We’re proud to be taking part in the Witney Heritage Open Day Trail this month.
The beautiful bow-window of our Witney office, which is currently full of heritage memorabilia, lies between the 16th century Buttercross, and the iconic St Mary’s church at the far end of Church green, adjacent to the war memorial – and did you know that on 2 September 1942 a tug plane pulling a glider training for D-Day collided with the 156-foot high spire of this church, bringing the stone top crashing through the chancel roof church?
Look carefully at the spire and you’ll also see something surprising – climbing one side of the spire there’s a monkey! Apparently a small monkey was a regular visitor as part of the annual fair on the green and then one year about five hundred years ago, as the church was in the final stages of completion, he escaped from his act and climbed the new tower. Sadly, though, he fell to a sticky end and so the showmen who brought the fair each year clubbed together to put up a memorial to the escapee. Now for time immemorial a stone monkey climbs the steeple.
For centuries Witney was famous all over the world for woollen cloth in general and good quality blankets in particular which the town began to specialise in the 17th century and we are showcasing some of these as part of the town trail: a blanket’s always handy as the nights draw in!