South East England
South East England is the most populous of the nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It consists of Berkshire, East Sussex, the Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire and West Sussex; as with the other regions of England, apart from Greater London, the south east has no elected government. It is the third largest region of England, with an area of 19,096 km2, is the most populous with a total population of over eight and a half million; the headquarters of the region's governmental bodies are in Guildford, the region contains seven cities: Brighton and Hove, Chichester, Portsmouth and Winchester, though other major settlements include Reading and Milton Keynes. Its proximity to London and connections to several national motorways have led to South East England becoming an economic hub, with the largest economy in the country outside the capital, it is the location of Gatwick Airport, the UK's second-busiest airport, its coastline along the English Channel provides numerous ferry crossings to mainland Europe.
The region is known for its countryside, which includes the North Downs and the Chiltern Hills as well as two national parks: the New Forest and the South Downs. The River Thames flows through the region and its basin is known as the Thames Valley, it is the location of a number of internationally known places of interest, such as HMS Victory in Portsmouth, Cliveden in Buckinghamshire, Thorpe Park and RHS Wisley in Surrey, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, Windsor Castle in Berkshire, Leeds Castle, the White Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, Brighton Pier and Hammerwood Park in East Sussex, Wakehurst Place in West Sussex. The region has many universities. South East England is host to various sporting events, including the annual Henley Royal Regatta, Royal Ascot and The Derby, sporting venues include Wentworth Golf Club and Brands Hatch; some of the events of the 2012 Summer Olympics were held in the south east, including the rowing at Eton Dorney and part of the cycling road race in the Surrey Hills.
At Eartham Pit, Boxgrove near Halnaker in West Sussex in December 1993, the oldest human remains in the UK – a tibia bone and a pair of lower incisor teeth – were found. An Acheulean hand axe was found. Bones of a Megalosaurus were found at a slate quarry at Stonesfield in Oxfordshire and named in 1824: it is now at Oxford University Museum of Natural History. In 1822 an Iguanodon was found at Whitemans Green near West Sussex; the Meonhill Vineyard, near Old Winchester Hill in east Hampshire on the South Downs south of West Meon on the A32, was the site of where the Romano-British grew Roman grapes. The Ridgeway runs through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and is Britain's oldest road; the post office at Shipton-under-Wychwood in Oxfordshire, in the Cotswolds, is the oldest still in use in England, built in 1845. The first British Grand Prix was held in 1926 at Brooklands, the world's first purpose-built motor circuit built in 1907 by Sir Hugh F. Locke-King, the land owner. Much of the Battle of Britain was fought in this region in Kent.
RAF Bomber Command was based at High Wycombe. RAF Medmenham at Danesfield House, west of Marlow in Buckinghamshire, was important for aerial reconnaissance. Operation Corona, based at RAF Kingsdown, was implemented to confuse German night fighters with native German-speakers, coordinated by the RAF Y Service. Bletchley Park in north Buckinghamshire was the principal Allied centre for codebreaking; the Colossus computer, arguably the world's first, began working on Lorentz codes on 5 February 1944, with Colossus 2 working from June 1944. The site was chosen, among other reasons, because it is at the junction of the Varsity Line and the West Coast Main Line; the Harwell computer, now at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley, was built in 1949 and is believed to be the oldest working digital computer in the world. John Wallis of Kent, introduced the symbol for infinity, the standard notation for powers of numbers in 1656. Thomas Bayes was an important statistician from Tunbridge Wells. Sir David N. Payne at the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre invented the erbium-doped fibre amplifier, a type of optical amplifier, in the mid-1980s, which became essential for the internet.
