The Chinnor Historical and Archaeological Society

In 1978 The Chinnor Historical and Archaeological Society became a registered Charity. The Society continued well into the next 30 years plus.

Excerpts from the Society's meeting of 17th November 1983 shows that at least 20 members were in attendance. 

Eric Harmsworth a long time resident gave interesting talks on how he remembers Chinnor - full transcript in the document library below.

Eric remembers that working hours were long and paid holidays rare.  Allotments took up much spare time and were essential to feed the family and perhaps have some surplus left for sale.

Charities Act 1960 - Registration of Charities

Charities Act 1960 - Registration of Charities

History and Development of CHAS adapted from a talk by  Trevor Hussey 15/6/1985
Origin, activities and achievements.
CHAS evolved as we would say today ‘organically’ from evening classes in archaeology in Chinnor which generated a lot of interest and subsequent coach trips  to iron age sites and a Roman Villa. Further archaeological walks followed and in February 1975 the first meeting of the society was held. The first meetings were self-education sessions as well as field walks. 
At first the society concentrated on Emmington and for the first five years Emmington absorbed most of the society’s energies. Over the yeas the activities changed from far less field walks and the emphasis has shifted from landscape archaeology to local history.
Contributed to 6 exhibitions, started surveys of Emmington and Sydenham and Chinnor churchyards. Transcribed census returns and church records, provided speakers to other groups and societies published 8 occasional papers and run coach trips.
Many of these achievements can be located on the Heritage trolly in the library.

The society had many interesting talks and slide shows.  They also carried out interviews with willing residents.  Some of which are recalled below.

From the minutes of 5th September 1980 Miss Evelyn Gibb gave a talk as well as playing a selection of tapes she had prepared in 1967 for the BBC featuring Natives and Newcomers to Chinnor, chosen to give an impression of the impact on the community of the sudden doubling in population and an idea of what life had been like in the past.

Chinnor Rifle & Pistol Club

The events in the Boer War had led to increasing concerns at the capability of the Army to defend the population against invasion. The call went out for the populace to learn to shoot to defend their country and in due course, civilian small-bore shooting clubs were formed.

The Club first gained its official charter on the 1st of May 1907. Little background information remains, but it is understood that the rifle range started out life at the back of the Vicarage and then moved on Chinnor Hill. It was situated just off the main road on the hillside behind the cement works. All that stands there today is an old stone archway on the roadside where once the steps led down the hill.

The range then moved to Rectory Meadow and shooting took place between two open barns.

In 1937 records show a new enclosed range had been established in Station Road, where a line of houses stand today. The building itself was timber framed and sheeted with galvanised iron, painted green, then boarded out and heated with a pot-bellied stove. Ted Newitt used to keep the club rifles at his home and bring them to the club on shooting nights.

When the Second World War came to an end, the land owner on which the range was sited (who was the club secretary at the time) had a parting of the ways with the club and the range had to be moved to it’s present position, on land donated by Mr N Benton, also the owner of the cement works.

In 1972 a new range and clubroom was built to replace the old building, which included heating and soundproofing. The range was also redesigned to enable Pistol and revolvers to be shot as well as .22 small-bore rifles.

Chinnor Chronicle September 1982 Issue 284 price 15p
Personally speaking – Dr Mary Watson (10 Oakley Road)

In 1958 Dr Mary Watson recently retired, moved into Chinnor nearer one of their sons.  Mary remembers fields stretching from the opposite side of Oakley Road up to the foot of the Chilterns – or so it appeared, and the road was relatively quiet. 

The Old Rectory in Chinnor was an enormous edifice with a particularly beautiful staircase, leading up to several large rooms.  As there was then no Church Hall meetings were held in one of these.

We had bought a home with a stable which was in ruins and the only occupants were the swallows.  A decision was taken eventually to have the stable demolished as it was unsafe and have a garage replace it.  One morning Mr Mitchell and his ‘boys’ arrived to start work. Loud bangs and crashes were heard and then there was silence! Investigating why the noise had stopped, apparently the swallows were nesting, and we would need to wait until the young had fledged.  As we said “quite right too!

Not long after our move into Chinnor we were invited to join the Village Choir by Mr Frank Neighbour the milkman. He heard my husband singing one morning when delivering the milk and made the suggestion.  Frank, himself had a fine tenor voice. We met each week in a classroom at the Old School. However, a small charge was going to be imposed for using the room, so we offered our own home.  On Thursday evenings Miss Joan Potter, from Oxford, came to teach us, accompanying, conducting and encouraging our efforts until the time came for us to join other village choirs to give a concert in the ‘Sheldonian’ under the baton of Sir Sidney Watson (no relation).  This was an annual event the grand climax to our weekly efforts.

Chinnor Chronicle September 1982 Issue 284 price 15p

W.R.V.S. Darby & Joan Club

July 19th Once again Miss Matthieson kindly invited us to meet in in her lovely garden, and although there were numerous games laid on for us to enjoy, including a Treasure Hunt, for which there were several prises for those who found the energy to go seeking the treasure, most of us were content to just sit and chat, and enjoy the tranquillity and sunshine. A very splendid tea was provided for us, including bread and butter, scones and a plenteous variety of sandwiches and cakes plain and fancy.

Thank you Miss Matthieson for a most enjoyable afternoon.

R Hullcoop 

There were of course plenty of pubs. The men's club met in the Reading Room and boasted of a billiard's table.  The Silver Bank (Brass until 1928 one many prizes. for the young there were such organisations as the Scouts (with two Patrol's), the Cuckoo's and the Owls.

Chinnor Operatic and Dramatic Society gave one major production every year in the Reading Room, often Gilbert and Sullivan. 

Chinnor Players began in 1965 and continues today with three performances a year.  January sees the village pantomime come to life.  Early June is the first of two plays, and October sees the last production for the year.