|Motto: Sapere Aude ('Dare to be Wise')|
Oxfordshire in England
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Region||South East England|
|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)|
1.7% S. Asian
Oxfordshire County Council
|Area||2,605 km2 (1,006 sq mi)|
|• Ranked||19th of 27|
|• Ranked||18th of 27|
|Density||241/km2 (620/sq mi)|
Unitary County council area
Districts of Oxfordshire
|Members of Parliament|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC)|
|• Summer (DST)||BST (UTC+1)|
Oxfordshire (// or //; 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
- Abingdon (in Berkshire until 1974)
- Chipping Norton
- Didcot (in Berkshire until 1974)
- Faringdon (in Berkshire until 1974)
- Wallingford (in Berkshire until 1974)
- Wantage (in Berkshire until 1974)
Settlements by population
|1||Oxford||150,200||2011||Oxford non-metropolitan district|
|6||Didcot||25,140||2011||Civil parish||200 dwellings in the southeast of the town lie in neighbouring East Hagbourne parish.|
|8||Kidlington||13,723||2011||Civil parish||Does not include Gosford.|
|10||Thame||11,561||2011||Civil parish||Includes hamlet of Moreton|
|14||Faringdon||7,121||2011||Great Faringdon civil parish|
|15||Chipping Norton||6,337||2011||Civil parish|
Places of interest
- See also: List of attractions in Oxford
|Owned by the National Trust|
|Owned by English Heritage|
|Owned by the Forestry Commission|
|A Country Park|
|An Accessible open space|
|Museum (charges entry fee)|
- Abingdon County Hall Museum – housed in a 17th-century County Hall building
- Ashdown House – 17th-century country house in the Lambourn Downs
- Ashmolean Museum – Oxford University's museum of art and archaeology
- Banbury Museum, Banbury
- Bicester Village
- Blenheim Palace and garden – UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Broughton Castle – 14th-century fortified manor house
- Buscot Park, Buscot – 18th-century country house and landscape garden
- Champs Chapel Museum of East Hendred – village museum in a 15th-century Carthusian chapel
- Charlbury Museum
- Chastleton House – 17th-century country house (limited access)
- Chiltern Hills – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway – operated with steam and diesel locomotives
- Chipping Norton Museum
- Cholsey and Wallingford Railway
- Cogges Manor Farm Museum, Witney – a living museum of country life
- Combe Mill Museum, Long Hanborough – working museum of stationary steam engines
- Cotswold Wildlife Park and garden, Bradwell Grove, Holwell
- Cotswolds – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- Didcot Railway Centre – museum of the Great Western Railway
- Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester-on-Thames – 12th-century church of former Augustinian abbey
- Great Coxwell Barn – 14th-century Tithe barn
- Greys Court, Rotherfield Greys – 16th-century country house
- Hampton Gay Manor – ruins of 16th-century manor house (no website)
- Harcourt Arboretum, Nuneham Courtenay
- Heythrop Hall – 17th-century country house: now a hotel, golf & country club
- Hook Norton Brewery – working Victorian "tower" brewery that offers guided tours
- Kelmscott Manor – Home of William Morris
- Mapledurham Estate – 16th-century country house and 15th-century watermill
- Milton Manor House – 18th-century country house
- Minster Lovell Hall – dovecote and ruins of 15th-century manor house
- Museum of Bygones, Claydon – private museum including stationary steam engines
- North Wessex Downs – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- Oxford Bus Museum and Morris Motors Museum, Long Hanborough
- Oxford Canal – 18th-century "narrow" canal
- The Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock
- The Ridgeway
- River and Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames
- River Thames
- Rollright Stones – megalithic stone circle and Whispering Knights burial chamber, near Little Rollright
- 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
- Shotover Country Park, Headington
- Spiceball Country Park, Banbury
- Stanton Harcourt manor house (limited access), with garden and 15th-century chapel and Pope's Tower (no website)
- Stonor House – country house and 14th-century chapel of the recusant Stonor family
- Swalcliffe Tithe Barn – 15th-century
- Thame Museum
- Tolsey Museum, Burford (no website)
- Uffington White Horse, Uffington Castle and Wayland's Smithy burial chamber in the White Horse Hills
- Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage
- Wallingford Museum
- Wheatley Windmill – 18th-century tower mill
Images for kids
Oxfordshire Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.