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Eynsham Parish Council

Residents Recalled

  • Introduction
    Photo: Sue Chapman, 1987: Peter Ridley and Charles Caine with 3 new gargoyles created for the renovation of St Leonard's Church roof 

    The pages of the Eynsham Record are crammed with anecdotes and obituaries of local people, more or less well-known, fondly remembered or half-forgotten. This selection of recent residents can only hint at the skills and abilities that have enhanced this parish.

    George Adams (1916-2012)

    Brian Atkins (1937-2013)

    George Bolsover (1920-1987)

    Lilian Buchanan (1914-2005)

    Stephen Burke (1928-2012)

    Charles Allan Caine (1930-2010)

    Hugh Cooper (1899-1986)

    Margaret Bunbury Foote (1899-1983)

    Peggy Garland (1903-1998)

    Win Goody (1916-2012)

    Eric Gordon ( -1992)

    Keith Green (1940-2013)

    Margaret Gunstone (1925-2012)

    Mollie Harris (1913-1996)

    Gwynneth Holt (1909-1995)

    John Lopes ( -1961)

    Hilary Macfarlane (1909-2010)

    Mary Oakeley (1913-1997)

    Phillis Elizabeth Pimm (1935-2006)

    Joan Weedon (1923-2012)

    Fred Wright (1927-2014)

    Harry Wyatt (1939-2006).

    PRESS ANNOUNCEMENTS: Oxford Mail

    LIVING MEMORIES: Bill Allsworth; Jack Green; more Local People >>

  • George Adams (1916-2012)
    Photo: Times obituary 06/04/2012 

    The Rev Peter Ridley writes to The Times on 10 April 2012: When George Adams (obituary, April 6) retired to Eynsham (where I was vicar) I wondered how a geriatric physician might prepare himself for the onset of old age. One answer was that he taught himself to paint, and he was soon producing excellent pictures, including good depictions of village scenes. He presented two beautiful paintings to us, one of the church, and one of the cottage where my wife's mother lived. They are treasured adornments of our living-room wall. George Adams was a man of kindness and thoughtful encouragement, to whom so many people owe a gratitude that they will never have been able to express.

    Don Chapman adds: George and his wife, Mary, became very much part of Eynsham after their retirement to the Coach House in Newland Street. They had an immaculate garden which they opened for Eynsham in Bloom and, as Peter Ridley recalls, in retirement George became an adept artist - a talent which led in due course to his becoming chairman of the Eynsham Arts Group.

    For three years at the beginning of the 1980s he was also chairman of the Eynsham Society, presiding over its affairs with gentlemanly firmness. During his time he, the late Peggy Garland and Sue compiled the Eynsham Circular Walks leaflet for Oxfordshire County Council, which George illustrated. As well as being a very kindly man he was a fastidious dresser. I remember encountering him reconstructing a stile in Pinkhill Lane. No gardening togs for George. He wore a smart tweed jacket, equally smart corduroy knee breeches, stout woollen stockings and carefully polished brown boots.

    He had numerous friends. He regularly got together with the late Charles Caine over the day’s crossword and every Monday read the British Medical Journal to Sue’s mum, Dr Hilary Macfarlane, who could no longer see.

  • Brian Atkins (1937-2013)
    Photo: Oxford Mail 25/09/1985

    After a Yorkshire upbringing and schooling, followed by national service, Brian came to Corpus Christi College, Oxford to read Chemistry in 1957. After a year he switched to Geology, which determined his career. He married Pat in 1963, was awarded a DPhil in 1965 and moved to Eynsham with a growing family in 1969 on appointment to a lectureship. His 28 years curating the mineral collection of the University Museum of Natural History restored a fine but neglected collection to one of the best in the country.

    Brian was closely involved in Eynsham affairs, with support for the emerging Eynsham Society (1972); for building the Sports Pavilion (1977); and as an original Trustee of the Friends of St Leonard's (1977-87) with his long-term friend Charles Caine. He also served as president and secretary to the Probus Club.

    However he will be chiefly remembered for his work with Eynsham History Group. He launched the group journal, Eynsham Record, in 1983 and edited it for 30 years (well served by an eye for cliché and misplaced apostrophe). The long hours writing articles, revising submissions and setting everything out for the printer - including regular “Then and Now” photos, of which the modern were mostly his own - provided a legacy to the village and personal satisfaction.

    Brian played a major part in rescuing stones from Eynsham Abbey and later (2002) in creating the Heritage Trail around the abbey precinct, with cairns incorporating abbey stones and panels illustrating abbey life. Though frustrated by mobility problems recently, he still revelled in intellectual challenge - no crossword was too hard.

    Brian and Pat celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last July with all 3 children and 4 grandsons. His family and friends will miss him greatly.


    Picture: Dr Brian Atkins (L), Dave Parsons (centre) and Bill Smith loading one of the stones from the former Eynsham Abbey on to a van, for transfer to a new home.

  • George Bolsover (1920-1987)

    George 'Derrick' Bolsover, MB BCH Oxon MBE (1920-1987) is still fondly remembered by his patients. He was born 29 April 1920 in the Sheffield area, the son of a metallurgist, said to be descended from Thomas Bolsover the inventor of Sheffield plate in the 18th century. He went to King Edward's School, Sheffield before coming to Oxford to study medicine where he graduated from New College in 1943. As a result of his sporting achievements at Oxford he was made a member of Vincent's Club. After doing house jobs under physician Dr Alec Cooke at the Radcliffe Infirmary he married Yoma. He was then sent to Burma returning in 1946.

    He spent some time working in West Africa as a locum and visited the scene of the Italian earthquake with the Kidlington Round Table.

    He teamed up with Dr Tighe in 1947-1948 (just before the NHS started) and lived in Long Hanborough dealing mainly with patients in the Long Hanborough area although he had to do most of the night visits for all patients being the junior GP and perhaps due to Dr Tighe's poor health.
    After Dr Tighe's death the Bolsover family moved to the Shrubbery in Eynsham. Fortunately the Tighe family had kept the place very tidy although it was equipped with only a few electricity points.

    Dr Bolsover was regarded as an extremely talented and outstanding GP. He practised medical hypnotism and was amused when nurse Gill Williams sat in on a session and was hypnotised along with the patient. He also once appeared on a television show about medical ethics. He often preferred the one-ear piece type stethoscope, along with old fashioned and alternative medicines. He knew his patients well enough to know who was related to whom within Eynsham and the surrounding villages. Although medicine was his life, and despite a knee injury when a young adult, he still found time to be a keen golfer as a member of Frilford Heath Golf Club.

    Marjorie Crossley, who also came from near Sheffield, worked as a secretary for Dr Bolsover and the other doctors from 1965 to 1989. She greatly enjoyed typing Dr Bolsover's witty letters. She also recalled how during the day Dr Bolsover would disappear for coffee, a pipe smoke and perhaps the latest cricket results, which hopefully wouldn't make him too late for his surgery.

    Dr Bolsover was chairman of the local medical committee from 1964-1983 and was chairman of the Oxford Division of the British Medical Association in 1960. In 1985 he was awarded the MBE for his work and services to the community.

