- Watlington, Oxfordshire
infobox UK place
country = England
region= South East England
postcode_district = OX49
Watlington is a market town and
civil parishin the county of Oxfordshire, UK, with just under 3,000 inhabitants. The parish is located in the Chiltern Hillsapproximately halfway between Oxfordand Reading, Berkshire. Also in the parish are the villages of Cuxham, Greenfield and Christmas Common. The M40 motorway, which links Londonto Birmingham, is only two and a half miles from the town centre.
The famous walking route, the
Icknield Way(an ancient route from Cromerin Norfolkto Aveburyin Wiltshire), passes the town along the dry, high ground to the east, and Watlington is a convenient location to begin walks along it, with Watlington Hill and its "White Mark" a popular stopping point.
The Watlington White Mark was originally designed by local squire Edward Horner, who felt that the Norman church of
St Leonard, when viewed from his home, would appear more impressive if it looked as though it had a spire. He had this unusual folly cut into the chalk of Watlington Hill in 1764. It is 270 feet tall and 36 feet wide.
Watlington Hill is a great place for observing the previously endangered birds of prey,
Red Kites, which were introduced into the area in the 1990's.
Aside from this the most striking feature of Watlington is its town & market hall in the centre of the town, which was built in 1665 to serve originally as a boys' grammar school.
The Watlington area is likely to have been settled at an early date, encouraged by the proximity of the
Icknield Way. The placename means 'settlement of Waecel's people' and this indicates occupation from around the 6th century. A 9th-century charter mentions eight 'manses' or major dwellings in Watlington and the Domesdaysurvey of 1086 identifies the area as being an agricultural community valued at £610. The Town also has an Anglo-Saxon Church which forms an integral part of the town's architecture and functionality.
Watlington was also a site used in the
English Civil Warfor housing troops: it is thought that John Hampdenstayed in the town the night before the Battle of Chalgrove Field. World War Iveteran Bill Stonelived in Watlington until the age of 106.
Watlington is famous for the former
Great Western Railwaybranchline from Watlington to Princes Risborough. An oddity of this branch line was that Watlington Station was in an isolated field around a mile from Watlington Town itself. The station site remains as does the carriage shed, station building (although very overgrown) and the brickwork of the goods shed.
The line has been comprehensively documented in two volumes entitled Country Branchline - An Intimate Portrait by Paul Karau and Chris Turner, published by
Wild Swan Press.
Part of the line has been restored as a
heritage railwaynamed the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway.
Bus services include:
* Watlington to
Oxford, Thames Travelservice 101 [http://www.thames-travel.co.uk/bus101/bus101.htm]
* Watlington to
Thame, Red Rose service 124 [http://www.redrosetravel.co.uk/124.htm]
* Watlington to
Wallingford, Thames Travel service 125 [http://www.thames-travel.co.uk/bus125/bus125.htm]
Stokenchurch-Watlington-Reading, Motts Travel service M1 [http://www.mottstravel.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?ptabindex=6&ptabid=185]
* [http://www.watlington.org Welcome to Watlington]
* [http://www.visitsouthoxfordshire.co.uk Visit South Oxfordshire]
* [http://www.gwr.org.uk/nowatlington.html Watlington Great Western Railway]
* [http://www.henleystandard.co.uk/districts/watlington.php Watlington News in the Henley Standard]
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