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Woodstock, Oxfordshire

From Academic Kids

Template:GBmap-named Woodstock is a small town in Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom. It is located about 12 kilometres north of Oxford, 723/4 miles W.N.W. of London.

The town is well known for its Blenheim Palace and the grave of Winston Churchill in nearby Bladon.

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

The little river Glyme, in a steep and picturesque valley, divides the town into New and Old Woodstock.

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 1279.

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.

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

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

Winston Churchill was born at the palace in 1874.

See also:

  • Rev. E. Marshall, Early History of Woodstock Manor (Oxford, 1873);
  • Adolphus-Ballard, Chronicles of Royal Borough of Woodstock; Victoria County History, Oxfordshire.
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