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Stanford in the Vale
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The BBC Domesday 1986 Project

One of the two Domesday laserdiscs The BBC Domesday Project was a partnership between Acorn Computers Ltd, Philips, Logica and the BBC to mark the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book, an 11th century census of England.

A new multimedia edition of Domesday was compiled between 1984 and 1986 and published in 1986. This included all the information from the original survey plus modern spellings of the place names, maps, and many color photos, video and 'virtual walks'. Over 1 million people participated in the project, with thousands of school children contributing material.

The project was stored on adapted laserdiscs, and to view the discs, an Acorn BBC Master connected to a specially adapted laserdisc player was required. In 2002, there were great fears that the disc would become unreadable as computers capable of reading the format had become rare (and drives capable of accessing the discs even rarer).

However, the BBC later announced that the CAMiLEON project (a partnership between Leeds University and University of Michigan) had developed a system capable of accessing the discs using emulation techniques. In collaboration with the National Archives (UK), a version of the disc was created that runs on a Windows PC. This version was initially available only via a terminal at the National Archives headquarters in Kew, Surrey but was made available from July 2004 on the web. Unfortunately this version is no longer available

The entry for Stanford in the Vale and the surrounding area, created by children at the Primary School, is repeated below. It provides a unique "snapshot" of the village as it was years ago.


Photographs by Mrs. June Henville, August 1985.


The area we are covering in our survey lies in the Vale of the White Horse, which gets its name from the hill figure cut into the chalk Downs near Uffington. It is a mainly rural area, but includes the villages of Hatford and Stanford-in-the-Vale and parts of Shellingford and Goosey. There is a church and a chapel in Stanford. The church in Hatford has been converted into a house, and services are now held in St. George's.

There is one primary school in our area, and most of the children travel to Wantage or Abingdon by school-bus for their secondary education.

Stanford is a large, active village, with positive links between the Church, the school and the community. Every June a Village Festival is held. The village also participates in the "Best Kept Village Competition".


Stanford in the Vale has had a Community Mini bus since 1982. It cost £12,000. Sixteen passengers can travel on it and there are thirty to forty volunteer drivers.There is a daily bus service to Wantage and Faringdon taking in the villages of Hatford, Goosey, Denchworth, Charney Bassett and West Challow too. One hundred and ten people use the bus weekly. Eight thousand Old Age Pensioners have used the bus in the last two and a half years. It costs them 20p for a single journey and others 50p.The bus is also available for excursions and for private hire. There is a standard charge of £5 plus 25p a mile for petrol and the bus is hired regularly by such groups as Scouts, Guides, Brownies and the Ladies Darts Team. The bus tickets are of special interest to collectors.


St. Denys has an 80ft. tower, an 8 bell peal and an ordinance triangulation mark. It is under the patronage of Westminster Abbey and there are two services each Sunday.Within can be seen a piscina and reliquary, reputed to have held the finger of St Denys. A brass figure of Roger Campdene (former rector) dated 1398 has an even older brass beneath it. The wooden, carved pulpit and font (with its lead weight balance to lift the hood) are Jacobean. The south porch, built to commemorate the wedding of Ann Neville to Richard III, has stone sheilds each side of the doorway. The church windows are mainly 19th century glass. An unusual gypsy grave with a stone carving of a frying pan is in the churchyard. Rev. C. Wordsworth, nephew of poet William Wordsworth, was vicar here in 1851. He wrote many hymns.


Stanford in the Vale first had a post office in 1880 sited on the Upper Green moving to Church Green in 1895. The premises are called The Vale Stores. Two hundred and sixty people cash pensions, two hundred and ten people cash Family Allowances, three hundred and twenty people pay telephone bills, four hundred and twenty people pay television licences, eighty people buy dog licences, three hundred people bank with the Savings Bank, sixty people bank with Giro and 220,000 stamps are sold in a year. Other services offered include:- Family Railcards, Government Stock, travellers cheques, gift tokens and Premuim Bonds.

A baker at Southmoor, four miles distant, provides 220 loaves weekly. Wednesday and Saturday are halfday closing. People use the Post Office services more than the general shop.


The only shops that are in our survey area are in Stanford in the Vale. They are :- The Paper Shop, Leather Shop, Hairdressing Salon, Wentworths (sweet shop/cafe, supermarket and garden centre), Fishing Tackle Shop, a showroom by the Saw-mill selling wood products and a D.I.Y. shop.

PAPER SHOP: open 7 days per week, sells newspapers, tobacco products and stationery.

HAIRDRESSING SALON: open Tuesdays to Saturdays, customers come from Stanford or the surrounding villages.

LEATHER SHOP: sells most products associated with pet care.

D.I.Y.SHOP: sells a wide range of goods for home repairs, some garden products and a few drapery items.

