On 22 June Chris Hall, editor of The Countryman magazine from 1981 to 1996, went to a ceremony for the unveiling of a blue plaque outside Greyhounds, Burford, in Oxfordshire, former home of the magazine. Chris’s letter, below, was published in this week’s Oxford Times.
The Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board has muddled its latest memorial, a plaque commemorating The Countryman magazine and its founder-editor, J W Robertson Scott.
The plaque has been placed on the front of Greyhounds, Sheep Street, Burford, where the magazine was edited for many years, but where Scott never worked or lived, although the board specifies that persons commemorated ‘must have lived or worked in the building on which the plaque will be erected for at least five years’.
He edited the magazine from his home at Idbury Manor, five miles away, and The Countryman only came to Burford when he retired.
Scott’s plaque should be at Idbury.
If anyone is to be commemorated at Sheep Street it is Sir John Cripps who edited the magazine there (1947-71), served on the former Witney Rural District Council (chairman 1959-62) and revived the Burford Friends’ (Quakers’) meeting.
And it is a pity that the board could not get the dates right: the plaque says that The Countryman was edited at Burford from 1949 until 2003. Wrong.
The magazine came to Burford early in 1947 ‘during the great white winter’, as Cripps himself recalled and as the magazine recorded.
Unfortunately the board does not plan to correct this, the chairman [Robert Evans, Oxford Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History FLSW FBA] told me at the unveiling ceremony.