    He died on 4 December 1987 from cancer. His ashes were buried in Eynsham churchyard. A thanksgiving service was held on 23 January 1988 at Eynsham church, the address being given by Dr Simpson.

    There were five children. Leigh, one of the daughters who accompanied her parents to Buckingham Palace to collect the MBE, believes that Yoma was probably more 'chuffed' about the honour than Dr Bolsover.


    Martin J Harris, Eynsham Record 15 1998 pages 12-14

  • Lilian Buchanan (1914-2005)

    The four artists of the Buchanan family, Constance, Lilian, David and Norman, living together in Eynsham, and working in the village for more than forty years, formed a uniquely inspiring and memorable group.

    Lilian had been an artist since her early childhood; at the age of fourteen she had gained a scholarship to the Hornsey College of Art but attended there in the evenings, with her brothers David and Norman. By 1939 and the advent of war she was already making her name known as a successful book illustrator.

    Service in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force found her working in the Operations Rooms of Fighter Groups in Kent. When Lilian's artistic talent became known at Kenley, she was asked to paint portraits of the local Canadian Squadron pilots, and these paintings were eventually sent to Canada, to the relations of many of the young men who did not survive. Lilian's atmospheric painting of the Operations Room at Kenley, in action, hangs now in the Dowding Room at RAF Stanmore.

    Also, while at Kenley, she was presented to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), who congratulated her on her work. The area around the Operations Room was a dangerous site and, while at Biggin Hill, Lilian and her WAAF comrades were plotting the unpredictable 'doodlebugs' in addition to the British and German planes. One Spitfire pilot was mistakenly directed to intercept a doodlebug over the Operation Room's garden, where it crashed to the great alarm of all concerned.

    During the war Lilian's portraits of her WAAF friends were shown in the Royal Academy, and in the following years many of her flower studies, portraits and landscapes were accepted and sold. Her portrait of the late Dame Helen Gardner was a notable exhibit at the Oxford Art Society. At Bristol, where Lilian was a member of the Royal West of England Academy, there is a special collection of her work. Lilian's paintings do not exaggerate, they are true and gentle, reminiscent of her serene personality.

    For a year after the end of the war, Lilian attended the Camberwell School of Art; her companions there included Victor Passmore, John Coldstream, John Minton and Claud Rogers. There followed many years of work, first in Lechlade and then in Eynsham, during which time she illustrated more than seventy-eight children's books and many other items. At various times she had worked for London University Press, Hutchinsons, Newnes, the Amalgamated Press, John Lane (Bodley Head) and Frederick Warne.

    Lilian, and her life of art, was the founding source of the Eynsham Arts Group in 1970. She had a wonderful talent, which she endeavoured to share with others in her art classes at the local school over several years. There is no doubt that Eynsham people have been the fortunate beneficiary of a very remarkable woman.


    Joan Weedon, Eynsham Record 22 2005 pages 3-4

  • Stephen Burke (1928-2012)
    Photo: Harry Russell 24/03/1995

    Shown with Bill Allsworth (L) at the 37th Scouts Reunion (Boss's night); obituary below supplied by Stephen's son Sean.

    Stephen Burke died on 7 February 2012. For many years he was on Eynsham Parish Council and a trustee of the Eynsham Consolidated Charity. He was born in Limerick, Ireland, on 27 November 1928. In about 1933 the family moved to England for a better life, settling in the Woolwich docks area of south-east London. Later the family moved to Welling in Kent from where they were evacuated during the blitz and found themselves in Eynsham with their gas masks, a few possessions and the clothes they stood in. They lived in Swinford just beyond Eynsham toll bridge. Life was simple and perhaps hard by today’s standards - part of a bygone age. The family became well known in Eynsham, Tom in particular was a renowned but lovable handful. Stephen attended the Board School in Witney Road, obtaining a very good leaving report at 14. He enjoyed sport and played cricket and football later partnering his brother Pat in a village team. I understand that by the rules of today’s game both boys but particularly Pat would have been red carded in the first fifteen minutes of any game!

    At 15 Stephen gained an engineering apprenticeship at Morris Motors in Oxford, where he was a toolmaker and later a draughtsman. In 1947 aged 18 he was called up for national service. He enjoyed his time serving his country and trained as a wireless operator in the days of Morse Code. After national service he went back to Morris Motors, finishing his apprenticeship under Sir Alec Issigonis the designer of the Morris Minor and the Mini. Stephen played a part in the design of the Morris Minor and attended night school four days a week until he was 28 gaining technical and academic qualifications. Self education was something that stayed with him throughout his life. He did numerous night school courses and studied at the Open University, gaining an impressive list of letters after his name and membership of a number of professional engineering bodies including the Institute of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

    In 1950 ihe family moved to a better house in Cumnor but Stephen continued to socialise in Eynsham, going to dances at the Social and Sports Club wearing a very natty bow tie to the amusement of all but himself! He met Myrtle Spicer at one of these social events and they eventually got married at St Peter’s Church in 1957. They lived first in Oxford and in 1958 Patrick was born. Then between 1958 and 1966 they moved between Paignton in Devon (where I was born in 1961), Bodmin in Cornwall and Cannock Chase in Staffordshire. Stephen worked as a design engineer for companies such as Ranco and English Electric. It was there that he designed part of the joy-stick for the Lightning fighter plane and for the inside of a fridge door.

    Myrtle always missed Eynsham and her mum there so in 1966 we moved back to Eynsham to John Lopes Road. Patrick and I wanted for nothing and had a very settled upbringing in the village. A typical night would have Mum and Nanny Spicer slicing and blanching allotment grown vegetables, whilst drinking Guinness.

    Dad worked for many years as a chief production engineer for Smith’s Industries in Witney and later at Enstone airfield then Oxford Magnet Technology and then with Lucy’s in Oxford, a family firm which he loved. Then came the time when he was planning to retire and travel more with Mum, but sadly she died suddenly at home in April 1991. In the end he acquired a new lady in his life whom he cared for till her death in 2010 and at some point he acquired the infamous blue fisherman’s cap which he wore without fail thereafter together with a dapper red cravat. His funeral at St Peter’s was attended by many local people, as well as the family: a local character who will be much missed.

  • Charles Allan Caine (1930-2010)
    Photo: Sue Chapman 01/01/1988

    A native of the Isle of Man to which he returned after his wife Pam died, he was known to his Manx family by his middle name, although he was always Charles to us in Eynsham. He, Pam and their three children, came to live in Thornbury Road in 1966. Later he and Pam moved to Chesneys, and later still to Lane House which they built in Chesneys back garden.

    He made many contributions to the life of the village. In addition to his Chairmanship of the Parish Council in the 1970s, of the Bartholomew School Governors and of the Carnival Committee, he had a major role in the creation of the Sports Pavilion, and especially in Chairmanship of the team which raised £180,000 for the restoration of St Leonard's in the 1980s. Aware that it was unreasonable for each second generation or so of villagers to stump up large sums of money to restore the fabric of the parish church which had been neglected for too long, he set up the Friends of St Leonard's, a secular charitable organisation which raises funds to help the PCC to maintain the fabric on a regular basis.

