History Group February 2020 Meeting

The February meeting took place 2.30 in the W.I. Hall and 11 members were present. Six members gave talks on historical subjects they were interested in. The first talk was on one of the hidden rivers of London. Once open to view and stretching over the whole area and now underground with very few parts seen. The most famous was the Tyburn which ran from two sources both in Hampstead Heath and runs through from there across London to Pimlico finally coming out into the Thames. All London lost rivers, nearly 20 mostly underground, have now been built over. The second talk was how Carterton evolved by way of maps from the early late 18th century ones showing how this area looked like to the present day. The talk began by relating how the Dukes of Marlborough owned all the land and due to financial difficulties sold the land and farmhouse to a Mr Arkell who sold it on to William Carter in 1900. The maps displayed showed the plots for sale and how more roads were added to the farm ones as more people moved in. From a hamlet of a few houses to the large town today with the added estate of Shilton Park and soon another one of Brize Meadows. The third talk was on Marie Curie who was born in Poland and at an early age interested in Science. She went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne and got a degree in Physics and Maths. She married a fellow student Pierre Curie and they worked together researching and found a new element and then another they called Radium. Together they won a Nobel Prize for Physics. When Pierre died, she continued to research Radium as a means of treating cancer.  She was awarded another Nobel prize for Chemistry and a Marie Curie Hospital was opened in London in 1930. She died 1934 of radiation poisoning and a charity was set up to care for terminally ill patients with cancer in her name. The Bayeux Tapestry was the theme for the next talk which was made of 9 panels of embroidery and 58 scenes depicting the end of England’s Anglo-Saxon realm and William of Normandy’s invasion of England making himself king. There are no documents telling who made it but it is thought by a religious house in Canterbury. We heard next of Witney’s first police station which is still to be seen by the entrance to Henry Box school. The Police Force was formed in 1857 and the police station was built in 1860, the architect was William Wilkinson who also designed Lew Church, the Randolph Hotel in Oxford and other buildings including the Rock Farm cottages seen at the entrance of Lawton Avenue. Staying with Witney the next talk was on the Early family of Witney and their connection with Woodford Mill. The family were cobblers and makers of leather goods until in the 1600’s Richard Early working for his father visited Witney and lodged in Corn St and eventually marrying his landlord’s daughter. His son became apprenticed to Mr Silman as an apprentice in his blanket weaving business and eventually became a Master Weaver. Woodford Mill was originally a medieval cloth fulling mill and by the 19th century had been taken over by the Early family whose blankets became famous the world over.

WENDY MORGAN

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