Wallingford, Oxfordshire

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Wallingford
Wallingford St Peters Bridge.JPG
Wallingford Bridge with St Peter's Church
Wallingford town council coat of arms.jpg
Wallingford Town Council coat of arms
Wallingford is located in Oxfordshire
Wallingford
Wallingford
Wallingford shown within Oxfordshire
Area 3.10 sq mi (8.0 km2)
Population 11,600 [1]
• Density 3,742/sq mi (1,445/km2)
OS grid reference SU6089
• London 47.5 miles (76.4 km)
Civil parish
  • Wallingford
District
Shire county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Wallingford
Postcode district OX10
Dialling code 01491
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
Website Wallingford Town Council
List of places
UK
England
Oxfordshire
51°35′56″N 1°07′30″W / 51.599°N 1.125°W / 51.599; -1.125Coordinates: 51°35′56″N 1°07′30″W / 51.599°N 1.125°W / 51.599; -1.125

Wallingford is a historic market town and civil parish located to the south of Oxford on the River Thames in England.

Historically located in the county of Berkshire, it was transferred to Oxfordshire for the purposes of administration in 1974. Wallingford is situated 12 miles (19 km) north of Reading, 13 miles (21 km) south of Oxford and 11 miles (18 km) north west of Henley-on-Thames. The town's population was 11,600 in the 2011 census.[1]

The town has played an important role in English history starting with the surrender of Stigand to William the Conqueror in 1066 which led to his taking the throne and the creation of Wallingford Castle. The castle and the town enjoyed royal status and flourished for much of the Middle Ages and was the location of the end of the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda known as The Anarchy through The Treaty of Wallingford.

The town then entered a period of decline after being hit hard by the Black Death and falling out of favour with the Tudor monarchs before being called on once again during the English Civil War as a Royalist stronghold. Wallingford held out as the last remaining Royalist stronghold in Berkshire before surrendering after a 16-week siege. Fearing that Wallingford Castle could be used in a future uprising Oliver Cromwell ordered its destruction.

Since then Wallingford has become a market town and centre of local commerce. At the centre of the town is a large open market square with the war memorial and 17th century arcaded town hall to the south, the Corn Exchange theatre to the east and numerous shops around the edges. Off the square there are alleyways and streets with more shops and a number of historic inns.[2]

Although only a small town, Wallingford once had 14 churches; now there are three ancient churches within the Parish of St Mary-le-More and St Leonard, a modern Roman Catholic church as well as a Quaker Meeting House dating from 1724 and Baptist, Methodist and community churches.

Wallingford is run by a town council consisting of 16 councillors. It is part of the South Oxfordshire district and the county of Oxfordshire having formerly been represented by the Municipal Borough of Wallingford. The Member of Parliament is Ed Vaizey and the County Councillor is Lynda Atkins, one of five Independent members of Oxfordshire County Council.

Contents

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

Wallingford grew up around an important crossing point of the River Thames. There is evidence of Roman activity in the area who have left traces of occupation—burials, roads, coins and pottery—but it was left to the Anglo-Saxons to build the first town.

Dark Ages (425–1066)[edit]

Wallingford has been fortified since at least Anglo-Saxon times, when it was an important fortified borough of Wessex with the right to mint Royal coinage. It was enclosed with substantial earthworks by King Alfred the Great in the ninth century as part of a network of fortified towns known as burhs or "burghs" to protect Wessex against the Vikings. These defences can still be clearly discerned as a group of four roughly square areas around the centre of the town and are probably the best preserved such fortifications in England. Wallingford became the chief town of Berkshire and the seat of the county's Ealdorman.

Medieval (1066–1485)[edit]

Norman conquest (1066)[edit]

During the Norman conquest in 1066, the Anglo-Saxon lord Wigod allowed William the Conqueror's invading armies into Wallingford to rest and to cross the Thames unopposed. It is in Wallingford that Stigand the Archbishopric of Canterbury surrendered and submitted to William thereby all but ending opposition to William's assent to the throne. From Wallingford, William with Stigand and his armies rode east to Berkhamsted where he received the final surrender from Edgar and the rest of the English leadership before marching on London for his coronation on Christmas Day.

