Its almost a year since we moved to Witney, a few miles West of Oxford. Witney is a typical, Cotswold town in many ways, but that description doesn’t really do it justice. Witney is bustling with people and lively, small events. People here are chatty and friendly and very… well English, I suppose. It’s all that you’d expect from the safest Conservative seat in the country (it is David Cameron’s constituency).
The Witney Feast is currently taking place in the town. This festival dates back to 1243, when the town’s main church was rebuilt. It used to be all about celebrating St. Mary (for whom the church is named) and the community itself. In the modern era, the Feast has become a funfair, but the religious element remains having been incorporated into a new tradition of a sermon delivered onboard the fair’s carousel.
I love living in a town where history goes back so far. 1243 is just shortly after Wales was taken over by England. In the same decade, Oxford’s first college was founded and Europeans were just understanding lenses and gunpowder. It was rather a long time ago! To think that Witney existed then, as a community, is fascinating to me. Walking around Oxford I often have the sensation of history engulfing everything and I forget that at the other end of my commute lies an equally ancient place, that had somehow survived – much of it in tact – for almost 800 years.
[Image of Witney Blanket Hall from the Flickr photostream of the excellent John of Witney]
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