Watlington, Oxfordshire


Watlington, Oxfordshire

infobox UK place

country = England
latitude= 51.6451

longitude= -1.0083

official_name= Watlington
population= 2,900
civil_parish= Watlington
shire_district= South Oxfordshire
shire_county = Oxfordshire
region= South East England

constituency_westminster= Henley
post_town= WATLINGTON
postcode_district = OX49
postcode_area= OX
dial_code=
os_grid_reference= SU687945
london_distance= 43.2mi

Watlington is a market town and civil parish in the county of Oxfordshire, UK, with just under 3,000 inhabitants. The parish is located in the Chiltern Hills approximately halfway between Oxford and Reading, Berkshire. Also in the parish are the villages of Cuxham, Greenfield and Christmas Common. The M40 motorway, which links London to Birmingham, is only two and a half miles from the town centre.

Landmarks

The famous walking route, the Icknield Way (an ancient route from Cromer in Norfolk to Avebury in 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.

Buildings

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.

History

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 Domesday survey 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 War for housing troops: it is thought that John Hampden stayed in the town the night before the Battle of Chalgrove Field. World War I veteran Bill Stone lived in Watlington until the age of 106.

Transport

Train

Watlington is famous for the former Great Western Railway branchline 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 railway named the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway.

Bus

Bus services include:
* Watlington to Oxford, Thames Travel service 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]

Administration

The local Member of Parliament for Watlington is John Howell (Conservative).

References

External links

* [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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