March at The Mill

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Fay Hield 2015 copyThe Mill Arts Centre is still bragging about the great selection of musical and theatrical acts on offer this month. From nationally adored musicians to some of the UK’s best comedy acts, there is plenty to shout about at The Mill this March.

Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party

Thursday 10th March, 8pm. Music event. Seated. Tickets £17.50

Multi-award winning folk singer, Fay Hield, will be at The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, on Thursday March 10th with some of folk’s finest musicians in the band, The Hurricane Party, where they will be delighting audiences with music from Fay’s new album, Old Adam. Fay’s first two solo albums, Looking Glass and Orfeo, received great critical acclaim, which won her nominations for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and Folk Singer of the Year in 2013.

Missy Malone

Friday 11th March, 8pm. Variety act. Tickets £18.50

Join heady 1950’s inspired bombshell Scottish Burlesque dancer, Missy Malone, as she brings to the stage a variety of great acts that range from dance – magic. Missy Malone was also named in the 21st Century Burlesque International’s top 50 Burlesque Dancers and has been branded by Cotswold Style Magazine as a “Burlesque phenomenon”.

Joanna Eden: Joni & Me

Saturday 12th March, 8pm. Music event. Seated. Tickets £15

Joanna Eden is Joni Mitchell!

Talented singer and personal mentor to Sam Smith, Joanna Eden, will grace audiences with her stunning vocals and heartfelt musical tribute to her icon and legend, Joni Mitchell. Joanna Eden will reflect upon the singer’s life and how Joni Mitchell’s music influenced Joanna within her own career.

The Thinking Drinkers’ Guide to The Legends of Liquor

Friday 18th March, 8pm. Comedy. Tickets £15.50

The knowledgeable and hilarious thinking drinkers, Tom Sandham and Ben McFarland, will take you through the intoxicating journey that looks at the liquid lives of some of the world’s most extraordinary drinkers including James Bond and Jesus Christ. Slip onto the bar stool of discovery as The Thinking Drinkers delight with free deluxe drinks, where you will get tipsy and wowed watching a show that has sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe and London’s Soho Theatre.


Saturday 26th March, 7:30pm. Tickets £14 standard, £12 concessions.

Following performances in the UK, USA, Russia and Australia, Gavin Robertson focuses his attention on the Bond phenomenon. A thoroughly entertaining show which sees Bond encounter his greatest arch villain yet – Ian Fleming himself courtesy of a time machine. The show also features the smallest car chase (n)ever seen!

Half price Half term at Oxford Castle

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Kids go half priceClaim a half price trip to Oxford Castle Unlocked in its 10th anniversary year. During February half term, families searching for days out can enjoy a fascinating guided tour of the 1000 year old castle prison and claim half price child tickets by booking online in advance at

Oxford Castle Unlocked is a 1000-year-old castle, nestled in the heart of Oxford city centre. Visitors are invited to join a costumed character tour guide to explore the historic buildings and the fascinating stories behind them, including the Saxon stone-built St. George’s Tower and the story of an Empress’ escape, the atmospheric crypt set on the footprint where the famous tales of King Arthur were penned, the preserved Georgian prison wing which housed a variety of intriguing and questionable characters, and the archaic man-made mound, offering breath-taking views over Oxford’s dreaming spires.

Oxford Castle Unlocked is open daily from 10.00am. For further information and to book online, visit

New Name, New Look Museum, New Collections Centre

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Collection-Centre-External-Front copyThe Heritage Motor Centre, home to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, has announced a number of exciting new changes. The world’s largest collection of historic British cars is re-branding the name of its venue at Gaydon to the British Motor Museum, and undertaking a major refurbishment of its museum this winter as well as unveiling a new £4m Collections Centre.

An investment of £1.1m by the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust will transform the museum at Gaydon, which will now be closed to the public until February next year to allow the refurbishment to take place.  The changes will result in a much more visually exciting and immersive display, designed to appeal to both current fans as well as new audiences yet to experience all that it has to offer.

An introductory gallery within the new visitor entrance will set the scene and flow into distinctive new themed zones, including ones for movie cars, prototypes and sports cars. Families and enthusiasts alike will be able to stroll along the ‘Time Road’, look under more open bonnets, and enjoy new interactive content including sound, film and touch screens. Whether the visitor is three or 103 years of age, there will be something about each car and its history to fascinate.

