Learning and Courses

The Wychwood Forest History Box

A collection of objects and a map.

The Wychwood Project has created a new learning resource all about the ancient Wychwood Royal Forest to help schools carry out a local history studies in the area.

The Wychwood Forest used to cover the whole of West Oxfordshire so any school within our region could benefit from using the resource.

We have partnered with the Oxfordshire Museums Service to create a history box containing artefacts, old photographs, documents and maps from the nineteenth century Victorian period and telling the story of what life was like living in Wychwood Forest 200 years ago.

The learning materials support areas of the curriculum for History, Geography and Science and include many linked activities for Maths, English, Art & Design and Technology.

The box contains five teacher guides:

  1. Introduction to the Wychwood Forest: including background on how Royal Forests were formed by William Conquerer after the Norman Conquest. This section also introduces the many habitats, trees, plants and animals found in the Forest.
  2. This guide tells the story of the 1856 deforestation when 2,000 acres of the forest was cut down and enclosed to make way for new mechanised farms. You can find out how this event affected local people and study old and new maps to see how the landscape and infrastructure changed.
  3. Working life in the forest: the job of a woodsman, agricultural labourer and a gloveress. The box contains tools and artefacts from our rural heritage and DVD footage of forest work from hurdle making to horse logging. You can even book a craft demonstration with a woodsman.
  4. Home Life: is all about how people lived, their housing, food and diet and what school was like. This section also includes census returns so you can study the lives of five real forest families over three decades 1851, 1861 & 1871. You can also listen to an interview with one of the family’s descendants.
  5. The Wychwood Forest Fair: read first-hand accounts of this ‘annual spectacle’ and learn about 19th century fair attractions such as animal menageries, swing boat rides and shadow portraits. Study old photographs of local West Oxfordshire fairs from the 1800’s and watch British Pathé footage of an early fair.

Find out how to borrow the Wychwood Forest History Box
Read about North Leigh Primary School’s experience with our history box
Book a craft demonstration

The Wychwood Project is very grateful to Oxfordshire County Council and the Oxfordshire Museums Service for supporting the creation of this resource.