The Merry Bells

  • 1988. Library in the left part of the building
  • 1988, Parish Council meeting with Councillors as shown in the Centenary booklet
  • Lady O’Malley opened Wheatley Library on 16.2.1960
  • Colonel Derek Hall-Dare, secretary of the committee
  • 1988 floor plan
Archive Notes:

Article in Oxford Mail May 1972 re Mrs Miller and the temperance house

Since the building of the new turnpike road from Oxford to London in 1775, trade had slumped. The village had become a refuge for rough quarry workers, highwaymen and students. In fact, if you fancied a pint of beer and a punch-up, it seems that Wheatley had been the place to go. The change in Wheatley’s profile began by the banning guns and dogs in 1834, followed by a halt to bull-baiting and badger-baiting. Finally came the Merry Bells in 1888, provided by Mrs Miller of Shotover as a temperance place for the improvement of the social life of Wheatley. It was a coffee house with ‘two large meeting rooms, a refreshment bar, a bathroom, cubicles, commercial and travellers rooms and stable accommodation for four horses’. Accdording to Wilfred Sheldon's memories (Margaret Axford, Tales from the Village Folk) in the severe winter of 1895 when people were unable to work because of the hard frosts, a soup kitchen was opened in 'The Merry Bells'.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, one of the rooms was let out to a dentist called Carlo Pratelli (nick-named 'Mr Yankem'), who was previously (1939) practising in Mott House.

Bought as a village hall in 1970. MNinutes of special meetings reporting 1967 offer to sell the building to the village and 1970 reporting purchase complete. Photo of Colonel Derek Hall-Dare, secretary at the time of the acquisition.

The original library was in the left part of the building, now (2023) the Parish Council office. Lady O’Malley opened Wheatley Library on 16.2.1960, Her novelist pen name was Ann Bridge. Thue Library mopved to its present position in 1972, see record 333. 1988 floor plan shows the library on the ground floor and the Pariah Councul chamber and committee room on the first floor (where the library is in 2023)

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