Henry Moseley at Oxford in 1913 discovered his Moseley's law of X-ray spectra of chemical elements that enabled him to be the first to assign the correct atomic number to elements in periodic table. Carbon fibre was invented in 1963 at the RAE in Farnborough by a team led by William Watt; the Apollo LCG space-suit cooling system originated from work done at RAE Farnborough in the early 1960s. Donald Watts Davies, who went to grammar school in Portsmouth, took over from Alan Turing in developing Britain's early computers, invented packet switching in the late 1960s at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. Packet-switching was taken up by the Americans to form the ARPANET. The
John, King of England
John known as John Lackland, was King of England from 1199 until his death in 1216. John lost the Duchy of Normandy and most of his other French lands to King Philip II of France, resulting in the collapse of the Angevin Empire and contributing to the subsequent growth in power of the French Capetian dynasty during the 13th century; the baronial revolt at the end of John's reign led to the sealing of Magna Carta, a document sometimes considered an early step in the evolution of the constitution of the United Kingdom. John, the youngest of five sons of King Henry II of England and Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine, was at first not expected to inherit significant lands. Following the failed rebellion of his elder brothers between 1173 and 1174, John became Henry's favourite child, he was given lands in England and on the continent. John's elder brothers William and Geoffrey died young. John unsuccessfully attempted a rebellion against Richard's royal administrators whilst his brother was participating in the Third Crusade.
Despite this, after Richard died in 1199, John was proclaimed King of England, came to an agreement with Philip II of France to recognise John's possession of the continental Angevin lands at the peace treaty of Le Goulet in 1200. When war with France broke out again in 1202, John achieved early victories, but shortages of military resources and his treatment of Norman and Anjou nobles resulted in the collapse of his empire in northern France in 1204. John spent much of the next decade attempting to regain these lands, raising huge revenues, reforming his armed forces and rebuilding continental alliances. John's judicial reforms had a lasting effect on the English common law system, as well as providing an additional source of revenue. An argument with Pope Innocent III led to John's excommunication in 1209, a dispute settled by the king in 1213. John's attempt to defeat Philip in 1214 failed due to the French victory over John's allies at the battle of Bouvines; when he returned to England, John faced a rebellion by many of his barons, who were unhappy with his fiscal policies and his treatment of many of England's most powerful nobles.
Although both John and the barons agreed to the Magna Carta peace treaty in 1215, neither side complied with its conditions. Civil war broke out shortly afterwards, with the barons aided by Louis of France, it soon descended into a stalemate. John died of dysentery contracted whilst on campaign in eastern England during late 1216. Contemporary chroniclers were critical of John's performance as king, his reign has since been the subject of significant debate and periodic revision by historians from the 16th century onwards. Historian Jim Bradbury has summarised the current historical opinion of John's positive qualities, observing that John is today considered a "hard-working administrator, an able man, an able general". Nonetheless, modern historians agree that he had many faults as king, including what historian Ralph Turner describes as "distasteful dangerous personality traits", such as pettiness and cruelty; these negative qualities provided extensive material for fiction writers in the Victorian era, John remains a recurring character within Western popular culture as a villain in films and stories depicting the Robin Hood legends.
John was born to Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine on 24 December 1166. Henry had inherited significant territories along the Atlantic seaboard—Anjou and England—and expanded his empire by conquering Brittany. Henry married the powerful Eleanor of Aquitaine, who reigned over the Duchy of Aquitaine and had a tenuous claim to Toulouse and Auvergne in southern France, in addition to being the former wife of Louis VII of France; the result was the Angevin Empire, named after Henry's paternal title as Count of Anjou and, more its seat in Angers. The Empire, was inherently fragile: although all the lands owed allegiance to Henry, the disparate parts each had their own histories and governance structures; as one moved south through Anjou and Aquitaine, the extent of Henry's power in the provinces diminished scarcely resembling the modern concept of an empire at all. Some of the traditional ties between parts of the empire such as Normandy and England were dissolving over time, it was unclear.
Although the custom of primogeniture, under which an eldest son would inherit all his father's lands, was becoming more widespread across Europe, it was less popular amongst the Norman kings of England. Most believed that Henry would divide the empire, giving each son a substantial portion, hoping that his children would continue to work together as allies after his death. To complicate matters, much of the Angevin empire was held by Henry only as a vassal of the King of France of the rival line of the House of Capet. Henry had allied himself with the Holy Roman Emperor against France, making the feudal relationship more challenging. Shortly after his birth, John was passed from Eleanor into the care of a wet nurse, a traditional practice for medieval noble families. Eleanor left for Poitiers, the capital of Aquitaine, sent John and his sister Joan north to Fontevrault Abbey; this may have been done with the aim of steering her youngest son, with no obvious inheritance, towards a future ecclesiastical career.
