3rd Quarter 2019 Newsletter
KIDLINGTON AND DISTRICT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Chairman: Henry Brougham 3rdQuarter 2019
Reporter: Norma Aubertin-Potter
The Society meets on the last Tuesday of every month at the Willows Restaurant, Moorside Place, The Moors.
Meetings Start at 7.50pm.
30th August 2019
Before the meeting Henry thanked Penny Thompson for doing such a magnificent floral arrangement for the St Mary’s Flower Festival. He also told us that the new website for the Society was now “live” and could be accessed on www.kidlingtonhistory.org.uk.
The Roaring Twenties or the Dancing Years
Martin told us that this was the era of radio, cinema, dancing, cars, champagne. And the introduction of dinner with champagne and dancing into the early hours. But already there had been a previous “Golden Age” in 1911 with its long hot summer and the introduction of an earlier dancing craze. At this time cycling became popular and women began to own and ride bicycles. Some women even took up flying and Lady Bailey flew to South Africa in her own plane. During the war women took over jobs normally done by men, in 1916 the Women’s Land Army was formed; many worked in factories; Glasgow Tramways employed women drivers; and in Birmingham women manned the signal boxes.
The police were equipped with bicycles from 1894 – each machine cost five pounds. In 1918 votes for men over 18 and women over 30 were introduced.
Between 1918 and 1921 over one quarter of the landed estates changed hands, in many cases being redeveloped into smaller units. In 1920 unemployment insurance and pension provision was introduced but on a minus side there were 3,747 divorces recorded. Between 1918 – 21 there was still rationing of tea and butter.
The 1920’s was the heyday of the cinema and in Britain in 1925 there were three and a half thousand picture palaces. Mary Pickford appeared in the film “Polyanna”and Douglas Fairbanks appeared in “Robin Hood”.
In 1921 the BBC was founded and the population for Great Britain was just over 42 million. In this year the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was unveiled. In 1922 Victor Silvester became the world dancing champion. Fred Astaire and his sister Adele also led the dancing craze.
In 1924 British Imperial Airways was founded making international holidays and much quicker to get to places than the ocean liners. This was the decade of Noel Coward – “Hay Fever”(1925); and “Private Lives”(1930), in fact his plays were being produced almost continuously. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “The Great Gatesby”. This was the period that gramophones cost the princely sum of £2. 19s. 6d. And by 1940 over 40 per cent of the population owned a radio. By the 1920’s the dance craze was on the wane and dance halls were closing. It was a period of great poverty, and in 1926 the General Strike occurred. In 1921 a quarter of women were in domestic service, and were paid fifty to sixty per cent less than males. The smaller type of housing cost £420. The average wage in the 1920’s was one pound a week.
Health food became popular. In 1923 Shakespeare was broadcast on the radio and the male actors were dressed in suits, despite the audience not being able to see them. In 1923 the first tram was fitted with a wireless saloon. After the First World War women could be seen drinking in public houses without a male escort and they could go to restaurants by themselves. By 1933 over 62% of households had electrical appliances.
In Kidlington Wessex Electricity Company introduced electricity into St. Mary’s; by 1934 the village was connected to the mains water. It was also a time of dramatic increase in housing in Kidlington. The 1920’s was the time of the relaxation of social conventions and while some could afford the dancing, music, films many could not. The play Love on the Dole described the depressing poverty in Lancashire. Thousands emigrated to America, Canada and Australia in search of a better life.
Olive Williams organized a very enjoyable day outing to Tetbury and then to Rodmarton Manor. The Manor built in the 1909 by Ernest Barnsley for Claud Biddulph (1871-1954) is now looked after by his Grandson and family. It is the home of the Arts and Crafts Movement and full of furniture and objects designed especially for the house. The gardens are magnificent and lovingly looked after by one full time gardener and two part time gardeners. The cakes in the tea shop were so tempting it was difficult to choose which one to have (I had the chocolate one!). We were lucky with the weather. Thank you Olive.
27 August 2019
A Spencer Love Affair: 18th century Theatricals at Blenheim Palace
The theme of Alan’s talk was the love affair between Lady Charlotte Spencer daughter of the 4thDuke of Marlborough and Edward Nares, a friend of her brother Henry. Both Henry and Edward were student commoners at Christ Church, Oxford. Alan has been able to examine not only the archives at Blenheim but the two volume private journal (7 pages of which have been torn out) and letters of Edward Nares, now in the archives of Merton College. Edward having been elected Fellow of Merton in 1788 and Bursar in 1794. There is a portrait of Edward in Merton College Hall painted by Anna Dovetin.
The key to Alan’s talk was huge portrait of the 4thDuke and his wife Caroline and their family painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1778 which now hangs in Blenheim. In this painting can be seen Lady Charlotte Spencer, then aged nine, holding a theatrical mask. The eighteenth century saw the growth of love of the theatre among the aristocracy and the gentry. Caroline, the Duchess was the daughter of the 4thDuke of Bedford and at the family home at Woburn Abbey plays had been a feature of the life there. When her husband inherited Blenheim Caroline had a theatre built within the Palace; in 1787 the Orangery which could seat 200 people was transformed into a theatre.
