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Oxfordshire facts for kids

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County Flag of Oxfordshire.svg
Motto: Sapere Aude ('Dare to be Wise')
Oxfordshire UK locator map 2010.svg
Oxfordshire in England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region South East England
Ceremonial county
Area 2,605 km2 (1,006 sq mi)
 • Ranked 22nd of 48
Population (2005 est.) 626,900
 • Ranked 35th of 48
Density 241/km2 (620/sq mi)
Ethnicity 95.1% White
1.7% S. Asian
Non-metropolitan county
County council Oxfordshire county council logo.jpg
Oxfordshire County Council
Executive Conservative
Admin HQ Oxford
Area 2,605 km2 (1,006 sq mi)
 • Ranked 19th of 27
Population 626,900
 • Ranked 18th of 27
Density 241/km2 (620/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 GB-OXF
ONS code 38
Oxfordshire numbered districts.svg
Unitary County council area
Districts of Oxfordshire
  1. City of Oxford
  2. Cherwell
  3. South Oxfordshire
  4. Vale of White Horse
  5. West Oxfordshire
Members of Parliament
  • Victoria Prentis (C)
  • Robert Courts (C)
  • Nicola Blackwood (C)
  • John Howell (C)
  • Andrew Smith (L)
  • Ed Vaizey (C)
Time zone GMT (UTC)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)

Oxfordshire (/ˈɒksfərdʃər/ or /ˈɒksfərdʃɪər/; abbreviated Oxon) is a county in South East England bordering on Warwickshire (to the north/north-west), Northamptonshire (to the north/north-east), Buckinghamshire (to the east), Berkshire (to the south), Wiltshire (to the south-west) and Gloucestershire (to the west).

The county has major education and tourist industries and is noted for the concentration of performance motorsport companies and facilities. Oxford University Press is the largest firm among a concentration of print and publishing firms; the University of Oxford is also linked to the concentration of local biotechnology companies.

The main centre of population is the city of Oxford. Other significant settlements are Banbury, Bicester, Kidlington and Chipping Norton to the north of Oxford; Carterton and Witney to the west; Thame and Chinnor to the east; and Abingdon, Wantage, Didcot, Wallingford and Henley-on-Thames to the south.

The highest point is White Horse Hill, in the Vale of White Horse, reaching 261 metres (856 ft).

Oxfordshire's county flower is the Snake's-head Fritillary.


Oxfordshire was recorded as a county in the early years of the 10th century and is situated on land between the River Thames to the south, the Cotswolds to the west, the Chilterns to the east and the Midlands to the north, with spurs running south to Henley-on-Thames and north to Banbury.

Historically the area has always had some importance, since it contains valuable agricultural land in the centre of the county. Largely ignored by the Romans, it was not until the formation of a settlement at Oxford in the eighth century that the area grew in importance. Alfred the Great was born across the Thames in Wantage, Vale of White Horse. The University of Oxford was founded in 1096, though its collegiate structure did not develop until later on. The university in the county town of Oxford (whose name came from Anglo-Saxon Oxenaford = "ford for oxen") grew in importance during the Middle Ages and early modern period. The area was part of the Cotswolds wool trade from the 13th century, generating much wealth, particularly in the western portions of the county in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. Morris Motors was founded in Oxford in 1912, bringing heavy industry to an otherwise agricultural county. The importance of agriculture as an employer has declined rapidly in the 20th century though; currently under one percent of the county's population are involved due to high mechanisation. Nonetheless, Oxfordshire remains a very agricultural county by land use, with a lower population than neighbouring Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, which are both smaller.

Throughout most of its history the county was divided into fourteen hundreds, namely Bampton, Banbury, Binfield, Bloxham, Bullingdon, Chadlington, Dorchester, Ewelme, Langtree, Lewknor, Pyrton, Ploughley, Thame and Wootton.

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the main army unit in the area, was based at Cowley Barracks on Bullingdon Green, Cowley.

The Vale of White Horse district and parts of the South Oxfordshire administrative district south of the River Thames were historically part of Berkshire, but were added to the administrative county of Oxfordshire in 1974. Conversely, the Caversham area of Reading, now administratively in Berkshire, was historically part of Oxfordshire as was the parish of Stokenchurch, now administratively in Buckinghamshire.


The "dreaming spires" of the buildings of the University of Oxford are among the reasons for Oxford being the sixth most visited city in the United Kingdom for international visitors. Among many notable University buildings are the Sheldonian Theatre, built 1664–68 to the design of Sir Christopher Wren, and the Radcliffe Camera, built 1737–49 to the design of James Gibbs.

Blenheim Palace close to Woodstock was built by the great architect John Vanbrugh for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, after he had won the battle of Blenheim. The gardens, which can be visited, were designed by the landscape gardener "Capability Brown", who planted the trees in the battle formation of the victorious army. In the palace, which can also be visited by the public, Sir Winston Churchill was born in 1874.

Chastleton House, on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire borders, is a great country mansion built on property bought from Robert Catesby, who was one of the men involved in the Gunpowder Plot with Guy Fawkes. Stonor Park, another country mansion, has belonged to the recusant Stonor family for centuries.

Mapledurham House is an Elizabethan stately home in the far south-east of the county, close to Reading.