    Peter Ridley and Charles Caine with gargoyles image Sue Chapman

    He was a sociable man, fond of entertaining. Even after he gave up tobacco and alcohol himself, he was ever ready to provide them for his visitors. He remained addicted to The Times cryptic crossword. An accomplished pianist of classical music, until arthritis affected his fingers, he provided the music at several village functions.

    A mathematical physicist, popular tutor and Fellow of St Peter’s College, he loved the collegiate life. He would regularly enjoy a game of bridge with colleagues before lunch in the Senior Common Room. He was also a member of the University Estates Committee, the annual visits to tenant farmers appealing to his convivial nature.

    Latterly his short-term memory loss became increasingly distressing for his family and friends, but he, well aware of the problem, typically made light of it. His end, mercifully quick, took the form of a fatal stroke.

    A memorial service in his college is being planned for 1 May in St Peter's College.


    Thanks to Dr Brian Atkins for this contribution.

  • Hugh Cooper (1899-1986)
    Photo: Lilian Wright 23/08/1989

    Above: formal opening of the the Hugh Cooper Memorial Library by Bishop Eric Gordon: deposition of Hugh Cooper's historical archives and an album of photographs donated by Miss Mary Oakeley. The librarian is Rosemary Walsh.

    The Eynsham History Group owes to Hugh Cooper its conception (1958), its birth (1959), and its survival well into adolescence (1974, when he relinquished the Chairmanship and became its first President).

    An architect by profession, he cared deeply for the environment. He was a conservationist, and for many years an active member of the Council for the Protection of Rural England at area and village levels. He was Chairman of the Eynsham Conservation Area Committee.

    He strove to defend and preserve those material remains of our history and heritage in which he saw merit. At the same time, however, he could be a crusader for change. He wanted to live in a world that functioned efficiently, and this meant adapting sensibly to changing technologies and social trends. He was an inveterate writer of letters to the newspapers, and many of these were progressive rather than reactionary. He would suggest improvements to road junctions; the reorientation of traffic signs; even modifications to the Market House (Bartholomew Room), a historic Eynsham building! I think that only a small fraction of these letters were published, and suspect that his style of writing rather than his message might have sometimes deterred a busy sub-editor.

    As a local historian Hugh Cooper researched and pondered long and deeply over Eynsham's past. I think it fair to say that his ideas ranged from the sound and scholarly to the decidedly eccentric. Here was no dull chronicler of facts and figures. He delighted as often as not to theorize, speculate, even outrage received knowledge and conventional wisdoms with his ideas. if some of these were most unusual, he certainly challenged us to think, if only to refute a Cooper hypothesis.

    I shall remember him as a fine and upright English gentleman with a rare independence of spirit and mind. Bishop Gordon, in an address given at his funeral, described Hugh's astonishing method of answering the telephone with the single word "Well ...". Impossible to describe in print, but imagine the word "whorl", spread out over three seconds and rising an octave. Members will also recall his endearing ability, at least in his later years, to sit through an entire meeting, apparently soundly asleep, and yet be one of the first to question or challenge the speaker on (but not always on!) the topic in hand.

    We are deeply indebted to his family for donating to the Eynsham History Group his local history notebooks, correspondence, newspaper clippings and pictures.

    His Eynsham publications include:

    The Old Manor House, Eynsham. Oxoniensia, 19, 146-8, 1954

    The Saxon bound of Eynsham (in two parts). Top.Oxon. no.7, 13-16, 1961, and no.16, 9-10, 1970

    Eynsham Armorial. Oxoniensia, 37, 248, 1972.

    These represent some of the writings of Hugh Cooper, the conventional scholar. As an example of his more speculative mode, his article "The Eynsham Altar Tomb", first published in the Eynsham Parish Church monthly bulletin for August 1977 is reproduced here on page 24.


    Brian Atkins, Eynsham Record 4 1987 pages 4-5. If any reader has access to an image of Hugh Cooper please get in touch.

    A sad postscript: the Memorial Library, which opened as “a pioneering collaboration between a village society and its local authority” (the County Council), now languishes in a cabinet in a private house with proportionately restricted access. It has a footprint of only 1 1/2 square feet and the space the library claimed was urgently needed is now occupied by a chair. See Eynsham Parish Plan - Leisure & Recreation, 2007.

  • Margaret Bunbury Foote (1899-1983)

    Margaret Foote was born in Oxford and educated at Somerville College, where she read English. Her obituary in The Roundabout records that 'her father was an army chaplain; and her mother an artist who spent some time in the Canadian wilderness - train drivers would drop her, all alone, at some remote spot in the morning and she would spend the day painting Indian chiefs and their people, and the train would pick her up in the evening! Margaret inherited this adventurous and indomitable spirit - which must have been enhanced in 1914 when she found herself inside Germany at the outbreak of the First World War; her story of the journey home was quite hair-raising'.

    Margaret left her mother's collection of oil paintings of American Indians, made in 1895, to the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

    During the Second World War she worked for the YWCA and subsequently devoted a great deal of her energy to the work of the British and Foreign Bible Society. On behalf of the latter organization she was regularly to be seen selling bibles from an old bread van outside St Leonard's, where she ran the church bookstall for 30 years.

    The old horse-drawn bread van, originally belonging to Biggers, had become Margaret's trademark. Discovered derelict in the village, it had been repaired, repainted, fitted with shelves, and stocked with bibles and other Christian texts. For many years it took part in the annual carnival procession through the village streets to the playing fields. In the 1955 carnival it was hauled by the vicar, the Revd Stuart Blanch (later Archbishop of York), and the Baptist minister, the Revd RJ Hamper, both dressed as Benedictine monks. The front of the van bore the inscription: 'To the Glory of God and to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the birth A.D.955 of AELFRIC, Bible Scholar and the first Abbot of Eynsham'. The van was redecorated several times during the next 27 years but this inscription remained. Next instalment - John and the Baker's Van >>

    Margaret held regular bible study meetings at Lord's Farm, and when she retired as secretary of the Eynsham Bible Society the vicar, the Revd Peter Ridley wrote 'it has been part of her vocation to befriend university undergraduates from overseas and to share with them the Word of the good news of Jesus Christ ... what an example she has given to all of us of faithful Christian service over so many years'.

    In his report on the Church Restoration Appeal, Charles Caine said, 'I cannot help being reminded of those staunch friends of the Appeal whose lives have run their course - Margaret Foote whose Morris Minor was the star attraction of our first Treasure Sale, indomitable in her faith and charity .... Joan Weedon described her as 'one of Eynsham's most illustrious inhabitants ... she devoted her life to the propagation of Christianity'.

    Margaret Foote was a woman of many and varied interests - Bible study, her church, local history and architecture, the Council for the Protection of Rural England, the Eynsham Society and, not least, Lord's Farm and her garden. There she nurtured and cherished a profusion of wild and cultivated plants, regularly on view during the village's annual 'Open Gardens' weekend.