At that time, the river at Wallingford was the lowest point at which the river could be forded. The town subsequently stood in high favour with the Normans. The Domesday Book of 1085 lists Wallingford as one of only 18 towns in the kingdom with a population of over 2,000 people.[citation needed]

Ruins in the Wallingford Castle Gardens

Wallingford Castle was built soon afterwards on the orders of William and became a key strategic centre controlling the Thames crossing and surrounding area.

Establishment of Wallingford Priory (1097)[edit]

Wallingford Priory, also known as Holy Trinity Priory, is believed to have stood on the site of the Bullcroft recreation ground off the High Street. This Benedictine priory was established on land granted to St Albans Abbey in 1097 by Henry I, and Geoffrey the Chamberlain gave the priory to St Albans. Paul, 14th Abbot of St Albans sent some of his monks to establish a cell there. Wallingford Priory produced two of the greatest minds of the age, the mathematician Richard of Wallingford and the chronicler John of Wallingford

The Anarchy (1135–1153)[edit]

Wallingford provided refuge for the Empress Matilda's party during the civil war that began after her father Henry I's death. After the fall of Oxford Castle to Stephen in 1141, Matilda fled to Wallingford, according to some historic accounts in the snow under a moonlit sky.[3] Wallingford Castle was besieged unsuccessfully a number of times with the Treaty of Wallingford ending the conflict there in November 1153.

The Royal Charter (1155)[edit]

The town was granted a Royal Charter in 1155 by the new king, Henry II, being the second town in England to receive one.

Prince John seizes Wallingford (1189)[edit]

During Prince John's unsuccessful revolt against his brother king Richard I whilst Richard was involved with the Third Crusade John seized Wallingford Castle in 1189. The Rebellion failed and john was forced to return the castle to the Kings administrators.[3]

King John I (1199-1216)[edit]

King John reclaimed the castle after his inheriting the crown in 1199. John modernised, fortified and greatly enlarged the Castle and used it extensively during the First Barons' War.[3]

The Black Death (1349)[edit]

The castle was a regular royal residence until the Black Death hit the town badly in 1349; at least a third of the townspeople died and only four churches were left in use. The castle declined subsequently, much stone being removed to renovate Windsor Castle.

Abingdon Bridge (1416)[edit]

The Road from London to Gloucestershire passed through Wallingford and the town flourished as a trading centre throughout most of the Middle Ages. Then the road was diverted and a bridge was constructed at Abingdon. The opening of Abingdon Bridge and loss of traffic the road had brought caused the town to enter a steep economic decline.

Catherine of Valois and Owen Tudor (1422)[edit]

In 1422 Wallingford and its castle was granted to Catherine of Valois, widowed Queen of Henry V. Catherine lived at Wallingford with her son Henry VI who was tutored there. It is believed that it is while at Wallingford that Catherine met Owen Tudor who she later married in secret. Catherine and Owen's eldest son Edward Tudor fathered Henry VII who defeated Richard III at Bosworth Field and went on to start the Tudor Dynasty.

Tudor (1485–1603)[edit]

Royal court visit, Henry VIII (1518)[edit]

One of the last documented uses of Wallingford as a royal residence was during 1518. Letters between Cardinal Walsey and his secretary Richard Pace discuss the Kings dissatisfaction with Wallingford and his desire to move on.[4]

Dissolution of Wallingford Priory (1525)[edit]

The priory was dissolved in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey, partly in order to fund the building of Cardinal College, Oxford.[4]

Separation Of the Honour of Wallingford (1540)[edit]

King Henry VIII separated the Honour of Wallingford which included rights of control over the town and its castle from the Duchy of Cornwall in 1540. He choose to combine it with the Honour of Ewelme which included the rights over his existing residence and lands at Ewelme. Ewelme is only 6 miles from Wallingford and so the reason given was one of consolidation of control in the area. In return Henry transferred as compensation several areas of Cornish property into the Duchy of Cornwall for Prince Edward.[4]

Disuse and Decay[edit]

After taking control of Wallingford in 1540 King Henry VIII did not favour choosing Wallingford Castle as an official residence Instead he opted to transfer materials from it to Windsor to enlarge and improve his castle there. This practice of dismantling Wallingford Castle to improve Windsor Castle was continued into the reigns of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.[4]

Stuart (1603-1714)[edit]

The English Civil War (1642–1651)[edit]

Outbreak of War and Repairs to the Castle[edit]

Maintenance and repair of the castle was vital to the success of the Royalists plans owing to the fact that the Royal Headquarters were in Oxford which made the defence of Wallingford which controlled the area to the south especially strategically important.

