Temporary Exhibitions

The Museum has a temporary exhibition gallery, which host a variety of displays throughout the year, including work by local artists/craftspeople and local history exhibitions.

If you would like to book a gallery to host your own exhibition, please contact the Museum Manager.

To see our current and upcoming exhibitions, take a look at our What’s On page.

Upcoming Exhibition

Oxfordshire Artweeks Exhibition

Light on the Landscape from local artists Jill Smith and Patsy Jones.

We currently have an online exhibition which you can see below or alternatively you can view it here

Online Exhibition of Wantage Photographs by Victorian Photographer Tom Reveley

Image 1 – Denchworth Road circa 1900, The road from Barwell to Grove, then a quiet agricultural area of Wantage. The policeman in this photo is believed to be PC Henry Bellinger.

Image 2 – Vicarage Garden, 1900s, A gardener stands by the brook looking over the garden for the vicarage. To the right can be seen ‘Old Church House’ and what is now Betjeman Walk but was known as Lords Lane.

Image 3 – Newbury Street circa early 1900s, A policeman stands at the junction of Church Street and Newbury Street in this shot taken during the 1900s. The railings seen on the left were the entrance to Tubbs House and in the distance is an extension to the then St Mary’s School designed by the architect William Butterfield in 1894. Opposite Tubbs House can be seen what became ‘The Wantage Novel Library’ which closed in recent years.

Image 4 – Grove Top Lock, Wilts and Berks Canal circa 1900, There was originally a flight of six locks in this section of the Wilts and Berks Canal. This particular lock has been restored and is now a very popular recreational walk for local people at Grove.

Image 5 – View from Wantage Parish Church tower looking west, early 1900s, Taken from the tower of Wantage Parish Church. The barn in the centre of the photo is in the grounds of Priorshold. In the early 19th Century it was used to house Napoleonic Prisoners of War who left graffiti on its interior walls. The row of poplars seen in the background lined the Mead path and are at the bottom of the grounds for the Mead.

Image 6 – Mill Street circa 1900, Taken from half-way down street looking past Almshouses on left and the original Shears Public House which was demolished circa 1912. On the right can be seen the Church Reading Rooms (with plaque at door) and further down can be seen 24, Mill Street (in the 1950s Mrs Cummings Sweet Shop) which was demolished circa 1960 to become Limbrough Road.

Image 7 – Mill Street circa early 1900s, This photo was taken looking up the street towards the Town Hall at the top. On the left can be seen the Wantage Tramway Offices (with the tall pediment) and on the right the Castle Public House by the turning to Alfred Street.

Image 8 – White Horse Hill circa 1910, The negative for this photo has the caption “Myself on White Horse Hill” is most probably the only known photograph of Tom Reveley and may have been taken by his assistant Dolly Hoare.

Image 9 – White Horse and Dragon Hills circa 1900, One view that has not changed much in 120 years, though there will be much more traffic in 2020.

Image 10 – Chapel, Chain Hill Cemetery, Wantage circa 1900, This small chapel was situated where today there is a burial plot for ashes. Local names of Palmer, Kent and Dixon can be seen on the nearest graves in this photograph.

Image 11 – Studio photo of lady with dog circa 1900, Studio photo of lady with dog circa 1900 It is not known who she was.
Do you recognise her? If so please contact the Vale and Downland Museum Curator via curator@valeanddownlandmuseum.co.uk

Image 12 – East Challow Church circa 1900, St Nicholas Church in East Challow was built sometime in the mid 12th Century. The Rev H J M Sanders was the vicar here from 1900-44.

Image 13 – Mr Edwin Unwin, Mr Edwin Unwin was born in 1849, the son of Mark and Mary Ann (nee’ Tyler) Unwin of Bermondsey London. His father Mark was a bricklayer and there were 7 other children in the family. A bright child, Edwin was educated at Westminster College in London. The college was founded in London in 1851 as a training institute for teachers for Wesleyan Methodist Schools and moved to Oxford in 1959.

Edwin can be found working as a teacher in Sheerness in the 1871 Census. Two years later whilst working in Croydon he married Grace Bennett Collins. The couple would have six children, two of whom also became teachers, the eldest also Edwin, and their daughter Gertrude who taught at the council school in Garston Lane Wantage.

