As she awaits her execution at Oxford Castle, a newlywed woman from a God-fearing family, convicted for murdering her housemaid, is pardoned at the last minute by King George II. A butcher suddenly disappears and changes his identity after the tragic death of his young wife.
A picture-frame maker from humble origins becomes ‘the richest man in Oxford’ and is at ease socialising with the luminaries of the Victorian art world. And a lovestruck local member of parliament with a serious gambling addiction dies in suspicious circumstances.
These are some of the stories of individuals connected with the land and property on Middle Way in Summertown, Oxford, brought together in a book, The Butcher, The Tailor, The Picture-Frame Maker…Stories of Middle Way, by Gareth Winrow.
The book presents an alternative history of Oxford and explores how Summertown, where the author now lives, has evolved from being primarily an artisans’ village to becoming a well-heeled suburb of Oxford.
Extensively referenced and using archival sources and interviews, a voice is also given to the living relatives of people connected with the land and property on Middle Way.
Previously a professor of international relations and a consultant who lived in Istanbul for twenty years, Gareth has more recently focused on family, social and local history. His previous book followed the adventures of an extraordinary family who lived in the Ottoman Empire and British-ruled India.
Gareth said, “I was certainly inspired by the television series, ‘A House Through Time’. The amount of research and preparation put into the making of that series and the stories that unfolded as a result definitely
“The more I researched into the history of the house and land where I now live, the more I was encouraged to delve deeper as fascinating
details of the lives of intriguing characters revealed themselves.
“The life of Elizabeth Wisdom (nee Buswell), the supposed murderess from Chipping Norton, was particularly striking and I was surprised to learn that apparently, no other historian had followed her story.
“Tracking down and communicating with relatives of people connected with the property (including the 6xgreat grandson of Elizabeth who lives in Florida) was especially rewarding.”
The Butcher, The Tailor, The Picture-Frame Maker…Stories of Middle Way is a perfect read for anyone interested in family and house histories and the history of Oxford. It features maps and illustrations – including photographs provided by family members of the characters discussed in the book.