The Shelswell History Festival exists to increase awareness in local history and the place it occupies in the wider world.   The first festival will be between 7th and 9th July 2017 in Shelswell Park Estate and is a charity associated with the Benefice of Shelswell

Shelswell Benefice comprises a group of villages north of Bicester in Oxfordshire, an area immortalised in Flora Thompson's intimate description of village life in the Victorian era  'Larks Rise to Candleford'. The villages are Cottisford, Finmere, Fringford, Godington, Hardwick, Hethe, Mixbury, Newton Purcell, Stoke Lyne, and Stratton Audley.  Shelswell Park has been made available for the History Festival by kind permission of the Baroness von Maltzahn. 

Flora Thompson referred to Shelswell Park in her trilogy of books “Lark Rise to Candleford” as Skeldon Park. At the celebrations in the park for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee she wrote:
“There were more people in the park than the children had ever seen before, and the roundabouts, swings and coconut shies were doing a roaring trade. Tea was taken in a huge marquee in relays, one parish at a time, and the sound of the brass band, roundabout hurdy-gurdy, coconut thwacks, and showmen’s shouting surged around the frail, canvas walls like a roaring sea.
“After tea there were sports, with races, high jumps, dipping heads into tubs of water to retrieve sixpences with the teeth, grinning through horse collars….
“The local gentlepeople promenaded the ground in parties; stout, red-faced, raising their straw hats to mop their foreheads; hunting ladies, incongruously garbed in silks and ostrich-feather boas; young girls in embroidered white muslin and boys in Eton suits…”
“All the way home in the twilight, the end house party could hear the popping of fireworks behind them and, turning, see rockets and showers of golden rain above the dark tree tops. Al last, standing at their own garden gate, they heard the roaring of cheers from hundreds of throats and the band playing ‘God save the Queen’.”

Included in the Festival are

Saxon re-enactments and

civil war re-enactments,

lectures on local history,


displays of historic vehicles and machinery,

Home Guard

local crafts like spinning and embroidery,


a pig roast and more.

For more about rural life in Oxfordshire in the 1940s and 50s see the Nora Morgan video at Youtube

is the sign for a battle on Ordnance Survey maps but some are so old or minor that they are missed.  The one battle actually taking place on the Shelswell area was the Battle of Stoke Lyne in 584 AD when a Saxon army led by King Ceawlin of Wessex and his son Cutha fought an army of Britons .