St Aldates in the Civil War [talk]. Sample containing about 5972 words speech recorded in educational context

1 speakers recorded by respondent number C862

PS62F X u (rk, age unknown) unspecified

1 recordings

  1. Tape 139401 recorded on unknown date.


rk (PS62F) [1] Well St Aldate's in the Civil War is quite a problem to talk about really, erm in half an hour, because it's so enmeshed in the story of Oxford in the Civil War which is a long, very interesting one, so what I'm going to try and do is erm to pick out some of the local landmarks that did survive in the 17th century and relate them to what we know about some of the people [...] and in this short half an hour, just try and picture what it was like to live in St Aldate's during the civil war.
[2] Obviously a whole lot else is [...] .
[3] I think it's quite important to orientate ourselves first, and you're looking at a map of Oxford in 1643, erm and 17th century maps for the most part are what we should call upside down.
[4] The north is at the bottom, and I think it helps if you stop thinking about it as a map and you think about it as a birds-eye view, a helicopter view, erm and then the whole thing begins to make sense.
[5] erm Now, what you've got there is a slightly later map of 1675, which is exactly the same, the north is at the bottom, I'm afraid the top is not very obvious, if I could just hold it up, you've got the castle there, and you've got it the right way up, and actually there's some writing [...] as well.
[6] erm And the reason I've given you that one is that that was drawn in 1675 [...] by David Loggen, and it's a very, very accurate one, and it's rather easier to see some of the places I shall be talking about, so I think it's a nice one for you to have close up.
[7] erm There are some little differences which are quite interesting too.
[8] Now, if we find Carfax first in the middle, Oxford's on the ... crossroads principle, like so many cities, we've got St Giles down here, erm and Oxford of course a small city, or we should regard it as a very small city.
[9] It was still a walled city, the walls were all virtually intact, the castle was a bit ruinous, but it was there, and it had its four main gates, erm East Gate on the important London Road going out past Magdalen and over Magdalen Bridge, erm the North Gate here, the Westgate by the Castle, and then still existing then but not in your map if you can find it, the South Gate across the road, just at the bottom of Christchurch, can you find Christchurch on your map? erm Now, perhaps you can that there's a difference in Christchurch on your map with this one.
[10] When Cardinal Wolsey fell, he hadn't finished the building of Tom Quad, the whole of this side was left open because he'd planned a very grand perpendicular chapel like King's College Chapel, and erm the ruins, well no, not the ruins, the ... foundations were still to be seen apparently in the 17th Century John Gomley tells us.
[11] But it was open, I mean it must have been fenced in some way [...] later on.
[12] erm But there was this great gap and I think had the civil war not come, the dean of Christchurch who was the first of the two Fells, would have probably finished that building then.
[13] As it was it was finished, as you can see on your map, after the war, erm but perhaps you can also see that Tom Tower is not yet built on yours.
[14] That wouldn't come till the 1680s.
[15] Now St Aldate's was a long narrow parish.
[16] It didn't quite reach up to Carfax, and it had another great landmark, as well as the big, rich college of Christchurch, and that was the Guildhall, built at the centre of the civic power, which was more or less, well, just where the Town Hall is now.
[17] It had 2 big inns, and we're more or less, well, we are on the site of the first one, Blue Boar Inn, and on your map, rather strangely, it seems to be built across the opening of Blue Boar Lane, I don't know if you can see.
[18] erm Anyway, it's just about there, and then, almost next door, presumably in competition with each other is the other inn, the Unicorn Inn, erm so that was it just on the South Side of Blue Boar Lane.
[19] erm One very important house is erm what is now the Newman Mobray Bookshop, and that of course is still very much as it was in the 17th Century.
[20] It belonged to an extremely important erm civic family, Thomas and John Smith, who are the two important ones during the civil war, Thomas was mayor just before the War, John Smith was a member of parliament in the Long Parliament, and erm there's a slightly complicated story to the house, Thomas moved out of it just before the war and built another one [...] way up the street, but John stayed there, and another important landowner in Marston, Umpton Croak, owned the other half of it.