In August 1643 Colonel Blagge was granted Warrants from the King and Prince Rupert to collect taxes from Reading and other local towns in order to proceed with the repairs.[4]

The surrender of Reading[edit]

In April 1643 the King rode south from Wallingford in order to relieve Reading which had come under siege from the Earl of Essex. The Parliamentary army was 16,000 strong and laid siege to Reading using cannons. Reading was unable to hold out long enough for the King and Prince Rupert to arrive and break the siege and surrendered on 27 April 1643 with "the garrison joining the royal army and together they retreated through Wallingford back to Oxford".[4]

Visit from the parliamentary commissioners (1643)[edit]

In 1643 a group of Parliamentary commissioners came to Wallingford in search of an audience with the King, Blagge received them with encounter being recorded as "worrying".[4]

"He received them, 'not rudely, but with haughtiness enough,' sending a troop of horse to escort them as if they had been prisoners. High words followed; the commissioners feared they might have their throats cut by the garrison, and gladly took their leave of the 'proud governour."[4]

Final visit from the King and Queen[edit]
King Charles 1 and Queen Henrietta Maria

On 4 October 1643 was the last time the King and Queen visited the town together although they did visit Abingdon staying at Barton Lodge at 17 April 1644.

It is also therefore the last time that any British King and Queen stayed at the castle together owing to its destruction at the end of the war.[5]

Surrender of Abingdon[edit]

by May 1644 the war had turned decidedly against the Royalists in Berkshire and a failure of communications among the commanders left the town open to occupation by the Parliamentarians, General Waller took the town. The garrison retreated to Wallingford.[5]

The Retreat from Newbury[edit]

After the second battle of Newbury, 27 October 1644 where neither side had gained a true victory King Charles retreated through Wallingford on their way to Oxford.[5]

Although their retreat went initially unchallenged, the next day at a meeting of the War Council it was resolved that Cromwell, Balfour and Sir Arthur Hesilrige were allowed to take cavalry to chase down the King. They were too late and by the time they reached Wallingford they found the Royalists had already advanced to Oxford with the Castle blocking their path.

It was this annoyance of missing an opportunity to catch the King that led to Cromwell forming his New Model Army.[5]

Siege of Wallingford and Surrender of Colonel Blagge[edit]

The first assault on the town came from Colonel Baxter the governor of Reading in 1645. However, finding that the fortifications exceeded his expectations he retreated quickly to Reading.[5]

By the end of 1665 the situation had worsened with the King's defeat at The Battle of Naseby by General Fairfax. By this point Wallingford, Faringdon and Donnington were the only strongholds still loyal to the King in the county of Berkshire

The King held up at Oxford for the winter with the intention of riding south to relieve and retake positions in Berkshire. But the failure of reinforcements to arrive from the west and the iminant threat of siege by General Fairfax forced him to flee north.

The siege of Wallingford began on 4 May 1646 by General Fairfax, the parliamentarians laid siege to Oxford on 11 May.

Oxford held out until 24 June when the garrison of 3,000 men including the King’s nephews, Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice, were allowed to march out of the city with full honours.

Now only Wallingford remained, its garrison faithfully holding the town and castle for the King under the leadership of Colonel Blagge. However his position was now impossible with the town being blockaded on all sides. It was only a matter of time but still Blagge held that he would not surrender without the Kings order and even theatened to set fire to the town during a full assault.[5]

With all this weighed in the balance a Parliamentary special council met and decided that the difficulty of any full assault would cause unacceptable losses, waiting and trying to starve Blagge out would give the king time to build his forces and they were also very concerned that they were risking making a martyr of the town to the royalist cause in Berkshire if the towns people suffered too much in either a prolonged siege or assault. The council resolved to draw up preferential terms for Wallingford's surrender.

Initially Blagge refused even these with the same answer that he would need the Kings consent to surrender the town. However, by July with the Kings surrender to the Scotch Army and with Wallingford now the only stronghold in Berkshire still loyal to the crown he knew that there would be no relief or reinforcements. The blockade had over time also been tightened and with the prospect of desertion and mutiny from his starving soldiers Blagge was forced to reopen negotiations.