The final element of the multi-million revamp is the new Collections Centre. Supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, Jaguar Land Rover and the Garfield Weston Foundation, as well as the two charitable Trusts involved, the £4m project will store around 250 vehicles from the reserve collections of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust and the Jaguar Heritage Trust. Many of these vehicles are one of a kind and most have never been seen by the public. A new team of volunteers will take visitors on a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour to view both the cars and the conservation work in progress in the historic vehicle workshops. Entry to the Collections Centre will be included within the Museum ticket price and tours can be booked on arrival. 

Julie Tew, Managing Director at the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust said: "We are delighted to announce these exciting new changes which will significantly enhance our status and appeal.  The Museum refurbishment and the new Collections Centre will enrich our visitors’ experience and showcase our collections to their full potential.  Not only will our prized collection of 300 historic British cars be far more accessible, but our Museum will give people the chance to learn more about the past, present and future of the British motor industry, its technology and its people.” 

The transition to the new name begins once the Museum closes for its redevelopment from the 30 November and the venue will be officially known as the British Motor Museum when the Museum and Collections Centre re-open to the public on Saturday 13 February 2016.

November issue is out now!

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November front coverThe Fabulous November issue of Four Shires magazine is out now.

If you are looking for that perfect Christmas gift, we have a comprehensive gift guide, featuring many local shops, offering everything from homes accessories, children's toys and clothing to Jewellery, wines and ornaments.

Peter Jones takes is on a stroll around Steeple Aston, meeting a rather cheeky alpaca along the way! Whilst there is success at a recent charity auction, lots of up and coming events to enjoy and artist Barry whitehouse teaches us how to paint like Georges Pierre Seurat.

Cover resizedThere is lots to read and enjoy in the November issue of the magazine, which is available at many local shops now! Or to make sure that you never miss an issue again, why not subscribe and get the magazine delivered derectly to your door eack month? Just £36 for 12 months or £20 for 6 months. To subscribe online please visit

Sam Bailey will switch on Christmas lights

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Sam BaileySinging sensation Sam Bailey will be the star attraction at Banbury’s Christmas Lights Switch-On next month.

X-Factor winner Sam will sing six of her best-known songs before turning on the street decorations – a move that traditionally signals the start of the festive season in the town.

Sam, who won the TV talent show in 2013, has gone on to chart-topping successes and has performed before sell-out audiences. She has just received rave reviews after a one-off live show at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End.

In Banbury on Sunday November 29, Sam will be a glamorous finale to an afternoon of entertainment that will include Beyonce tribute act Victoria, Banbury’s popular Rock Choir and local band The Next Hot Thing.

The show – compered by Banbury Sound’s Kirsty Leahy and Stewart Green, founder of the town’s new broadcasting station Puritans Radio – begins at 2pm.

Sam Bailey is due on stage at 4.20pm and the switch-on will be at 5pm. Hatwell’s Funfair will provide rides and sideshows in the Market Place, and Father Christmas will be nearby on his sleigh – courtesy of Banbury Cross Round Table.

Refreshment stalls will be open for business – and Fantazia Fireworks will light up the sky to bring the event to a close.

Sam will be the latest show-biz personality to appear at the Switch-On, and after the ceremony she will sign autographs and pose for photographs with her fans.

Her appearance will be another coup for event organiser Banbury Town Council who have brought a series of big-name stars to the town over the past 14 Christmases.

Cllr Colin Clarke, chairman of Banbury Town Council’s general services committee, said: “After many years of inviting soap characters to switch on our lights, we decided this year to go for a singing star. “We have been fortunate to get Sam Bailey and I’m sure she will be a huge success, especially with X-Factor fans.”

Cllr Clarke added: “This year, Banbury will continue its tradition of providing the best Christmas Lights Switch-On for miles around. I’d advise people to come early, watch the afternoon’s entertainment, and be in prime position to see our star guest.”

Although she always wanted to be a singer, Sam has had a varied career. She was a professional footballer and played for Millwall Lionesses, West Ham, Crystal Palace and London Women.

She was also a prison officer at HMP Gartree.

Sam sang on cruise ships and in clubs before getting her big show-biz break – in front of millions of TV viewers.

Following her X-Factor victory, her debut single Skyscraper became Christmas number one and her debut album The Power of Love reached the top of the UK album charts in 2014.

Sam’s first ever headline tour in 2015 sold-out every venue and was a massive success.

Sam lives in Leicester with her husband Craig, and their three children – Tommy, Brooke, and Miley.

She said: “I’m looking forward to the next stage of my career and I’ve a lot of exciting new opportunities ahead of me.”

Fans who want more of Sam Bailey can see her as Fairy Bowbells in the pantomime Dick Whittington in Aylesbury starting December.

