As in these present times, Edward VII had a long wait to succeed to the throne. His mother, Queen Victoria, had succeeded her father in 1837 and remained Head of State until her death in January 1901. Edward had a somewhat lavish lifestyle. He was of ample proportions and his health was not good when the time came for him to take the throne. His coronation was scheduled for 26 June 1902 and in the days before the great and the good from Europe and the dominions had gathered in London. Three days before the event Edward became seriously ill with perityphlitis and a major operation became necessary.
On 26 June a solemn service of intercession was held at St Paul’s Cathedral. The major events arranged to celebrate the coronation were postponed but, at Edward’s request, many planned events were still held in London and throughout the country. The celebrations at Oddington were described in the Bicester Herald of 4 July 1902. This account gives a clear picture of life in this parish and the social structure:-
“The so-called coronation festivities took place in this village on Thursday and Friday June 26thand 27th. There was a short service at the church at 11 a.m. on Thursday, with litany and special prayers for the King, followed by an address suitable to the occasion.
At 1 p.m. the dinner took place in Mr Collett’s barn, which had been kindly lent by the gentleman. The Rector, Rev. Samuel Crawley, occupied the Chair and at various tables Mr T. Tredwell, Mr Haynes, Mr Collett, Mr Cox and Mr Jakeman dispensed the excellent dinner, prepared most kindly by Mrs Haynes and Mrs Hall. Very great credit is due to these two ladies for the sumptuous repast they had prepared, and their cooking of the joints was simply perfection. Over 90 of the villagers sat down and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Loyal toasts were given for the King and Royal Family, and an earnest hope was for his speedy recovery. Thanks were most cordially given to Mr C. E. Sawyer and Mr Staples-Browne, the two principle landowners of the parish; also to the farmers of the parish and other kind friends who had provided the feast, among whom were the Rector, Mr Franklin (Logg Farm), Mr T. Tredwell, Mr Haynes, Mr Collett, Mr Cox, Mrs Hall, Mr Morrell M.P., Mr Hall of Oxford Brewery, Mr Jakeman, and Mr Freeborn, butcher of Oxford.
Mr Serle, son of a former rector, also sent money to Mr Haynes to give 5s each to every man of the parish who could remember the sheep-roasting on the village green on the Coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837. These were Henry Edgington, John Watson, James Hayward and Samuel Watson. Mrs Haynes, at Mr Serle’s request, gave mugs to the school-children and other gifts, and also 5s each to Mr Malins and Mrs Turner for kindness received. Besides all this, Mr Staples-Browne had sent £1 to the rector to be given by him, at his discretion, to eight families of good report, whose work lies in the parish. Those selected were Henry Edgington, W. Franklin (Clerk), John Watson, John Turner, James Hayward, James Turvey, Samuel Watson and John Walton.
The tea, prepared by Mrs Collett and Miss Bessie and Miss Helen Franklin, was of a most excellent character, and justified all expectations. There was sufficient of every kind, and the barn was tastefully decorated by the same three ladies. In the afternoon cricket and other games were indulged in, and prizes were given for races and other contests. Mr T. Tredwell had most kindly given the use of his Home Field for the sports.
At 8 p.m. there was a good supper for all those who cared to partake of it, and so the feast terminated after a most enjoyable day. Everything went off well and without a hitch. Great credit is due to Mr Haynes and Mr Collett, who managed the affair and collected the money, and also to all the ladies and others who assisted in many ways. Thanks are especially due to Mrs Haynes, Mrs Collett, Mrs Hall, Miss Bessie and Miss Helen Franklin,Miss Taylor, Miss Tredwell, Miss Cox, Miss Bourton, Mr John Edgington, Mr Cox jun., Mr John Collett jun. It may be added that a plentiful supply of pipes and tobacco was given to all smokers and was much appreciated.”
The parish was made up of two estates, each having a number of tenanted farms. The Sawyer estate owned the central area, including 23 cottages. The outer area, on the far side of the Merton road, was owned by the Grange estate. Edmund Charles Sawyer resided at the Manor House, Little Milton, Oxfordshire. Frederick John Staples-Browne, owner of the Grange Estate, lived at The Elms, Bampton, Oxfordshire.
The tenant farmers who hosted the celebrations were:-
William Haynes, Rectory Farm
John Collett,College Farm
Thomas Tredwell, Village Farm (later renamed Manor Farm)
James Franklin, Logg Farm
Thomas Cox, Grange Farm
Elizabeth Hall, Brookfurlong Farm
Edwin Jakeman (farm unknown)