FISHING TACKLE SHOP: sells bait, fishing rods and tackle in U.K. and exports to America, Sweden and Ireland.


Our school has 138 pupils aged from five to eleven in five classes. The original school building was erected in 1872 and was made of stone. It was extended in 1969. There are seven classrooms, two of which are spare rooms and are used for a wide variety of activities, plus an open work area, which houses the main library. We have a hall, which is also used as a dining room, a staff room, kitchens and a new, small quiet-room.

The equipment we have in our school includes :- radios, televisions, a video recorder, a computer, P.E. apparatus and musical instruments.

The adults working in our school include our Headteacher, Deputy-head, three teachers plus a part-time teacher, school secretary, classroom assistant, a cook + two helpers, dinner ladies and two cleaners.


At playtimes we play on the school playing field (if it is dry) or on the playground. Here are some of the games we play :-

  1. British Bulldog
  2. Hopscotch
  3. Tig
  4. Chain Tig
  5. Skipping
  6. Twenty-twenty
  7. Football
  8. Polo
  9. Races
  10. Leapfrog
  11. Rounders
  12. Germans
  13. World Cup
  14. Cricket
  15. Wall Ball
  16. Handstands
  17. Throwing, catching and boucing a ball.
  18. Imaginary games eg.horses


1) BRITISH BULLDOG: The children line up on one side. The catcher calls out a name and that person runs across. If he is not caught, the others have to follow. Those caught join the catcher.

6) TWENTY-TWENTY: A game of hide and seek.

8) POLO: A child picks a subject (e.g. trees) and the others have to choose one kind each. The first child picks one and races against the child who has that kind. The winner says "Polo".

12) GERMANS: In Germans you have to volley the ball into the goal without letting it go behind the goal.

13) WORLD CUP: You have to score 1 or more goals and then you stand at the side until everybody gets through.

15) WALL BALL: The children playing decide on the order of play. One person kicks the ball against a wall and the next tries to do the same.


My alarm goes off at about 7a.m. and I read until 7.30. After breakfast I do all the normal morning things and then my sister and I set off for school.

We go into class at 9 a.m. My teacher is head of our school. After registration we have assembly. It is about holidays this month. Back in class by 9.40. Maths. until break! At playtime my friends and I play with some infants. After play we do group work on our project.

At 12 o'clock we have our lunch. Some children have school dinner, some have sandwiches (like me) and some go home.

Back to class at 1 p.m. and we have rounders. Following our last break, we do English until hometime at 3.15.

After school I practise my flute and after tea I have a water fight with my sister in the garden. I go to bed at 9.30 and read for half an hour.


One lady has lived in the mill in Stanford for 44 years. The mill was powered by water and was used for grinding corn. She has loved dogs all her life and has been training them for 7 years. She enjoys living in the village.

One man living near the school was a policeman for 30 years. He gained two awards :- long service and good conduct. One crime he remembers was people stealing clothes in World War Two because clothing was rationed. He said that he would like to see more sport in the village.

The Vicar lives in a new vicarage in Stanford but is in charge of several other parishes as well. His job includes leading services, Baptism and Christenings, confirmation, weddings, funerals, visiting the sick and helping people to be better Christians.


Houses date from c.1200 (The Manor) to today's development (Spencers Close). Materials are local stone and brick, with slate,tile or thatching for roofs. To the east are older houses, radiating north and south of the church, to the west a small estate of houses and bungalows built from 1960 onwards. Around Church Green is the old rectory (The Grange) with the new Vicarage behind, Vine Cottages (c.1535) which was formerly a farmhouse and cottages, thatched cottages and houses built in the last century. Upper Green has Stanford House, part of which is Elizabethian, Old House (c.1697) and Old Mill (c.1772), which retains the steps to the former threshing room and 3 mill wheels. High Street has Bear House (c.1759), Orchard House (c.1637) and Penstones Farm (c.1700), which acted as headquarters for Cromwell.



We have lots of clubs around the village for adults and children. There are 20 for children and 21 for adults.These include:- Badminton, Bingo, Brownies, Cubs, Darts, Discussion Group, Football, Guides, Judo, Keep Fit, Mother and Toddler Group, Quest, Scouts, Silver Threads, Slimnastics, W.I., Young Wives and Youth Club. People also go to clubs and activities in Wantage, Grove, Faringdon, Bampton, Uffington, Challow and Abingdon.


The playing field is approximately 1680 square paces and it has got lots of space. Most people use it after school. There is a slide, a swing, two climbing-frames and two goal-posts. The swings were made 2 years ago.


The Village Hall was built in 1982. Pam Ayres opened the hall on July 9th 1983. It is used nearly every day during the school term. It is open from 8.30am. until 10 or 11pm.It is owned by the village. Two people are paid to look after it, a caretaker and a cleaner. Forty-six cars can fit in the car park at the same time. It has a large hall with a stage, a fully equipped kithen, cloakrooms and a small room for meetings. Each group has a cupboard for its equipment. It is used regularly by small children with their mothers, young people, women's organizations, old people and sports clubs. It can be hired for special occasions like weddings and parties.It is an important place in the village.


