24th April 2018
The History of Old Pubs of Oxford
The oldest pub in Oxford is The Bear on the corner of Blue Boar Lane. Records of an old coaching inn on the site go back to the thirteenth century and the coaching inn itself stretched back towards High Street. The Bear is famous for the 4,000 ties on display. The Chequers is located down an alleyway leading from High Street, its name was first recorded in 1605. In 1762 it housed a mini zoo. Inside is an English Tavern Clock made in 1760. The Crown, once a coaching inn, is in Cornmarket and can be found behind Macdonalds. Shakespeare is thought to have visited the Crown when in Oxford to see his godson Willliam Davenant. The Eagle and Child dating from 1650 in St. Giles is famous for the Inklings of which C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien formed a part. They met here regularly every Tuesday morning from 1939 to 1962, the landlady was not very pleased as they didn’t buy much!
The Golden Cross in Cornmarket now Pizza Express is said to date from 1193 when there certainly was a tavern on the site then, but the name is first recorded in 1764. Wall painting discovered when the building was renovation are now protected by glass. The Grapes In George Street is the only surviving traditional pub in the street, it dates from 1820. The Head of the River at Folly Bridge has only been a pub since 1977 and originally was a warehouse dating from the eighteenth century. The King’s Arms in Holywell can be traced back to 1607, in the eighteenth century it was a large coaching inn. Women were not admitted into its back rooms until 1973.
The Lamb and Flag in St.Giles is owned by St. John’s College and dates from 1695. Any profits go towards supporting students of the college. The Mitre in High Street is the oldest Oxford pub with the list of landlords going back to 1230. It was a coaching inn. A thirteenth century crypt survives as a wine cellar. Lincoln College has owned the building since 1488. The Old Tom in St.Aldates is named after the Christ Church bell which tolls 101 times at 9.05 p.m. The pub was first recorded as the Unicorn in the seventeenth century. In Market Street was the Roebuck now no longer a pub. The current building dates from 1938 and Boots stands on the site of the original pub.
The White Horse in Broad Street is sandwiched between two Blackwell’s shops, it was the haunt of Morse and has appeared in many episodes. The pub can be traced back to 1551 when it was called the White Mermaid. Todays building dates from the eighteenth century. The Rose & Crown in North Parade dates back to 1863. The Victoria in Walton Street has a reproduction on the ceiling of Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam with Adam and God both holding a glass of beer!
The Royal Blenheim in St. Ebbe’s Street is named after a stagecoach that operated between London and Oxford before the coming of the railways. The current building dates from 1889. St.Aldates Tavern has been a pub for over 500 hundred years under various names, the first being Christopher’s Inn. It was also known as the Hobgoblin. The White Rabbit in Friars Entry is only a few feet from the back entrance to the Playhouse. The pub itself dates from 1830.
In St.Clement’s is the Angel and Greyhound – which is named after the two coaching inns that stood near Magdalen Bridge. The Angel was first recorded in 1391 and stood on the site of the current University Examination Schools. The Greyhound was first recorded in 1526. The Angel and Greyhound meadow is where the horses of both inns used to graze. The Half Moon in St Clement’s was once known as the smallest pub in Oxford but has since been enlarged. It dates from 1823. Again in St.Clement’s is the Port Mahon built on the site of an orchard in 1710. Named after the Battle of Port Mahon or Battle of Menorca where the French defeated the British and gained control of the island!
Dave Richardson, Oxford Pubs. 2015. ISBN 987 1 4456 4728 9
11th May 2018
45 members attended the Annual Dinner at Kirtlington Golf Club. And it was a pleasure to see Valerie Offord, one of our Founder Members, also at the dinner. The guest speaker was Martin Wainwright who has recently moved to Thrupp. And the members were delighted to welcome his wife as well. The Chairman in his speech thanked Olive Williams for all her hard work in organising the dinner. David Phipps was the excellent toastmaster and he also produced the menu card with one of his paintings that of the Red Lion in The Moors.
29th May 2018
Unlocking the Church, the lost secrets of Victorian sacred space.
William was a few minutes late because he had to finish reading a chapter of Harry Potter to his children! But he made up for it with an excellent presentation which ended in many questions from members and leaving us with much food for thought.
He told us that St.Mary’s, Kidlington was the inspiration for the book; during the ten years he spent as a non-stipendary Minister in the Village with the help of John Amor’s book on Kidlington he was able to explore the church in detail. What we see today was created by the Victorians, but from the Eighteenth century to the 1840’s the church would have looked different, for instance the pulpit would have been on the north door, a plaster ceiling hid the medieval roof, there were galleries on three sides cutting off the tops of the windows. It was the Victorians who reoriented it to face East, removed the old pews and refurnished the rest of the church.
At Dorchester Abbey the interior space was divided into separate rooms, with one room even storing the fire engine! The pre-Victorian churches were designed for “hearing” – the congregation were close to the parson, imagery was limited; whereas the Victorians were more concerned with “seeing” and imagery. All Saints Margaret Street Westminster, built by William Butterfield is literally full of ornament – every inch is colourful. Butterfield built the Chapel of Keble College Oxford. A contemporary paper called it a “stripey zebra”. Leeds Parish Church built in 1841 with all its colour particularly in the stained glass windows was designed for the full emotional effect of a church.
