North Oxfordshire Quaker Clocks Exhibiton

Written by Kate Wilton on .

North Oxfordshire Quaker Clocks Exhibiton - at Adderbury Village Institute  8th & 9th June 10.30 - 5pm

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Welcome to Adderbury History Association's exhibition of North Oxfordshire Quaker clocks (Sponsored by Bonhams). This was a unique exhibition held in June at the Adderbury Village Institute, curated by Tim Marshall, and made possible by a number of generous loans, it illustrated the local Quaker clockmakers output from around 1700 until the mid-nineteenth century, dating from the early work of Thomas Gilkes senior of Sibford Gower to the last Quaker clockmaker working in that village - Ezra Enoch. The history of Quakerism in North Oxfordshire is almost as long as Quakerism itself, arriving in Puritan Banbury during the 1650's, and quickly establishing itself in the rural area to the west and south of the town during the second half of the seventeenth century. (Adderbury Quaker Meeting House was opened by George Fox in 1675 and the first Sibford Gower Meeting House followed in 1681.)

The same could almost be said about domestic clockmaking, although it was not until the 1689 Act of Toleration created the stability and safety for the Quakers, that the two converged; when we see the emergence of a group of Quaker blacksmith turned clockmakers, in the form of the Gilkes family of Sibford Gower and later the Fardons of Deddington, who went on , through their descendants, relatives and apprentices to dominate the craft and create a clockmaking tradition that was to last throughout the eighteenth century. During which time they produced one of the most iconic styles of English country clockmaking, instantly recognisable to enthusiasts everywhere - the iron posted hoop and spike clock with the distinctive ring and zig zag engraved dials.

Most probably first produced in the workshop of Thomas Gilkes senior of Sibford Gower around 1700, and continued by his three sons  - Thomas junior (who remained at Sibford), John who moved to Shipston on Stour, and Richard who became the Adderbury clockmaker, and Thomas senior's apprentice - John Fardon who went on to establish the Fardon dynasty of clockmakers at Deddington. They were followed by further generations, each in turn providing an example of the Quaker ideals of education, apprenticeship and travel within their working lives.  

From this group of clockmakers a network of trade was created throughout North Oxfordshire, extending, after 1750, further afield to Charlbury, Burford and Milton under Wychwood. At each location we find the local clockmaker, taking a prominent role in the running of their local Quaker meeting.

It was this organisational system, centred upon the Quakers' core principles of simplicity and truth in all aspects of life, (set up by George Fox during the early years of Quakerism in the seventeenth century) and administered via a network of meetings radiating out from the London Yearly Meeting, to the Regional Quarterly Meeting, then to the Monthly Meeting and eventually the Local Preparative meeting, that underpinned their success.

By these means the Quaker clockmakers, or for that matter Quakers in general, exercised economic power way beyond their numbers, which lasted throughout the period of English country clockmaking.



Sensational Midsummer at Coughton Court

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .

Coughtons panelled Dining Room set for the Midsummer Supper - Credit Claire BlackburnCelebrating the arrival of Midsummer, National Trust property Coughton Court is inviting visitors to come and indulge in the fabulous scents and tastes of the season by laying on an exclusive black tie evening with its Midsummer Supper event on Friday 21 June from 6pm.
  This unique fine dining occasion will begin with a champagne and canapé reception hosted by Magnus Birch (grandson of Clare McLaren-Throckmorton) and Helena Cavan, Cotswold composer and poet who will be accompanied by pianist, singer, conductor and lecturer at the Royal Academy of Music, Dominic Alldis. A tour of the award-winning Rose Labyrinth led by Coughton’s Head Gardener and five-course supper in the magnificent oak-panelled Dining Room will follow.
  The Rose Labyrinth, designed by Chelsea award winner, Christina Williams, as a gift to her mother, Mrs McLaren–Throckmorton, boasts an array of styles and aromas with over 200 different varieties of roses and surrounds the mysterious statue of Rosamund Clifford, lover of King Henry II, who was allegedly poisoned in the labyrinth at Woodstock by the jealous Queen Eleanor.
  Sam Tippens, Head Gardener at Coughton Court, says: ‘The fragrance of the roses in the Walled Garden creates an aromatic haven within the property. Opening the gardens every morning, the sweet smell of the roses is wonderful, and late June is the best time of year to enjoy this fantastic display’
  Following the private tour of the garden, guests can enjoy an impressive menu featuring asparagus and saffron soup and rack of lamb with fresh herb crust before brandy and coffee in the Saloon.
  Property Administrator, Claire Blackburn says: ‘It’s a fantastic experience to have supper in the family dining room and together with the rose garden and wonderful musical arrangements from Dominic Alldis it promises to be a magical evening.’
  Tickets for the Midsummer Supper are £85, for more information and to book please call 01789 400777.
  The house, gardens, restaurant and shop are open Wed to Sun, 11am to 5pm. For more details of events please visit


