A new book has revealed the darker side to life of a Southern Oxfordshire village. Written by author Donald Chilvers, Quiet Times, Cruel Times reveals the darker secrets of the small village of Brightwell Baldwin, situated between Wallingford and Oxford.
One of the shocking stories that Donald uncovered was a story about a rector who murdered his glove maker. Another told of a village squire, related to Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded for falling out with Henry VIII over the Reformation.
The church at Brightwell Baldwin
Ok, so these incidents might have taken place a while back, with the rector knocking off his glove maker as far back as 1420, but these are themes that sill resonate today. As we can see by the extraordinary success of Midsomer Murders, a series largely set and filmed in the surrounding area.
The book isn’t all grizzly stories, and actually tells the fascinating history of the village through the ages. It was made possible by the painstaking efforts of former village record keeper Tony Fraser. Mr Fraser died 20 years ago but had donated copies of his incredible work to local libraries. And that is where Donald Chilvers discovered it, calling it ‘an incredible labour of love’.
It certainly makes you wonder what else the villages and towns we live in are hiding: what dark secrets and horrible crimes have happened right on our doorsteps. Perhaps this was the inspiration for famous Wallingford resident Agatha Christie or the writers of Midsomer Murders.
If you have ever thought that nowhere could be as murder-heavy as Midsomer, then maybe it is time you started doing a bit of digging into the place that you call home. You never know what you might discover.