Eleanor spent the next few years conspiring against her husband Henry and neither parent played a
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Thames Valley Police
Thames Valley Police known as Thames Valley Constabulary, is the territorial police force responsible for policing the Thames Valley area covered by the counties of Berkshire and Oxfordshire. It is one of the largest territorial police forces in England covering 2,200 square miles and a population of over 2.1 million people. The police force consists of 4,244 constables, 506 special constables, 466 Police Community Support Officers and 2,576 police staff. Policing in Thames Valley dates back to 1773 when Newbury Borough Police were operating as a small police force; the force was one of around twenty borough forces. These were Buckinghamshire Constabulary, Oxfordshire Constabulary, Berkshire Constabulary, Reading Borough Police and Oxford City Police founded in 1857, 1857, 1856, 1836 and 1868 respectively. Under the Police Act 1964 these five forces were amalgamated on 1 April 1968 to form Thames Valley Constabulary. Thomas Charles Birkett Hodgson, David Holdsworth Peter Imbert Colin Smith Sir Charles Pollard Peter Neyroud Sara Thornton Francis Habgood John Campbell Thames Valley Police is overseen by a locally elected Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner.
The incumbent commissioner is Anthony Stansfeld, a Conservative Party candidate elected with 34.7% of the votes in the first round of voting and 57.2% of the votes after the second round. The police and crime commissioner is scrutinised by the Thames Valley Crime Panel. Thames Valley was overseen by a police authority consisting of 19 members, made up of councillors, members from unitary authorities, independents and a magistrate. In April 2011, the force adopted a Local Policing Model; as a result, the force is now split into each led by a superintendent. These consist of two local authority areas; these are in turn split into a number of neighbourhoods which are based off ward and parish boundaries. This alignment is to ensure. Aylesbury Bracknell and Wokingham* Cherwell and West Oxfordshire Chiltern and South Bucks Milton Keynes Oxford Reading South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Slough West Berkshire Windsor and Maidenhead Wycombe Each area is responsible for delivering response policing, neighborhood policing teams and a local priority crime and Criminal Investigation Department.
Other functions that used to be held at Basic Command Unit level are now delivered at Force Headquarters level using a shared service approach. A number of teams are run from Force Headquarters with their staff deployed at various locations around the Force area: Major Investigation Team Control and Communications Police Dog Section Counter Terrorism Squad Intelligence Agency Thames Valley Police has a local policing team working from every police station; these teams consist of officers, community support, special constables and police staff who work to patrol and attend local incidents. They use marked vans which read neighbourhood policing on the side rear panel under the Thames Valley Police corporate logo; these officers will be unarmed and carry taser weapons. The neighbourhood police vans double up as prisoner transport vans. However, most LPA police vehicles are available to this unit. LPA Response units work out of most major stations in the force area and are tasked with patrolling and responding to 999 calls.
These officers are constables issued with Taser weapons. These officers may be tasked to patrol high crime areas for an increased police presence or to conduct follow up investigations. Both the Neighbourhood Policing Group and Incident Response Unit units all share the LPA standard Vauxhall Astra police car; some rural police offices make use of Mitsubishi L200's as a more effective vehicle. Thames Valley Police have 52 operational police dogs; the dogs are donated from the RSPCA or public, are trained at the force headquarters. They serve until they are 8 years old, receiving refresher training every year, living with their handler after retirement, they are part of the Joint Operations Unit with Hampshire Police. The dog section operates with marked and unmarked Mitsubishi Outlanders as well as Ford Mondeo estates. Thames Valley Police patrols 196 miles of motorways including the M1, M4, M40, A329, A404 and M25, as well as many other'A' route roads including the busy A43; the Unit Mainly uses Marked Volvo V70s and New BMW 530d touring's, Unmarked BMW 330ds and Volvo V80's along with some Marked BMW X5s and Mitsubishi Shoguns.
