Tackley Newsletter
August & September 2020

Cataraqui shipwreck 175 years ago

Rachel Strachan

On 20 April 1845 the Cataraqui ship left Liverpool with emigrants bound for Melbourne. A quarter of the 369 passengers were from Oxfordshire, including 42 from Tackley—the most from any village. Many were poor families ‘encouraged’ to take assisted emigration.

Close to its destination, on 4 August, the Cataraqui was shipwrecked on the uninhabited King Island in the Bass Straits between Tasmania and mainland Australia. Only nine people survived, mainly crew. Fortunately the survivors were helped by David Howie, who was on the island collecting animal furs. In early September they managed to attract the attention of a passing ship, and were rescued and taken to Melbourne. Mr Howie organised funds to return soon to King Island to bury the bodies from the wreck in five mass graves.

To mark the 175th anniversary of Australia’s worst civil maritime disaster, on King Island a plaque with the names and ages of all 399 who died is being installed at the Cataraqui wreck site, along with a ship’s bell. On Sunday, 2 August these will be unveiled by Greta Robinson, the great-granddaughter of David Howie. The names will be read out and the bell rung for the first time.

Sadly, plans for various commemorative activities in Tackley were put – and remain – on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. We hope it may be feasible to do something later this year. Meanwhile in St Nicholas’ church, to the left of the altar, there is a beautifully carved oak door dedicated to those from Tackley who died in the Cataraqui wreck. This was commissioned in 2011, 165 years after news of the wreck first reached the village. There’s also a plaque with names of the local victims, installed in the 1970s when this episode was rediscovered by the history group.

More information can be found on Tackley Local History Group’s Facebook group and website.

Walking group

Linda Birch

Ever wondered which field paths you can walk on your ‘daily exercise’? Would you like to discover new walking circuits for you—and your dog? This group is a friendly way to get to know your local countryside better, and learn about the history of its paths and the places they pass.

We are restarting in a ‘social-distancing-compliant style’ by offering local led walks in groups of up to six people. As well as our usual morning walk on the second Saturday of each month, there’s also an afternoon walk on the fourth Wednesday of the month whilst we have warmer days. Both new and familiar faces are welcome, but we now need to know in advance who is coming so that we can organise leaders—and keep records of who joins the walks, for ‘track and trace’. Contact Linda, secretary, if you’d like details or to book a place.

Walks are at a leisurely pace, and depart from the village hall at the times given. Distances approximate. Walking at participants’ own risk.

8 August: Dorn valley

Saturday, 8 August at 10 am: quiet paths in the tranquil Dorn valley (5.6 miles). Get 360° views from Tackley’s trig point. Cross the A4260 to reach Dornford Lane (Woodstock Palace’s drove road), then along quiet paths overlooking the tranquil Dorn valley, and back via Tackley Heath—in time for lunch.

26 August: Tackley

Wednesday, 26 August at 2 pm: a loop around Tackley by river, woods, fields, and ancient trackways (4 miles). Over the station bridge, down to riverside meadow, pick up a section of the Roman Akeman Street. Up to the trig point, through fields and woods to the heath. See the village nestling below us as we head down Ball Lane.

12 September: Northbrook

Saturday, 12 September at 10 am: Crecy Hill, Northbrook, and the outskirts of Lower Heyford (6.2 miles). Up Crecy Hill bridleway and over the railway, river and canal to Northbrook hamlet; on field paths to Lower Heyford outskirts, across to pre-Saxon Aves Ditch, back to Northbrook, and return to Tackley—in time for lunch.

23 September: Enslow

Wednesday, 23 September at 2 pm: canal towpath to Enslow (4.5 miles). Track to 1215 Flights watermill, Pigeons Lock, towpath to Enslow; head past the satellite dishes to Whitehill. Tracks and paths home.

School food parcels

Sonya Barnett

Well it’s the end of another academic year, and it’s certainly been one like no other! In recent months we have distributed over 130 parcels to those who need them. We couldn’t have done that without your continued support and kind, generous donations—thank you.

Sadly it’s not over yet, and we will be continuing during the summer and into the next academic year. During the holidays, parcels will be distributed fortnightly and we are asking for either cash donations or non-perishable goods only. Please bring the latter to school during the following times:

Please email me to arrange cash donations.

Have a lovely summer and take care.

Apple presses available

Robin Gregory

With this year’s apple harvest developing on our trees, it’s time to remind you that the village owns two scratters (to chop up the fruit), two presses and a pasteuriser which are available to borrow for free. So don’t let Tackley’s abundant crop goes to waste—transform it into delicious apple juice or cider. Please contact me to arrange collection.


Kay Williams

Congratulations to our youngest daughter Lucy who after three years of hard work, including two years in a voluntary role as a custody visitor for Dorset Police, plenty of dedication and a little partying along the way, will be starting her new job as Resettlement Case Manager at Her Majesty’s Prison Bullingdon this summer.

