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OLHA August 2020

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Detail of the basement lightwell cover in the pavement outside 11 Broad Street, Oxford.

The latest e-bulletin from the Oxfordshire Local History Association for August 2020 can be read via this URL.

The OLHA’s e-bulletin contains articles and information of relevance to those interested in local and family history in Oxfordshire.  All members of local history societies and groups which are members of OLHA are themselves members of OLHA automatically, and this e-bulletin is for everyone.

Message from the Chair

Mary Thompson, Chair of the Society, issued the following message to members on 30th July

"After consideration and given the current uncertainty over the coronavirus and a possible increase in cases in the coming months, it seemed advisable to postpone meetings of the History Society planned for September and November until the situation is clearer.  Hopefully we will be able to reconvene early in 2021 if the conditions are right.  I have contacted the speakers concerned and hope to reschedule their talks for some time next year.

"We were unable to hold the AGM in May so that also needs to be arranged.  We value your support and membership and trust it will continue in the future.

"We ask for your understanding in these unprecedented circumstances in which we all find ourselves.

"I hope you are all taking care and keeping well.” 

OLHA July 2020

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The 18th-century crinkle crankle wall of the walled garden at the Rookery, Headington (now occupied by Ruskin College) - photo courtesy of Stephanie Jenkins.

The latest e-bulletin from the Oxfordshire Local History Association for July 2020 can be read via this URL.

The OLHA’s e-bulletin contains articles and information of relevance to those interested in local and family history in Oxfordshire.  All members of local history societies and groups which are members of OLHA are themselves members of OLHA automatically, and this e-bulletin is for everyone.

OLHA May 2020

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The latest e-bulletin from the Oxfordshire Local History Association for May 2020 can be read via this URL.

The OLHA’s e-bulletin contains articles and information of relevance to those interested in local and family history in Oxfordshire.  All members of local history societies and groups which are members of OLHA are themselves members of OLHA automatically, and this e-bulletin is for everyone.

Meetings Cancelled/Postponed

The Society’s March meeting, scheduled for Tuesday 24th March, and the Society’s Annual General Meeting, scheduled for Tuesday 12th May, have been cancelled/postponed in view of the Government’s latest advice today (16th March) on measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

Further announcements will be made in due course about the rescheduling of either or both of these meetings and about further meetings scheduled for later in the year.

OLHA February 2020

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The latest e-bulletin from the Oxfordshire Local History Association for February 2020 can be read via this URL.

The OLHA’s e-bulletin contains articles and information of relevance to those interested in local and family history in Oxfordshire.  All members of local history societies and groups which are members of OLHA are themselves members of OLHA automatically, and this e-bulletin is for everyone.

OLHA January 2020

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Port Meadow flooded in January, photo by Isisbridge

The latest e-bulletin from the Oxfordshire Local History Association for January 2020 can be read via this URL.

The OLHA’s e-bulletin contains articles and information of relevance to those interested in local and family history in Oxfordshire.  All members of local history societies and groups which are members of OLHA are themselves members of OLHA automatically, and this e-bulletin is for everyone.

OLHA December 2019

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The latest e-bulletin from the Oxfordshire Local History Association for December 2019 can be read via this URL.

The OLHA’s e-bulletin contains articles and information of relevance to those interested in local and family history in Oxfordshire.  All members of local history societies and groups which are members of OLHA are themselves members of OLHA automatically, and this e-bulletin is for everyone.

House of Wessex Project

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The "House of Wessex", an Anglo-Saxon hall reconstruction at the Sylva Foundation Wood Centre in Long Wittenham, was opened on 21st October 2019. 


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As members heard from the Project Manager, Lesley Best, at the SCLHS meeting in June, the hall built at Long Wittenham is a copy, using authentic methods and materials, of an original excavated on the same site in 2016.

The complex was identified by aerial photography in 1976 in an area important in the early Anglo-Saxon era.  Long Wittenham is known for its high-status cemeteries and the old Roman town across the Thames at Dorchester was given to St. Birinus for him to found his cathedral there after he had preached to the Kings of Wessex (or Gewissae) locally.

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The dig found that one possible building was actually a late Roman ditched enclosure, but another was a 40ft by 12ft post-in-trench timber Anglo-Saxon hall. No artefacts have so far been discovered, but an animal bone has been dated to the early to mid-7th century. 

The form and construction style of the building are very similar to somewhat larger 7th century Anglo-Saxon halls discovered elsewhere: most famously at Yeavering in Northumberland, but also near Sutton Courtenay. These are understood to be royal feasting halls (and Yeavering is certainly recorded as such). 

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The Long Wittenham building is about half the size, but much bigger than an ordinary farmhouse. It is thought, therefore, to have been a royal hall used for only short visits by the Kings of Wessex.

During the open-day, some members of the Wulfheodenas (an Anglo-Saxon re-enactment group) were on hand to present traditional Anglo-Saxon dress, crafts and activities.

An official opening ceremony has since been held on 24th November, officiated by the Countess of Wessex (see report from BBC Oxford on 28th November 2019).

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The Society wishes to thank the owners of the Royal Berkshire History + website for their permission to use the photographs and some of the material for this article.

Photos of the Manor

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The Society has recently obtained a fascinating collection of early photographic postcards showing Sutton Courtenay Manor.  The photographs, which are mainly the work of Percy Simms and the Antona Publishing Company in Chipping Norton and probably date from the late 1930s, show the exterior and some of the main interior features of this very interesting historical building.  

They can be viewed by clicking here.


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