These units are based at 6 geographical traffic bases. Roads Policing in Thames Valley is part of the Joint Operations Unit which works together with Hampshire Constabulary's Roads Policing Unit. Thames Valley Police's Armed Response Unit is a 24/7 unit that responds to major and serious crimes where firearms may be involved; this unit is shared with Hampshire Police as part of the Joint Operations Unit. The training facility is at Sulhamstead with a state of the art firearms range; the unit uses the traffic bases within the force basing themselves out of Three Mile Cross, Milton Keynes, Bicester. This unit can be identified by the red asterisk on the marked patrol cars they use, which includes the Volvo XC70 and BMW X5; the unit use
South Central Ambulance Service
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is the ambulance service for the counties of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire. It is a foundation trust of the National Health Service, one of 10 NHS ambulance trusts in England; as an ambulance service, SCAS responds to emergency 999 calls, in addition to calls from the NHS non-emergency number. These services are provided in an area that covers the counties of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire; the exceptions are North East Hampshire, served by South East Coast Ambulance Service and the Shrivenham area of Oxfordshire, served by South Western Ambulance Service. The service provides an emergency transport service for patients in life-threatening condition and a Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service; the NEPTS transports patients unable to use public transport due to their medical conditions, patients using outpatient clinics and patients being admitted or discharged from hospital. The Trust has a commercial division, which provides first aid training to members of the public, a community equipment service and logistic services.
Since 2017, SCAS has run the NEPTS in Sussex and Surrey, within the South East Coast ambulance area. It has a resilience and specialist operations department which plans for major or hazardous incidents; this includes a Hazardous Area Response Team, which responds to emergencies involving chemical, radiological or nuclear materials, as well as major incidents. The Trust trains and supports volunteer community first responders, it is the only NHS ambulance organisation in the UK to be supported by its own League of Friends, a registered charity. The South Central Ambulance League of Friends raises funds that are used to enhance the standard of care for patients, provide additional benefits for service personnel, encourage the acquisition of essential life-support skills among the public, support the deployment of volunteer community first responders; this group had been founded in 1982 to raise funds for the former Oxfordshire Ambulance NHS Trust. South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust was formed on 1 July 2006, following the merger of the Royal Berkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the Hampshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the Oxfordshire Ambulance NHS Trust, part of the Two Shires Ambulance NHS Trust.
The Trust achieved Foundation status on 1 March 2012, becoming known as South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. In June 2011 it was named England's top performing ambulance service, managing to respond to 77.5% of Cat A calls within the 8 minute target time, compared to the national average of 74.9%. In October 2011 the BBC discovered that SCAS spent more on private ambulance services to cover 999 calls than any other service in the country. On 1 March 2012, the Trust became an NHS Foundation Trust. In October 2013 the Trust accidentally published on its website a document listing the age and religion of all its 2,826 staff members. SCAS took over patient transport services in Hampshire in October 2014. In 2014 the trust held a recruitment drive in Poland to help fill vacancies. On 1 November 2016, it was announced that the trust would take over the running of NEPTS in the south-east of England from April 2017; the service had been run by South East Coast Ambulance Service until 1 April 2016, when it had been taken over by Coperforma, a private-sector provider, unable to provide a satisfactory level of service.
In 2015 the trust established a subsidiary company, South Central Fleet Services Ltd, to which 41 estates and facilities staff were transferred. The intention was to achieve VAT benefits, as well as pay bill savings, by recruiting new staff on less expensive non-NHS contracts. VAT benefits arise because NHS trusts can only claim VAT back on a small subset of goods and services they buy; the Value Added Tax Act 1994 provides a mechanism through which NHS trusts can qualify for refunds on contracted out services. Performance of SCAS is provided by national NHS England Ambulance Quality Indicators. In February 2016: The Trust managed to respond to 70% of Red 1 calls within 8 minutes 68% of Red 2 calls were responded to within 8 minutes 93% of Red 19 calls were responded to within 19 minutes Cardiac arrest survival rates were 16% 53% of stroke patients arrived at a thrombolysis centre within 60 minutes of their calls The average time to answer 999 calls was 43 seconds There were 21,024 incidents requiring patients being taken to an A&E department 42% of 999 patients were treated by paramedic crews only.
Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom NHS ambulance services prior to 2006 Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust South Central Ambulance League of Friends
The Ridgeway is a ridgeway or ancient trackway described as Britain's oldest road. The section identified as an ancient trackway extends from Wiltshire along the chalk ridge of the Berkshire Downs to the River Thames at the Goring Gap, part of the Icknield Way which ran, not always on the ridge, from Salisbury Plain to East Anglia; the route was adapted and extended as a National Trail, created in 1972. The Ridgeway National Trail follows the ancient Ridgeway from Overton Hill, near Avebury, to Streatley follows footpaths and parts of the ancient Icknield Way through the Chiltern Hills to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire; the National Trail is 87 miles long. For at least 5,000 years travellers have used the Ridgeway; the Ridgeway provided a reliable trading route to the Wash in Norfolk. The high dry ground made travel easy and provided a measure of protection by giving traders a commanding view, warning against potential attacks; the Bronze Age saw the development of the stone circle at Avebury.
During the Iron Age, inhabitants took advantage of the high ground by building hillforts along the Ridgeway to help defend the trading route. Following the collapse of Roman authority in Western Europe, invading Saxon and Viking armies used it. In medieval times and the Ridgeway found use by drovers, moving their livestock from the West Country and Wales to markets in the Home Counties and London. Before the Enclosure Acts of 1750, the Ridgeway existed as an informal series of tracks across the chalk downs, chosen by travellers based on path conditions. Once enclosures started, the current path developed through the building of earth banks and the planting of hedges; the idea for a long-distance path along the line of the Wessex Downs and Chilterns goes back to the Hobhouse Committee of 1947. The present route was designated by the Government in 1972, opened as a National Trail in 1973. One of fifteen long-distance National Trails in England and Wales, the Ridgeway travels for 87 miles northeast from Overton Hill within the Avebury World Heritage Site to Ivinghoe Beacon near Tring.
At Marlborough it meets the Wessex Ridgeway, a footpath opened in 1994 which follows the southwest section of the ancient track into Dorset, as far as Lyme Regis. At Ivinghoe Beacon the Ridgeway meets the Icknield Way Path which continues northeast towards Suffolk; the Ridgeway meets the more recent Thames Path National Trail at the Goring Gap, where the trails use opposite banks of the River Thames between Goring-on-Thames and Mongewell. The total height climbed along; the official guide to the trail divides The Ridgeway into six sections. It is possible to join or leave the trail at other locations with public transport links including Avebury, Wantage, Princes Risborough and Tring; the Ridgeway is one of four long-distance footpaths that combine to run from Lyme Regis to Hunstanton, collectively referred to as the Greater Ridgeway or Greater Icknield Way. The Ridgeway passes near many Neolithic, Iron Age and Bronze Age sites including Avebury Stone Circle. Other points of interest include the private drive of Chequers.
The Ridgeway's surface varies from chalk-rutted farm paths and green lanes to small sections of metalled roads. Designated as a bridleway for much of its length, the Ridgeway includes parts designated as byway which permits the use of motorised vehicles. Local restrictions along many byway sections limit the use of motorised vehicles to the summer months. Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, many public rights of way in England and Wales that authorities had not explicitly classified as Bridleway or Byway defaulted to the classification "Restricted Byway" which precludes the use of motor vehicles at all times, except authorised vehicles and where required for access; as a result, much of the Ridgeway remains prohibited to motor vehicle use by the general public year-round. However, the Ridgeway is the only means of access for many farms in the more remote parts of the Downs. Despite the Ridgeway's artificial creation, the TV programme Seven Natural Wonders featured it in 2005 as one of the wonders of the South.
Places that are near to The Ridgeway National Trail include: Annotated map of the Ridgeway Ridgeway National Trail. Published by Harvey Maps, UK; the Ridgeway official site BBC description of the Ridgeway The Ridgeway on Google Maps The Ridgeway map detailed in 2 mile sections
Wantage is a historic market town and civil parish in the ceremonial county of Oxfordshire, England. Part of Berkshire, it has been administered as part of the Vale of White Horse district of Oxfordshire since 1974; the town is on Letcombe Brook, about 8 miles south-west of Abingdon, 24 miles north-west of Reading, 15 miles south-west of Oxford and 14 miles north north-west of Newbury. It is notable as the birthplace of King Alfred the Great in 849. Wantage was a small Roman settlement but the origin of the toponym is somewhat uncertain, it is thought to be from an Old English phrase meaning "decreasing river". King Alfred the Great was born at the royal palace there in the 9th century. Wantage appears in the Domesday Book of 1086, its value was £61 and it was in the king's ownership until Richard I passed it to the Earl of Albemarle in 1190. Weekly trading rights were first granted to the town by Henry III in 1246 Markets are now held twice weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Royalist troops were stationed in Wantage during the English Civil War.