[21] If you go down to Newman Mobray, and walk down that little alleyway, Rose Place, you see what is the frontage of that house, and it's very fine, and you can tell these are important people building themselves a fine house.
[22] erm And I've got a picture in here somewhere ... , which I'll pass round.
[23] erm And also, the Alice Shop?
[24] Do you know where I mean? erm Well, that too, is a 17th century building, I've got a ... an early 19th century Butler engraving of it here, and some pictures from the Alice shop itself, Now that was owned by a Walter Paine, both these citizens were well off brewers, erm those are just pictures of the same one, it's a little bit of a problem because this is called the house belonging to the manciple of Christchurch.
[25] I think in fact that's a mistake from, ... a mistaken ... caption.
[26] Manciples were like college bursars, and they were very important.
[27] I'm rather advertising this because I think it's important to understand that although, and I'm sure you know, that there's this constant war really between, it wasn't of course a physical war, but certainly tension, and difficulty between the university and the city.
[28] erm I think it's important not to see the city as a sort of down-trodden, poor, ... hard-working, well, I'm sure they were hard-working, but very poor people.
[29] We're talking about two powerful organisations, both trying to keep their privileges intact.
[30] erm Undoubtedly the university often won, but that didn't stop the city keeping on trying.
[31] erm And I think one other citizen should be mentioned, erm which is one John Nixon.
[32] He didn't actually live in St Aldate's, but he must have been here a lot, because he was mayor in 1636, he was an alderman erm he was very much a leading [...] in the city, and I think the leader of the opposition to Royal Policies.
[33] erm And erm when he came back after the war, he actually was so much involved on the parliamentarian side he had to leave Oxford during the war, but when he came back he built a school in the city which was actually in the Guildhall courtyard, it was built round the courtyard, and that remained a free school, for the city's boys right up to the end of the 19th century.
[34] Right, now, we've talked about very briefly, touched on the division between university and the city, and obviously the erm differences between the King and Parliament exacerbated what happened in the city.
[35] That's a complicated story I can't really go into at the moment, but was very much to do with the Royal Policies of the 1630s.
[36] Am I blocking your view?
[37] No.
[38] erm This is quite an interesting cartoon, and really has no connection with either St Aldate's or Oxford, erm but it was actually published in 1642, and it shows the two sides, the Roundheads and the Cavaliers, and what I think is interesting about it is that it does seem to be quite objective, it doesn't seem to be particularly getting at one side or the other, which is very rare for the kind of erm cartoons that were later issued during the war.
[39] And I've really just put it up erm because erm this is a complicated story but, one does want to be careful I think about seeing the sides as too neat.
[40] erm Undoubtedly the university erm with it's connections with the aristocracy and the landed gentry and the church was mainly royalist, but that is not to say that it all was.
[41] One college, New Inn Hall, completely emptied during the war, because erm they were on parliament's side.
[42] erm The warden of Merton had to get out of Oxford quick when the king arrived, because, and spent the erm war in London, name was Nathaniel Brent, and he was quite an important man in the organisation of the Parliamentary war effort, and Lincoln had rather mixed loyalties, too.
[43] So even University wasn't completely on one side, and again the City was erm there was this sort of Puritan element that didn't like the King's religious policies, erm there was this general feeling against the University which tended to put them off to the other side, but there are undoubtedly loyal citizens erm citizens loyal to the King.
[44] And Thomas and John Smith, who I've just mentioned were actually a split family, Thomas Smith was erm so loyal that when the first round of parliament, sorry, when the first Royalist troops came into Oxford, he, as a J P prosecuted some of the citizens who tried to stop them blocking down Botley Bridge as a defence measure.
[45] Whereas John Smith, a member of the Long Parliament actually was beaten up by those same Royalists troops, so erm because of his parliamentary sympathies.
