A FORMER home for the infected and a house Oliver Cromwell allegedly stayed in during the Civil War will be celebrated in the coming months.

Woodstock Town Council is to install plaques at eight homes around the town to celebrate Woodstock’s history and encourage tourists to visit the town, as well as Blenheim Palace.

Leaflets will be produced for a walking route to see the homes, which run from Park Street to Oxford Street.

Councillor Linda Glees, who organised the project, said: “We wanted to stimulate people to visit Woodstock, rather than going straight to Blenheim Palace and not realising there’s a town here many years older than the palace.”

Although there are believed to have been settlements in the area since Roman times, the current town is about 900 years old. It was built up around the old Woodstock Manor, which was used by the Royal family as a hunting lodge but was wrecked during the Civil War.

Blenheim Palace, a world heritage site and the birthplace of Britain’s Second World War Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, was built in the 17th century.

The plaques will be made from Portland limestone and have been designed by Banbury-based artist and sculpture Giles MacDonald.

Mrs Glees said: “We wanted to make sure the plaques were original and not conventional – something that was arresting and really added to the townscape.”

The plaques will cost about £12,000 to produce and were funded by private donations and a grant from West Oxfordshire District Council.

They will be installed around the beginning of April.

The buildings which will soon boast plaques are:

Woodstock Town Hall

THE Georgian hall, built by Sir William Chambers in 1766, is Grade II listed and sits at the heart of Woodstock.

Until 1898, the ground floor arches were open and housed an indoor market, which included livestock.

It is now used by Woodstock Town Council for meetings and can be booked as a wedding venue.

28 High Street

Oliver Cromwell is said to have stayed in the house during the Civil War and William III was entertained in the house in 1698.

From 1675, it was occupied by John Cary, a lawyer and agent for aristocrats, who claimed to have been a royal servant for every 17th century king.

The Mulberry tree design refers to an Act of Parliament, which said homes could have alcohol sold from them if a Mulberry tree was planted in the garden.

The garden still contains a Mulberry tree, but current owners Alan and Molly Knowles said it was now beginning to look sorry for itself.

Mr Knowles said: “We feel as though we are the current custodians of the house and we are trying to keep it all in as good a condition as possible.”

The Bishop's House

THE Bishop’s House at 51 Rectory Lane was built in 1686 for the then Bishop of Oxford, Dr John Fell.

Bishop Fell oversaw the creation of numerous buildings in Oxfordshire, including the construction of Tom Tower gate at Christ Church.

He also helped create Oxford University Press and personally oversaw much of its output, including editing books such as the Bible.

The Bishop’s House was occupied by Edward Strong, who owned Taynton quarries, which helped to build Blenheim Palace, in about 1710.

11 & 13 Park Street

Joan Mary Shelmerdine worked as a hand printer in 1930 and moved to Woodstock from Warlingham in Surrey after her press was destroyed in 1936.

She founded Samson Press at 13 Park Street in 1937 and printed small books, ephemera and greetings cards.

The building dates back to 1810, is Grade II listed and has a converted hay barn in the garden, as well as views over Blenheim Palace.

It has a large cellar which is believed to have once linked to other cellars under Park Street. Rumour has it the cellars were used by Royalists to escape Cromwell’s forces during the Civil War.

Samson Press moved to 11 Park Street in 1944, where it remained until the firm closed in 1970.

Current owner Professor Sir John Boardman said: “Samson Press was a very important place and had a wonderful art deco and nouveau style at the beginning of the war. It had a very big reputation.”

The only time the Samson Press was closed was during the Second World War.

Sir John, who is regarded as Britain’s most distinguished historian of ancient Greek art, said the plaques were a good idea and could help keep visitors in Woodstock.

6 High Street

THE building was built by Simon Hatley, a British mariner active in the early 18th century, and his wife, Mary.

Mr Hatley is best known for shooting an albatross while his ship fought harsh winds in the South Pacific.

The incident is believed to have inspired Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

23 Rectory Lane

THE building was used as a ‘pest house’ for people with infectious diseases between 1720 and 1765, leading to Rectory Lane being dubbed Pest House Lane.

The pest house was moved further out of town in 1765 after it was decided 23 Rectory Lane was too close to the centre of Woodstock.

The unusually-shaped cottage has six large and identical bedrooms upstairs.

Current owner Dr Robert Edwards said: “It’s a good thing that we should show the local people their heritage and I think it will be successful in increasing interest in Woodstock from visitors.”

52 Oxford Street

THE house, built in the early to mid 18th century, was owned by James and Humphrey Keene, who operated a bell foundry in Woodstock in the mid-17th century.

Current owner William Wan, who runs a Chinese restaurant from the house, said: “We knew it was a historic building but we did not know the details.

“The plaques are a good idea, because this part of the town does not get many tourists, and it will be good for Woodstock’s economy.”