|Site of Special Scientific Interest|
|Area of Search||Oxfordshire|
|Area||501.7 hectares (1,240 acres)|
|Location map||Magic Map|
Wychwood or Wychwood Forest is a 501.7-hectare (1,240-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest north of Witney in Oxfordshire. It is also a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade 1, and an area of 263.4 hectares (651 acres) is a national nature reserve The site contains a long barrow dating to the Neolithic period, which is a scheduled monument
In past centuries the forest covered a much larger area, since cleared in favour of agriculture, villages and towns. However, the forest's area has fluctuated. Parts cleared for agriculture during Britain's centuries under Roman rule later reverted to forest.The existence of the ancient Wychwood is recognised by the authoritative Victoria County History, but the planned Volume XIX has yet to be completed.
Wychwood is derived from an Old English name Huiccewudu meaning 'wood of a tribe called the Hwicce.The Hwicce were the Anglo-Saxon people living in the area from some time in the 6th century until the assimilation of the Old English peoples into the wider Middle English society.
Three villages take part of their name from Wychwood Forest: Milton-under-Wychwood, Shipton-under-Wychwood and Ascott-under-Wychwood. These villages, commonly referred to as The Wychwoods, used to be part of the Royal Forest of Wychwood.
While Wychwood was a designated Royal Forest, royalty entrusted the management of the forest to loyal servants. The men in charge of the forest were called Foresters of Wychwood and, in later years, Keepers of Wychwood. Foresters were tasked with supplying the king with deer, wood, timber and charcoal. They were also charged with upholding the king's law by protecting the forest with the assistance of under-foresters, riding foresters and walking foresters. Foresters, together with verderers (judicial officers) could hold court and try offenders for both minor and major offences. The office of Forester of Wychwood was until 1361 held by the family of de Langley, seated at the manor of Langley in the parish of Shipton-under-Wychwood.They were followed by the Earls of Warwick until 1499. Management was then given by the kings as favors to courtiers for life, among them were Robert Dudley (Earl of Leicester), Sir John Fortescue (Chancellor), Lord Clarendon (Chancellor) and George Spencer, the 4th Duke of Marlborough.
Some of the land that had been cleared for agricultural use was purchased by the Woodland Trust, and re-planted with native English deciduous trees creating Shillbrook Wood, a 9-acre (3.6 ha) site near Bampton, and Eynsham Wood, a 13.37-acre (5.41 ha) site near Eynsham.
Since the late 1990s there has been a resurgence of interest in the history and identity of the Wychwood, exemplified by the founding of the Wychwood Project.Since 2000 'Forest Fairs' have been held at a variety of locations within the old Wychwood boundary. These are a better-behaved revival of traditional Fairs that were closed down in 1856 because of rowdy behaviour.
The modern Fairs are centred on rural communities and crafts. They attract a large number of visitors even in bad weather.
The Oxford University Historical Re-Enactment Society, also known as the Wychwood Warriors, is a reenactment group that recreates aspects of Saxon life in Wychwood during the Dark Ages.
Fragments of the ancient forest survive, one on the Cornbury Estate near Charlbury retaining the name 'Wychwood'.
Charlbury is a town and civil parish in the Evenlode valley, about 6 miles (10 km) north of Witney in West Oxfordshire. It is on the edge of Wychwood Forest and the Cotswolds. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 2,830.
Woodstock is a market town and civil parish 8 miles (13 km) north-west of Oxford in Oxfordshire, England. The 2011 Census recorded a parish population of 3,100. Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is next to Woodstock, in the parish of Blenheim. Winston Churchill was born in the palace in 1874 and buried in the nearby village of Bladon. Edward, elder son of King Edward III and heir apparent, was born in Woodstock Manor on 15 June 1330. In his lifetime he was commonly called Edward of Woodstock, but is known today as the Black Prince. In the reign of Queen Mary I, her half-sister Elizabeth was imprisoned in the gatehouse of Woodstock Manor.
Eynsham is an English village and civil parish in Oxfordshire, about 5 miles (8 km) north-west of Oxford and east of Witney. The 2011 Census recorded a parish population of 4,648. It was estimated at 5,077 in 2018.
In the United Kingdom, an ancient woodland is a woodland that has existed continuously since 1600 or before in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Planting of woodland was uncommon before those dates, so a wood present in 1600 is likely to have developed naturally.
Milton-under-Wychwood is an English village and civil parish about 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Burford, Oxfordshire, just off the A361 road between Burford and Chipping Norton. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 1,648.
Shipton-under-Wychwood is an English village and civil parish in the Evenlode valley about 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Burford, Oxfordshire.
Leafield is a village and civil parish about 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of Witney in West Oxfordshire. The parish includes the hamlet of Langley, 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Leafield village. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 945.
Shipton-on-Cherwell is a village on the River Cherwell about 2 miles (3 km) north of Kidlington in Oxfordshire, England. The village is part of the civil parish of Shipton-on-Cherwell and Thrupp.
Fifield is a village and civil parish about 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Burford in Oxfordshire. The western boundary of the parish forms part of the county boundary with Gloucestershire. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 240.
Glympton is a village and civil parish on the River Glyme about 3 miles (5 km) north of Woodstock, Oxfordshire. The 2001 Census recorded the parish's population as 80.
Finstock is a village and civil parish about 2 miles (3 km) south of Charlbury in Oxfordshire, England. The parish is bounded to the northeast by the River Evenlode, to the southeast partly by the course of Akeman Street Roman road, and on other sides by field boundaries. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 797.
The Oxfordshire Way is a long-distance walk in Oxfordshire, England, with 6 miles in Gloucestershire and very short sections in Buckinghamshire. The path links with the Heart of England Way and the Thames Path.
Bedford Purlieus is a 211-hectare (520-acre) ancient woodland in Cambridgeshire, in the United Kingdom. It is a national nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest owned and managed by the Forestry Commission. In Thornhaugh civil parish, 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Stamford and 14 km (8.7 mi) west of Peterborough, the wood is within the Peterborough unitary authority area of Cambridgeshire, and borders Northamptonshire. In Roman times it was an iron smelting centre, during the medieval period it was in the Royal Forest of Rockingham, and later it became part of the estates of the Duke of Bedford. Bedford Purlieus appears to have been continuously wooded at least from Roman times, and probably since the ice receded. The woodland may have the richest range of vascular plants of any English lowland wood. It acquired particular significance in the 1970s as an early subject for the historical approach to ecology and woodland management.
Ramsden is a village and civil parish about 3+1⁄2 miles (5.6 km) north of Witney in West Oxfordshire. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 342.
Lyneham is a village and civil parish about 5 miles (8 km) southwest of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. It is bounded to the southwest by the River Evenlode, to the southeast by the A361 road linking Chipping Norton and Burford, and on other sides by field boundaries. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 153.
Charlbury Museum is a local museum in the town of Charlbury, Oxfordshire, England. The museum and collections are organized and run by the Charlbury Society, which was founded in 1949.
Cornbury Park is an estate near Charlbury, Oxfordshire. It comprises about 5000 acres, mostly farmland and woods, including a remnant of the Wychwood Forest, and was the original venue for the Cornbury Music Festival and later the Wilderness Festival.
Bould Wood is a 58.2-hectare (144-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest north of Shipton-under-Wychwood in Oxfordshire. An area of 23 hectares is Foxholes nature reserve, which is managed by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.
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