WE SEEM to be obsessed with shopping – witness Bicester Village.

What about in times gone by? I thought I’d concentrate on the predecessors of our village shop.

In 1747, Christopher Davis was a shopkeeper of Weston. In 1812, the village constable’s accounts implied ‘shops’ not ‘shop’ and there were probably also travelling tradesman as the constable helped ‘a tradesman in distress’ by giving him three pence.

By 1820, a shopkeeper allowed nonconformist meetings in his house and then sold them land for a purpose built chapel.

This is the first time we have the location of a shop – somewhere near our Oak Tree.

From 1841 to 1911 and then in 1939 official records detail the shopping opportunities in our village.

Initially there was one grocer – a lady, and a dealer living in the village and trade directories also list a postmaster.

This sets the scene until the early 20th century.

At each census we have at least one grocer, sometimes more, and often a separate butcher.

In 1871, there are three grocery shops. Apart from ‘dealer’ we also had a ‘hawker’ here, the forerunner of the travelling shops so common in the early part of the 20th century.

The location of these shops alters.

Often they are in the centre of the village, either by the stocks or the church. However, the two extremes of the village – near the Oak Tree and close to the Chequers also had shops at various times.

One shop is remembered as selling specifically coal, bread, bacon and lard which gives an idea of the basic staples of 19th century life – coal to heat the home and cook with, bread and bacon and lard to cook the bacon.

No mention of fruit or vegetables, probably mostly grown in the cottage gardens.

In 1918, when the village was sold, one lot was ‘a dwelling, shop and garden’ and was sold for £310.

After 1918 there is a butcher here, remembered as selling frozen New Zealand lamb to the village, less than forty years after the trade in frozen meat first began.

Twentieth century memories include a shop behind the hedge, near the Oak Tree. A lift-up flap had a sign over the top saying ‘Snack Bar’ and it probably did well selling to children after school.

In the 1920s, we had a fish and chip shop. The owner also sold groceries and fresh fruit and her husband drove a van round neighbouring villages selling wet fish and groceries.

A piece of battered fish cost two pennies, chips were one penny.

The building, in Church Lane, had a metal ‘Craven A’ sign on it. From diaries, kept by two housewives in the 1930s and 40s, we know there were several travelling traders.

Later a man sold ice-cream from a large (presumably insulated) box across his cycle handlebars

An evacuee to war-time Weston remembered a sweet shop in North Lane.

Was this an outlet for sweets produced by a confectioner living elsewhere in the village? To me this is even more unusual as I thought children growing up during the war did not see a sweet until about 1955.

The register taken in 1939 in preparation for war-time restrictions listed two shops, and a café in the village.

There was a shop and post office by the stocks and another shop near the church. The range of goods sold has increased; one evacuee remembered buying a book from the shop.

The butcher continued to trade, although wartime restrictions must have affected his business. The shop and post office, although in the same building, had a separate door for each business. Candles were used for lighting and the shopkeeper would slice bacon or ham while holding his cigarette between his lips.

Following the war one shopkeeper also delivered milk and ran a travelling shop.

Finally, in the 1970s, we were reduced to just one shop.

Weston’s filling station, close to the Chequers, also had a small shop which sold ice cream, cigarettes, Corona (remember that) and would charge batteries to power your wireless, repair tyres and supply oil for cars as well as petrol.

Opposite Weston Airfield, there was the Cypress Café. Serving airmen remember this as a place for tea and a ‘wad’ of cake.

It survived until sometime in the 1960s. There was also a café on what is now the A34, which served huge breakfasts to lorry drivers in the 1960s and 70s.

Our shop and Post Office now supplies fruit, vegetables and groceries, it is also our butcher, bread supplier and speciality candle supplier. It is also our café where we enjoy a pastry and coffee. All the services from previous centuries now supplied from one shop – excellent.