Ride a cock horse to Banbury Old Town

Written by Kate Wilton on .

3844153647Ride a cock horse to Banbury Old Town  Preparations for the fourth Banbury Old Town party are under way with this year’s theme being nursery rhymes.

The street event will be held around Parsons Street, Church Lane and White Lion Walk on Saturday, June 29 and is running alongside the St Mary’s Church fete.

The family event may even be featuring a real lady on a white horse, with rings on her fingers, and bells on her toes.

And just as the nursery rhyme says, she will of course have music wherever she goes, including a roving pianist on a trolley and a cappella singing group The Skeptics.

Annie Macdonald, shop manager at Age UK in Parsons Street, said: “What we wanted to do this time was to emphasize the Banbury Cross nursery rhyme and to encourage people from further afield to come to Banbury, both for shopping and to experience all the fun on the day.

“Everyone has heard the nursery rhyme, but perhaps a lot of people don’t actually know where Banbury is and that it’s actually a thriving market town.” She said with last year being based on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, this year it was time to go back to Banbury’s roots and celebrate what is close to home.

On the day there will be plenty of free activities for all the family, including stilt-walkers Little Bo Peep and Dr Foster went to Gloucester.

Traders in the town are invited to dress themselves up as well as their windows.

For the youngsters there will be a competition for the best nursery rhyme outfit and to make sure the event is a big success, the organisers are asking people to start thinking about what they will dress up as.

But all will not be lost for those who may not be great at planning in advance because there will also be an opportunity to make outfits in a workshop on the day.

The fun begins at noon on June 29 and continues until 4pm. To keep up to date with the preparations and for full details of the day, follow @BanburyOldTown on Twitter, visit or like Banbury Old Town Association on Facebook.

Open air pool marks return of summer

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .

Woodgreen PoolBanbury will celebrate the arrival of summer with the return of its annual triathlon followed by the opening of Woodgreen Outdoor Pool.

On Sunday, 19 May, the leisure centre, in Woodgreen Avenue, Banbury, will provide the starting and finishing points for the annual triathlon ahead of the pool opening to the public six days later on Saturday, 25 May.

Cllr George Reynolds, Cherwell District Council’s deputy leader, said: “For many the Banbury Triathlon and the opening of the outdoor pool signals the arrival of summer.

"Many people look forward to either competing or watching the triathlon or taking a dip in the pool under sunny skies. I have no doubt Woodgreen Outdoor Pool will once again prove to be a popular venue for people to enjoy the summer months.”

The Banbury Triathlon will get under way at 8am starting at Woodgreen Leisure Centre with a 750 metre swim followed by a 20 kilometre bike ride around Oxfordshire and finally a five kilometre run back to Woodgreen.

The following weekend the outdoor pool will open to the public from 10am. It will then remain open for designated public swimming sessions every day until the season ends in September.

Other activities will include Early Bird sessions from 7am - 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Swim Club, water polo and pool parties. The season will end in September.

Admission prices for each swimming session cost £3.80 for adults, £2.40 for juniors/ senior citizens and £11.80 for a family ticket covering two adults and up to three children. 

Children under eight-years-old must be accompanied by an adult at all times. More information can be found at the Cherwell District Council website at or Parkwood Leisure at