[46] erm But he seems to have played things rather cool later on, he disappears at the beginning of the war but comes back into Oxford, and then later, actually sits in the Royalist Parliament, [...] 1644, which he certainly wouldn't have done if he was still on parliament's side.
[47] erm And I think really most citizens, and I daresay, a number of the scholars in the university too, were rather more interested in keeping their heads down, and erm just trying to keep out of it, and where the citizens were concerned, keeping on earning a living.
[48] erm And I think that's an important thing to remember while we're thinking about what happened in St Aldate's.
[49] Well undoubtedly the first thing that happened in St Aldate's, the most important thing, was after the battle of Edgefield, when the King rode in in state erm in victory he said, though the fact that the battle was indecisive, ... and it was described by a very royalist writer Anthony Wood, you may have heard of, is a university antiquarian erm very much on the university and royalist side.
[50] ‘They came in their full march into the town with about 60 or 70 coloureds borne before them which they'd taken at the Battle of Edgehill from the Parliament's forces.
[51] At Christchurch the university stood to welcome His Majesty.’
[52] Well he doesn't bother to mention that the king also had an official welcome at Carfax, which was the normal place, what was known as the Penniless Bench, which was at the end of St Martin's Church, only the [...] of that remains at the moment, now, erm and then was presented with the traditional gift of gloves by the mayor, and the not very generous sum of 520, and just about the same time, Alderman Nixon and 12 others who agreed with him disappeared smartly from Oxford, and weren't to be seen for the rest of the war.
[53] Now the King chose Oxford for pretty obvious reasons as his headquarters, he'd lost London, he needed a capital and a headquarters, erm and erm Oxford had a delightfully convenient central position, its transport is very easy with the river erm navigable, erm on both sides of it.
[54] Easy to defend, with its walls still existing, and the two rivers, and of course, with resources, with fuel and war effort, and the kind of buildings where the king could form a court.
[55] And the best building, though it's not technically part of St Aldate's, was the one he obviously chose as his fort, which was Christchurch.
[56] So court dominates St Aldate's throughout the war, and I think therefore we should spend just a little time looking at the people involved, erm but not too much.
[57] This of course is erm one of the famous Van Dyck portraits of Charles before the war, painted in 1636.
[58] Painted for a bust to be made, so that's why we have the three views, but I think it's very lucky, it means we can sort of walk round Charles, and get our own view of him.
[59] And perhaps Van Dyck doesn't flatter him in quite the way, flatter's the wrong word, sort of transmutes him in the way that he often does in his very elegant and sophisticated portraits.
[60] Well, Charles immediately set up the kind of court that he'd had in London as far as he could, with a very set routine.
[61] He had his two elder sons with him, he had quite a lot of time for enjoyment, certainly to start with, he went hunting round Woodstock quite often, and they played tennis, The erm Racquet Sport, and I think they played tennis in The Racquet Sport, I'm not absolutely certain, was actually just erm facing onto Blue Boar Street, erm behind the Unicorn Inn.
[62] erm They had great services were held in Christchurch Cathedral, and the King would have looked out from the Deans House, and this is the view of Tom Quad, a modern view, of course, of how you can look out onto the Great Quad of Christchurch, but of course it wasn't like that.
[63] erm Tom Tower wasn't there, the elegant pool in the middle wasn't and in fact the whole thing was probably rather chaotic.
[64] We know for instance that quite often erm pillaged flocks of cows and sheep were driven into the quad as one of the few open spaces within the city walls.
[65] Anthony Wood gleefully recalls this.
[66] erm So I think you want to regard it not as a sort of glamorous place where the troops were drilling and the drums were beating, but a slightly chaotic and rather dirty place, despite the kings [...] existence.
[67] Another person the people in St Aldate's would have seen was the kings nephew, Prince Rupert, erm only 23 but one of the King's major assets, a brilliant cavalry commander.