    Edward Hibbert, Eynsham Record 9 1992 pages 34-42

  • Margaret Foote #2

    The Bible Van

  • Peggy Garland (1903-1998)

    Peggy Garland came to live in Eynsham in 1962; she was a cosmopolitan artist who, having studied at the Slade School of Art, began her working life in South Africa in 1926. Following exhibitions of her work in Paris she was elected an associate member of the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Her sculpture in South Africa included a notable portrait head of Laurens van der Post and the beautiful teak carving of an African man, head and shoulders, which gave a great deal of pleasure over the years at Peggy's home in Acre End Street. Her work is scattered about the world in private collections and in galleries and museums; she worked in New Zealand, France, China and England but unfortunately little has been recorded. While living in New Zealand she received an official invitation to spend eleven weeks touring China; her book, Journey to New China was published in 1954.

    In the early 1970s Peggy's sitting-room was the focus of a planning pressure group, EPIC (Eynsham Planning Improvement Campaign). Peggy, with Brian Jones, Max Wallis and others, fiercely opposed the growth of heavy traffic which, at its zenith, included one gravel lorry traversing the village centre every two minutes of the working day. One of EPIC's actions involved the stringing of sheet-sized banners across roads leading to the village centre. Reluctant residents were persuaded to lend their properties as banner supports, but unfortunately some banners in Mill Street became loose, chaos followed, and the police were called. However, the eastern bypass, following the line of the extinct Eynsham to Oxford railway, was eventually opened. Plans for 400-plus houses to be built on the meadows between Station Road and the Old Witney Road (the so-called 'western development') were also opposed, as were plans for gravel extraction close to the village. Peggy, together with her EPIC colleagues and others who founded the Eynsham Society (of which she was a keen member), had identified the problems which, to this day, are recurring planning harassments.

    When, in 1974, Eynsham Library vacated the lower Bartholomew Room and its use as an arts centre was suggested, Peggy organised the formation of the Eynsham Arts Group. She was its first Chairman and its President at the time of her death.

    P & D Beatson, editors of Dear Peggy: letters to Margaret Garland from her New Zealand friends claim that Garland and her largely Wellington-based friends made up a "cultural elite" and even laid "the foundations of this country's future high culture ...". Wystan Auden, no less, was among her world-wide circle of friends.

    Peggy's death deprived Eynsham of a powerful and experienced voice; with her help many battles were fought for the preservation of the village street-scape and the Local Plan. We have been singularly fortunate in having this self-educated, brilliant and remarkable woman as our neighbour.

    She was accorded extensive obituary notices in the national press.


    Joan Weedon, Eynsham Record 10 1993 pages 3-4

  • Win Goody (1916-2012)
    Photo: Eynsham Online 17/08/2010

    Win grew up in Liverpool and trained as a nursery nurse in Manchester. When the War came, she found a job as a driver; learned what went on under the bonnet with the Mechanical Transport Corps; and got busy taking food to the dockers and dinners round the schools, ferrying refugees from Singapore then up and down the dock road with the Yanks.

    After D-Day she shipped out with ENSA, driving several big bands on their tours of France and Holland ... among them Phil her future husband. She was then stationed with the ENSA cinema and theatre in Paris and “could go on forever name- dropping on the performers”.

    After the War she returned to England, married her musician and settled down for 20 years' happy family life. Win represented the Congregational Church on Eltham Council of Churches; got involved in their newsletter; and after Phil's death spent 13 years with the office of the New Guinea Mission.

    Moving to Eynsham to be with the family, Win soon picked up 4 secretarial jobs and edited the Roundabout for 25 years. She said “I do much less now ... reading, knitting, sewing, painting, crosswords and jigsaw puzzles. The days are not long enough! ” Now read on >>

    More memories >>

  • Eric Gordon (-1992)
    Photo: Sue Chapman 01/01/1991

    Dedication of the new market cross in 1991.

    Bishop Eric Gordon, who died suddenly on 6 June 1992, came to Eynsham in 1974, having retired as Bishop of Sodor and Man, a position he had held for eight years.

    Bishop Gordon's brilliance as a scholar had earned him a place at St Olave 's School, Dulwich, and at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, in 1923, where he studied classics, anthropology and theology. He came to Wycliffe Hall, Oxford to study theology and was ordained Priest in 1930 at Leicester. At that time Eric Gordon took a fundamental evangelical view in the practice of Christianity, but this gradually gave way to a liberal and traditional view of Anglican persuasion.

    He was appointed Vice-Principal of Bishop Wilson Theological College, Isle of Man, in 1931 and became its Principal, and Domestic Chaplain to the Bishop of Sodor and Man, in 1935. In 1938 he was married to Elizabeth St Charaine Parkes, a native of the island, and they returned to the mainland in 1942 when he became Rector of Kersal and Chaplain to the Bishop of Manchester. Three years later he was appointed Rector and Rural Dean of Middleton, Manchester, and Proctor in Convocation in 1948. In the year following his appointment as Provost of Chelmsford (1951) his daughter, Janet, was born. The years spent by the Provost and his family at Chelmsford were an era of great activity at the Cathedral where work on the interior was proceeding. The family then returned to the Isle of Man in 1966 when he was created Bishop. While there his connection with Eynsham began, since Lord Blanch, who had been vicar in the village, made several journeys to the island as Bishop of Liverpool.

    Sadly, two bouts of pneumonia severely affected Bishop Gordon's health and he decided to retire from the island in 1974. His first wife, Beth, had died in 1970 and he later married the noted sculptor, Gwynneth Holt, widow of the Chelmsford cathedral sculptor, TB Huxley-Jones.

    The Bishop's friends in the Isle of Man, extremely concerned about his frail health, were amazed to learn that he lived a full and productive life here in Eynsham for almost 18 years.

    Mrs Gordon chose the house in Queen Street as their home in a village which she perceived as friendly and welcoming, with a beautiful parish church and an array of useful shops; and thus, to Eynsham's long history of the wise and the good, was added this scholarly, saintly man.

    We have had the great blessing of his unfailing courtesy, his learning and his Christianity. Whoever heard Bishop Gordon preach will forever cherish the memory, and many people have found his counsel and wisdom 'a very present help'; for he was always available to listen and to guide. We have also been the fortunate legatees of his work on Eynsham Abbey in the shape of his series of masterful translations and commentaries on some of the charters, but above all of his elegant and revealing book, the result of recent years of research and labour; and Eynsham History Group has reason to be very proud of its remarkable President.

    The Bishop's last task for Eynsham, in his 87th year, was to rescue the Anne Bedwell memorial and have it replaced, renovated, on the southern aisle wall of the parish church.


    Joan Weedon, Eynsham Record 10 1993 pages 3-4

  • Keith Green (1940-2013)
    Photo: Trish Green 15/03/2003

    As told to Helen Peacocke. Eynsham has had its fair share of charismatic characters who add a special spark to village life and none more so than the late Keith Green.

    The fourth generation to run Greens Funeral Services, Keith died on 15 January aged 72, after a long and debilitating illness. He left his wife Tricia, children Annie and Ian, sister Rosemary and grandchildren Alana, Oscar and Senna.

    As a Freemason and the first foreman of Eynsham Morris when they got back together in 1979, he was a popular and active member of the community. Without Keith, the Morris would not be what it is today and we certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed a decorated tree in the Square every Christmas for the past 20 years. He made things happen. He also made us smile. Who but Keith would have turned up dressed as a chimney sweep, to hand a piece of lucky coal to Katie Chapman on her wedding day? And who else could have created comic floats on topical themes for the Carnival parade - 21 years in a row? The last float he built with his friend Stan Launchbury was a rockers’ reunion tour, complete with oxygen cylinder, zimmer frames and an ambulance to tow them, so they called it their swansong.

