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The Ascott Martyrs:

How ‘just a bit of fun’ in May 1873 led to the imprisonment of 16 women and raised a national furore

A talk by Carol Anderson

The Ascott Martyrs

Although the account of the Ascott Martyrs has been all but expunged from history, 2023 is the 150th anniversary and this presentation by Carol Anderson, Chair of the Ascott Martyrs Educational Trust, revealed not only the details of the women’s actions in the summer of 1873, but showed how this became a key moment in the history of labour relations in Britain.

The 16 women, who later became known as ‘The Ascott Martyrs’, were charged with attempting to prevent two young agricultural labourers going to work for Robert Hambidge, a tenant farmer in Ascott under Wychwood. This led to their arrest and trial at Chipping Norton police station, and brief imprisonment in Oxford County Gaol, with hard labour, sentenced by the local rural clerical magistracy – one of whom was Rev. William Edward Dickson Carter, rector of Sarsden.

The press called it ‘The shameful Chipping Norton affair which roused the whole country’, as the incident resulted in widespread protest and questions in parliament.

The evening was held in Sarsden Glebe – the residence of Rev Carter JP – and the very place where legal proceedings were initiated by the farmer Robert Hambidge.

The Great Prize Fight at White Oak Green, 1846 | An illustrated talk by Tony Cooper

The Great Prize Fight

Although well documented at the time, details of this extraordinary day have largely been forgotten. The talk covered the build up to the prize fight and outlined the events of 12th May 1846. It took place on the edge of Wychwood Forest in front of an audience of 1000 people. As the day unfolded many of those involved would have witnessed a truly astonishing spectacle in this quiet area of West Oxfordshire, although for some it would have brought trouble and strife.

Using contemporary newspaper accounts, census returns, maps, fieldwork and local records Tony gave a detailed account, concentrating on the life of one of the combatants and what happened to him on the day in question. The story also involves an energetic vicar, a magistrate, a parish constable, an ostler, a carrier and many other characters ...

Tony Cooper is a local historian from the village of Finstock. He is a member of the Finstock Local History Society and has given talks on wartime farming, John Kibble, a local stonemason, and has re-enacted a Victorian Friendly Society Club Day. He is a keen metal detectorist and would be most willing to arrange a field survey on any land in the Wychwood area.


church old images

Talk by Oxford historian, Dr Kate Tiller and launch of a community project organised by the Churchill and Sarsden Heritage Centre to explore the 1922 sale of the Sarsden Estate and the properties included in the sale.

Chipping Norton Revealed

A History of our Town in Photographs

Alan Watkins, the respected local historian, shared his remarkable knowledge and passion for Chipping Norton and its inhabitants, based on a lifetime of research.

Oxfordshire Chipping Norton Fair Day in the early 1920s


Glimpses of an International Life by Sir John Holmes

John HolmesJohn Holmes, a former British diplomat and, until Summer 2016, the Director of the Ditchley Foundation gave us a brief picture of his fascinating life in the Foreign Office during which time he was our Ambassador in Lisbon and Paris; at No 10 where he became Private Secretary to both John Major and Tony Blair; at the United Nations where he was Deputy Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs; and finally at Ditchley Park where he was Director for 6 years and responsible for numerous international conferences.Ditchley Park

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