Settlements in Oxfordshire

See also: List of places in Oxfordshire
The Bear Hotel in Wantage - - 1395707
Wantage Market Place

Settlements by population

Rank Town Population Year Definition Notes
1 Oxford 150,200 2011 Oxford non-metropolitan district
2 Banbury 46,853 2011 Civil parish
3 Abingdon 33,130 2011 Civil parish
4 Bicester 32,642 2011 Civil parish
5 Witney 27,522 2011 Civil parish
6 Didcot 25,140 2011 Civil parish 200 dwellings in the southeast of the town lie in neighbouring East Hagbourne parish.
7 Carterton 15,769 2011 Civil parish
8 Kidlington 13,723 2011 Civil parish Does not include Gosford.
9 Henley-on-Thames 11,619 2011 Civil parish
10 Thame 11,561 2011 Civil parish Includes hamlet of Moreton
11 Wantage 11,327 2011 Civil parish
12 Wallingford 7,918 2011 Civil parish
13 Grove 7,178 2011 Civil parish
14 Faringdon 7,121 2011 Great Faringdon civil parish
15 Chipping Norton 6,337 2011 Civil parish
16 Chinnor 5,924 2011 Civil parish
17 Benson 4,754 2011 Civil parish
18 Eynsham 4,648 2011 Civil parish
19 Wheatley 4,092 2011 Civil parish
20 Kennington 4,076 2011 Civil parish
21 Woodstock 3,100 2011 Civil parish
22 Charlbury 2,830 2011 Civil parish
23 Watlington 2,727 2011 Civil parish
24 Bampton 2,564 2011 Civil parish
25 Burford 1,410 2011 Civil parish

Places of interest

See also: List of attractions in Oxford
National Trust Owned by the National Trust
English Heritage Owned by English Heritage
Forestry Commission Owned by the Forestry Commission
Country Park A Country Park
Accessible open space An Accessible open space
Museum (free) Museum (free)
Museum Museum (charges entry fee)
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House
  • Museum (free) Abingdon County Hall Museum – housed in a 17th-century County Hall building
  • National Trust Ashdown House – 17th-century country house in the Lambourn Downs
  • Museum (free) Ashmolean Museum – Oxford University's museum of art and archaeology
  • Museum (free) Banbury Museum, Banbury
  • Bicester Village
  • Historic house Blenheim Palace and garden – UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Historic house Broughton Castle – 14th-century fortified manor house
  • National Trust Buscot Park, Buscot – 18th-century country house and landscape garden
  • Museum (free) Champs Chapel Museum of East Hendred – village museum in a 15th-century Carthusian chapel
  • Museum (free) Charlbury Museum
  • National Trust Chastleton House – 17th-century country house (limited access)
  • Accessible open space Chiltern HillsArea of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Heritage railway Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway – operated with steam and diesel locomotives
  • Museum (not free) Chipping Norton Museum
  • Heritage railway Cholsey and Wallingford Railway
  • Museum (not free) Cogges Manor Farm Museum, Witney – a living museum of country life
  • Museum (not free) Combe Mill Museum, Long Hanborough – working museum of stationary steam engines
  • Zoo icon.jpg Cotswold Wildlife Park and garden, Bradwell Grove, Holwell
  • Accessible open space CotswoldsArea of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Heritage railway Didcot Railway Centre – museum of the Great Western Railway
  • AP Icon.svg Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester-on-Thames – 12th-century church of former Augustinian abbey
  • National Trust Great Coxwell Barn – 14th-century Tithe barn
  • National Trust Greys Court, Rotherfield Greys – 16th-century country house
  • Historic house Hampton Gay Manor – ruins of 16th-century manor house (no website)
  • Harcourt Arboretum, Nuneham Courtenay
  • Historic house Heythrop Hall – 17th-century country house: now a hotel, golf & country club
  • Hook Norton Brewery – working Victorian "tower" brewery that offers guided tours
  • Historic house Kelmscott Manor – Home of William Morris
  • Historic house Mapledurham Estate – 16th-century country house and 15th-century watermill
  • Historic house Milton Manor House – 18th-century country house
  • English Heritage Minster Lovell Hall – dovecote and ruins of 15th-century manor house
  • Museum (not free) Museum of Bygones, Claydon – private museum including stationary steam engines
  • Accessible open space North Wessex Downs – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • AP Icon.svg Castle Museum (free) Museum (not free) Oxford
  • Museum (not free) Oxford Bus Museum and Morris Motors Museum, Long Hanborough
  • Accessible open space Oxford Canal – 18th-century "narrow" canal
  • Museum (free) The Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock
  • Accessible open space The Ridgeway
  • Museum (not free) River and Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames
  • Accessible open space River Thames
  • Rollright Stones – megalithic stone circle and Whispering Knights burial chamber, near Little Rollright
  • Historic house Rousham House – 17th-century country house and landscape garden
  • Rycote chapel – 15th-century chapel with original furnishings
  • St Katharine's church, Chiselhampton – 18th-century parish church with original furnishings (no website, limited access)
  • St Mary's church, Iffley – 12th-century Norman parish church
  • Country Park Shotover Country Park, Headington
  • Country Park Spiceball Country Park, Banbury
  • Historic house Stanton Harcourt manor house (limited access), with garden and 15th-century chapel and Pope's Tower (no website)
  • Historic house Stonor House – country house and 14th-century chapel of the recusant Stonor family
  • Museum (free) Swalcliffe Tithe Barn – 15th-century
  • Museum (free) Thame Museum
  • Museum (free) Tolsey Museum, Burford (no website)
  • Accessible open space Uffington White Horse, Uffington Castle and Wayland's Smithy burial chamber in the White Horse Hills
  • Museum (free) Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage
  • Museum (not free) Wallingford Museum
  • Museum (free) Wheatley Windmill – 18th-century tower mill

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