The Merry Bells

  • The Merry Bells, possibly 1920s
  • Stone mason's detail
  • 2018. The Merry Bells
  • 2018. The Merry Bells
  • The Merry Bells, possibly 1927 from the set of postcards, photographed from the large display picture in the corridor outside the archive room.
Archive Notes:

An old postcard, probably from the 1927 set (a second version has been photographed from the very large display in the corridor outside the archive room), and Stonemason's work on the front. The set of 1927 postcards is at reocrd 2509

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’.

From copy receipts and bills, we know that a piano was bought in 1938 when a stage was also installed by Cullum Brothers.  Mains water was connected in 1938. There were regular dances, various parties, meetings of groups such as W. I., Oddfellows, Sunday School and Mothers' Union. The kitchen was installed in 1944 as was a fire extinguisher. During the war, The Director of Education was hiring rooms for schooling, and the Home Guard also met here. F J Fane, who lived at Morland House, was the treasurer - the rateable value in 1938 was £18 with rates of £11 14s., electricity was costing £6 and gas 3/10d. per quarter in 1944. Mrs Munt, the caretaker/cleaner cost 8d. per hour. 'Large sums'  were paid for painting soon after the war with bills for £39, and £89 - one of the contractors was Titchener & Davis.

Bought as a village hall in 1970.

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