    Along with the Morris, his great loves were cricket and scouting. Between fund-raising and building the Cricket Pavilion, Bosses Night with the Scouts and “shouts” with the Fire Service, he never seemed to sit down.

    His funeral couldn’t possibly have been a quiet, formal affair - and it wasn’t. It was the celebration of a man with a lilt in his voice and a twinkle in his eye, who had added sunshine and laughter to the village all his life.

    At Keith’s request the hearse took a gentle tour of the village, with a final call at the Queen's Head for the Morris men who then escorted it to the church where around 400 people were waiting.

    He also organised the music to be played as the coffin was carried into church, choosing the catchy tune Auntie Mary had a Canary. Obviously that made everybody smile, particularly those who knew all the words. Those who didn’t smiled anyway, because Keith Green was a special sort of man and no one expected anything ordinary from him.

    FURTHER READING: 14/02/2012 Oxford Mail obituary

  • Margaret Gunstone (1925-2012)
    Photo: Kathie Tanner 

    Generations of schoolchildren from the Eynsham area - and their parents - will mourn the passing of Margaret Gunstone, who died on Friday 3 February 2012 at the age of 86.

    Roger Brookin recalled: ‘She was for many years secretary at Bartholomew School, and I worked closely with her during my time as head teacher from 1975 to 1984. I came to admire her enormously. We were good friends, and have maintained close contact ever since.

    ‘Margaret was incredibly well organised and hardworking, dealing with the school's finances as well as day-to-day administration. Her contribution to the school and the wider community was invaluable. More to the point, she was also immensely kind and generous, and many former parents and ex-pupils will remember her with gratitude and affection.

    ‘It is not just that she did her job well. She undertook so many other tasks over and above her regular duties - fund-raising for the school for example, and acting as secretary for the Adult Education Centre.’

    Bartholomew School staff 1975: Mrs Gunstone second left, back row

    Back row, L-R: Ray Evans, Head of Lower School, Margaret Gunstone, Secretary; Doug Burden, Head of Craft; Betty Ebanja, Head of Art; Margaret Jones, Maths; John Hanson, Humanities; Jill Evans, Lower School; Peter Ward, Senior Master; Front row, L-R: Mr & Mrs Jim Nash, Caretaker; Edwin Stevenson, Headmaster 1958-75; Noni Gardner, Needlework; Mrs Stevenson, Secretary.

    Mrs. Gunstone was born at Barrow-in-Furness in 1925, where her father was an engineer in the ship-building industry. The family moved to Johannesburg after the outbreak of the Second World War, when her father answered a call from the South African Government to supervise gun manufacture. There Margaret learned typing and shorthand.

    When her father’s health deteriorated, they booked their return passages to England. But the train taking them to the docks was late. The boat they missed was sunk and the family, counting their blessings, returned home aboard a Dutch warship.

    While working as a local government secretary back in Barrow, Margaret met another shipping engineer, her future husband Denis Gunstone, and when he took a job at Pressed Steel, Cowley, she followed him south, working first as a secretary at Warneford Hospital, then in Pressed Steel’s Prestcold refrigeration division.

    Upon the younger of her two daughters, Elizabeth and Kathleen, reaching secondary school age, she returned to work as part-time assistant to Bartholomew School’s first headmaster, Edwin Stephenson, and his wife ‘Weller’, the then school secretary, among other duties organizing the collection of pupils’ dinner money.

    By the time they retired in 1975 and Roger Brookin took over, she was in charge of the school’s day-to-day administration and financial affairs, a role that was recognized in due course by the upgrading of her title to school bursar.

    She retired in 1989 during David Clarke’s time as head teacher, but continued to serve on the committee of the Adult Education Centre and manage its finances until well into her 70s. Ray Evans, who joined the staff of the school in 1963 and became deputy head to Mr. Clarke, recalled:

    ‘Margaret was always immaculately dressed and equally immaculate in the execution of her duties. It was to her the staff always turned first if they had a problem. She was the fount of all knowledge.’

    Among other local organizations, she was a stalwart member of Day Centre and Eynsham Theatre Club, travelling regularly to venues up and down the country, latterly in her wheel-chair.

    The service of celebration for her life, conducted by her friend, the Rev Michael Farthing, will take place on Friday 17 February in St. Leonard’s Church, Eynsham, followed by private cremation. At her request members of the congregation are asked to wear bright colours, not black.

    In addition to Elizabeth and Kathleen and son-in-law Clive, she leaves two grandsons, Rupert and Dominic. Her husband, Denis, died in 2001.


    Information compiled by Don Chapman

  • Mollie Harris (1913-1995)
    Photo: Sue Chapman 01/01/1984

    Mollie Harris, who died on 2 October 1995 at the age of 82, was surely Eynsham's most widely known inhabitant ever since 1970, when she began to 'commute' to Ambridge as Martha Woodford, the village shopkeeper in The Archers, playing this part for the rest of her life.

    Extensive obituaries in The Times, Guardian and Independent testify to her national popularity. But her fictional persona was by no means her only legacy. She wrote no fewer than 11 books, of which the most important for local historians are her autobiographical accounts of a childhood in Ducklington; and From Acre End, in which she records the recollections of some 23 old Eynsham folk.

    She was a natural public speaker, although it is said that writing was more of a struggle. What shines through in all her books is a deep affection for all the places and people she wrote about. She was a keen walker, dog lover, maker of country wines, and fund raiser for the Imperial Cancer Campaign. Her cheery greeting "Allo moy dear!" is sadly missed around the village.

    Mollie's books (all published by Chatto & Windus):

    A Kind of Magic (1969)

    Another Kind of Magic (1971)

    The Green Years (1976)

    The Archers' Country Cookbook

    From Acre End (1982)

    Where the Windrush Flows (1989)

    Wychwood: the secret Cotswold forest (1991)

    A Drop o' Wine (with Helen Peacocke) (1983)

    Cotswold Privies (with her neighbour, Sue Chapman) (1984)

    Privies Galore (1990)

    The Magic of the Cotswold Way (1987)


    Eynsham Record 13 1996 page 3

  • Gwynneth Holt (1909-1995)
    Photo: Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service 03/01/1947

    Gwynneth Holt, who died in February 1995, was better known during her twenty-one years in Eynsham as Gwynneth Gordon, wife and latterly widow of Eric Gordon, sometime Bishop of Sodor and Man (and Eynsham History Group's last President).

