Faringdon


Faringdon

infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 51.657
longitude= -1.586
official_name= Faringdon
population= c. 5,600 (2001 Census)
shire_district= Vale of White Horse
shire_county = Oxfordshire
region= South East England
constituency_westminster= Wantage
post_town= FARINGDON
postcode_district = SN7
postcode_area= SN
dial_code= 01367
os_grid_reference= SU286954
london_distance= 77.7mi
static_

static_image_caption=Faringdon market place

Faringdon is a market town in the Vale of White Horse, in Oxfordshire, England. It is located on the edge of the Thames Valley, between the River Thames and the Ridgeway.

On 2004-02-02, Faringdon was granted Fairtrade Town status. The town was twinned with Le Mêle-sur-Sarthe in France, in 1990. Faringdon is also the base for the Faringdon Enterprise Gateway, which is run by the South East England Development Agency to help and advise businesses in rural west Oxfordshire.

History

The name Faringdon means "fern covered hill". The Anglo-Saxon kings of Wessex and later England had a palace located in Faringdon. However, claims that King Edward the Elder died there are misguided.

In the "Domesday Book" of 1086, Faringdon is recorded as a manor and a mill. The town was given a royal charter by King John in 1216. The weekly market is still held today. He also established an abbey in Faringdon, but it quickly moved to Beaulieu in Hampshire.

During the English Civil War, Faringdon was the scene of some fighting, due to its position overlooking the road to the Radcot Bridge over the river Thames. The spire of All Saints' church was partly destroyed by a cannon-ball that went astray.

The Town Hall dates from the 17th century. It remains the centre of the town and its focal point. The £1.6m three-mile A420 bypass opened in July 1979.

There is a manor house and estate, close to the edge of Faringdon, called Faringon House. The original house was damaged during the English Civil War. Its owner at the time, Sir Robert Pye, was kept prisoner in it at one point during the conflict. The smaller current house was built in around 1780. This house was the home of Lord Berners in the middle part of the twentieth century. It currently belongs to the writer Sofka Zinovieff, though she does not live there.

Geology

Faringdon is home to the famous Faringdon Sponge Gravel, a Cretaceous unit filled with spectacular fossil sponges, other invertebrates, a few vertebrate bones and teeth, and wonderful examples of bioerosion.

Faringdon Folly

Close to the East side of town is Faringdon Folly, situated atop Folly Hill (also known as Faringdon Hill), a Greensand outcrop (at grid reference SU 298957). In common with Badbury Hill, close-by to the West, it has an ancient ditched defensive ring (hill fort). This was fortified by supporters of Matilda sometime during the Anarchy (1135-1141) - her campaign to claim the throne from King Stephen. It was soon razed to the ground by Stephen. Oliver Cromwell fortified it in his unsuccessful campaign to deal with the Royalist garrison that was based on Faringdon House. The Pye family had Scots Pines planted around the summit, around the time that Faringdon House was rebuilt. This creates a conspicuous and recognisable landmark that can be seen from afar, including from the Vale of White Horse, the White Horse Hill, the Berkshire Downs, near Lockinge and the Cotswold Hills, to the North. The folly itself was built by Lord Berners in 1935. It is 100 feet high and affords panoramic views of the Vale of White Horse. During the Second World War, it was used by the Home Guard as an observation post. In 1982, it was restored by Robert Heber-Percy and handed over to the town, in trust.Near the top of London Street situated close to the actual Faringdon Folly is the pub bearing the same name. Resembling a small living room with a bar placed in the middle it is a popular haunt for many of the town's young citizens.

Transport

Buses

Faringdon is connected to Wantage by a regular bus service. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes and connects intervening villages to the two towns. As of 2007, the service is not heavily used and is in danger of being withdrawn. Faringdon is also connected to Swindon and Oxford by regular bus services.

Railway

A 3.5 mile branch line was opened in 1864, between Faringdon and the Great Western Railway (GWR) at Uffington, with construction funded by the Faringdon Railway Company (purchased outright by the GWR in 1886). Passenger traffic peaked in 1913, but later declined to such extent that the passenger service was withdrawn in 1951. Freight traffic continued to use the line until the Beeching cuts of 1964. The station building is still extant, having been used for various commercial purposes (currently a nursery school).

Culture

Faringdon is notable for the dyed pigeons at Faringdon House. The custom of dyeing pidgeons was originally started by the eccentric Lord Berners.fact|date=January 2008

Faringdon also has an annual arts festival at a weekend early in July, the first of which occurred in 2004.

Faringdon is also the home of the composer John Ridgway

External links

* [http://www.faringdon.org Faringdon.org Community Site]
* [http://www.faringdon.co.uk Faringdon.co.uk Business & Community Site]
* [http://www.faringdontowncouncil.org.uk Faringdon Town Council Site]
* [http://www.faringdonchamber.com Faringdon Chamber of Commerce Site]
* [http://www.faringdonadvertiser.co.uk Faringdon Advertiser Site]
* [http://www.faringdon.org/ttfolly.htm The Folly Tower Trust]
* [http://www.berkshirehistory.com/odds/faringdon_folly.html Picture of the Folly]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/entertainment/days_out/faringdon_folly.shtml BBC website ref. Faringdon Folly with panoramic view of Faringdon]
* [http://users.ox.ac.uk/~peter/workhouse/Faringdon/Faringdon.shtml Faringdon Workhouse]


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