The roaring '20s!
Cotswold Life|January 2020
Tracy Spiers sends a toothsome New Year’s wish from the Oxfordshire town of Woodstock

A sharp-toothed voracious Megalosaurus threatens to engulf me with its giant jaw as I enter the Oxfordshire Museum’s Dinosaur Garden. I’m grateful that it’s only a sculpture and that its roar is silent. But it still has the power to intimidate. This dinosaur, which lived 168 million years ago was the first to be studied scientifically and its long trackways of fossilised footprints were discovered in Oxfordshire in 1997.

It is one of Woodstock’s famous residents and a prominent landmark which has attracted many visitors over the years. Behind the Grade I listed Woodstock Gate lies another – Blenheim Palace, a place of magnificence and grandeur and birthplace of the late British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill.

So why do I feel the urge to begin with a dinosaur? Bear with me, dear reader. I am more interested in its roar, or should I say the town’s roar. The dinosaur represents the past, its cry long silent, thankfully. Today I am focussing on a more important roar – a healthy positive roar which, instead of devouring the likes of unsuspecting prey, seeks to build, restore and bring health to the community. I refer to Oxfordshire’s town plethora of independent businesses and their New Year Wish for Woodstock. The year 2020 is an opportunity to roar about what they have to offer with their specialist trades and services, not only to this community, but to those visiting from far and wide.

Woodstock’s history is one of hospitality, offering sustenance and shelter to strangers. It grew up as a coach stop around the Royal Hunting Lodge, now the site of Blenheim Palace. Both attractive visually, thanks to its attractive period buildings, and in heart, due to its warm friendly business community, Woodstock is a gem. I take my lovely mum Jan, and 12-year-old daughter Rosie with me and once again we are impressed by the reception we receive as well as the eclectic assortment of shops to explore.

In recent years, new businesses have moved in alongside traditional longstanding ones and there is a positive vibe as the new decade approaches. As many towns have experienced, it hasn’t been an easy ride for those seeking to trade here, but they do believe their riding the wave.

“As uncertainty continues to plague the high street, I’m confident Woodstock continues to go from strength to strength,” says Alexander Edwards, Managing Director of The Cotswold Tailor, in Oxford Street.

“Woodstock has a strong and supportive community, which enables local retailers to buck the trend and continue to offer a diverse range of services.”

Owner of The Woodstock Bookshop, Rachel Phipps wishes that rather than buying online, customers would come into her shop for their books.

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