    She was born Rose Gwynneth Holt in 1909, the eldest of three daughters of a well-established Wednesbury manufacturer, and educated at St Anne's Convent, Birmingham. She later studied sculpture at Wolverhampton College of Art where she met TB Huxley-Jones whom she married in 1934. Both these talented students were awarded places at the Royal College of Art, Gwynneth refusing her place since she thought her acceptance could impoverish her sisters. Despite the lack of further tuition, but encouraged by the Wolverhampton College Principal, R.J.Emerson, she proceeded to exhibit her work at the Royal Birmingham Academy from 1930 onwards. In 1938 Huxley-Jones became Head of the Sculpture Department at the Aberdeen College of Art, and from that time they both exhibited at the London, Scottish and West of England academies, the Society of Portrait Sculptors and the Paris Salon. Among the awards Gwynneth won were the Feodora Gleichen award (for 'outstanding work by a woman sculptor') for her 'Mother and Child' exhibited at the Royal Academy, and two at the Paris Salon for 'Arts Decoratif and for sculpture. A set of her wartime figurines of a semi-humorous character, which were cast by the Bovey Tracey pottery, is now in the Imperial War Museum. While living in Aberdeen she also exhibited work in ivories, woods, copper, terracotta and bronze in London and Edinburgh.

    Gwynneth and her husband moved to Broomfield, Chelmsford in 1949 where they shared a large studio in their garden and both achieved high personal success. Huxley-Jones's brilliant, imaginative figures gained him wide recognition, and he undoubtedly influenced Gwynneth's own style, although her life studies at that time may be perceived as more naturalistic that the style of her husband's large symbolic works.

    One of Huxley-Jones's commissions was the Fountain of Joy, to be seen near Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park. Shortly after his death in 1968, the large figure of the west wind was stolen from the fountain. Gwynneth, a very petite person, undertook the strenuous job of copying and replacing the figure to her husband's original design so that, today, the fountain is complete and appears unaltered.

    The demonstrable piety of many of Gwynneth's exhibits created a demand for interpretations of Christian figures and symbols. Eight churches in and around Essex contain her important representations of such figures, and there are other such works traceable to her 'Chelmsford phase'. The Parish Magazine of Stock Harvard (May 1955) contains the following comment about the figure of Christ on the rood beam at All Saints Church: "The figure speaks to us of eternal wisdom combined with eternal youth, and there is about the whole figure and its expression a strength and calmness which communicates itself to people who look at it long enough with a really open mind ... The figure has that strange factor of timelessness which some of the medieval artists secured."

    Both Huxley-Jones and Gwynneth were visiting sculptors to the Hopkins Centre, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA in 1963, and again in 1968; two known examples of her terracotta figures remain there. An unknown number of her carvings and sculptures are much cherished private possessions. In Malta, the doctor who helped Bishop Gordon when he was taken ill there, will on the slightest provocation show visitors his most loved treasure, Gwynneth's slender ivory carving of 'Girl with Cat'. Two publications refer to her ivory- carving; the dust-cover of Barnes's "Modern Ivory Carving" shows her 'Family Group', and the introduction, 'A visit to an ivory carver's studio' concerns Gwynneth and her work with numerous illustrations. Four publications refer to her 'Aberdeen phase', and during that time, in 1943, the late Charles Wheeler proposed her membership of the RBS. In 1952 she was elected a Fellow.

    Following her marriage to Bishop Gordon in 1971, Gwynneth continued to produce figures and portrait heads in the Isle of Man and later in Eynsham from 1974. The limewood figure of St Leonard in the chancel of Eynsham's Parish Church is a beautiful reflection of her study of medieval carving. Her later figures which were very popular were mainly stylised bronzes; these express the qualities of serenity and love which were obvious in Gwynneth's own character and personality.

    Examples of her work may be seen in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Chelmsford; Stock Harvard Parish Church, Essex; Balsham Parish Church, Cambs; St Andrew's, Hornchurch, Essex: Downham Church, Essex; Methodist East End Mission, London; Navestock Church, Essex; Buxhall Church, Suffolk; St Leonard's Parish Church, Eynsham.


    Joan Weedon Eynsham Record 14 1997 pages 33-37

  • John Lopes ( -1961)

    Father John Lopes was ordained as a Church of England priest in 1907 after studying at Exeter College, Oxford and at Ely Theological College. He came from a wealthy family and contributed generously to church building funds in his parishes, with a taste for the Romanesque style evident as early as 1909 at St Basil's in Deritend.

    In 1914-15 he converted to Roman Catholicism and was eventually ordained deacon at Monte Cassino. There he developed an interest in the Benedictine order that later influenced his decision to settle in Eynsham. He was Chaplain of Cambridge University from 1922 until coming to West Oxfordshire as resident priest in 1928.

    In 1929 Fr Lopes set up the new parish of St Peter's in Eynsham, six miles east of Witney. Larger Catholic communities existed to the west, but the village held a particular attraction as the former site of an influential Benedictine Abbey. He moved to 'Llandaff' in Thames Street before buying 'the White House' in Mill Street and quickly became a familiar figure, holding Masses in the Bartholomew Room, Market Square, in the absence of a Catholic church.

    Fr Lopes continued to hope for a new Benedictine community in Eynsham for his next 32 years. In 1939 he commissioned Oxford architect Gilbert Flavel to design a splendid Romanesque basilica to encourage the foundation of a new abbey.

    Only a part of his dream was realised, with the sanctuary which now forms the baptistry at the eastern entrance of the present church. He set about acquiring part of the original Abbey grounds as the only fitting site for the basilica. As luck would have it the land was owned by Mrs Emma Payton Pimm, of a prominent local family. After protracted discussions a two-acre plot of land was acquired – on condition that any church should be built by her family's firm.

    A wooden building was used for many years, but Father never let the humble 'wooden hut' limit his horizons. Parishioner Noel Green recalls 'a great lover of the liturgy [who] never allowed the paucity of his surroundings or the slimness of his congregation to inhibit him' ... whose erudite but extended homilies created outbreaks of rebellion among his own brood.

    Fr Lopes also became much involved in village life, serving many years on the Parish, District and County Councils. His contribution was recognised when a road was named after him (though most villagers now rhyme it with 'slopes' rather than 'Lopez').

    Canon Alphonsus de Zlueta described a 'man with grand ideas, with a greater sense of demand than of supply. [He] got through two fortunes in church building and grand living, always full of hospitality, kindness ... and much charity.' He is still remembered in his later years as a man of great vitality, a lover of conversation who retained an interest in all aspects of life.

    In the immediate post-war years and the 1950s the building project stalled for lack of funds and diocesan / parish support. Fr Lopes held firm, encouraged by influential friends like Mgr Alfred Gilbey and his stalwart church warden, John Pimm.

    Fr Lopes, an ecumenist at heart, was a great friend of the Anglican vicar of Eynsham, Revd Stuart Blanch, later Archbishop of York. They delighted in swapping Anglican and Catholic newspapers and together published a regular bulletin with news and notices of the Eynsham churches, a forerunner perhaps of today's Roundabout magazine.

    In 1959 Fr Lopes retired to St Joseph's Nursing Home on Boars Hill. He would sometimes take a taxi to Eynsham and say Mass in stockinged feet, his enthusiasm for the liturgy and for extended homilies undiminished. He died on 18 September 1961 in his eightieth year, much loved and mourned by all whose lives he had touched; and was buried at Eynsham on 23 September after a Requiem Mass at Blackfriars.


