Cross’s archives and given to Margaret by Mrs Kitty Wiggins, the elderly Shipton Postmistress the great granddaughter of Richard Cross.

Alan Vickers developed the first website for the Society in 2007 and thanks to indexing by Joan Howard Drake, it was possible to link the site to people mentioned in the Journals up to and including Volume 27 in 2012.

More Outings

Various outings were organised. These included to Bletchley Park in 2007 and Gloucester Cathedral and Port in 2008. Liz Woolley took Society members on two of her organised walking tours of Oxford in 2011.

Wendy Pearse organised a walking tour of Ascott which was well attended by members in 2012.


WLHS members about to set off on one of Liz Wooley's walks in Oxford. Liz Woolley herself is third from the left. Linda Forster and Edwin Wilson are on left of the photo. Bob Holdsworth is the tall man at the rear. His wife, Pauline is carrying the green farm bag. On the right is Janet Wallace


A walking tour of Ascott conducted by Wendy Pearse. Wendy in the red coat as is husband Jim. David Wilson and his wife Barbara are on the extreme left, Janet Wallace

See a photo archive of these and other events and activities here.

Reviving Memories

In 2007 there was a new departure when the Society organised two sessions at the New Beaconsfield Hall where elderly and longstanding citizens of the Wychwoods were shown photographs from the Society’s archives in an attempt to identify some of the unknown people shown.

David Trollope used the newly acquired Shipton electronic projector and John Rawlins attempted to jog memories with varying degrees of success although this bringing of local history to those who had made it was clearly much appreciated.