Lots of Creative Fun at MK Gallery this Half Term!

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Coloredcaterpillar1There’s plenty of creative fun to be had at MK Gallery during October Half Term week, to delight parents and children alike.

It begins on Tuesday 27th October with the regular weekly Start the Art session (11am – 12 noon). Here under 5s can listen to a reading of the ever popular story The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and then create some amazing artwork.  Tickets must be reserved online in advance and there is a £1 charge per child payable on the door.

On Friday 30 October there are two free Collaborate workshops (10am – 12noon and 2pm-4pm) suitable for children ages 7+ and their families.  MK Gallery’s 2015 Collaborate artist in residence Anna Sikorska has teamed up with landscape architect Miranda Schut to share materials and ideas, and help inspire you to create a dream space or mini paradise that you can carry home afterwards.

Also on Friday 30 October, between 12noon and 1.30pm, there is a free Arts Award Sharing Session for all those Arts Awards participants currently registered with MK Gallery to share their arts experiences and discuss new ideas together.

And finally, on Saturday 31 October, from 1-3pm there is a free, Mini Makers session for children ages 5+ and their families.   MK Gallery’s associate artist Clare Ridgeway will help participants to see how they can turn every day found objects into other forms through drawing and illustration. Using colour, pattern, collage and drawing techniques, together you’ll explore what stories you can tell on paper.

All these sessions will be popular and places limited, so pre-booking is essential. Full details and links to ticket reservations can be found on the gallery’s website at 

All sessions are held in MK Gallery Project Space facing the main gallery at 900, Midsummer Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 3QA.  Tel: 01908 676 900.

Compton Verney unveils 2016 exhibition series

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Macbeth Act I Scene 3 the Weird Sisters Henry Fuseli Royal Shakespeare Company Collection Stratford-upon-Avon Warwickshire copy copyCompton Verney has announced its 2016 season of exhibitions, bringing captivating insights into Shakespeare’s world, life in the 1950s, Queen Victoria’s Parisian sojourn, Picasso’s foray into printmaking and the landmark works of ‘Capability’ Brown to the award-winning national gallery in Warwickshire. Shakespeare in Art: Tempests, Tyrants and Tragedy (19 March - 19 June 2016)  Located just nine miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, Compton Verney’s first major show of 2016 is appropriately a collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company, as part of commemorations marking the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.

A master of dramatising human emotions in their myriad forms, Shakespeare’s plays have in turn inspired countless artists – including the Pre-Raphaelites. Shakespeare in Art: Tempests, Tyrants and Tragedy will focus on those pivotal Shakespeare plays which have motivated artists across the ages – from Singer Sargent, Fuseli, Watts and Romneyi to Tom Hunter and other contemporary artists – exploring the enduring appeal of the Elizabethan playwright.

This exhibition offers an exceptional opportunity for both art and theatre lovers to reimagine Shakespeare’s works through a unique series of multi-media encounters; including painting, photography, film, sound and light. Using specially commissioned audio drawing on excerpts from Shakespeare's plays, RSC actors will bring to life scenes in some of the major paintings.

Organised in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Britain in the Fifties: Design and Aspiration (9 July – 2 October 2016) The 1950s was the decade where Britain was recovering from the seismic shock of the Second World War, but looking forward to the future with a sense of optimism and burgeoning affluence. As austerity gave way to increasing consumerism, Britain in the Fifties reflects on how design shaped and influenced people’s lives, whilst embodying their aspirations for the future.

The exhibition focuses on a typical young British couple and recreates the interior of their home amongst the social and cultural landscape of this fascinating time. It will include paintings, posters and textiles by Enid Marx, Edward Bawden, John Piper and their contemporaries. There will also be sections on branding, packaging, household goods, car design, leisure, holidays, glamour and fashion – including a 1950s allotment recreated on the terrace.

Queen Victoria in Paris: Watercolours from the Royal Collection (15 October – 11 December 2016)   In August 1855 Queen Victoria made a momentous state visit to Paris, the first British monarch to visit the French capital in over 400 years. Just forty years after the Battle of Waterloo, the visit celebrated the historic alliance between France and Britain in the Crimean War. It also cemented a personal friendship that had developed between the Queen and the French Emperor, Napoleon III. Forty-four watercolours which depict the Queen's enthusiastic reception in Paris will be displayed at Compton Verney, generously loaned by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection.  Some were given to Queen Victoria as gifts by Napoleon III, others she later commissioned as mementoes of her time in the city. Half of the works have never been exhibited before.

These previously unseen watercolours form an important snapshot of official art and taste during Queen Victoria's reign.