Lady Charlotte first acted in She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith during the Christmas period of 1786. Edward Nares, 3rdson of Sir George Nares of Warbrook House, Eversley, Hampshire (now a country hotel), had been invited to Blenheim by Charlotte’s brother Henry. At first Edward refused to take part until in 1789 when he played a role in False Appearances. This was followed in the same year with The Deaf Loveralongside Lady Charlotte. In the Merton College archives are tickets for The Deaf Lover inscribed with the name of Edward Nears. One other visitor to Blenheim was Henry, brother of Jane Austen, who herself was a fan of private theatricals. Between 1773 – 1789 fifteen plays were performed, including The Guardianby Philip Massinger; All for Love; by John Dryden and The Critic by Richard Sheridan.
Edward spent much of his time at Blenheim, he finally left in March 1797, telling Lady Charlotte he wished to announce their attachment. He went to his sister in Henley to be followed, unbeknown to him, by Lady Charlotte who had been told by her parents that they would not consent to the marriage.
Edward and Lady Charlotte were married on 6thApril 1797 at Henley, the service being conducted by Dr Landon, Provost of Worcester College. The honeymoon was spent at Croft Castle then owned by a Richard Knight but now a National Trust property. The Duke allowed Lady Charlotte £400 a year but she was not to return to Blenheim. The Archbishop of Canterbury gave Edward the living of Biddenden, Kent, valued at £300 a year, and Edward was to be Rector there for 43 years. Lady Charlotte died in January 1802 and was buried at Ardley alongside Henry her brother who had died in 1799.. Edward remarried Cordelia Adams daughter of Thomas Adams a local land owner in 1803.
24 September 2019
Coaching Days on the Oxford Road
At the meeting the Chairman said that the archives had been moved from John Amor’s home and were now in Exeter Hall. John is now retiring from being archivist and Henry thanked him for the many years John has been in that position and the wonderful work he has done on behalf of the Society.
Julian is the Local History Librarian for Buckinghamshire; a county he said no one visits but travels though via its many roads that cross east to north west. One archive of the 1530’s that survives for the country is the 300 page account book of Sir Edward Don of Horseden. Sir Edward listed all his expenditure of the many journeys he made between London or Oxford. On a journey from Uxbridge to Oxford he spent 2s 2d on horsemeat and two shillings for shoeing. He also paid a priest 4d to pray for his safe passage.
In 1673 John Ogilby published a book describing the principal roads from London to Wales – every detail is given such as a bridge of three arches at Colbrooke and the information that it was 17 miles from Hillingdon to London. At the time all the main roads were turnpiked meaning that merchants and gentry improved their local sections of road which could become dangerous in winter. In 1735 the turnpike from Beaconsfield to Stokenchurch was let on a 21 year lease. The turnpike house at High Wycombe is now at the Chiltern Open Air Museum having in recent years been nearly demolished by a lorry. It was common for tradesmen to lend money to the turnpike trusts at an interest of 5 per cent.
Many of the original coaching inns still survive – they have high entrance doors to allow the coach to pass though. To travel from the Charing Cross Inn, London to Oxford meant 6 changes of horses, these horses were bred for speed not endurance, and the average speed was 10 miles an hour.
The list of Uxbridge Inns Fire Insurance dates from 1715 – 32 and lists inns by counties. Many inns were thatched and therefore in danger of being destroyed by fire. In 1720 inn keepers would insure their inn from £300 to £400. In eighteenth century Beaconsfield there were 18 coaching inns, but by 1782 many had gone out of business this was due to the introduction of steel springs. This meant a coach could go faster and thus reduced the need to stop overnight. The Crown Inn, the White Hart Inn and the Swan Inn all of Beaconsfield ceased trading because of the steel springs.
In 1686 a list of inns and stables throughout the country was produced in case of need during war – Norwich had 930 stables; Beaconsfield 64 beds and 64 stables; Oxford 804 beds and 504 stables; Woodstock 43 beds and 109 stables and Bicester 47 beds and 14 stables. In the heyday of coach travel the inn owners were the largest employer in the towns. The Crown Inn at Beaconsfield which closed in 1760 had rooms named ‘Flower de Luce’; ‘Rose Chamber’ and the ‘Globe’. At the White Hart Inn again at Beaconsfield the manor courts were held there.
The Mitre Inn, High Street, Oxford had stabling in Turl Street right into the Twentieth century. And in 1835 the Angel Inn, again in Oxford High Street, had coaches going taking passengers to Birmingham, Leicester, Reading, Cambridge, London and Warwick. The Clarendon Hotel in Oxford’s Cornmarket was the original Star Inn. The Roebuck in Market Street and Cornmarket was a coaching inn from which it cost fourteen shillings to sit inside the coach and eight shillings to sit outside. At the Golden Cross, Oxford, now Pizza Express, the bedrooms were above the stables. And it is still possible to see the medieval wall paintings there. The 1830 Pigot’s Directory of Oxford lists coaches from Oxford to London leaving during the day and the night, it is a wonder the proprietor of the establishment ever slept!