The terms of the Blagges surrender were drawn up on 22 July 1646, Fairfax respected Blagge as a fellow soldier firstly for his work in resurrecting the castle for the war and secondly for the manner in which he refused to take the easy option and surrender but held out for as long as possible, this respect meant that Fairfax still granted Blagge the original favourable terms of surrender he was initially offered, even though the situation had long changed.

The surrender stipulated that the Town and its Castle would be surrendered to General Fairfax on 29 July and that all of the towns arms, ordinance and stores/provision of war would pass into Fairfax's possession. Blagge and his garrison would then be allowed to march out of the town with full honours and would be allowed to leave with their horses, arms and baggage. They would then be permitted to march 10 miles out of the town before disbanding.

Blagge was however forced in the end to surrender the castle to Fairfax early on the 27th after a mutiny broke out within the garrison, Fairfax sent a regiment into the town to restore order and the garrison's exit was made unimpeaded. Only two castles now remained supporting the royalist cause Raglan and Pendennis and they would both fall by August.

A new governor, Evelyn, was installed although he petitioned for the immediate slight of the castle; Parliament instead decided to use it for the imprisonment of Presbyterian prisoners after the Prides Purge.

Slight of The Castle (1652)[edit]

Continued turmoil, unrest in the country and a fear that the residents of Wallingford were still loyal to the crown caused Oliver Cromwell to fear that Wallingford Castle could again be fortified against him in a future uprising.

On 17 November 1652 the Council of State decided that Wallingford Castle should be "forthwith demolished and the workes thereto belonging effectually slighted."[4]

Materials from the castle were used again for improvement works at Windsor Castle and for the repair and improvement of the church of St Mary-le-Mort[4]

William of Orange vists Wallingford (1688)[edit]

On his way to London to claim the throne William of Orange visited Wallingford and stayed at the Lamb Inn before crossing the river and proceeding to Henley.

Georgian (1714–1837)[edit]

Sir William Blackstone (10 July 1723 – 14 February 1780)[edit]

Sir William Blackstone the famous English jurist, judge and Tory politician lived in Wallingford and held the office of official recorder for the town. The Blackstone family owned an estate in and around Wallingford and William upon inheriting it built a house called Castle Priory to live in. William is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England; these are noted for their influence on the American Constitution. Sir William died in Wallingford in 1780 and is buried in St Peter's Church.

The Reform Act (1832)[edit]

By the end of the 18th century The Parliamentary Borough of Wallingford was known as being one of the worst Rotten Boroughs. During the Reform Act of 1832 the constituency boarders were increased geographically and the number of MPs cut from two to one.

Victorian (1837–1901)[edit]

Parilimentary constituancy of Wallingford abolished (1885)[edit]

During the Third Reform Act 1884 the Constituency of Wallingford was abolished from the 1885 election. Wallingford has since formed part of the Wantage Constituency.

Second World War (1939–1945)[edit]

RAF Benson (1939)[edit]

RAF Benson is located just to the north of Wallingford. Construction started in 1937 and the facility opened in 1939.[6]

Halifax Bomber (1944)[edit]

On 9 September 1944, a Halifax bomber of No. 426 Squadron RCAF, returning from an abandoned raid over the French port of Le Havre while still carrying a full bomb load, caught fire over Wallingford after its port outer engine exploded. Ordering most of his crew to bail out, the pilot, 23-year-old Flying Officer John Archibald Wilding, and his flight engineer, 22-year-old Sergeant John Francis Andrew, remained at the controls in order to steer the plane away from the town, crashing into the fields at Newnham Murren and thus preventing loss of many civilian lives. Both Wilding and Andrew were mentioned in dispatches for their bravery with Wilding being posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.[7] They are commemorated by a memorial at the junction of Wilding Road and Andrew Road in Wallingford and by the Canadian flag that is flown over Wallingford Town Hall every year on 9 September in their memory.[8]

Modern (1945 – present day)[edit]

Disolution of the borough and transfer to Oxfordshire (1972–74)[edit]

The 1972 the Local Government Act set out in law that in 1974 the Borough of Wallingford would be disbanded and the town would be transferred into a new local government district called South Oxfordshire district council (SODC). This also meant that Wallingford would be removed from the county of Berkshire and would join Oxfordshire.

A town council was also formed with some of the old Boroughs responsibilities for town affairs allocated to it. The council comprises 16 elected councilors and maintains the office of town mayor, the mayor is elected yearly by the councilors.