Lucy attended Tackley Preschool and Primary School before completing her education at The Marlborough School in Woodstock. In 2017 she was offered a place at Bournemouth University to study psychology and will be graduating with an upper second class honours degree.

It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together.

Methodist church

Jan Grimwood

At our recent Church Council meeting we discussed how we might safely reopen the church while following the safety guidelines set out by the Methodist Central Office. At present we are planning to open again for worship on Sunday, 6 September and are working towards that. Meanwhile, an online prayer group will meet on Wednesdays at 7 pm, accessible either via Zoom or by phone. For more information please contact either Jan (above) or Tim on [email address removed from archive copy].

Methodist minister

Paul Carter

As you may know, the government has now allowed churches to reopen their buildings for worship. We are considering how we may reopen in a way that is as safe as we can realistically make it. For example, we will restrict numbers to keep some physical distancing, and our services are likely to be shorter to minimise the time we spend inside with people from different households.

We have continued with pre-recorded services provided online each week from our Oxford circuit of Methodist churches. Find them at whatever time is convenient.

In addition, we are starting a short weekly time for prayer on Wednesdays at 7 pm for half an hour. There is no obligation to say or do anything as part of that time, though if you do want to bring a request for prayer then of course please do. You can simply come and spend some time in quietness and bring whatever is on your heart before God.

These prayer meetings will take place via Zoom. To access them you’ll need either a direct link for your computer, tablet or smartphone, or a meeting number and password. Alternatively you can join using any telephone by simply dialling a normal phone number and typing in the meeting number and password, much like you might if you were calling a company with a menu on their phone system. Please get in touch with me (see above) if you would like the details.

On a more personal note, after nearly two years working as a probationer minister in the Oxford circuit – and the previous years of pondering and discerning and college-based training too – I’ve now come to the end of probation. In the Methodist Church we have an unusual two-stage process for what happens next: being ‘received into full connexion’ with the annual national Conference, which is when the Methodist Church ‘receives’ me as one of its ministers, and then being ordained. Normally these two events would happen on the same day, but since Conference had to meet virtually this year, the reception into full connexion happened online whereas ordination will have to wait until we are able to meet physically again, probably in the spring.

If you are interested to learn more about what on earth this weird jargon means, I talked a bit about it in one of my (usually) weekly online thoughts from the week before Conference.

A team sport

Revd Marcus Green

And so we all begin to dip our toes in the waters of normality.

I cannot tell you how glad I am to be able to write that we are again holding congregational services of worship in the benefice. Christianity is a team sport. We are here to cry with each other and to laugh with each other, and that’s very hard to do all alone. I’ve been tremendously impressed by the care and thoughtfulness I’ve seen in all sorts of places in these last months – and I know it will only continue – but coming together to express joy and sorrow and praise and lament and thanksgiving and confession and all the hundred other emotions and desires of life lies at the very heart of our common faith.

The very word ‘communion’ is a sharing word. Not my time with God, but ours. Our joining together—or rather, our being joined together with Jesus and all he has done for us and still does and will do.

So on 19 July we scheduled our first service back together. Then 2 August, then 16 August—and so on. Initially every two weeks, with a plan to go weekly in September, depending on how things turn out. We are worshipping in the open air as long as the weather allows, because it feels safer and more welcoming and more open to more people in these still-not-quite-right days.

Each service will be a joint benefice service for now: one week in Steeple, then in North Aston, then in Tackley. The rota on our website has all the details. If the weather is really bad at 10:30 am, our regular start time this summer, but is forecast better in the afternoon, we will push back till 5 pm. If it is set in bad all day, then our online service will be all we have that weekend. Worship at Home, our online service available on YouTube or via our website, has been watched by a wonderful number of people throughout the last four months. Thank you for joining with us. We will continue this every week for the time being.

When you come, because we are outside, please do bring your own chair or rug to sit on, and do observe social distancing. Our hope is that the churchyards all allow for this quite well. Please also wear a face covering or mask. Someone said to me: washing hands is something we do for ourselves; face coverings is something we do for others. Masks will feel strange in worship, but let’s make a positive out of it: I will award a prize to the most colourful or creative mask for the first three or four services! Let’s see how that works out!

The diocese asks us not to sing for now. But we can share communion together, and I am sure our gatherings will be wonderful. God is good. It seems clear that there are still long days ahead for all of us, and coming together for encouragement and prayer is a wonderful gift. Do join us if you feel able. If you do not, then stay home, watch the online service or use the telephone version of this (dial 929021 and you can hear our online service in full, or just the prayers, or just the sermon if you would like) and let us know so we can pray for you.

Our church buildings are also open most Saturdays so anyone can take a moment for their own personal prayers or a spot of quiet reflection if they would like to. We do need volunteers to keep the buildings open—please contact me or the church wardens if you’d like to help with this.

This is a long haul. But we will get there together, with God’s help.

Rector’s Ramblings emails carry more news. To be included in this regular update, contact me on [email address removed from archive copy]. Or check our website.