On 6th June Banbury Historical Society held one of the local visits to Bloxham Museum and St Mary’s church (which is nearly next door). Please see the photos at https://adobe.ly/3NhfL4q .
We visited the Museum first. It is small with basically one room for the displays. It is some time since our last visit and the items and displays have changed. On previous visits there was a Baughen Bible on display but it was not there on Tuesday. There was an article on William Herbert Baughan with photos of him and his wife. He was the first Railway Station Master of Bloxham Station. William’s line traces back to Highworth, Wiltshire and has no known connection with the Baughen/Baughan/Boffin lines that lived or live in Bloxham. William and Fanny had 3 children (born in Bloxham). Unfortunately, one son, Alfred Edwin Baughan, was killed in WW1 in Mesapotamia – he is shown on the board inside the church, and on the War Memorial. William and Fanny did split up with William moving to Ontario, Canada and Fanny passing away in Harrow, Middlesex. One of the other children, Fanny Baughan (married John Hooper), had a daughter, Barbara (married name Brown), and she was an authoress. Her books included one on the local railway line.
There are video presentations on ’A History of Bloxham’ and ‘Buildings “Now and Then”’. Fortunately, these are available on YouTube and can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_pyCFn0UZ4 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kw6ly0BCv9E respectively.
The museum does have some copies of local books and booklets for sale at reasonable prices.
It is worth visiting if you make it but please check opening times and dates as these are limited (run by helpful volunteers). Parking is limited.
Bloxham is in the Cotswold area. The photograph of the museum shows the ‘honey’ colour associated with the Cotswolds.
Earlier in the afternoon we visited the churchyard of St Mary’s (also know as ‘Our Lady of Bloxham’). Oxfordshire Family History Society published a plan with a name index some time ago and I tried to use this to locate Baughen graves. Many early gravestones are unreadable due to weathering. Other headstones have been moved, never existed or were originally wooden. The search was not helped by the ‘No Mow May’ observance, as can be seen in some of the photos. I did manage to find some Baughen gravestones and they are included in the photos.
St Mary’s has been the site of a church from at least the Norman times. It is the only Grade 1 architectural buildings in Bloxham. The spire is the tallest in Oxfordshire and rises to 198 feet.
We had 2 excellent guides (from the St Mary’s Bloxham Heritage Group) that showed us around the church and churchyard. The weather was rather on the chilly side but did not stop people going on the tour of the outside of the church and the churchyard. Our guide pointed out the various architectural features. He also showed some gravestones of some ‘residents’. For example, there was the teacher from Bloxham School who broke a bone playing cricket and this turned septic leading to his death.
One very interesting point was the Pest House Drive. The Pest House was where people were kept with various infections e.g. smallpox. If they passed away the bodies were put on a cart and taken to the churchyard through the Pest House Drive gate. The drive was large enough for the horse and cart to be turned around. Although this is no longer necessary the ‘drive’ and gate have been maintained.
Inside the church there is plenty to see. In earlier times there used to be wall paintings. These were plastered over but later removed. Many of the paintings were lost with the removal of the plaster but at least one survived.
There are 2 items relating to Baughen/Baughan. As mentioned earlier there is the WW1 lost in service list. There is also the Roll of Honour with 2 Baughens (who survived). Please see the photos.
The paintings on the chancel were vandalized. This is believed to have been done by Parliamentarians in the English Civil War (1642 – 1652).
There is only 1 large decorative tomb (Sir John Thornycroft – 1745) in the church reflecting that there were no stately homes in the manor.
The church has a number of notable glass windows. The ‘East’ window was designed by Victorians William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.
The Victorians were also responsible to putting tiles over the church floor. In doing so they covered up many tombs placed inside the church.
The church has many stone carvings inside and outside. There were too many to describe here.
The inside of the church is about to go through some transformations. For example, currently the original main entrance is closed but it is planned to have glass doors inserted so that visitors can see through to the chancel and alter.
We had a very enjoyable evening and well worth making the journey.