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Oxfordshire
County
Flag of Oxfordshire
Flag
Motto: Sapere Aude
('Dare to be Wise')
Map of Oxfordshire.
Oxfordshire in England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region South East England
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Tim Stevenson OBE
High Sheriff Mrs Amanda Ponsonby MBE (2020–21)
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 90.9% White, 4.8% Asian/Asian British
Non-metropolitan county
County council 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
NUTS UKJ14
Website www.oxfordshire.gov.uk
Oxfordshire numbered districts.svg
Districts of Oxfordshire
Districts
  1. City of Oxford
  2. Cherwell
  3. South Oxfordshire
  4. Vale of White Horse
  5. West Oxfordshire
Members of Parliament
Police Thames Valley police
Time zone GMT (UTC)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)

Oxfordshire is a landlocked county in the far west of the government statistical region of South East England. The ceremonial county borders Warwickshire to the north-west, Northamptonshire to the 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 concentrations of performance motorsport, car manufacturing and technology companies. 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.

As well as the city of Oxford, other centres of population 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-on-Thames, Wantage, Didcot, Wallingford and Henley-on-Thames to the south. All its zones south of the Thames: the Vale of White Horse and parts of South Oxfordshire were within the historic county of Berkshire, including the highest point, the 261-metre (856 ft) White Horse Hill.

Oxfordshire's county flower is the snake's-head fritillary.

History

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.

Buildings

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 - geograph.org.uk - 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
Key
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

Economy

GDP
1995 7607
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000 10594
2001
2002
2003 12942

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Oxfordshire at current basic prices published by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British pounds sterling.

Year Regional gross value added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 7,607 120 2,084 5,404
2000 10,594 80 2,661 7,853
2003 12,942 93 2,665 10,184

Education

See also: List of schools in Oxfordshire
Oxford back street - geograph.org.uk - 774471
Brasenose Lane in Oxford city centre, a street onto which three colleges back.
Chemistry Research Laboratory Atrium
The University of Oxford's Chemistry Research Laboratory.

Oxfordshire has a completely comprehensive education system with 23 independent schools, including the notable Radley College, and 35 state secondary schools. Only eight schools do not have a sixth form; these are mostly in South Oxfordshire and Cherwell districts.

The county has two universities: the ancient University of Oxford and the modern Oxford Brookes University, which are both located in Oxford. In addition, Wroxton College, located in Banbury, is affiliated with Fairleigh Dickinson University of New Jersey.

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