Freemen of the City of Oxford

Welcome to this site which can boast some, hopefully, interesting information pertaining to the Oxford Freemen.

Recent Announcements

  • New Website!
    Our new website is now up and running at, this one will be closed down in due time.
    Posted 19 Mar 2018, 08:51 by Geoff Gibbs
  • Journal #146 Available
    Issue 146, Autumn 2017, of The Oxford Freeman is now available to download, either here or from the archive.

    If you would prefer to be e-mailed a link to the digital version in the future (instead of receiving a print version through the post), then contact the editor (Geoff Gibbs) at
    Posted 20 Oct 2017, 09:36 by Geoff Gibbs
  • Sheriff’s Round Up on Port Meadow - Monday 1st October 2017
    It was still in darkness as I arrived in Walton Well Road Car Park for the annual Sheriff’s Round Up. My Wellington boots were pulled from the car boot but almost immediately placed back in again as the ground was dry and despite the dire weekend weather forecast, the conditions were near perfect for the hours ahead.

    There was no hanging around this year as after a short safety briefing from Julian Cooper, head of Oxford City Parks and Countryside, we were off through the Meadow kissing gate and up the old concrete track. There in front of us were a good herd of cattle quietly grazing.

    Disturbed by an advancing group of walkers the cattle looked up and took a step back. Protesting bellows from the black and mainly brown steers and the Round Up was underway. The sun was trying to breach the horizon but was only showing a silver and white glow in the east. As yet there was no wind and the Sheriff was walking in his grey lounge suit. That is how mild it was.

    The herd shifted from the railway side of the meadow toward the river boundary and we gathered other cattle on way. Julian Cooper made the prophetic words that the cattle should know where the compound was as they had been there last week for TB testing.

    It was all very friendly as steady progress was made up the meadow. What we could see was that there was a good number of cattle, maybe 80 or so, grazing up toward the weir, so we stayed pretty close to the river in order to collect them and continue to the compound.

    The driven cattle slowed as we entered this area. Never good news because as soon as they slow they loose interest and seek pasture. More bellows and the hundreds of Canada geese, finishing their breakfast took flight in an astounding beating of wings and honking calls sent the cattle into a determined trot to escape the mayhem. The Oxford Mail reporter later wrote that it was an exhilarating experience.

    Despite gallant efforts to retrieve the situation, Julian Cooper had no hesitation in calling off the Drive in order to prevent any distress to the fabulous cattle.

    We retired to the Plough for the full English Breakfast and it was good to meet former Sheriffs and also our retiring City Rector. The Sheriff spoke of his joy at being involved in this timeless tradition of the Oxford. I spoke of my recent experience in seeing a herd of Oxen and how huge they are compared to today’s cattle. Oxen are of course the reason we have the name of Oxford. It was a lovely drive on the Meadow but several spoke of the need of more assistance and perhaps the use of a couple of Quad Bikes. I am pleased to report that there were five members of the Freemen Committee in attendance and other very welcome Freemen. You must try it.
    Posted 4 Oct 2017, 11:04 by Geoff Gibbs
  • Port Meadow Bailey Bridge
    70 years ago in September 1947, a WW2 era famous Bailey Bridge was erected by Royal Engineers at the southern (Medley) end of the Meadow, linking onto the Thames Path. A crowd of over 3,000 attended including the Mayor and Mayoress. It replaced a wooden pedestrian bridge washed away by the March flood.

    An event was held on 17th September at the bridge, attended by Cllr Susanna Pressel, to commemorate the anniversary and to raise awareness of this amazing invention by Donald Bailey. A WW2 era 1/6th scale army training model was displayed by Peter Smith, along with some original bridge parts to explain to passers-by how the bridge was built. It is intended that fund raising for a permanent information board can begin after the WW1 aerodrome memorial is in place. In the meantime Freemen can access an overview document attached to this article.
    Posted 24 Sep 2017, 08:04 by Geoff Gibbs
  • Chester Banquet Weekend 2017
    Dear fellow freemen,

    On behalf of the President, David Starbuck Edwards, we wish to formally invite all freemen and their guests to our Annual Banquet which is to take place on Saturday 14th October 2017.
    Please find attached invitation to Chester Banquet Weekend 2017.

    Yours sincerely,

    Banquet Committee.
    Posted 6 Sep 2017, 11:18 by Geoff Gibbs
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