England's Past for Everyone Oxfordshire

Overview

Two England’s Past for Everyone (EPE) projects took place in Oxfordshire and were led by colleagues of the Victoria County History (VCH) of Oxfordshire, Dr Simon Townley, Dr Robert Peberdy and Dr Antonia Catchpole, based at Oxford University. The projects looked at the history of the medieval market towns of Burford and Henley-on-Thames.

The Burford project looked at the town as visitors experience it. It explored Burford’s origins as a planned medieval town, its social and economic life, and the people who have lived and worked there over the centuries. Volunteers transcribed wills, probates and other historical documents to find out more about the people who lived in the town, and took part in building investigation, carried out in partnership with the Oxfordshire Building Record.

The Henley project volunteers looked at censuses and wills and building investigation was carried out in partnership with Oxford Dendrochronological Laboratory and Oxfordshire Buildings Record.  A school project was produced in partnership with the River & Rowing Museum, Henley, and Mabel Prichard Special Educational Needs School.

Publications

Two paperbacks were published as part of the Oxfordshire project.  Burford: Buildings and People in a Cotswold Town (ISBN: 978-1-86077-488-1) was written by Antonia Catchpole, Robert Peberdy and David Clark (Oxfordshire Buildings Record). A foreword was provided by author Bill Bryson. The book was published by Phillimore & Co. Ltd in 2008 and was launched at an evening reception on 6 June at the Great House in Burford, by kind permission of the owner (see gallery). Burford: Buildings and People in a Cotswold Town is about the creation of the town we see today: its buildings, its townscape, and the people who over the centuries have lived in and helped shape it. Chronological chapters set Burford in context, looking at its creation by medieval planners, its role in the Cotswold wool trade, and its later history as a small market and (briefly) coaching town. The book also includes a gazetteer of all the buildings in the main streets of the town, the first comprehensive record of its kind and of value to both locals and visitors alike. Grand houses, humble cottages, and shops and workshops are all included, while two chapters are devoted to the church and other religious buildings. Most of the buildings have never been studied in such depth, and several have been scientifically tree-ring dated for the first time.

Henley-on-Thames: Town, Trade and River (ISBN: 978-1-86077-554-3) was written by Dr Simon Townley and published by Phillimore & Co. Ltd in 2009. A foreword was provided by local actor, Simon Williams. The book was launched at an evening reception at the River & Rowing Museum, Henley on 24 November 2009 (see gallery). The event was attended by a number of local dignitaries, including the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire. Henley-on-Thames: Town, Trade and River traces the history of the town and river over time, from Henley’s origins as a planned medieval market town and inland port shipping grain to London, through to its 18th century development as a coaching centre and its present-day role as a small service, tourist and commuting town.

Schools Resources

The Oxfordshire school project was completed in partnership with the River & Rowing Museum, Henley, and the Mabel Prichard SEN School. The project looked at the buildings of Burford and Henley and was based on research completed for both EPE paperbacks. Activities included treasure trails around the town, trips on boats and trains, and hands-on activities in the classroom. The resulting teaching materials were written by Jill Hutchinson and provide cross-curricular resources aimed at mainstream Key Stages 1 and 2.

All teaching materials are available from the EPE Schools Learning Zone (www.EnglandsPastforEveryone.org.uk/schools)