[68] This is painted just before the war, and it's interesting to compare it with ... a painting by the court painter, William Dobson who worked in Oxford during the war, his studio was just around the corner in the High Street, because that's Rupert very much at the end when things were going badly wrong for him, erm and it's unfinished, perhaps because Dobson was beginning to run out of paint, and the experts at [...] allow, and I think just ... that face tells the whole story about tension and unhappiness, Dobson's an interesting painter, one of the first English painters who sort of get to the top in this way, and he painted a lot of the cavaliers at Charles' court, erm this is Sir John Byron who clattered down the main street at St Aldate's, before the king even arrived before the Battle of Edgehill, the one that caused trouble for John Smith, erm and he was very much a swash-buckling character, but he didn't spend a lot of time in Oxford later, but he was there enough to have his portrait painted.
[69] That black mark is erm a scar patch, if you got a scar during the war you got a wound in a scuffle erm you won in the war, you did sort of emphasise this in that way.
[70] And so Charles Cockshall, who is the owner of [...] court out to the north of Oxford, who is the King's master of ceremonies, and I think that's an interesting contrast, because here again you get this feeling of tension, and sadness.
[71] erm There was a great deal of difficulty I think at the court, as well as the rather glamorous exterior.
[72] erm The Queen didn't arrive till 1643, she'd been in the Netherlands raising money for the war effort, very successfully, because she finally came to Oxford with 2,000 foot and 1,000 horsemen, and erm a hundred wagons full of equipment as well as cannons and so on.
[73] I don't know if it all came to Oxford, but certainly most of it did, and erm the city council actually spent six shillings and sixpence strewing the streets with flowers to welcome her, which erm when we have a look at the amount of money that was being, having to be raised elsewhere it was quite generous really.
[74] And she got the pair of gloves as usual at the Penniless Bench.
[75] erm Then she came down to Christchurch and was welcomed by the heads of the university, her husband had already greeted her outside Oxford, on the site of [...] , actually, and then Charles escorted her to her own household in Merton College.
[76] I think she undoubtedly added to the intrigue erm and difficulties of her court, erm one example, she was always getting people that she approved of, getting them plum jobs, and one example was one of the governors of Oxford, the most unpopular, one Sir Arthur Aston, who was so unpopular that he got attacked on the street, and then had to have a body guard paid for the city council, and then was curvetting on his horse in front of some ladies, and fell off and broke his leg so badly that he had to have it amputated, so from then on he had a wooden leg, erm that meant he had to stop being governor, and later on in the war, a countryman was coming into Oxford, and asked the sentinel ‘who was governor still’, and by that time a friend of prince Rupert's Sir William Leg was governor, and the answer was ‘one Leg’, and the countryman's reply was ‘pox on him, is he governor still?’.
[77] (Aston).
[78] erm I think two people have had tremendous problems and again must have been going up and down St Aldate's, because they were very busy officials, was Edward Hyde, who later became Earl of Clarendon and wrote his story of the war, again of course from the Royalist point of view, and his great friend, Lord Falkland, who was Secretary of State for the King, and became so upset and worried by the rash policies of the Queen's party and the general atmosphere of intrigue, and by the war itself, that he does seem to have more or less committed suicide at the battle of Newbury, by riding ahead of his troops into the enemy.
[79] And erm Edward Hyde wrote an elegiac mourning comment on this, which we really haven't got time for unfortunately.
[80] erm Sorry, I think we'll just stick with Faulkner for a moment, because I think that leads us on to the constant tragedies of battle casualties, which were obviously very much brought in into Oxford whenever people were wounded outside they were often brought in to Oxford to be cared for, there was a hospital out of Yarnton too, but a great many were cared for all over Oxford, and the greatest of course were buried at Christchurch.
[81] erm The tombs bear witness to this, there's two governors actually, Sir William Pendon who died of one of the epidemics in Oxford and Sir Henry Gage who was another governor, who was only governor for a month because he was killed in a scuffle near Abingdon.