In the nineteenth century nearly one thousand churches were built, Anglian churches were being opened every three to four days. Until the 1830’s all new churches were paid for by the State. A total of sixteen thousand existing churches were restored by the Victorians and in many cases were rebuilt. One of the new churches was that of Littlemore designed by Henry Underwood and commissioned by John Henry Newman. At its opening in 1836 Newman preached for an hour and a half explaining the imagery to the congregation. It was he said like a Book of Holy Scripture. There was only one door just as Jesus is on the one way to God; the three windows symbolize the Trinity. And the seven arches under the windows resembled the text “Seven times a day will I praise thee”. The three windows represented the three sacraments: baptism, confirmation and Holy Communion. Littlemore is a place you were meant to READ not LISTEN. Peter Maurice, vicar of Yarnton found Littlemore horrifying!
In the nineteenth century there was a growing trend to leaving churches open; in the earlier centuries they were locked until there was a service. Today St Mary’s is open as intended by the Victorians. The century was also the great age of organ building in churches, although not all welcomed the organ, a member of the congregation was against the introduction of one in Rochdale Parish Church. At the same time candles, vestments, frescoes and embroidery began to be introduced into the churches. In the 1830’s flowers in the church became a common feature. It was the Victorians who turned churches from teaching boxes into sacramental images for us to enjoy and experience today.
In case anyone is interested William’s book the details are: Unlocking the Church: the lost secrets of Victorian sacred space. Oxford University Press 2017. ISBN 9780198796152.
26th June 2018
AGM and Members Social
Over 50 members attended the AGM despite the lure of the summer weather, the tennis and the football. All the Officers were re-elected, with the exception of John Amor, who, after many valuable years as Vice-Chairman has decided it was time to step down. Clare Lobb was elected Vice Chairman. Luckily for the Society John is continuing as the archivist.
After the AGM Olive Williams had provided wine and nibbles, having overcome the absence of available glasses.
John had provided a display of items from the archives for us to examine. The 12 aerial photos of the village of varying dates were very popular as we all tried to see which field our house now stands on. Photographs of Hanno the Lion and the polar bears reminded us of the zoo centred round what is now Thames Valley Police Headquarters. The Townswomen’s Afternoon Guild scrapbook, 1900 to 1966 was fascinating. Kidlington Flower Show 1913 reminded us of times past when life was taken at a more leisurely pace. In the photo the men played darts and the women listened to the Silver Band. Some of the members were not living in the village in 1989 when the church bells were taken down for repair and the four photos draw quite a crowd around that part of the table.
The image of the old style Kidlington bus brought smiles, many remembered going to work in Oxford on it, and how it shuddered when the driver changed gear. The image of the train Fair Rosamund shown in a photo with driver and fireman caused much discussion. The Society seems to have a number of members expert on trains! One of the photos showed three winning bandsmen proudly holding their instruments possibly dating before the 1920’s.
The photo of St. Mary’s taken in 1880 showed the south aisle before it was rebuilt. This is the oldest photo we have of the Church. A selection of dinner menu covers painted by David Phipps were on show and once again we tried to identify the building – David always makes us work hard for this and your Reporter is always embarrassed by never getting it right!
The evening showed how important the retaining of archives and material relating to the village is for the history of the area. And how much we owe John Amor for rescuing much of it and encouraging people to give photos etc into his keeping.
Herewith a list of the documents displayed by John:
- Beecham’s walking stick – 4 pages of photographs
- Townswomen’s afternoon Guild scrapbook, 1900 – 1966.
- KDHS Dinner Menus – David Phipps.
- Zoo – 2 guides; photo of entrance; Hanno the Lion; Polar Bears; Frank Gray; Rosie.
- Evacuees – the Stevenage Knitting Co – Bill for clothing November 1941.
- Photo – 1931 Pageant.
- Photography – 4 photos. Poppy Heads in Church.
- Photo – St Mary’s Lodge, Church Street c. 1930 – Miss Allen’s Establishment for Young Ladies.
- Photograph – John Allen’s Classical Academy n Church Street c. 1830.
- Photograph – Edward Field.
- Photo – Kidlington Flower Show 1913.
- Photo – Church from South, 1880 Kidlington oldest photo we have of the south asisle.
- Photo – Church bells when taken down 1989.
- Display – canal at Kidlington.
- Collection of 12 aerial photographs of the Village and area.
- 1818 Enclosure Award map.
- Photo – Banbury Road, Kidlington before 1930.
- Photo – Kidlington Bus.
- Photo – Fair Rosamund with driver and fireman.
- Photo – three Horseshoes Banbury Rad.
- Large Book – Old Oxford.
- Certificate – Kidlington Prize Band.
- Photo – Three winning bandsmen.
- Thame Workshouse – table showing diet.
- Kidlington Place.
- The Dog at Kidlington.