Oxfordshire

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Oxfordshire was recorded as a county in the early years of the 10th century and lies between the River Thames to the south, the Cotswolds to the west, the Chilterns to the east and the Midlands to the north, with spurs running south to Henley-on-Thames and north to Banbury.

Although it had some significance as an area of valuable agricultural land in the centre of the country, it was largely ignored by the Romans and did not grow in importance until the formation of a settlement at Oxford in the 8th century. Alfred the Great was born across the Thames in Wantage, Vale of White Horse. The University of Oxford was founded in 1096, although its collegiate structure did not develop until later on. The university in the county town of Oxford (whose name came from Anglo-Saxon Oxenaford = "ford for oxen") grew in importance during the Middle Ages and early modern period. The area was part of the Cotswolds wool trade from the 13th century, generating much wealth, particularly in the western portions of the county in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. Morris Motors was founded in Oxford in 1912, bringing heavy industry to an otherwise agricultural county. The importance of agriculture as an employer declined rapidly in the 20th century; currently[ when? ] under one per cent of the county's population are involved due to high mechanisation.[ citation needed ] Nevertheless, Oxfordshire remains a very agricultural county by land use, with a lower population than neighbouring Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, which are both smaller.

During most of its history, the county was partitioned as fourteen divisions called hundreds, namely Bampton, Banbury, Binfield, Bloxham, Bullingdon, Chadlington, Dorchester, Ewelme, Langtree, Lewknor, Pyrton, Ploughley, Thame and Wootton.

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the main army unit in the area, was based at Cowley Barracks on Bullingdon Green, Cowley.

The flag which represents the historic county Flag of Oxfordshire.svg
The flag which represents the historic county

The Vale of White Horse district and parts of the South Oxfordshire administrative district south of the River Thames were historically part of Berkshire, but, in 1974, Abingdon, Didcot, Faringdon, Wallingford and Wantage were added to the administrative county of Oxfordshire under the Local Government Act 1972. Conversely, the Caversham area of Reading, now administratively in Berkshire, was historically part of Oxfordshire, as was the parish of Stokenchurch, now administratively in Buckinghamshire. The areas of Oxford city south of the Thames, such as Grandpont, were transferred much earlier, in 1889.

Geography

Oxfordshire includes parts of three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the north-west lie the Cotswolds; to the south and south-east are the open chalk hills of the North Wessex Downs and the wooded hills of the Chilterns. The north of the county contains the ironstone of the Cherwell uplands. Long-distance walks within the county include the Ridgeway National Trail, Macmillan Way, Oxfordshire Way and the D’Arcy Dalton Way.

Extreme points

Rivers and canals

From the mid-point western edge to the southeast corner of Oxfordshire, via the city in the middle, runs the Thames with its flat floodplains. This river forms the historic limit with Berkshire, remaining so on some lowest reaches. The Thames Path National Trail follows the river from upper estuary to a source.

Many smaller rivers in the county feed into the Thames, such as the Thame, Windrush, Evenlode and Cherwell. Some of these have trails running along their valleys. The Oxford Canal links to the Midlands and follows the Cherwell from Banbury via Kidlington into the city of Oxford, where these join the navigable Thames. About 15% of the historically named Wilts & Berks Canal, in sporadic sections, has been restored to navigability, including the county-relevant[ clarification needed ] 140 metres near Abingdon-on-Thames where it could, if restored, meet the Thames.

Green belt

Oxfordshire contains a green belt area that fully envelops the city of Oxford and extends for some miles to protect surrounding towns and villages from inappropriate development and urban growth. Its border in the east extends to the Buckinghamshire county boundary, while part of its southern border is shared with the North Wessex Downs AONB. It was first drawn up in the 1950s, and all of the county's districts contain some portion of the belt.

Economy

Oxfordshire
Radcliffe Camera, Oxford - Oct 2006.jpg
Aerial view of Islip, Oxfordshire - geograph.org.uk - 3892478 (cropped).jpg
Uffington-White-Horse-sat.jpg
Clockwise from top left: the Radcliffe Camera, part of the University of Oxford; Islip, in the Cherwell district; and the Uffington White Horse
Oxfordshire UK locator map 2010.svg
Ceremonial Oxfordshire within England
Oxfordshire - British Isles.svg
Historic Oxfordshire in the British Isles
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South East England
Time zone UTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)
  Summer (DST) UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)
Members of Parliament
Police Thames Valley Police
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Marjorie Glasgow
High Sheriff Amanda Ponsonby [1] (2020–21)
Area2,605 km2 (1,006 sq mi)
  Ranked 22nd of 48
Population (2021)687,524
  Ranked 35th of 48
Density264/km2 (680/sq mi)
Ethnicity90.9% White, 4.8% Asian/Asian British [2]
Regional gross value added at current basic prices in millions pounds sterling. [5]
YearRegional gross value added [lower-alpha 1] Agriculture [lower-alpha 2] Industry [lower-alpha 3] Services [lower-alpha 4]
19957,6071202,0845,404
200010,594802,6617,853
200312,942932,66510,184

Politics

The coat of arms of Oxfordshire County Council Arms of Oxfordshire County Council.svg
The coat of arms of Oxfordshire County Council

The Oxfordshire County Council, since 2013 under no overall control, is responsible for the most strategic local government functions, including schools, county roads and social services. The county is divided into five local government districts: Oxford, Cherwell, Vale of White Horse (after the Uffington White Horse), West Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire, which deal with such matters as town and country planning, waste collection and housing.

