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Witney facts for kids

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For the parliamentary constituency, see Witney (UK Parliament constituency).
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St Mary the Virgin Church, Church Green, Witney - - 247742.jpg
St Mary the Virgin parish church
Population 27,522 (2011 census)
OS grid reference SP3509
Civil parish
  • Witney
  • West Oxfordshire
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Witney
Postcode district OX28
Dialling code 01993
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
  • Witney
Website Witney Town Council
List of places
OxfordshireCoordinates: 51°47′N 1°29′W / 51.78°N 1.49°W / 51.78; -1.49

Witney is a town on the River Windrush, 12 miles (19 km) west of Oxford in Oxfordshire, England.

The place-name "Witney" is first attested in a Saxon charter of 969 as "Wyttannige"; it appears as "Witenie" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name means "Witta's island".

Notable buildings

The Church of England parish church of St Mary the Virgin was originally Norman. The north porch and north aisle were added in this style late in the 12th century, and survived a major rebuilding in about 1243. In this rebuilding the present chancel, transepts, tower and spire were added and the nave was remodelled, all in the Early English style. In the 14th century a number of side chapels and some of the present windows were added in the Decorated style. In the 15th century the south transept was extended and the present west window of the nave were added in the Perpendicular style. The tower has a peal of eight bells.

Holy Trinity parish church in Wood Green was built in 1849 in the Early English style. Both St. Mary the Virgin and Holy Trinity are now members of a single team parish.

Witney Market began in the Middle Ages. Thursday is the traditional market day but there is also a market on Saturday. The buttercross in the market square is so called because people from neighbouring towns would gather there to buy butter and eggs. It was built in about 1600 and its clock was added in 1683.

The town hall is 18th-century. A local legend holds that it was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but there is little evidence to support this claim.

Witney has long been an important crossing over the River Windrush. The architect Thomas Wyatt rebuilt the bridge in Bridge Street in 1822.

The Friends Meeting House in Wood Green was built in the 18th century. Since 1997 Quakers in Witney have met at the corn exchange. The Methodist church in High Street was built in 1850. It is now one of five Methodist churches and chapels in Witney. The Roman Catholic parish of Our Lady and Saint Hugh was founded in 1913. It originally used a chapel in West End built in 1881 but now has its own modern building. The old chapel in West End is now Elim Christian Fellowship.

West End, part of the road to Hailey, is one of Britain's best-preserved streets Although it is called West End, it is actually on the northern side of the town and gets its name from when it was not actually in Witney parish but at the west end of the adjacent Hailey parish.

Witney Workhouse was on Razor Hill (now Tower Hill). It was built in 1835–36 by the architect George Wilkinson. It had four wings radiating from an octagonal central building, similar to Chipping Norton workhouse, which also was built by Wilkinson. His younger brother William Wilkinson added a separate chapel to Witney Workhouse in 1860. During the First World War the workhouse contained prisoners of war. In 1940 it became Crawford Collets engineering factory under the direction of Leonard Frank Eve. The chapel became the factory canteen. In 1979 Crawford Collets demolished the main buildings and replaced them with a modern factory but preserved the entrance gate and former chapel. In 2004 the modern factory was demolished for redevelopment. The gate and chapel have again been preserved but the chapel is in a poor state of repair.


Witney has four museums. Cogges Manor Farm Museum, in the 13th-century manor house and farm of Cogges, represents farming and countryside history. The Witney and District Museum has many artefacts and documents representing the history of the town. Witney Blanket Hall, built in the 18th-century, showcases both the history of the Hall and of Witney's blanket industry and has Witney blankets for sale. The Wychwood Brewery has a museum open at weekends.


Witney is twinned with Unterhaching, Germany and Le Touquet, France
Road Sign for Witney

Witney is twinned with:


In July 2007 Witney saw its worst flooding in more than 50 years. Homes and businesses were evacuated and Bridge Street, a major road into the town and the only road across the Windrush, was closed. About 200 properties in central Witney were flooded, with areas around Bridge Street, Mill Street and West End the worst affected. The new and incomplete housing development Aquarius also suffered substantial flooding.

In 2008 further flooding contributed to the death of a 17-year-old boy who drowned in a culvert.

Looking down a flooded Bridge Street, Witney towards West End, 22 July 2007
Looking down a flooded Bridge Street, Witney towards West End, 22 July 2007


Witney has a maritime climate type typical to the British Isles, with evenly spread rainfall, a narrow temperature range, and comparatively low sunshine totals. The nearest official weather station is Brize Norton, just under 4 miles to the South West.

The absolute maximum recorded was 35.4c(95.7f) during August 1990, although in a typical year the warmest day should only reach 29.5c(85.1f) with an average of 14.6 days reporting a maximum temperature of 25.1c(77.2f) or above.

The absolute minimum is −20.7c(−5.3f), recorded in January 1982. In a more typical year the annual minimum temperature should be −8.1c(17.4f), although a total of 47.1 nights should report an air frost.

Rainfall averages slightly under 644mm per year with over 1mm of rain falling on just under 115 days of the year.

Climate data for Brize Norton, elevation 88m, 1971–2000, extremes 1901–
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.7
Average high °C (°F) 6.9
Average low °C (°F) 1.3
Record low °C (°F) −20.7
Precipitation mm (inches) 59.84
Source: KNMI


Famous people

Famous people associated with Witney include:

  • David Cameron, former MP for Witney in Parliament, and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Conservative Leader.
  • Patrick Steptoe, pioneer of fertility treatment and attended Henry Box School.
  • Alan Dapre, children's TV show writer
  • Darrell Griffin, England international rugby league player
  • Douglas Hurd, former Conservative MP for Witney
  • Martin Jones, concert pianist
  • Simon King, Gillingham footballer, born in Witney and attended Henry Box School.
  • Graham Leonard, 130th Bishop of London, subsequently Prelate of Honour
  • Robert Llewellyn, Red Dwarf actor, author, attended Henry Box School and was expelled
  • Andrew Logan, artist, born in Witney
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw, TV and film actress, grew up in the town and attended Henry Box School
  • David Moss, footballer, Luton Town FC, previously Swindon Town FC and Witney Town FC
  • Miss Read (Dora Saint), author, lived in Witney. The town was the inspiration for the fictional "Lulling" of the Thrush Green novels.
  • Shaun Woodward MP, Conservative and then Labour MP for Witney, now Labour MP for St Helens South
  • Robbie Mustoe, footballer, Middlesbrough F.C.
  • Lawson D'Ath, footballer, Northampton Town F.C. lived in Witney and attended Henry Box School.
  • Jorge Grant, footballer, Nottingham Forest F.C., attended Wood Green School.
  • Paul Salter, heir to Salters Bros, Attended Springfield school
  • Larry Sanders, Green party councillor and brother of US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
  • Jamie Cook (footballer)
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