A traditional medieval market town, synonymous with the wool trade and blanket making since the early 13th century. The town's close proximity to rich wool country and readily available power from the Windrush brought great wealth to the area. The initial settlement was named after "The Witan" (a council of Saxon kings), who met here in the 10th/11th century. The main London to Gloucester road ran through Witney (from the middle ages to Georgian times), adding to its economic prosperity and creating a legacy of handsome mellow stone houses that still flank it's main thoroughfare.

 

Witney Buttermarket
Witney Buttermarket and Town Hall © TAB

The Market Square, located on the junction of the town's two main streets, has an unusual Buttercross (medieval market and meeting place) that stands on eleven stone pillars. It is topped with a steeply gabled roof, clock tower and a sundial. Opposite is a pillared 15th-c Town Hall with matching stonework. At the North end of the High Street is an 18th-c Blanket Hall, where the local wool merchants once met to do business.

 

Witney Church Green
Church of St Mary the Virgin © TAB

The main street runs further south to a green, set with lime trees and bordered by 17th/18th century wealthy cloth merchants' houses and a 17th-c grammar school. At the end of the green sits the 13th-c Church of St Mary the Virgin, with its magnificent 156 ft (48 m) high central tower and spire. The church contains many fine 14th-c. brasses.

Map of Witney

South East England

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Towns and Villages in Oxfordshire

Abingdon, Banbury, Bicester, Burford, Carterton, Henley-on-Thames, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Didcot, Dorchester, Thame, Oxford, Wallingford Wantage, Witney, Woodstock

Attractions in Oxfordshire

Banbury Museum | Blenheim Palace | Broughton Castle | Buscot Park | Chastleton House | Cotswold Wildlife Park | Didcot Railway Centre | Greys Court | Minster Lovell | Rousham House | Stonor House

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