Picasso on Paper (15 October – 11 December 2016) World renowned for his painting, Pablo Picasso was also one of the 20th century’s most inventive and prolific printmakers.

His desire to experiment with new styles, forms and materials is wonderfully demonstrated in this landmark touring exhibition of more than 70 works from Düsseldorf’s Museum Kunstpalast. Each technique - whether it is etching, lithography, aquatint or linocut - inspired new directions of travel for his creativity, often being used to develop his fascination with the themes of bull-fighting, the circus, portraiture and the Old Masters.

Picasso on Paper will feature works dating from the 1920s to the 1960s, tracing Picasso’s evolving artistic vision through four decades of experimentation in printmaking.

‘Capability’ Brown 300 – from March 2016 2016 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, a designer who changed the national landscape and created a style which has shaped people’s picture of the quintessential English countryside, and Compton Verney is the regional hub for the CB300 celebrations.

Compton Verney is sited in 120 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown-designed Grade II-listed parkland, and has received £2.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to preserve, restore and celebrate the park - which includes a rare, Brown-designed Grade I-listed Chapel – as part of the tercentenary celebrations of his birth.

Dr Steven Parissien, Director of Compton Verney says “Compton Verney’s ambitious; HLF-supported Park Restoration Project is the most important capital programme taking place during the ‘Capability’ Brown’s tricentennial year of 2016. As a result, Compton Verney will become widely known not just for its astonishing exhibitions and thought-provoking collections but also for its outstanding, inspirational landscape. At Compton Verney from 2016, there will be space for everyone!” For more information about these and other exhibitions at Compton Verney follow @ComptonVerney on Twitter, like the Compton Verney Facebook page or visit  

Special Guests at Warwick Words Autumn Festival

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sirrobert21 copySpecial Guests at Warwick Words Autumn Festival 30 September – 4 October   Warwick Words Autumn Festival line-up includes several well-known media personalities.   The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta falls this year and historian, award-winning journalist and TV presenter Dan Jones will launch the Festival with a look at life in1215.  This was not just the year that saw the birth of the charter that forced King John to accept limits to his power, but one of foreign wars, dramatic sieges, trade, treachery and an invasion by the French army.  But for most people in England, life just went on.  A Realm Divided (30 September, 7.30 p.m. St Mary’s Collegiate Church) opens a window onto home and church, love and marriage, outlawry and adventure in the 13th century, and ranges from the king’s court to a peasant wedding.   Magna Carta is regarded as the foundation of individual liberty and in Magna Carta – Foundation of Freedom (2 October, 7.30 p.m., The Ballroom, The Court House, Jury St) Sir Robert Worcester will be sharing his life-long interest and enthusiasm for this famous document. A respected figure in public opinion research and political circles, he will be discussing why this landmark of the rule of law which has influenced constitutions around the world is still relevant today.    Born in Leamington Spa theatre critic and Warwick School old boy Michael Billington will be looking even further back in history as he offers his selection of the greatest plays from the Greeks up to the present day. In The 101 Greatest Plays: From Antiquity to the Present (4 October, 4.30 p.m., Main Hall, King’s High School) he will be putting the plays in their context and tracing their performance history as he examines their significance and what makes a great play.   The Festival ends with The Great British Bake Off 2013 winner Frances Quinn showing how to put a little magic into the kitchen.  In Quinntessential Baking (4 October, 7.30 p.m., Main Hall, King’s High School) she will explain how to use your imagination to create distinctive and different bakes from some basic recipes.   Festival Executive Director Helen Meeke said, ‘The Autumn Festival programme includes a host of other events and we’re sure everyone will find something of interest.  Warwick Words will also be putting on a series of Tea Time Talks in association with the University of Warwick and Xtra Events throughout the year.’

Warwick Words Autumn Festival 30 September – 4 October takes place at venues in Warwick.    For the full Warwick Words Autumn Festival programme, Tea Time Talks and Xtra Events see  or pick up a Festival brochure from local libraries, cafes and shops.  Brochures can also be requested by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your name and full postal address, or downloaded from   Warwick Words Autumn Festival tickets are available from Spa Centre, Leamington, Box Office 01926 334418.    To book on line go to

Win tickets to the National Pet Show live

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showjumping-rabbit1Win tickets to the Pet Show at the NEC Birmingham on 7-8 November 2015!
With hundreds of different animals, amazing action displays, expert talks and many more activities, the National Pet Show provides an educational and entertaining weekend for pet lovers across the country.
From the cute and cuddly to the weird and wonderful, you can get up close and personal to your favourite animals and receive essential advice from the experts.

