Braving the rain, more than one hundred people welcomed the first royal visitor to Long Wittenham in 1300 years. The Countess of Wessex performed the official opening yesterday (27th November) of the House of Wessex, the re-construction of an ancient Anglo-Saxon house at the Sylva Foundation’s Wood Centre headquarters in Little Wittenham Road.
When she arrived just after mid-day, the Countess was given a conducted tour of the Wood Centre by the Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation, Dr Gabriel Hemery, and spoke to craftspeople and business owners. Afterwards she visited the House of Wessex and was given a brief history of the building and its Anglo-Saxon origins.
Among the principal guests was the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stevenson, the chairman of South Oxfordshire District Council David Bretherton, and the chairman of Oxfordshire County Council Les Sibley. Also present were the patrons of the Sylva Foundation Sir Martin and Lady Wood, the chairman of the Foundation Peter Savill and Lesley Best who is the project manager of the House of Wessex. Other guests included ten pupils from class three, the “Eagles” from Long Wittenham Primary School. Two children Ivy Haynes and Ed Osmond, presented the Countess with a bouquet.
Dr Hemery explained the background to the House of Wessex, its importance to Britain and how it played a significant role in Anglo-Saxon history. A plaque explaining the history of the building was covered by a soggy blanket made of traditional Anglo-Saxon material. The Countess pulled it aside to reveal the text and she said she hoped the re-constructed building would not have to wait another 1300 years before a royal visit.