Demolition of Paul's Malt (2001)[edit]

Paul’s Malt in Hithercroft Road, built 1958, was demolished in 2001, ending the malting industry which had been key to Wallingford for hundreds of years. At one time there were at least 17 maltings in the town.

Landmarks and structures[edit]

Wallingford Bridge[edit]

Wallingford Bridge is a medieval road bridge over the River Thames connecting Wallingford to Crowmarsh Gifford. Wallingford has historically been an important crossing point of the Thames owing to the presence of a ford which was used before the construction of a bridge. This ford was used by William the Conqueror and his armies on his journey to London after his victory at Hastings in 1066. The first reference to a bridge is from 1141, when King Stephen besieged Wallingford Castle. The first stone bridge is credited to Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, and four remaining arches are believed to contain 13th century elements. Major repairs used stone from the dissolved Holy Trinity Priory in 1530. Four arches were removed so a drawbridge could be inserted during the siege of the castle in the Civil War of 1646, and these were replaced with timber structures until repair in 1751. Following a flood, three arches were rebuilt by Richard Clarke from 1810–1812 to a design by John Treacher (1760–1836) developed in 1809, and a parapet and balustrade added. The street lights on the bridge were made in the town and feature the Wilder mark on the base.

Wallingford Castle[edit]

Castle

Wallingford Castle was a major medieval castle. Established in the 11th century as a motte-and-bailey design within an Anglo-Saxon burgh, it grew to become what historian Nicholas Brooks has described as "one of the most powerful royal castles of the 12th and 13th centuries". During the civil war known as The Anarchy the castle held for the Empress Matilda and her son the future King Henry II. It was the site of the signing of the Treaty of Wallingford which began the end of the conflict and set the path to a negotiated peace. Over the next two centuries Wallingford became a luxurious castle, used by royalty and their immediate family. After being abandoned as a royal residence by Henry VIII, the castle fell into decline.

Refortified during the English Civil War Wallingford held as a Royalist stronghold commanded by Colonel Thomas Blagge. In 1645 General Thomas Fairfax placed Wallingford Castle under siege; after 16 weeks, during which Oxford fell to Parliamentary forces, the castle finally surrendered in July 1646 under generous terms for the defenders.

The risk of civil conflict continued, however, and Oliver Cromwell decided that it was necessary to slight, or damage so as to put beyond military use, the castle in 1652, as it remained a surprisingly powerful fortress and a continuing threat should any fresh uprising occur. The castle was virtually razed to the ground in the operation, although a brick building continued to be used as a prison into the 18th century.

A large house was built in the bailey in 1700, followed by a gothic mansion house on the same site in 1837. The mansion, abandoned due to rising costs, was demolished in 1972, allowing Wallingford Castle to be declared a scheduled monument as well as a Grade I listed building. The castle grounds, including the remains of St Nicholas College, sections of the castle wall and the motte hill, are now open to the public.

St Peter's Church

St Peter's Church[edit]

An earlier church on the site was destroyed in 1646 during the siege of Wallingford in the Civil War. Building of the present church started in 1763, the contractors being William Toovey and Joseph Tuckwell.

In 1767 the interior of the church was paved, pews were added, and the exterior was stuccoed under the supervision of Sir Robert Taylor. A spire designed by Taylor was added in 1776–77. A local resident, Sir William Blackstone, a lawyer and author of the Commentaries on the Laws of England, took an interest in the building of the spire and paid for the clock face visible from his house. The chancel was built in 1904, designed by Sydney Stephenson.[9]

The church was declared redundant on 1 May 1971, and was vested in the Churches Conservation Trust on 26 July 1972.[10]

St Peter's is the final resting place of Sir William Blackstone who is buried in his family vault under the church.[11]

St Mary-le-More Church[edit]

St Mary-le-More from the rear

The Church of St Mary-le-More is located in a prominent position in the town square behind the Town Hall. The church appears in records from 1077, when the advowson belonged to St Alban's Abbey.[12] The west tower was originally 12th century but its upper stages were rebuilt in a Perpendicular Gothic style[12] out of the stone from Wallingford Castle when it was demolished by Oliver Cromwell after the Civil War.

The nave and aisle were built in the 13th and 14th century and the chancel was built later. However, all were rebuilt in 1854 to designs by the Gothic Revival architect David Brandon.[4]

The west window of the north aisle has stained glass made in 1856 by Thomas Willement.

