Longworth & District History Society
About the Longworth & District History Society
The Longworth & District History Society has been researching the history of this area since 1995. The area consists of the villages of Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor, Longworth and Hinton Waldrist, once in Berkshire now Oxfordshire. Dr. John Turner of Longworth called together anyone who was interested to a meeting in Longworth Village Hall and used as a starting point photocopies of local pictures and postcards which he entitled “From the Ock to the Isis”. This described the shape of the ‘strip’ parish of Longworth in the Vale of the White Horse, just south of the River Thames (or Isis).
Initially the society named the Longworth History Society, ran six meetings a year with members and guests being invited to bring along items of interest to the meetings. However, by 1998, with increasing local interest, the number of meetings had increased to 12 including three visits (to East Hanney, Venn Mill and the Hop Gardens of Southmoor). The name of the society was changed to the Longworth and District History Society to reflect the expanded area covered by the society by this date. The core of the society’s interest and membership revolved around the villages of Longworth, Kingston Bagpuize, Southmoor and Hinton Waldrist and most of the talks and visits reflected this focus.
Exhibitions have always played an important part in the society’s activities beginning with yesteryear exhibitions in Longworth Church or latterly the Village Hall Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor, where villagers brought items of family history ranging from ration books to old tools. The exhibitions gradually grew in size and organisation, one of the largest being a ‘History on your doorstep’ event held in Southmoor Village Hall in 2006 when over 30 other societies joined us to display their activities. This attracted several hundred visitors to the hall to what was a short one afternoon event.
In March 2016 we hosted the 39th Annual General Meeting of the Berkshire Local History Association, with speakers and various exhibits from BLHA members. After a lunch provided by our history society, visitors enjoyed a visit to the beautiful 1660s manor house of Kingston Bagpuize with its cantilevered staircase and finely proportioned panelled rooms and fine paintings, which visitors found impressive and interesting.
The Millennium was marked by the publication by the society of three ‘sense of place’ booklets covering Hinton Waldrist, Longworth and Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor. These booklets were described as village companions, providing village guided walks, a reference book to the more distant history of each village and, most important, the more recent history of the village as recalled by the villagers themselves.
The history society conducted some 200 recorded interviews at that time and this not only provided the bulk of each of the booklets but furnished the society with an invaluable sound archive. Sponsorship enabled the history society to give each householder in our area a copy of their local ‘sense of place’ book.
Shortly afterwards the society published a folded pocket map covering all the footpaths within our three parishes. This ensured that villagers could explore their countryside with the confidence of knowing that they were following clear rights of way. This publication also attracted grants which allowed us to give a free copy to every householder in the three parishes. The five main circular walks recommended were supported by five guidebooks which were published under the title ‘Oxfordshire countryside – five circular walks’.
The society has progressed from strength to strength with exceptional talks attracting many people, some travelling in from well outside our villages. Meetings are held at Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor Village Hall. Summer visits are increasingly popular and it is not uncommon for visits to local farms or village walks linked to country houses to attract up to 70 people.
With its focus on local history, the society is conscious of the need not only to provide a programme which stimulates local interest in our heritage but also to encourage local historical research into various aspects of our neighbourhood. Notable in this respect are the publication of a series of local papers grouped under the title of History Occasional Papers Series (HOPS).
Apart from informing local people of our activities this website will reach a worldwide audience some of whom will have connections or memories of our communities. We would really like to hear from you.