Historic towns and villages in Oxfordshire
This page Abingdon-on-Thames - Islip
Abingdon-on-Thames is the oldest continuously inhabited town in the UK, set beside the River Thames south of Oxford. Abingdon has been settled since at least the early Saxon period. Alfred the great held the manor of Abingdon, and his descendant Athelstan had a royal residence here in he 10th century. There are a wealth of historic buildings to see in Abingdon, including the ruins of medieval Abingdon Abbey, set on the banks of the Thames.
Ascott under Wychwood
A lovely village on the banks of the River Evenlode, featuring a 12th century church and Norman castle remains, and a memorial to the 16 women of the Ascott Martyrs.
The small Oxfordshire market town of Bampton has a long history. It was known for many years as 'Bampton in the Bush', because it was located in the centre of a large expanse of common land. The town dates to the Saxon era, and by the time of the Norman Conquest it was the third largest town in Oxfordshire. Its early prominence was based upon salt mining but even better times were ahead; during the medieval period Bampton grew and prospered enormously from the booming wool trade.
A small village east of Carterton, famous for the nearby RAF Brize Norton air force base, the largest RAF base in the UK. The village itself is quite attractive, composed largely of Cotswold stone cottages, and the occasional old thatched cottage.
An almost perfect estate village, built for workers at Buckland House. The village is composed of a lovely mix of traditional thatched cottages, with an attractive mix of more modern houses, all built of golden Cotswold stone. The 12th century parish church of St Mary is an absolute gem, boasting 15th century stained glass shields, a 16th century memorial brass, and a very well preserved 14th century font, in addition to the ebullient Barcote Chapel, a late Victorian addition well worth seeing for its colourful tiles. Beside the church is Buckland Manor, which was the residence of the Lords of the Manor until the building of Buckland House around 1750. Buckland House is a superb Palladian mansion build by Sir John Wood the Younger for Robert Throckmorton.
The attractive old town of Burford acts as the western gateway to the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and that beauty is reflected in the lovely range of golden-toned stone cottages and shops along the long slope of the High Street that leads down to an ancient bridge across the River Windrush. The vista from the top of Burford High Street is one of the classic scenic views of the Cotswolds area.
The historic market town of Charlbury sits on a hill above the Evenlode valley. The town began as little more than a clearing in the ancient royal hunting ground of Wychwood Forest. Little remains of the forest today, but Charlbury has maintained its historic roots. The town is full of pretty 17th and 18th century cottages built of Cotswold stone, giving the buildings a warm, golden look. Much of Charlbury's prosperity is down to its heritage as a centre for glove-making during the 17th and 18th centuries.
'Chippy', as it is known locally, is a busy market town on the highest point in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. The area was once a major centre in the wool trade which brought prosperity to the Cotswold region throughout the Middle Ages. The impressive parish church of St Mary's is a reminder of the rich merchants who once called Chipping Norton home. The church was included in the popular book, England's Thousand Best Churches, by Simon Jenkins. When you look up at the amazingly thin nave pillars, or the carved faces on the porch vaulting, it is easy to understand why.
A very pretty Cotswold village high on a hill, the soaring tower of All Saints church (1827) is visible for miles around. The early Gothic Revival church is modelled after 3 Oxford colleges. Clustered near the church are an attractive pub, golden-toned cottages, and a neo-Gothic fountain described by architectural historian Nickolaus Pevsner as 'hideously ugly'. Poet John Betjeman liked it, though - you can make up your own mind!
The little village of Islip has a big history. Islip stands at an ancient ford on the River Ray, near the edge of the Bernwood Forest, where Saxon kings had a royal hunting lodge. The proximity of the royal lodge probably explains why Edward the Confessor was born at Islip, around the year 1005.
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