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Ascott Martyrs remembered

Version 2On Martyrs’ Day, Saturday 23 June, local people and visitors from far and wide gathered at Ascott-under-Wychwood to remember the 16 women gaoled in May 1873 for supporting their agricultural labourer menfolk, who were on strike for higher wages and better conditions. Beverley McCombs, a descendant from New Zealand and author of The Ascott Martyrs, and Mari Moss, another descendant still living in the village, unveiled a commemorative textile wall hanging. Beverley, wearing a period blue silk dress and bonnet, spoke movingly about her research and connection with her ancestors. The textile is currently on display at the Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock until 23 September before returning to its permanent home in Ascott church.

After their arrest, the Martyrs were held in the cells at Chipping Norton police station, and subsequently sentenced in the courtroom before being taken to Oxford prison. Three Victorian benches, from the redundant police station, have been rescued by the Ascott Martyrs Educational Trust – two are now in Ascott at Tiddy Hall and the church, while the third is in Chipping Norton Museum. For more information about the Ascott Martyrs visit www.ascottmartyrs.co.uk

Sue Richards

October – November 2018