Stanford Football Club is on the outskirts of the village. It has a large grassed area with two pitches and a club house.The club is run by village people. They raise funds through activities. The pitch is owned by the council. The club is for members only. The club has a meeting every Monday. There is bingo on Tuesdays. Other organizations in the village use the club for whist drives. The annual fete is in July. Usually two fairs use the field, the first in June the other at the end of July. This season Stanford Football Club have 47 players signed on. Once the players have signed on they can't play for another team unless they get transferred. The teams are made up of local players. The first team plays in North Berks Division 2 and the reserves play in Division 4.


Traditional dairy industry on Stanford meadowlands declined due to changing agricultural policies of E.E.C.. Milk quotas were introduced, resulting in increased beef farming with a majority of dairy farms turning to beef, sheep and arable.

British Friesian are the most popular breed for milk and beef. The average herd size is 130, attended by one man. Tankers collect milk, which is taken to Didcot for redistribution. From twelve farms surveyed, two still keep dairy cows. Calves are usually allocated 50% dairy, 50% beef, leaving a declining number of followers (heifers to take over from older cows).


Grassland predominates. Trational breeds are crossed with European= bigger, leaner, faster growing animals = bigger profits. Some farms grow and mix their concentrates.


Land to the west of Stanford is a light sandy gravel which makes it easier to plough and grow crops. Most farms grow winter corn as the land is easier to work before the wet winter weather sets in. More efficient production is due to the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Over production of corn results in selling to E.E.C. "intervention" and consequent storage as grain mountains. Grain is gathered by combine harvesters, artificially dried in corn dryers and stored on the farm until collection. Some is sold for breakfast cereals, beer-making, bread and animal feed. Oats and beans are used for feedstuff on the farm. Maize is fed green, either as silage or chopped. Some barley straw is used for animal feed, some wheat straw for bedding, but most is burnt in fields.


The majority of farms are mixed; if market prices fluctuate the farmer has a steady income because of the variety of livestock and crops. Dairy and beef cattle are kept on most of the twelve farms. Two farms keep 1149 sheep. The fleeces, sheared by contractors, are sent to the Wool Marketing Board at Thame. Beef cattle are taken to the traditional fatstock markets of Banbury, Chippenham and Abingdon, dairy cows to Chippenham and Banbury. Pedigree herds are sold by auction on the farms. Swindon market is used for beef and dairy calves. Sheep are bought and sold at Banbury and the traditional Vale market of Abingdon.There is little interest in pigs, poultry or fruit. Five farms keep or breed horses for pleasure. Overall - small, mixed, grassland farms, arable land on lighter Corallian soils.



Sheepcroft Farm covers 220 acres.It used to be Sheepcroft Hill Farm.The farm is along the main road to Wantage and it is bounded by streams on two sides.In very wet weather these streams are liable to flood. There is another farm opposite called Mill Farm. Sheepcroft farm grows grass for silage. It is a beef and dairy farm all in one. They feed the cows on cake and hay and for the bedding they use straw.


The animals which have been seen on the farm are:-fox, hare, hedgehog, rat, mole, mouse, water vole, grey squirrel, weasel and mink. The more unusual birds that have been seen are :- mallards, teal, coot, moorhen, heron, curlew, snipe, red-legged partridge, kestrel, owl, skylark and cuckoo. A lot of birds live near the brook.


The farmer works long hours and never has a day off. He gets up at 6.45am, he has breakfast at any time, lunch at 12.30pm and has tea some time between 5.00 and 10.30pm. In winter, before breakfast, he feeds and cleans out the young cattle. During the morning he spreads muck from all cattle on the fields and after lunch he loads silage for next day. In summer before breafast he feeds the young cattle with hay. He spends the rest of the day putting fertilizer on all the fields, rolling and chain-harrowing the fields or rotivating the fields to reseed grass and plant grass seed.


The farm house was built in 1839 and is of brick.The date is on the chimney. There are initials of the builders on the chimney:- J.W., C.G. & W.W..


In this flat Vale countryside, local surroundings have undergone changes:- trees have been decimated by disease and little replanting has been done. Changed agricultural policies are reflected locally:- indigenous breeds have been superceeded by European stock, some permanent pasture has been ploughed, hedgerows have been removed leaving sparse habitat for wildlife, the use of agricultural chemicals has increased, manpower has been replaced by machinery (1 employed farm worker to every 300 acres).

There is little local employment, but the villages are well situated for easy commuting to surrounding modern industries in Swindon, Oxford, Didcot, Harwell, Wantage, Grove, and London.