About Us

To most people, the first mention of Witney is closely followed by the word ‘blanket’. For hundreds of years, the town has been associated with the manufacture of blankets. You will find within our doors a ‘treasure trove’ of rich history about the blanket history and the people who were part of it.

Witney Museum opened in 1996. The museum is situated in a traditional Cotswold stone building that was once the home of Malachi Bartlett, the proprietor of a well-known building firm.

Witney, having a population of over 27,000 people has a thriving shopping centre alongside an open market which has operated within the town for many years. In the past, on every other Thursday, cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens were sold in the Market Square. The mess, noise and smell in the town centre on market days must have been formidable, with trails of dung in the streets left by animals being walked in from the nearby farms or from the railway station, that sadly no longer exists. The market still operates in the town selling local produce, plants, clothes and array of other items.

The Ground Floor

On the ground floor of the museum, there are displays relating to the history of Witney and the surrounding area highlighting the changes that have taken place over the last 1,000 years. These include items from the local brewing industry. Witney has ‘Wychwood Brewery’ in the town which is open to the public, with regular tours available. Now on some days, you can detect the smell of malted hops drifting in the wind!

Shown here are also items relating to the ‘Glove making industry’ in Witney, that sadly no longer features in the town. The glove factory was in the Newland area of Witney. The owner was William Pritchett, a Woodstock glove maker who established himself at the Newland site around 1830.

Other displays include transport, development of education from the early days of private education and the Sunday schools, through the National School movement to the present day.  Artifacts include schoolbooks, school reports, slates, pencils and photographs together with a reconstruction of a Victorian schoolroom. The museum’s collection also charts the development of Witney’s religious diversity, from medieval times onwards.

The First Floor

On the first floor is ‘The Bartlett Taylor Gallery’ where we stage temporary exhibitions. The ‘350 years of the Witney Blanket Industry’ display has been retained for 2021, please see our ‘What’s On’ section for further details.

The reconstruction of a 1950’s kitchen is not to be missed!