[82] erm But the grandest funeral of the lot was the King's cousin, erm which was, erm and the funeral procession came from Magdalen down to Christchurch, the footman soldiers came, he was, sorry, killed at the battle of Edgehill, and the funeral took place on January 13th 1643.
[83] ‘The footman soldiers came first with their muskets under their arms, the noses of the muskets being behind them.
[84] The pikemen trailed their pikes on the ground, the horsemen followed with their pistols in their hands, the handles being upwards.
[85] The tops of the colours also were borne behind, a chariot, covered in black velvet where the body was, drawn by six horses, and the man that drove the chariot strewed money about the streets as he passed.
[86] Three great volleys of shot at the interring of the body, and lastly an herald of arms proclaimed his titles.’
[87] Well, if death can ever be glamorous, that, I suppose, is the glamorous side of war casualties, but I think we need to spend the rest of our time very much looking at what it was like for the ordinary people of St Aldate's. erm And here, I apologise for producing a modern slide of Carfax, but I think just to remind you that we are talking about a very busy crowded city area, and erm about a city whose whole aspect was changing during the war.
[88] The university buildings, all around St Aldate's, the Bodleian had become a warehouse, full of corn, coal, cheese and the uniforms for the King's lifeguards were made there.
[89] New College was an arsenal, Magdalen College had the heavy ordnance, which was clattering through the streets drawn by horses, whenever it was brought in.
[90] There were mills all round the city that were grinding gunpowder or sword blades.
[91] erm I think the city must have become a real mess, there were stores piled up everywhere, wood, coal, corn, often I think they had to build sort of, something to hold the corn, there's a lot of the evidence for that in the college accounts certainly.
[92] Military stores, every musketeer had to have at least two metres of match which was a fairly thick cord, which was used to ignite his musket, and if you start thinking about how many musketeers there were around in Oxford, a whole lot of match had to be stored.
[93] That's quite combustible, sort of oiled cord.
[94] erm And there was, of course, powder had to be stored as well .
[95] And as well as that, beyond the city walls, fortifications were being erected all the way round the north of Oxford, the bits that weren't covered by the river.
[96] That's another story, where they were, and if you're interested, downstairs there's a very good map that shows you superimposed on a modern map of Oxford where they were, but they very much affected citizens in the St Aldate's, because every citizen, and every scholar who was still in the university, between the ages of 16 and 60 had to work on the fortifications at least one day a week, or pay a shilling fine.
[97] And getting them to work was a constant problem and collecting the fines, and we do actually know about this.
[98] If you would like to look at the second sheet on your erm of the two that you've got, erm this really brings to mind [...] , one day in St Aldate's, in the summer of 1643, when a very hard working, methodical loyal official, Edward Heath, was ordered by the King and his Council to walk around St Aldate's, and make a list of all the defaulters, all those who had failed to work on the fortifications.
[99] erm And there are erm it's quite difficult to read until you get used to it, but erm the title is nice and easy, could I just have a copy, erm down there?
[100] I don't want to deprive you.
[101] erm Now, if you look at the top, you see the widow Smith's house, and then it says ‘the officers would not speak with him’.
[102] Next to that would be a sort of double stroke in the margin, erm can you see the name Holloway erm Well, on the line below that, erm it's talking about the Earl of Newark and his servants, and then on the following line it says, ‘removed to Trinity College and son gone out of town’.
[103] erm Now, there's a very nice one, if you move down to the single stroke, you see there are two 2s written, and below that there's a single stroke.
[104] erm And if you look at the second line, and begin three words in, it says ‘the mistress,’ the mistress is abbreviated, ‘answers her man cannot work, nor can she spare him till she be paid for what her husband did for the King's soldiers’.
[105] You can just imagine her standing arms, you know, just telling the man where he [...] .
[106] erm Perhaps you can begin to pick out where it keeps saying no Answer.
