In Memoriam Jon Parfitt

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Jon Parfitt, 1972 – 2022


Groups: Wychwood/Aescesdun/Hwicce

JP joined the Wychwood Warriors (a university society) shortly after his arrival at Oxford University in 1990, and was part of what is now seen as a "golden age" of the group which saw them participate in several major events including the Maldon Millennium in 1991 and develop a good working relationship with The Vikings. Three of the members from that time have served on the High Council, and one was appointed Konungr in 2021 while others have held various Thegn roles in the society.

With the initial encouragement of Mark (Tablet) Talbot and Mark Browne among others, the university society spawned an official group of The Vikings, and Aescesdun was formed with Mark as the group leader. JP was an inspirational thegn of that group and went on to shape the group Hwicce as one of their witan. From the outset, JP was a keen warrior and developed a good level of skill with a number of weapons, including the Dane Axe, and was one of the most honest and fair fighters. At termly parties, he was one of those most likely to be seen stripped to the waist and engaging in 'knife' fights where the knife was replaced by a red permanent marker, and any blow landed on the opponent was immediately obvious. He was also known as a useful person in a practical sense - overnight parties in the woods were frequently fueled by his ability to disappear with a bill hook and a set of loppers and come back with enough dry wood to keep everyone warm for a couple of hours.

JP enthusiastically joined in with singing around the fires and passing bottles of dubious liquid around the circle, and was known for a number of songs that he delivered with confidence and to general acclaim, even if one of them was about his cricketing hero and not in any way related to Vikings or Saxons. With Wychwood he had trips to Tintagel, overnight stays in places as diverse as West Kennet long barrow and in a disused railway tunnel, and to major events such as Lindisfarne in 1993 and Hastings in 1995 as well as many smaller events across the country.

In his time with the society there were a number of tales told of JP's exploits, some of them no doubt exaggerated by the teller or possibly even by JP himself, but many that can still bring forward witnesses now who are glad to declare that they were "there when JP..." and off went the tale. On one occasion, strapped for cash but determined to have beer to drink at an event, he took to homebrewing and had everything mixed and ready for the yeast to be added, only to discover that he had no yeast left. Undeterred, he decided that Marmite, being yeast extract, would be just as good and added most of a jar to the vat. The end result was not a success, but he drank it anyway - not at all to the surprise of his friends, as they'd watched several unlikely or inadvisable things being attempted over the years. This led to a common saying when someone suggested something dangerously stupid or stupidly dangerous, that "not even JP would do that!"

His time in the society came to an end in the late 90s as he moved into work (including several years caring for animals at Woburn Safari park) and established a family of his own. He became a full-time carer for his wife, and while they continued to occasionally participate in re-enactment with Regia Anglorum for a few years this too dwindled and then stopped.

JP was seriously injured in a fall at home in April 2022 and died at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, not far from where his adventures with The Vikings started.