A look back at summer 1914: War inevitable but county life carries on regardless

Bowls: The Oxford City and Oxford Corporation bowls teams who competed in July 1914 – the mayor, Alderman the Rev W E Sherwood, is in the centre of the front row

Bowls: The Oxford City and Oxford Corporation bowls teams who competed in July 1914 – the mayor, Alderman the Rev W E Sherwood, is in the centre of the front row

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

THE people of Oxfordshire were determined not to let the threat of war in 1914 disrupt their normal way of life. There was a full cricket programme, with teams competing for the Telegraph and Airey Cups, while Oxford City took on the mayor, Alderman the Rev W Sherwood, and the Corporation at bowls.

In Banbury, the schools’ swimming championships ended in success for Dashwood Road Council School, which won the Schools’ Shield and took first and second places in the under-14 section and in diving.

The fifth annual exhibition of children’s work took place at SS Philip and James School in Leckford Place, off Woodstock Road.

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Charles Gore, dedicated four stone figures which had been placed in four niches in the newly-restored buttresses on the south wall of the Lady Chapel at St Mary Magdalen Church in Magdalen Street.

The four figures represented the Blessed Virgin Mary, Prophet Elijah, Richard Coeur de Lion and St Hugh of Lincoln. The Bishop blessed them after preaching at Evensong.

Headington School were the winners of the annual schools’ gardening competition. Garsington were second and Wolvercote third.

Members of the White Hart Social Club in Summertown set off in two brakes for their 16th annual outing to Charlbury. They left the club at 8.30am and progressed via Kidlington and Hanborough to the White Hart at Witney, where they stopped for lunch.

After an afternoon cricket match, tea and sightseeing in Charlbury, they set off on the homeward journey at 7.30pm, stopped for supper at the Kings Arms, Woodstock, and arrived back at the club at about midnight, with “everyone expressing himself delighted with the day”. It appears that women were not invited!

The Oxford Royal Regatta on the Thames was fiercely contested as usual, with Neptune winning four races to become the most successful rowing club.

Although popular with crews, the regatta was reported to be “sparsely attended by spectators, with interest growing less yearly”.

Other events at that time included a garden party at Wadham College, a flower show, fete and sports at Stanton Harcourt, lawn tennis at St John’s College, a horticultural show in the Manor House grounds at Headington and a flower show at Nuneham Courtenay.

War or no war, the New Theatre in George Street was reopening with a 10-week variety programme, with twice-nightly shows at 7pm and 9pm “at popular prices”.

The Electra cinema in Queen Street offered three films: The Fighting Blood of 1809, Midnight Mystery and Lost in Mid-Ocean, while at the Oxford Cinematograph Theatre in George Street, the programme included The Black Mafia, a “highly sensational detective drama” with an orchestra.

For those who wanted a short break from the city, Salters offered day trips on its river steamers from Folly Bridge, while the Great Western Railway had a large number of excursions to the seaside and other popular destinations.

Oxford Mail:

Dedication: The Bishop of Oxford dedicates four stone figures at St Mary Magdalen Church, Oxford

Oxford Mail:

Swimming: The Dashwood Road Church School team with the shield they won at the school swimming sports at Banbury – left to right, T Jones, R Robins, A Carpenter and P Bennett

Oxford Mail:

School gardening competition: Winners with their shield, Headington School; second Garsington and third Wolvercote

Oxford Mail:

Rowing: Right, A crew in the 1914 Oxford Royal Regatta, with the college barges lining the Thames below Folly Bridge in the background

  • Memory Lane this week

Memory mailbag: Publican pops up in log book

Oxford Mail:

5:00pm Monday 29th June 2015

I was interested to see a picture of Robert Ansell, of the Jersey Arms at Middleton Stoney, removing the Closed on Sundays sign (Memory Lane, May 18).

Memory mailbag: Rifles practice dated back to Napoleonic era

Oxford Mail:

5:00pm Monday 29th June 2015

I saw the picture of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (OBLI) exercising the Freedom of Oxford marching across Magdalen Bridge in 1953 (Memory Lane, January 12).

Ladies’ role in fighting crime

Oxford Mail:

5:00pm Monday 29th June 2015

Gillian Bingham and Enid Brooks were fully engaged in the fight against crime.

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