    Sara Ruane, History of St Peter’s Church Eynsham: read more >>

  • Hilary Macfarlane (1909-2010 )
    Photo: Sue Chapman 

    Dr Hilary Macfarlane, a familiar figure in Eynsham with her white stick from 1994 to 2006, celebrated her 100th birthday at Longlands Nursing Home, Cassington, on Sunday 6 December 2009. She has the distinction of being Witney’s first woman general practitioner.

    She moved from London with her husband, Prof Gwyn Macfarlane, who developed Factor 8, the first effective treatment for haemophilia, in 1940, when he took up a post at the Radcliffe Infirmary. The signposts in West Oxfordshire were uprooted in case of a German invasion and she usually found her way to her patients by directions from the nearest pub.

    With five growing children she gave up medicine seven years later to concentrate on their upbringing and running a small herd of Jersey cows at Downhill Farm, Hailey, in between playing an active role in local affairs.

    Gwyn MacfarlaneShe and Gwyn retired to the North-West Highlands of Scotland in the 1970s, where she helped him compile two very well-received biographies, one of Howard Florey, the developer of penicillin into a world-beating drug, the other of its discoverer, Alexander Fleming.

    Following the death of her husband, failing eyesight forced her to leave her beloved Highlands and move south to 13 Newland Street, round the corner from her daughter, Sue Chapman. Her eldest son, Robert, lives at Witney. The next eldest, Jay, and the youngest, Richard, are travelling from Perth, Australia, to be with her on her birthday. The fourth son, Donald, a busy professor of oncology at Iowa, hopes to arrive for Christmas, bringing with him his family and baby Hilary, the latest addition, whom his daughter has named after her granny.

    In all, Dr Macfarlane has 14 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild. All of them who are in the country are gathering at Cassington with her numerous friends to toast her health on her birthday. There will be a telegram from the Queen and one extra special guest, her cousin, Gigi, whose 100th birthday Dr Macfarlane travelled to London to help celebrate last year.


    POSTSCRIPT: Donald did come over at Christmas and Dr Hilary met her latest grand-daughter, who was named after her. She died peacefully in the early hours of 6 February 2010 at Longlands Nursing Home. The funeral is to be held at St Peter’s Church Cassington at 11:00 on Monday 15 February, followed by cremation. It was her wish that the family take her ashes to her husband’s grave at Gairloch in Scotland at a future date when they can all make the journey.

  • Mary Oakeley (1913-1997)

    It is with the greatest regret that we record the sudden death of Mary Oakeley on 18 December 1997.

    'Mary O', as she was affectionately known, was in her 85th year and had recently published her autobiography, The Long Timetable. Her book begins with her birth in Bristol in April 1913; an event which took place in a girls' school, the chosen nursing home being full. Thus began Mary's life-long association with teaching and schools.

    The Oakeley family moved to Eynsham shortly after Mary's birth and her early life was spent in the village where she attended Miss Swann's school in Redthorn House. Mary had a deep respect for Miss Swann and thought her 'a marvellous woman and a fine and caring teacher'. From the age of ten she attended St John's School, Bexhill, followed by study at St Hilda's College, Oxford, where she graduated in History. Mary's teaching experience began at Malvern, at a school where the Dalton system (an informal method) was in operation. This was followed by employment at an Ascot school where the headmistress called teachers by their surnames and crept up to classroom doors to spy upon them.

    In 1940 Mary travelled to New Zealand on the last passenger ship to sail through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal during the Second World War, the boat being chased by submarines until it reached Gibraltar.

    The post of headmistress at the Craighead School at Timaru in the South Island was a daunting one for a young woman of twenty-seven; however, when Mary finally left in 1955 she had transformed an establishment of 42 disenchanted girls into the leading South Island school with 220 pupils, a new chapel and playing fields. During this time she had become the second woman in the Anglican church to be appointed lay-reader and had preached in Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches in New Zealand.

    Mary's second headship was at St Felix School, Southwold, where she worked for twenty years until her retirement in 1978. The school had suffered wartime deprivations but during Mary's administration, a language laboratory, a new form block, squash courts, an art room and a sixth-form house were also built. The school crest was adapted by Julia Loken for a memorial kneeler in St Leonard's Church

    During her retirement in Eynsham, Mary worked in an Oxford Summer School for ten years, operated St Leonard's Boys' Club and the Drop-in Club at the Church Hall. She became a Diocesan Synod representative and assisted at services in St Leonard's church for many years.

    As Chairman of the Eynsham Society her expertise was greatly appreciated during parish meetings on the vexed question of local gravel extraction.

    She remained very active to the end of her long life. A long-serving member of the Eynsham History Group, at the time of her death she was its Outings Secretary, and had urged us to produce a formal constitution, providing a suggested draft.

    She was a source of strength in village society, honest and direct with an immense 'savoir faire' and a fund of amusing local tales. Her support and her optimistic presence will be greatly missed.


    Joan Weedon, Eynsham Record 15 1998 pages 2-3

  • Phillis Elizabeth Pimm (1935-2006)
    Photo: Andy Pimm 01/07/1999

    The great numbers of people who attended Phillis’s funeral at St Leonard’s Church on 6 October last year were testimony to the immense amount of support which Phillis gave to village and to church organizations.

    Phillis should have been ringing in her 71st birthday celebrations - having begun to ring the church bells at the age of 12; she rang for church services, weddings and many special occasions.

    Phillis had lived in Eynsham since the 1940s when the Hale family moved from Cassington to the small-holding called All Views on the corner of Old Witney Road and the A40. From Bartholomew School where Phillis passed the 11+ exam, she went on to Henry Box School, Witney, where she matriculated in 1951. There followed employment at the Oxford Branch of Barclays Bank until 1960 when Phillis married Andy Pimm. Phillis was busy for the next 16 years or so, looking after a growing family until finally in 1978 when they were old enough or had “flown the nest”, Phillis went back to the bank part-time and remained there until her “forced” retirement (she didn’t want to stop) at the age of 60, just 11 years ago.

    Despite her very busy home life with three children, Kevin, Alison and Robert, Phillis began to help with teas for the elderly, the Witney Road Playing Field Committee, the schools’ holiday swimming clubs and the Bartholomew School Tennis Club. She was Treasurer of the History Group, Chairman of the Garden Club and a member of the Woodstock Ramblers. At St Leonard’s she also assisted the church treasurer in the envelope stewardship scheme, taking on the responsibility of collecting, recording & banking the money from each Sunday and was a regular reader at the evening services. Phillis was an original member of the then Young Wives’ Fellowship when it was founded by the late Mrs Westwood. And in her spare time, she would deliver the monthly ecumenical church magazine Roundabout to the door steps of those who couldn’t get to church.

    Phillis lived life to the full; during visits to Alison (married and living in Texas) she discovered the joys of scuba diving and once competently took over the piloting of her son-in-law’s plane!

    Her love of nature was reflected in her position as chairman of the Garden Club (Horticultural Society) in Eynsham; her skill in the arranging of flowers, which was shown each year at the Flower Festival, and also in her bullying of local gardeners to open up their gardens for the Eynsham Open Gardens every other year. And neither was that all for she was also a keen walker and an active member of the Woodstock Ramblers.

    When Phillis was first diagnosed with cancer, she was asked by a family member, “Does the world now look more beautiful to you Mum?” Her response? “No, it doesn’t, it has always looked beautiful to me.”