Don't miss out on the amazing action displays including Rabbit Show Jumping and Duck Herding which are back popular demand, as well as a whole host of exciting new feature areas including Hill’s School for Dogs, TopCats and the Nerf Activity Ring.

See the nation's most skilled and heroic dogs showcase their talents in the entertaining SuperDogs Live competition, which will take place throughout the weekend.

Meet animal experts and celebrities including reptile expert Crocodile Joe and join Professor Noel Fitzpatrick on the last leg of his Eukanuba Supervet Live Tour. This is your chance to hear first-hand from Noel, as he recounts heart-warming stories from his popular Channel 4 show The Supervet, and reveals the latest advances in the veterinary profession.

As well as providing a fun-filled day out, the National Pet Show promotes responsible pet ownership and animal welfare and throughout the event experts are on hand providing advice and answering questions to ensure that all visitors have the most up to date information to give their pet, whatever species, a happy and healthy life.

Four Shires Magazine is offering five lucky readers the chance to win a pair of tickets to the UK’s favourite pet show. Tickets are valid any day and are limited to one pair per winner.

For your chance to win all you have to do is answer the simple question which appears on page 62 of The September issue of the Magazine by September 25th.

Kitty's Brew

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Hook-Norton1Nineteen year old Hook Norton girl Kitty Wright, who last month became the first apprentice to work at the Pear Tree, Hook Norton’s Brewery Tap, will now brew her own beer at the North Oxfordshire family brewery on Tuesday 8th September.

Kitty, who recently received her British Institute of Innkeeping Award in Beer and Cellar Quality, has created a recipe, with the help of brewer Rob, based on the flavours created in her favourite ales by the addition of a variety of hops.

Her day will start with ‘Mashing In’, the first step in the brewing process that combines crushed Malts with hot water in the new pilot plant’s mash tun, to convert complex starches into simple sugars that are more readily fermented. Later she will break away from the heat of the brewery to discuss the name and design the pump clip before finishing by emptying and cleaning the copper!

The resulting brew will be available at the Pear Tree during Cask Ale Week, which runs from the 24th September until the 4th October, with its official launch on Ladies Day on the first Thursday. Because of its availability during the Rugby World Cup Kitty intends to give it a rugby related name to compliment Hook Norton’s own beer for the competition, “Nice Try”. She said, “I’m really excited and looking forward to brewing my very own beer. Not many girls of my age ever get the opportunity to do this; I’m very privileged"


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2If you are greeted by the sight of 60 men and women running around Hook Norton Brewery with bras and pants over the top of their running gear please don’t be alarmed!

Cotswold-based brewery, Hook Norton will be the venue for the B.R.A.S.and pants Hash House Harriers ( brewery runs around Scotland and pants as your panting for your beer) bras and pants hash at 1pm on Saturday 29th August as part of their bi-annual national hash weekend.

The hash is an international non-competitive running club with groups in most main cities in the world. The main emphasis is placed on the social aspect and is said to be a drinking club with a running problem.

The bras and pants hash started ten years ago. The hash has always had an affinity with beer (A lot of their runners are CAMRA members) so while savouring a good pint the concept of the bras was born. The concept is simple - with all participants (including the men) running in their bras and pants on top of their running kit - quite a sight! They have run from a multitude of Scottish breweries including Loch Fyne Ales, Stewarts Brewery, Arran Brewery, Cairngorm Brewery and Inveralmond and are now bringing their event south of the border.

The hash running club originated in Kuala Lumpur in 1938 when a group of expatriates associated with the rubber plantations started a modified paper chase in order to work up a decent thirst before retiring to the Selangor Club. The restaurant was known locally as the "Hash House" so naturally the name was adopted by the harriers. The main founder A S Gisbert was killed in action in the battle of Singapore and never knew the global tradition he started. After the war members were posted elsewhere they started new chapters and the Hash House Harriers spread throughout the globe with millions of members worldwide.

Nash hash is the national hash weekend which happens every 2 years which is being held in Oxford with around 500 attendees. They have runners traveling from Australia, Stockholm, America, New Zealand as well as all over Britain. The main charity event is on the Friday 29th August where runners will run in red dresses for 2 different charities. Over the years the red dress runs have made millions of pounds globally and there is a red dress run from every Nash Hash and most major events all over the world.

James Clarke, Managing Director comments: “We are proud to be involved in this event and glad we can offer our support (and beer!) to the Hash House Harriers as they raise money for a great cause and we look forward to working with them both nationally and internatioanlly going forward.”