In the 2016 European Union referendum, Oxfordshire was the only English county as a whole to vote to remain in the European Union by a significant margin, at 57.06% (70.27% in the City of Oxford), despite Cherwell (barely) voting to leave at 50.31%.[ citation needed ]

Education

Brasenose Lane in Oxford city centre, a street onto which three colleges back. Oxford back street - geograph.org.uk - 774471.jpg
Brasenose Lane in Oxford city centre, a street onto which three colleges back.
The University of Oxford's Chemistry Research Laboratory. Chemistry Research Laboratory Atrium.JPG
The University of Oxford's Chemistry Research Laboratory.

Oxfordshire has a completely comprehensive education system with 23 independent schools and 35 state secondary schools. Only eight schools do not have a sixth form; these are mostly in South Oxfordshire and Cherwell districts. Oxfordshire has a large number of leading independent schools, including public schools such as Radley College.

The county has two universities: the ancient University of Oxford [6] and the modern Oxford Brookes University, which are both located in Oxford. In addition, Wroxton College, located in Banbury, is affiliated with Fairleigh Dickinson University of New Jersey. [7]

Buildings

Hand-drawn map of Oxford, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire by Christopher Saxton from 1576. Oxonium Buckinghamia Berceria Atals.jpg
Hand-drawn map of Oxford, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire by Christopher Saxton from 1576.

The "dreaming spires" of the University of Oxford are among the reasons for which Oxford is the sixth most visited city in the United Kingdom by international visitors. [8] Among many notable University buildings are the Sheldonian Theatre, built 1664–68 to the design of Sir Christopher Wren, and the Radcliffe Camera, built 1737–49 to the design of James Gibbs.

Blenheim Palace, close to Woodstock, was designed and partly built by the architect John Vanbrugh for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, after he had won the battle of Blenheim. The gardens, which can be visited, were designed by the landscape gardener "Capability" Brown, who planted the trees in the battle formation of the victorious army. Sir Winston Churchill was born in the palace in 1874. It is open to the public.

Chastleton House, on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire borders, is a great country mansion built on property bought from Robert Catesby, who was one of the men involved in the Gunpowder Plot with Guy Fawkes. Stonor Park, another country mansion, has belonged to the recusant Stonor family for centuries.

Mapledurham House is an Elizabethan stately home in the south-east of the county, close to Reading.

The Abbey in Sutton Courtenay is a medieval courtyard house. It has been recognised by the Historic Building Council for England (now Historic England) as a building of outstanding historic and architectural interest. [9] It is considered to be a 'textbook' example of the English medieval manor house [10] and is a Grade I-listed building. [11]

Settlements

Oxfordshire population pyramid in 2021 Oxfordshire population pyramid.svg
Oxfordshire population pyramid in 2021
Wantage Market Place The Bear Hotel in Wantage - geograph.org.uk - 1395707.jpg
Wantage Market Place
RankTownPopulationYearDefinitionNotes
1 Oxford 162,1002021Oxford non-metropolitan district
2 Banbury 54,3352021 Civil parish
3 Abingdon-on-Thames 37,9312021Civil parishIn Berkshire until 1974.
4 Bicester 37,0202021Civil parish
5 Didcot 32,1832021Civil parish200 dwellings in the south-east of the town lie in neighbouring East Hagbourne parish. In Berkshire until 1974.
6 Witney 31,2172021Civil parish
7 Carterton 15,6802021Civil parish
8 Kidlington 13,6002021Civil parishDoes not include Gosford.
9 Thame 13,2732021Civil parishIncludes hamlet of Moreton.
10 Wantage 13,1062021Civil parishIn Berkshire until 1974.
11 Henley-on-Thames 12,1862021Civil parish
12 Faringdon 8,6272021 Great Faringdon civil parishIn Berkshire until 1974.
13 Wallingford 8,4552021Civil parishIn Berkshire until 1974.
14 Grove 8,3362021Civil parish
15 Chinnor 7,6512021Civil parish
16 Chipping Norton 7,2502021Civil parish
17 Eynsham 5,3242021Civil parish
18 Benson 4,8012021Civil parish
19 Wheatley 4,2672021Civil parish
20 Sonning Common 4,1382021Civil Parish
21 Kennington 4,1332021Civil parish
22 Woodstock 3,5212021Civil parish
23 Charlbury 3,0632021Civil parish
24 Bampton 2,9932021Civil parish
25 Watlington 2,6972021Civil parish
26 Deddington 2,3012021Civil parish

Places of interest

Key
AP Icon.svg Abbey/Priory/Cathedral
UKAL icon.svg Accessible open space
Themepark uk icon.png Amusement/Theme Park
CL icon.svg Castle
Country parks.svg Country Park
EH icon.svg English Heritage
Forestry Commission
HR icon.svg Heritage railway
HH icon.svg Historic House
AP Icon.svg Places of Worship
Museum icon.svg
Museum icon (red).svg
Museum (free/not free)
NTE icon.svg National Trust
Drama-icon.svg Theatre
Zoo icon.jpg Zoo

See also

Notes

  1. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  2. includes hunting and forestry
  3. includes energy and construction
  4. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

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References

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  10. Currie 1992, p. 225.
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Further reading

51°45′N1°17′W / 51.75°N 1.28°W / 51.75; -1.28