The Merry Bells

Archive Notes:

Article on 100 year celebration of opening of The Merry Bells. Article from Oxford Mail on July 6th 1988.

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. 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'.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’. Bought as a village hall in 1970.

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