The History of Witney

From the Archives

Part of the plan in creating has been to look into digitizing and making records and archives available online to provide a rich historical resource for the Witney community. There are a number of ideas for publishing historical articles and interactives and we begin here by revisiting one of the old copies of ‘Record of Witney’.

In this first installment of ‘From the Archives’, we have managed to get access to an old copy of the Record of Witney newsletter with the text from part of a lecture entitled ‘The Origins of Witney‘.
As it is now April 2014, it seems very appropriate to travel back in time to Record of Witney Newsletter number 3, published 36 years ago in April 1978. We have taken some photos of sections but also produced a pdf document to make the content easier to read.

From the final page, it appears that a Mr. John Steane was the editor at that time, and his introduction indicates that the Society had been very active:

Newsletter 3 introduction

Newsletter 3 introduction

And in his second paragraph he suggested that members of the society should be mindful regarding the future:

newsletter 3 2nd para

Thirty six years later, the Witney Museum and Historical societies have merged to become a single society (once more) and ¬†fortunately John Steane’s warning of complete oblivion did not come to pass. An advantage of looking to the past is that the perspective can often be a helpful guide for the future.

We are taking the opportunity here to republish the first part of the text (as included in the newsletter) of a lecture given by Mr C.J. Bond on ‘The Origins of Witney’:


“Witney is basically a medieval town. There was certainly a settlement in Saxon times, but there is no evidence that this had achieved urban status before the Norman Conquest. However, we cannot ignore the pre-medieval period. To understand the origins of the medieval town we must look back to Saxon, Roman and even to prehistoric times; and to look not only at the actual site of the town itself, but also at its surroundings.

Witney did not suddenly appear in a vacuum, but was established in a landscape which may have been intensively used for many centuries.”

To read more…. use this link to a pdf on The origins of Witney ¬†where you can read the first part of ‘Record of Witney, Newsletter No. 3, April 1978′

On the final page of the document, you will find a reference to Jackson’s Oxford Journal April 1st 1758 – whether this is an April Fool’s joke for the 1978 issue of Record of Witney, or an April Fool from Jackson’s Oxford Journal I have yet to discover.

The hope is to be able to publish not only more from the archives, but also to include other varied content.

Page 24 of that copy of Record of Witney has a list of society members and notes that Charles Gott was chairman of the society at that time. For those who might have missed it, we have a pdf version of ‘The Book of Witney‘ by Charles & Joan Gott.