In 1875, the Unwin family moved to Wantage where Edwin became Headmaster at the Wesleyan School in Church Street . It was a position he would hold for nearly 40 years. As well as teaching Edwin was a lay Methodist preacher and from 1894-1925 was a Liberal Councillor for the Wantage Urban District Council. Edwin Unwin died in Wantage on the 22nd October 1927 and his wife Grace in 1944.

Image 14 – Mrs Louisa Hillier, Louisa Florence Allen was born in Wantage in 1871, the daughter of James Allen and his wife Lucy (nee’ Liddiard). James Allen was a shoemaker and for a time the publican at the Shoulder of Mutton in Wallingford Street. According to the 1881 census Louisa had an elder brother Edward Henry.

On the 3rd June 1899, at St Mary’s Church Reading Louisa married William George Hillier aged 28 the publican of the Waggon and Horses pub in Wallingford Street Wantage. This is the white and blue three story building opposite Rockwell House and next door to the Kings Arms. It ceased being a pub around the 1950s. According to licencing reports in the Faringdon Advertiser William took over the Waggon and Horses in January 1899 and relinquished his licence in February 1908 when it was taken over by James Ivey. William and Louisa moved away from Wantage and in the 1911 census they can be found living at Clanfield near Carterton where William was working as a domestic gardener. However, in 1914 they returned to Wantage where William took over the Abingdon Arms in Grove Street running it until 1917.

It is not known what happened next but by the 1930s the couple were living in Swindon. It was here that William died in 1936 and Louisa in 1957.

Image 15 – St Agnes House Ormond Road, 1900s, This photo was taken on the site of Chandlers Court in Ormond Road in the garden of what was known as the Guildry or St Agnes House. It was an offshoot of the Convent in Denchworth Road and was used as a sanitorium and later as a religious retreat. The man you see was the gardener Frederick Belcher 1874-1944. He was a founder member of the Wantage Chrysanthemum and Fruit Society and also worked as a court bailiff. In his later years he lived in Springfield Road.

Image 16 – Lockinge House and Church circa 1900, Home of Lord and Lady Wantage, Lockinge House was an enlarged version of a Georgian house built in 1730 by Matthew Wymondsold. The house was demolished in 1947, seen as too large to manage and the Loyd family moved to Betterton House. The church and Orangery remain there today.

Image 17 – St Katharine’s School circa 1900, Built in 1898 by the architect A M Mowbray who was responsible for building several churches in Oxford. St Katharine’s originated in Newbury Street, part of a ‘middle school’ run by the sisters of the Community of St Mary the Virgin. Its object was to give a better education to children than that could be had at the national schools with lower fees than at St Mary’s School. The day pupils were mostly daughters of local business men, it also became a boarding school, a kindergarten, and a preparatory school for boys and girls. In 1938 the school was amalgamated with St Helen’s in Abingdon. This building was demolished circa 1966 and replaced by the current St Katharines’s Care Home.

Image 18 – Rear of Unknown house from tennis court circa 1900s, This is a mystery photograph as we have so far (August 2020) been unable to identify it. Various suggestions have been made including Lindenfield a Victorian semi-detached house in Denchworth Road which it is not. If you do recognise it please contact the curator of the Vale and Downland Museum via curator@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk

Image 19 – Brookside Cottages, 1900s, At the beginning of the 20th Century at the side of the brook and past the iron bridge, there was an orchard on the right (now the Betjeman Millenium Park) then two groups of cottages. The group on the left in this photo was built on a piece of land referred to in John Price’s map of 1754 as ‘The Gogs’. Here the water is diverted in front of the houses under the Platt Bridge and down to Mill Street. The path at the side of this water course to Mill Street has always been known to Wantagians as ‘The Gogs’.

Image 20 – Portway circa 1900, Portway viewed from Ickelton Road. The entrance on the left is to Highfield House, originally the home of the Headmaster of King Alfred’s School which can be seen further up on the left hand side. Just past the tree on the right, is the Wantage Fire Engine House, which at this time housed the Wantage Fire Engine. In 1908 it became the armoury for King Alfred’s School Officer Training Corps. The engine moved to the front of the VC Gallery in the market square, the front of which became the Fire Station for Wantage for many years.