WHEATLEY Village History

Wheatley Archive – Origins

The Wheatley Village Archive started in 2003 as an initiative of the History Group within the Wheatley Society under the chairmanship of David Harverson, with the offer of a small room above the entrance to the Merry Bells village hall thanks to a generous subsidy by Wheatley Parish Council.
The following individuals gave generously of their time and expertise in the early days (check!):
Marion Darkin: Leading light and fount of knowledge about Wheatley history
Liz O’Sullivan: Professional Archivist with experience at Oxford University
Susan Prest: Good on the computer system
Pam Reay: Good on genealogy and researching family trees
Pam Harverson: Treasurer
Martin Timms: IT expert, and creator of the original database
Donations by local people of a variety of artefacts – including photographs, documents, property deeds and family trees as well as a number of physical objects – were supplemented over time by the ongoing addition of newspaper clippings, programmes of village events, and archive material from local societies. These were all carefully catalogued and filed in neatly indexed boxes with locations referenced on an old donated PC in a database that within 10 years had over 2,000 records, some of which were collections of multiple items.
In time the team gained other volunteers – Maureen Stayte & Anne Ledwith – and the collection now included audio and video recordings of village characters and community plays.
Then in late 2012 John Halliday created a simple website as a repository for articles about Wheatley as and when they became available – with the potential to become a “living history”.
In 2013 the Wheatley Archive agreed to collaborate with the local branch of the Royal British Legion to create a book about the Wheatley men who served and died in the First World War, and this involved several other people including local historians John Prest, John Fox and Judith Ormston. We were fortunate to gain support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the book project and several other initiatives relating to WW1 including presentation of research material on the Internet.
More recently the team was joined by Steph Cox who brought further welcome computer-literacy and, more recently, Michael Heaton who moved to Wheatley in 2017 with a wealth of experience in the presentation of local history from his former community in Northamptonshire, including creation of a village history website.
Michael and the team are now busy digitising all the material referenced in the Archive Database.
The WW1 material from the book is now on the Internet, and we hope that much of the Archive material will become available early in 2019.


  1. The initiative to digitise the archive started in 2018 and is expected to be largely complete by the end of 2019. This is making the records in the archive much more accessible to past and present inhabitants of Wheatley, whose records these are. It is hoped that this will encourage others to add any records which we do not already have.
    You do not need to part with your originals – either come into the Archive room when it is open or contact Michael Heaton at michael@wheatleyarchive.org.uk. who will arrange to scan your original in the archive room or at his home in the High Street.

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