Posted October 3rd, 2011

'First Night' – a film which aims to do for opera what Kenneth Branagh's 'Henry V' did for Shakespeare – stars Sarah Brightman and Richard E.Grant. It also has a little-known connection with Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.

Its producer is Stephen Evans – and also working for the production company are sons Jonathan and Romilly. All are now based in London, but used to live in the village.

Follow this link for an article in The Observer.


Our obituary of Mike Maughan brought an e-mail from Mike Young, who lived in Brightwell from around 1966 to 1978. He wrote:

‘I lived with my mother and father Alan and Bettina Young in a house then known as Montserrat, up a gravel drive opposite the Red Lion pub. My father worked for Boshers in Cholsey and was a QS. He purchased a plot of land, formerly an orchard, from Mr Turner in the early nineteen sixties. He consequently went on to build our family home in the heart of Brightwell. I lived here with my brother David and my sister Liz.

‘My father was suddenly diagnosed with cancer in early December 1976 and passed away 3rd January 1977. Thankfully a short illness, but to a 12-year old boy a severe shock.

‘He was a very keen sportsman and played football and hockey in Wallingford teams, but was always an avid tennis player, playing regular tennis right up to days before his diagnosis with cancer. He often played tennis with Dr Wintle.

'I followed in his foot steps and played tennis in Wallingford club and later in the Berkshire squad for under twelves. It was Berkshire in those days. My mother managed to secure me a tennis scholrship and a place at Millfield School on a day pupil basis, and at the age of 13 we moved to Butleigh in Somerset.

'I now live happily with my wife and three children in Wincanton and run a successful commercial water feature and irrigation company, Waterscapes Limited.

'I do get back to Brightwell to visit my father's grave as often as I can and my mother now lives in Didcot.

'What prompted to me to write to you was upon reading the sad news on your website about the passing away of Michael Maughan.I was great friends with his son Simon and would always look forward to going around to house to a glass of squash and a lovely piece of his mum's homemade flapjack.

'Although I haven't seen Simon or his mum and dad for years, memories did come flooding back upon reading this news.'

Posted Wednesday 11 August 2010

Penny Kane writes from her home in Northern Scotland, 60 miles from John o’Groats: "It is wonderful up here and I love it. I was back in Brightwell cum Sotwell in May and caught up with a lot of people, as I was there for the church fete. I was so thrilled to see everyone again but I was pleased to get home. I just wish it would stop raining!"

After living first in a caravan, then in a mobile home on a beach, she is now settled in a house and has a part-time job as a ‘café slave’.

She says: "It is very different up here. The village, which has its own website, is a lot smaller than Brightwell, it has two grocery shops, two pubs, a hotel with restaurant, a hardware shop a shop that sells all sorts of things, a shoe shop which sells cards and Halloween costumes and plastic flowers(!), an antique shop, a museum, a cafe which also sells antiques and a Post Office all within about 400 yards. Ten miles away there are similar but a bit bigger, and 16 miles away a butcher and fresh fish shop and a "Chinese" (not very good, sadly.). However if you want a length of wood you have to drive 35 miles. The nearest Tesco is 35 miles. Inverness is 70 miles away, so you really have to think up your needs well in advance, as it is a real pain if you get home having forgotten something vital."

She loves the wildlife, the flowers, and the "laid back" people, and would be happy to hear from any of her friends in Brightwell. You can contact her on

Posted Monday 14 June 2010
Happy memories from Robin Arnfield, who wrote: "Back in the early 1980s my wife and I lived in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, renting a cottage from Mrs Sheard. We loved the village. We emigrated to Canada a while ago. We were members of Ridgeway Christian Fellowship while living in Brightwell."

Posted Tuesday 25th May 2010

News from Jane and Brian Fishwick, who left the village to try a bit of hands-on DIY in Norfolk.

Pipes for water, underfloor and solar heating

Barn Exterior

Brian down the 4-metre deep hole for the treatment plant

The barn has been a very interesting experience and we have learnt a lot, like how to saw properly and put in coach bolts at the speed of light.

Surprisingly we were not held up by the dreadful weather, as we just managed to get the windows in and roof tiled literally days before the snow came. We have tried where possible to use local people and suppliers and have obtained some very good contacts in our local pub, always the best way.

Burston village is a lot smaller than B-c-S but thriving non the less. It has a very active primary school and church and a very good pub, The Burston Crown, run by two 30/40 something couples with fine food, good beer and live music every week. I think that we have fitted in reasonably well and will be glad when we finally move and can actually walk to the pub. The MOVE, we hope will happen at the end of June and we are getting very impatient now for it to happen. Then there is still all of the garden to do which is mostly covered in concrete. Nothing new there then, just like Dairy Well House.

Will inform Sally of our new contact details when we move.

Jane & Brian Fishwick


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