Exhibitions & Events

Tradition and Tragedy

This year commemorates a tragic accident which marred what should have been a carefree, happy event in May 1924.  After a gap of thirteen years, it was decided to revive the tradition of beating the bounds of the parish.  The last time it had happened was 1911, the year that King George V was crowned. This had traditionally been an event which attracted many townspeople who decorated willow sticks with which to beat points around the boundary.   There were competitions to find the best decorated stick with prizes awarded to those judged to be the best.  We have one of the carved sticks on display here. 

After a hymn sung in the vicarage garden, the party set off.  The route included crossing the river Evenlode.  Most of the party crossed safely but the last punt was overloaded and capsized.  Despite frantic efforts by bystanders to save those in the water, three children were drowned.  An inquest was held in the White Hart – you can read a full transcript of the inquiry.  Funerals were held for the three children who had drowned, with a huge turnout of townspeople.  A photographer was on hand to record both the walk and the subsequent funeral procession and many of the images taken are on display. Two scouts who had helped in the rescue of others from the water were awarded gallantry medals for their efforts.  One of their descendants has kindly supplied photographs of the scouts involved.  A tragic story and one that is still commemorated a hundred years later.  

Permanent displays

Besides our special exhibition, we have displays about many other aspects of the town.  Agriculture has always been an important part of the local economy. We have tools and other farming equipment on display, and of course our splendid Oxfordshire wagon, resplendent in its traditional colours of red and yellow.   The town was well served by tradespeople, blacksmiths being in great demand as well as carpenters and wheelwrights and we have many examples of their tools.   Also on display are goods and artefacts from the wide variety of shops (such as Allens drapery) which later drew in customers from surrounding villages.

West Oxfordshire was a centre of the gloving trade and we explore the history of the gloving factories that sprang up and the many outworkers who were employed around the town, with examples of the glove patterns and machines they used.

A large collection of old photographs of the town portrays people and events, buildings and the social life of the town as well as recording disasters and celebrations.  Newspaper cuttings describe events and news from the town, and we can help with queries about local families drawing on the parish records and censuses.

Past Exhibitions & Events


Hidden Treasures – Hidden Histories
Items which have been unearthed in the town and which shed light on what life was like in the past .  These included recent finds made by metal detectorists in and around the town


Charlbury in the 1950s
Exploring Charlbury when Queen Elizabeth was crowned and how they celebrated her coronation


VE Day 75: commemorating the end of WW2
How the war affected the town and how Charlbury marked its end in 1945


Wagons, Wood and Wheat
A history of farms and farming in Charlbury
Family History Day June 2019
A display of local archives, and help with family history queries
Street Fair display September 2019
Display of photos of Charlbury in the 1950s & 60s alongside memories of past Street Fairs beginning in 1956


Poachers & Pilferers, Gamekeepers and Glovers
The story of Wychwood Forest, once one of the largest Royal Hunting Forests in the country
A Walk on the Wild Side
Special poetry event to link with the exhibitionThe Four Wordsmen (Ed Fenton, Adrian Lancini, John Lanyon,Rob Stepney) gave an outdoor reading of their poems inspired by the Wychwood Forest.


Bonnets & Bloomers, Braces & Boots
Allen’s Drapery Store, Church Street
Sewing Bee July 2017
A weekend of creative crafts for adults & children inspired by Victorian and Edwardian textiles in the Allens exhibition


Sport in Charlbury
A look at the many sports that have flourished here over the yearsThe work and life of Bessie Marchant, author, who lived for many years at Gothic House in Church Street


The story of the British School, founded 1815


First World War
marking 100 years since the outbreak of war


John Kibble (1865-1951)
Charlbury stonemason


Charlbury in the 1950s
Marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

2011     Town Hall, the Town Hall Cinema & Entertainments in Charlbury

2010     Scouts & Guides

2009     Post Office & Postal Services

2008     Allotments & Gardens

2007     Charlbury Utilities

2006     The Town Charter – 750 years ago

2004     Cameras and photography