    We have lost an irreplaceable friend, and are eternally grateful for the wonderful gifts she possessed and shared with us.


    Joan Weedon (with additional material from the tribute by John Underwood on 6 October 2006), Eynsham Roundabout November 2006.

  • Joan Weedon (1923 - 2012)
    Photo: Martin Harris 01/01/2002

    Above:  Joan & Bob Weedon at Abbey Heritage Trail, Eynsham Market Square

    Joan was born in Birmingham in the early years of the ‘roaring twenties’, the eldest of three children. Her mother was an excellent musician, her father worked in the growing motor car industry. The family were Methodists and spent much of their leisure in church activities. She passed the 11-plus examination and attended King Edward’s Girls School in Handsworth. The dark clouds of war affected us all in the later 1930s. Joan was particularly aware of the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and the later persecution of Jewish families, especially the children. She spent much time collecting clothing and money for them: so began her lifelong interest in charity work.

    Leaving school in September 1939, she trained for secretarial work with shorthand and typing skills. By mid 1940 she was secretary to the Electrical Trades Union leader and erstwhile Lord Mayor of Birmingham. The city and suburbs were heavily bombed in 1940-41. Joan experienced the results of these raids through the nature of her work, plus a few near misses where she lived.

    In 1946 Joan joined the Civil Service and went out to the Ruhr area of Germany to work with the Control Commission. She was stationed at Villa Hugel, the private estate of the Krupps armament family, on the outskirts of Essen. Later she was transferred to the International Authority for the Ruhr helping with relief organisations dealing with the aftermath of the war in Germany. She was deeply affected by the terrible destruction and never forgot it.

    Joan and I married in September 1950, beginning married life in a barracks in Cornwall as I was in army service. In due course we moved to Beaconsfield and took over a run-down guest house at Bourne End. Eventually we had long stay guests, provided bed and breakfast, teas and evening meals. Joan mastered the skills of catering and management of a small business; she was known far and wide for her excellent food.

    We gave up the guest house in 1960 after the arrival of our eldest daughter. By 1964 our family had increased to three and in 1967 we came to live in Eynsham. Joan quickly settled into the new routines of playgroups and school life. She enthusiastically supported the formation of the Art Group in 1970 with Peggy Garland and the Buchanans (and wrote a booklet on its first 10 years in 2005). In the early ’70s she also began acting as village correspondent for the Oxford Times. This called for regular attendance at Parish Council meetings and use of her valuable shorthand and editing skills. She became a veritable mine of of Council information.

    Joan was an active member of Eynsham History Group, serving as chair, vice-chair, social secretary and librarian during the ’90s. Her written contributions to the Eynsham Record were numerous, notably her fine obituaries which also appeared in the Roundabout. Interest in the archaeology of Eynsham Abbey led her to develop two plays. ‘Tales of Old Eynsham’ was performed to much acclaim by the Bartholomew Players in St Leonard’s Church in May 1981; ‘Once there was an Abbey’ was written to help celebrate the Millennium in 2000.

    During the 1980’s restoration at St Leonard’s Church, the Anne Bedwell monument was found to be deteriorating and unsafe. Joan worked hard towards its rehanging in 1992, as a member of Bishop Gordon’s committee. However, the restoration was unfinished and Joan persisted for nine more years gaining the necessary agreements and funds for completion in 2002. Until she was physically unable to do so, for many years she helped with church cleaning and also ‘sitting’ to enlighten visitors on the history of St Leonard’s and Eynsham.

    Joan joined the WEA in the 1970’s, becoming local secretary in due course, and for about 25 years organised two or three courses annually for Eynsham WEA. Eventually, aged 84, she reluctantly handed over to someone-else.

    Many will remember seeing Joan with Lynette Brown, surrounded by ‘bric-a-brac’ and useful items on a Thursday morning outside the Bartholomew Room, weather permitting. For 30 years the proceeds helped many charities. Of course to Joan this was more than a charity stall, it was a hub of village ‘chit-chat’. Over the years many were grateful for her kindness, her wry acceptance of the ways of the world, her words of wisdom and her sense of humour.

    Joan valued and cared for people; she used to say; “Whatever you do in life, make a contribution”.

    Bob Weedon
  • Fred Wright (1927-2014)
    Photo: Linda Dodds 16/05/2009

    The village will be sorry to hear of Dr Wright’s death on Saturday 3 May 2014. The funeral took place at St Leonard’s Church at 14:00 on Friday 16 May.

    A retired Oxford Hospitals medical consultant, Fred joined Eynsham Parish Council in 1991 - initially to fight the huge gravel extraction threat to the whole area between Eynsham and Cassington from north of the A40 almost to the River Thames. A tribute from the Eynsham Society, published in full in issue 7 of Eynsham News, notes “He would have been particularly gratified to see the turnout, concern and support shown at the recent open meeting in the village hall seeking views on the County Council’s consultation document on Minerals and Waste (especially local gravel extraction) plans up until 2030.” View words of appreciation signed by David Cameron MP.

    Fred served as Chairman of Council 1997-8. At the time of his death, in addition to being Hon President of the Eynsham Society, he was Chair of the Parish Council Gravel & Minerals Committtee and a member of the Emergency Planning and Senior Committees; Vice-Chairman of the Village Hall Management Committee; President of Eynsham & Cassington Gravel Committee and President of Witney Conservatives - Eynsham & Lower Windrush branch.


    View feature - Swinford Bridge >>

    15/05/2014 Witney Gazette report

  • Harry Wyatt (1939-2006)

    HARRY Wyatt, a former chairman of Oxfordshire County Council, has died aged 67.

    Mr Wyatt, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Eynsham, who resigned from the county council in March due to ill health, died on May 23.

    Mr Wyatt, a diabetic, had been ill for some time, and leaves a wife, seven children, and five grandchildren.

    County council Liberal Democrat group leader, Zoe Patrick, said: "I was devastated when I heard the news. ... Nobody knew the full extent of how poorly he was. It's very sad, and Harry will be sorely missed.

    "He was very well respected in his community for working hard and giving a personal commitment to public service."

    Mr Wyatt was born in South Wales, and qualified as a mining surveyor with the National Coal Board.

    He came to Oxfordshire in 1966, and worked as a land surveyor for the county council for 25 years. Chairman of the authority between 1999 and 2000, Mr Wyatt served on West Oxfordshire District Council from 1992, and was previously a member of Eynsham Parish Council.

    Mr Wyatt listed rugby, classical music, chess, reading, and gardening as interests.

    A by-election was held earlier this month for the vacant Eynsham seat, which was won by the Conservatives.

    Lesley Legge, chairman of Oxfordshire County Council, said: "Harry was a gentle giant and a very popular and respected member of the county council with both staff and councillors.

    "He encompassed the best of public service through his hard work, caring outlook, and dedication to whatever he undertook. Harry brought his own special style to the role of chairman, and was greatly admired and valued by all who met him. He will be sorely missed."

    The funeral will be held at Oxford Crematorium on Thursday 1 June, followed by a service at St Leonard's Church, Eynsham. Family flowers only; donations to the British Heart Foundation.


    Giles Sheldrick, Oxford Times May 2006

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