In the 19th century, Lord Wantage became a notable national benefactor. He was involved in founding the British Red Cross Society. In 1877 he paid for a marble statue of King Alfred by Count Gleichen to be erected in Wantage market place, where it still stands today, he donated the Victoria Cross Gallery to the town. This contained paintings by Louis William Desanges depicting deeds which led to the award of a number of VCs, including his own gained during the Crimean War, it is now a shopping arcade. Since 1848, Wantage has been home to the Community of Saint Mary the Virgin, one of the largest communities of Anglican nuns in the world. Wantage once had two breweries. In 1988 the town was thrust into the headlines after a Brass Tacks programme entitled "Shire Wars" exposed the drunken violence that plagued the town and surrounding villages at that time. Wantage has a town council consisting of 16 councillors, 11 of whom are Conservatives with the remaining five councillors being made up of four Liberal Democrats and one Labour councillor.
It is part of the district of the Vale of White Horse. Until 1974, Wantage had two local government councils: Wantage Rural District, which had its headquarters in Belmont and Wantage Urban District, which had its headquarters in Portway; these bodies were both abolished as part of the Local Government Act 1972 and became part of the Vale of White Horse District Council. The Wantage constituency is represented by Conservative MP Ed Vaizey. Vaizey was first elected in the 2005 general election and was re-elected again in 2010 and 2015; the nearby towns of Didcot and Wallingford are part of the Wantage constituency. At the time of the 2010 general election, the Wantage constituency had a total electorate of 80,456. Wantage is at the foot of the Berkshire Downs escarpment in the Vale of the White Horse. There are gallops at Black Bushes and nearby villages with racing stables at East Hendred, Letcombe Bassett and Uffington. Wantage includes the suburbs of Belmont to Charlton to the east. Grove is a separate parish.
Wantage parish stretches from the northern edge of its housing up onto the Downs in the south, covering Chain Hill, Edge Hill, Wantage Down, Furzewick Down and Lattin Down. The Edgehill Springs rise between Manor Road and Spike Lodge Farms and the Letcombe Brook flows through the town. Wantage is home to the Downland Museum. There is a large market square containing a statue of King Alfred, surrounded by shops some with 18th-century facades. Quieter streets radiate including one towards the large Church of England parish church. Wantage is the "Alfredston" of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. Wantage is at the crossing of the B4507 valley road, the A417 road between Reading and Cirencester and the A338 road between Hungerford and Oxford. Bus services link Wantage with Oxford and other nearby towns and villages including Abingdon, Didcot and Grove. Stagecoach in Oxfordshire provide the main services between Wantage and Oxford with up to three buses per hour Monday to Saturday and up to two buses per hour on Sundays and bank holidays, operated under Stagecoach's luxury Stagecoach Gold brand.
Route S8 links Wantage with Grove, East Hanney, Marcham and Oxford, along with a late-night service on Friday and Saturday evenings with buses running to Oxford until 2am and buses from Oxford to Wantage until 3am. Route S9 provides a more direct service between Wantage and Oxford. There are up to two buses per hour between Wantage and Didcot via Harwell Campus which are operated by Thames Travel. Thames Travel operate the Faringdon to Wantage service which runs up to every 60 minutes, a local service to Grove. Wantage does not have a railway station; the Great Western Mainline is just north of Grove where the former Wantage Road railway station used to be. It was closed during the Beeching cuts in 1964; the Wantage Tramway used to link Wantage with Wantage Road station. The tramway's Wantage terminus was in Mill Street and its building survives, but little trace remains of the route. One of the tramway's locomotives, alias Jane, is preserved at Didcot Railway Centre. Oxfordshire County Council have ambitions to re-open the former Wantage Road railway station and has stated that the station is a priority in their Connecting Oxfordshire plans.
It is hoped that the station could be served by a direct service between Bristol. The