Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Infobox UK place
official_name= Woodstock
country= England
region= South East England

static_image_caption= An 1880 engraving of Blenheim Palace in Woodstock
population= 2,924 (Parish)
os_grid_reference= SP4416
london_distance= 62.4mi
latitude= 51.845
longitude= -1.354
civil_parish= Woodstock
shire_district= West Oxfordshire
shire_county= Oxfordshire

Woodstock is a small town in Oxfordshire, England which is home to Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where Winston Churchill was born in 1874. It is located 13 km / 8 miles northwest of Oxford, 18.5 km / 11.5 miles southeast of Chipping Norton and 73 miles W.N.W. of London.

Churchill's grave is in nearby Bladon.

Edward, elder son of Edward III and apparent heir, prince of Aquitaine and Wales, Duke of Cornwall and Earl of Chester was born in Woodstock Manor on 15 June 1330. During his lifetime, he was commonly called Edward of Woodstock according to his birthplace.

Elizabeth I was kept a prisoner here when a princess, in the gatehouse of Woodstock Manor (the manor itself being too dilapidated to house her).


The name Woodstock is Anglo Saxon in origin. At that time, English kings would log in the area of Woodstock whose name stands for a "clearing in the woods".

The Domesday Book describes Woodstock ("Wodestock, Wodestok, Wodestole") as a royal forest; it is said that King Alfred stayed at Woodstock in the year 890. Another famous resident was Ethelred the Unready, who is said to have held a council there. Henry I may have kept a menagerie in the park. Woodstock was the scene of King Henry II's courtship of Rosamund Clifford (Fair Rosamund). The market of the town was established when King Henry II gave Woodstock a Royal charter in 1179. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/oxford/content/articles/2007/10/17/glyme_feature.shtml BBC - Oxford - Features - Woodstock's lost royal palace ] ]

The town was altered greatly during the 17th century, when the Duke of Marlborough became a permanent resident. The local inn, the Bear, was capable of accommodating vast numbers of visitors and horses.

In the past (from the 16th century), the town prospered on manufacturing gloves. Today, it is largely dependent on tourists, many of whom visit Bleinheim Palace.

Blenheim Palace

The Palace was designed by John Vanbrugh, in a heavy Italo-Corinthian style. It was designated to John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. Most of the palace was paid for by the nation. Churchill was given this palace in honour for his victories over the French and the Bavarians at Blenheim in 1704.

The greater part of the art treasures and curios were sold off in 1886, and the great library collected by Charles Spencer, Earl of Sunderland, the son-in-law of the first Duke of Marlborough, in 1881. The magnificent park contains Fair Rosamund's Well, near which stood her bower. On the summit of a hill stands a column commemorating the duke. Blenheim Park forms a separate parish.

Elizabeth I

When Thomas Wyatt led an uprising in 1554 to depose Queen Mary I and put Princess Elizabeth on the throne in her place, Elizabeth was imprisoned in a lodge in Woodstock as a precaution. The lodge was used because the now lost Woodstock Palace or manor house was in a poor condition. A survey in 1551 reported that "the mansion... for many years past hath been decayed." While imprisoned, Elizabeth wrote a poem. [ [http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/elizawoodstock.htm] Hentzner, Paul. A Journey Into England, (1598). Horace Walpole, ed. 1757. Fugitive Pieces on Various Subjects. Vol II. Robert Dodsley, ed. London: J. Dodsley, 1771. 258.] She was released in April 1555 after nearly a year in captivity.

The town

The little river Glyme, in a steep and picturesque valley, divides the town into New and Old Woodstock. Woodstock has two main suburbs, namely Hensingham to the south and east of the town centre, and Old Woodstock directly to the north. The town hall of Woodstock was built in 1766 after the designs of Sir William Chambers, and there are a number of 17th century buildings in the centre. The almshouses were erected in 1798 by Caroline, duchess of Marlborough. "Chaucer's House" was once home to the poet Geoffrey Chaucer.

The primary school and The Marlborough School, the secondary school, are situated along Shipton Road.

The parish church (dedicated to St Mary Magdalene) has a doorway of Norman origin. It features a musical clock which chimes every hour.

The Oxfordshire Museum, the county museum of Oxfordshire, is housed in a large historic house, Fletcher’s House, in the centre of Woodstock.

There is a football club, Old Woodstock Town, who were promoted to the Hellenic Football League Premier Division for the 2008/09 season.

The Oxford School of Drama is also found in Woodstock.



* Ballard, Adolphus (1896) "Chronicles of the royal borough of Woodstock. Compiled from the borough records and other original documents", Oxford: Alden & co.
* Jenkins, S.C. (1987) "The Woodstock Branch", Wild Swan Publ., ISBN 0-906867-51-7
* Marshall, Edward (1873) "The early history of Woodstock manor and its environs, in Bladon, Hensington, New Woodstock, Blenheim: with later notices", Oxford & Co.

External links

* [http://www.visitwoodstock.co.uk Woodstock Guide] — Complete guide to Woodstock, Oxfordshire, UK, for visitors and business.
* [http://www.artinwoodstock.com/ Art In Woodstock] — Art in Woodstock, October 2007 Art Event

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