[107] The next two in the margin, if you go further in you'll see a ‘noe answere’.
[108] (It's always spelt N O E, and answer has an E.) One does have this feeling that people were getting wind of Mr Edward Heath walking down the street, and were going out the back doors of the house.
[109] erm Yes, now if we get to about half way down there's a plus in the margin, and the third line in the bracket below that plus, more or less on a level with a three dot, and a little bit below, it says, William, I think it's Wilkinson, a minister, curate of St Ebbe's Parish, ‘his answer that he must attend the burials and christenings’, so obviously he couldn't work on the fortifications.
[110] And then, if we go right down to the bottom, there's a whole lot bracketed together against the [...] .
[111] ‘No answer, but that they would not pay’, they ought not to pay.
[112] erm And one can go on picking out a great many of these people once you get used to the writing.
[113] It is fairly easy to read, once you begin to get ... .
[114] Now, as well as the fortifications, I think one wants to erm very much keep in mind that the citizens of St Aldate's were constantly being asked for money.
[115] There were these big loans for instance, 2,500 once the city had to make to the king.
[116] And this was collected by the parishes, and we know that St Aldate's had to pay 280, which along with All Saints, the city church, was the highest amount from all the various parishes.
[117] And then there was money for maimed soldiers, for what they called visited persons, which was the plague, fire and candles for the courts of guards, that was paying for fire and candles for all the little sentinel posts round Oxford.
[118] If they were freemen, they had to give up their right to graze in Port Meadow, because erm the hay was to be grown there, to be promised to His Majesty.
[119] They had to perhaps give up their pots and pans, or they were supposed to.
[120] Actually, a remarkably few were collected, to provide brass for armaments.
[121] And there were actually arms collections too.
[122] They were supposed to raiding the city regiments and paying for it, there was constant trouble for this, and the man who was appointed colonel by the king, Nicholas Selby, was very unpopular.
[123] But I think the main thing that they all had to bear to survive, was a tremendous amount of overcrowding. erm Now, we're fast running out of time, aren't we.
[124] What I am going to talk about next is erm I'll just mention that, about another 5 minutes, I think, will get us to the other great bit of work that poor old Edward Heath had to do in St Aldate's, which again, that gives us a great deal about the insight as to what it was like there.
[125] erm I just put that up, which should have been up while we were talking about money, which is erm the beautiful Oxford crown, which you can see downstairs, which was minted at New Inn Hall, the college that emptied, and was turned into the mint, mostly from college plate.
[126] erm And, of course, that was a symbol of all the problems of money that the king had, and the ordinary citizens of Oxford had in trying to provide him with it, mostly very reluctantly and unwillingly.
[127] With everything going on about the Poll tax, it's extremely easy for us to understand how they felt.
[128] Now, this is not an Oxford cartoon either, but it's a looting soldier, and very much, I think, underlines what people felt about soldiers around the place, and to go back to the overcrowding, erm the great problem was that constantly not only soldiers, but a great many other people, court officials, court servants, barbers, whoever, erm all had to found accommodation, and because St Aldate's was so near the court, a great many of them were of course connected with the court, they had some high ranking ones.
[129] Now once again we know about this because Edward Heath was given another job, just about nine months later, the king had decided he would summon a parliament in Oxford erm and in January '44 it was due to meet, but where were the members who were going to come into Oxford to stay.
[130] And so Edward Heath was sent round in January 1644, all the houses in St Aldate's to find out how many people were in them to see if there was any more room.
[131] And once again of course, meticulously, he kept his records.
[132] erm You can see, probably recognise the writing erm we've just been looking at.
[133] This is his final total after he'd been all the way round St Aldate's, he went round 73 houses, and he says here, I think this is a sort of hieroglyphic that would probably mean something like 'item'.
[134] Gentlemen and their men servants — 267, these are the extra people staying in the houses, not the people who lived in St Aldate's normally, women — 66, children under 16 years of age — 13, soldiers of the life-guards — 62, total in this parish — 408.
