Sun01Sep - OXON - Forest Fair TLIO helped revive

Tony Gosling tony at
Fri Aug 16 15:20:54 BST 2013

Apologies but the entire TLIO website is down
Someone who didn't know what they were doing 
tried to edit a page and now the whole thing is down!

Under WychWood (via Google cache)
On 20th/21st September 1997 TLIO staged a mass 
trespass and overnight camp on Oxfordshire 
landowner Lord Rotherwick's estate, to highlight 
the inadequacies of the proposed "Right to Roam" 
legislation. The right to roam in woodland is 
especially important as many areas previously 
owned by the Forestry Commission, who allowed 
public access, have been sold to private 
landlords who rapidly (and legally) erect "Private - Keep Out" signs.
Wychwood Forest at 1400 acres is the largest of 
only two ancient woodlands in Oxfordshire. It was 
open to the public up until 1853 when it was 
enclosed. It is currently intensively managed for 
grouse shooting and deer stalking for wealthy 
businessmen. There is no public access save for a 
footpath which was created by the county council 
in 1989 as part of the Oxfordshire Circular 
Footpath. Lord Rotherwick is still pursuing a 
compensation claim of £1.6 million for this 
footpath against the people of Oxfordshire.
A marquee was set up on Newhill Plain in the 
heart of the forest, where an annual fair was 
once held. Over the weekend 100 people came to 
the camp. TLIO held guided walks round some of 
the exceptional wildlife and the many 
well-preserved ancient monuments. A game of 
cricket was enjoyed by the activists, and as a 
bonus it was discovered that a corporate 
hospitality day in the forest had to be cancelled.
On Sunday a group went to Cornbury House, Lord 
Rotherwick's ancestral home. Unfortunately he was 
not in. His `agent' refused to comment and called 
the police. Two policemen turned up. They asked 
if we were going; "yes" we said, "we've proved 
our point", to which they replied, "It needed to 
be said". TLIO have since been sent a stiff 
letter from Nabarro Nathanson, solicitors for 
Lord Rotherwick, accusing us of criminal assault 
and threatening injunction proceedings on future actions...

Good to see this tradition has been picked up by the locals

WYCHWOOD FOREST FAIR 2013 - Foxburrow Wood, off the Crawley Road,  Witney

The Wychwood Forest Fair,has become a popular 
annual event celebrating the diversity and 
richness of both the natural world and the 
working and leisure activities of local people 
living within the bounds of the old Royal Hunting 
Forest of Wychwood. The Forest Fair, is a major 
fundraising event to support the local wildlife 
and landscape conservation work of the Wychwood Project.

The next Forest Fair will be held on Sunday 1st 
September 2013 at Foxburrow Wood a new woodland 
being created by the Wychwood Project to benefit 
local wildlife and people. To view a map of the location please click here.
For all stallholder enquiries please contact the 
Forest Fair Co-ordinator, Michael Drew, 01993 
702624, michael.drew at We aim to 
send application forms to all those who came or 
expressed an interest in the Fair last year, in early March.
All press enquiries to the Wychwood Project 
office 01865 815423/424 or email wychwood at
For visitors to the fair – the event  will take 
place 11.00 – 5.00 on the day, entry £6.00, under 12’s free.
Pictures are available of the 2012 Forest 
Fair.  A selection of pictures are available to 
view on the Project’s Flickr site 
All pictures are copyright Wychwood Project.

Local food, farm produce and arts
Typical activities at the Fair each year include 
displays by the Wychwood Project, the local 
Wildlife Trust, the Wychwood Pond group, and many 
other local conservation and community groups. A 
wide range of rural crafts, some of which  allow 
you to ‘have a go’, are on display. As well as an 
arts and crafts tent, there is a children’s Fun 
Fair, a Green Man children’s story teller, and 
several local Morris dancing sides. There are 
plenty of local food suppliers and farm produce, 
lots of refreshments, locally produced ice cream 
and - last but not least - a beer tent selling 
beer from the local Wychwood Brewery, based in Witney.
18th Century beginnings

Somewhat surprisingly the Fair originally began 
as a non-conformist enterprise in the late 18th 
century, aiming to replace the drunken disorder 
of local events such as St. Giles’ Fair in Oxford 
and nearby Witney Feast. This increasingly 
successful Forest Fair was held at Newhill Plain, 
a large clearing in the Forest about a mile south west of Cornbury Park.

In the first half of the 19th century, Lord 
Churchill, the then Forest Ranger, was often in 
attendance, sometimes accompanied by the Duke of 
Marlborough. The stalls were laid out to create 
broad regular streets, along which the 
aristocracy processed in their coaches at the 
commencement of the Fair. The local yeomanry band 
played and special constables kept order. Perhaps 
the police were not too successful, because the 
event was often cancelled in the early 1830s, 
during years of considerable political unrest.
50,000 visitors

At its height the fair continued for two days. 
Every nook and cranny of nearby Charlbury was 
filled with visitors. As well as stalls selling 
practical items such as textiles and provisions, 
there were sometimes travelling theatres, 
menageries, boxing booths, dancing salons and fireworks in the evening.

The Fair reached its zenith in 1853, when the 
nearby Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and 
Wolverhampton Railway - now the Cotswold Line - 
was opened. Reports say that up to 50,000 
visitors attended the Fair that year. But also at 
this time an Act of Parliament was passed to 
disafforest Wychwood. The original Forest Fair 
finally ceased in 1856, when Lord Churchill 
closed it down to curb drunkenness and 
debauchery. Rather like a modern landlord dealing 
with travellers, trenches were dug across the 
site of the Fair to keep out any would-be 
stallholders. Possibly the alleged drunkenness 
was a pretext, because a long-standing dispute 
between the Crown and Lord Churchill was settled 
by the clearance in the late 1850s of half the 
woodland remnant near Leafield for agriculture, 
where seven new Crown farms were created, with 
the other half passing indisputably to Lord Churchill.

The first modern Fair, organised by the Wychwood 
Project and the former Friends of Wychwood, was 
held at Combe on a modest scale in 2000 to 
celebrate the creation of the Wychwood Way, a 37 
mile circular trail around Wychwood. Subsequent 
Fairs have been held annually at different 
locations around the Wychwood area - including 
Cogges Farm Museum near Witney, Lower Farm 
Ramsden, Charlbury and Capps Lodge - to 
demonstrate the extent of the former Forest and 
to involve more people in the activities of the Wychwood Project.
Rural skills

Each year the modern Fair, which tries to avoid 
much of the commercialisation of so many modern 
country shows, has emphasised a different theme, 
such as local environmental activities, revived 
rural skills and locally produced food.
+44 (0)7786 952037
Twitter: @TonyGosling
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that shall not be revealed; and nothing hid that 
shall not be made known. What I tell you in 
darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye 
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27

Die Pride and Envie; Flesh, take the poor's advice.
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