[135] So that's 408 extra people living in St Aldate's houses.
[136] Now, I think there's probably a very nice parallel here, I can't help thinking it was probably a bit better, must have been better organised in the Second World War, but there's going to be a erm special exhibition here isn't there, on memories of change on Oxford in the Second World War, and of course there were a great many extra people there too.
[137] And, because Edward Heath is so meticulous, we do know who were in all these different houses.
[138] erm I won't go through too many of them, erm but Blue Boar Inn, for instance, had 21 extra people, had some of the King's servants, some of the prince's servants, they had two Scottish peers, and their servants, 21 extra people, in a big inn, there were 14 rooms, I think, that were, could be called living rooms, but never-the-less, I think it must have been pretty crowded.
[139] But I think to give us perhaps a more vivid idea of what it must have been like for ordinary people, these are 3 houses in St Aldate's that don't exist any more, they're down more-or-less where the police station is, erm and we do know exactly who lived there, and who was actually there during the war.
[140] Sorry, I'm trying to find the right bit of paper.
[141] ... There we are.
[142] Right, now This is, yes, this is a fairly big house that was put together 31 and 32.
[143] Then there was a erm largish house, this one, and then a very small one on the end.
[144] And erm there has been some research done, they produced a plan of what they actually consisted of in the 17th century.
[145] The top layer was built, that you saw in the photograph, was built later, so 31 and 32 had two rooms, erm on the ground floor, and 2 on the first floor, 33, which was smaller, but it does have a fair sized room, and another upstairs, and then the very small one is 34.
[146] Now, in 31 and 32, lived a prosperous widow, the widow of a butcher, a mistress Jane Hawks, who was carrying on her husbands business, and doing quite well at it.
[147] She had a step-son and a wife, but we don't quite know whether they were there or not.
[148] But she also had living there a Colonel Stringer who was quite an important Scots Officer, three of his servants and a sergeant and one other soldier, so she had 6 extra people.
[149] Next door was a parchment maker, who had one corporal billeted on him, but we also know that 2 soldiers died in his house, and so it's possible that he actually looked after wounded soldiers, which was, of course happening all over Oxford.
[150] And then in the tiny house lived a widow, Elizabeth Treadwell, with one sergeant and two other lifeguards, so she had 3 soldiers in that tiny house.
[151] What we don't know, of course, is how they organized their living accommodation, whether they ever got paid, they were given these sort of , tickets that were supposed to be honoured later on, but as far as we can make out, they hardly ever were, erm and how the people got on, we just have to use our imagination, but it is interesting that here for instance in these three, we actually apart from anything else have two women house-holders, who are obviously erm women who are carrying on business of some independence.
[152] Well, I think I really had better stop there, and then if you want to ask any questions erm we can go into them, but perhaps I could just mention two things that I would like to have said more about, one was, that you probably know, there were three or two major epidemics in Oxford, of what they call plague, but it was probably a form of typhus, in 1643 and 44, and a good deal of sickness, I think, still in 1645, and the other was that there was a very serious fire, which almost certainly arose from these kind of living conditions, because Anthony Wood says it was a soldier roasting pig, erm and I think a lot of cooking went on in very unsuitable situations.
[153] And the fire actually started beyond the North Wall, just by the North Gate, but the wind was blowing from the North, and it blew it down, and although it didn't burn the rather better stone houses, facing onto St Aldate's, erm behind I think a lot of the poorer houses did suffer, and St Ebbe's parish, next door, suffered a great deal, and because it was war, I think they just, the city council, city records lament that there how hard it is for people, and there's no money to help them.
[154] So it's erm there was in fact a great petition made to the king on these very lines, really because of the fire.
[155] So I think life was erm boring, tough, hard-working, pretty unpleasant during the war, erm and I think most of the citizens must have been very very relieved when the surrender finally came, and it brought no actual fighting, and at least the city was left reasonably unscathed.