The pulpit was made in 1888 by the sculptor Onslow Ford.

The church tower features a ring of 10 bells.[13] A ring of eight including the tenor was cast in 1738 by Richard Phelps and Thomas Lester of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.[13] Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry re-cast the second bell of that ring (now the fourth bell of the present ring) in 1887,[13] the year of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. In 2003 the Whitechapel Bell Foundry cast a new treble and second bell,[13] increasing the ring to 10.

St Leonards Church[edit]

St Leonards Church

St Leonards is the oldest church and is regarded as the oldest surviving place of worship in Wallingford.[14]

There has been a church on the site since Saxon times, when it is believed to have been known as the church of the Holy Trinity the Lesser. The current building still features distinctive Saxon stone work in the herringbone style around the north wall. Estimates for the start of construction point as early as the 6th century.

Parliamentary forces used the church as a barracks during the Siege of Wallingford in 1656. Their occupation caused substantial damage to the building. Repair works where only completed in 1700 when it reopened.

John Henry Hakewill directed a reconstruction of the church in 1849, although the Church was rebuilt in the Gothic Revival style the restoration works preserved large sections of the original Saxon Building.

The church interior is noted for a series of 4 angel murals painted in 1889 by acclaimed artist George Dunlop Leslie who at the time lived on St Leonard's Lane.

The Church in recent times now forms part of the Parish of St Mary-le-Mort with services being held on Sundays.

Wallingford War Memorial[edit]

Wallingford War Memorial

Wallingford war memorial, designed by Edward Guy Dawber and William Honeybone,[15] unveiled in 1921. The memorial was updated to include those who died in the Second World War.

The inscription reads

"TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN HONOURED AND GRATEFUL MEMORY OF THE MEN OF WALLINGFORD WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1919. THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE/PASS NOT THIS STONE IN SORROW/NO SORROW BUT IN PRIDE/AND STRIVE TO LIVE/AS NOBLY AS THEY DIED"[15] (At the base there is an added date to include the Second World War, 1939–1945)

First World War (1914–1918) - Total names on memorial: 81[15]

Second World War (1939–1945) - Total names on memorial: 36[15]

The Kine Croft[edit]

The Kine Croft was which was known as the Canecroft 13th and 14th centuries, and in the 16th and 17th centuries as Kenny Croft. It comprises an open area of around 7 acres surrounded on the south and western sides by ancient earthworks that from Saxon times and formed part of the defensive fortifications of the town when it was an important Bhur in the kingdom of Wessex.

Events held in the Kine Croft include Bonfire night, Bunkfest, The Vintage Car Rally, The Wallingford Festival of Cycling and The Circus.

The Bull Croft[edit]

The Bull Croft is an open area within the town's Saxon defences. In Saxon times, the Parish Church of Holy Trinity stood in the south-west part of the present Bullcroft and by 1085 it had been taken over by the great abbey of St Albans and became part of the new Wallingford Priory. When the Priory was torn down by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525 the area was used as for farming. The Bull Croft was given to the town in trust by Mr Powyss Lybbe in 1912 and is now used as a public park. Facilities on the site include a children's play area, tennis courts and football pitches.

The Town Hall[edit]

Wallingford Town Hall

Wallingford Town Hall was constructed in 1670 and is located on the southern side of the market square, with the War Memorial in front and the church of St Mary-le-Mort behind.

The main hall and council chambers are on the first floor and feature a coved ceiling installed in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee. The building currently hosts the Town Council for meetings and civic events. The balcony is used by the towns Mayor at annual events.

The ground floor has the towns Tourist Information Office and until the Corn Exchange was built in 1856 the open area under the hall was used for the town's cornmarket. The hall is open to all residents as a venue for private hire.

Corn Exchange[edit]

The Corn Exchange

The Corn Exchange building dates to 1856.[4] The iron arches supporting the roof of the building were cast at the Wilders foundry on Goldsmiths Lane.

The Building has seen a variety of uses since its construction but until the outbreak of the First World War the building hosted the grain exchange and weekly cornmarket. In the inter war years uses included boxing, cinema and auctions. After the Second World War, the Social Security Ministry used the Building as a food and unemployment office before it fell into disuse.

It was purchased by the Sinodun Players in 1975 for use as a theatre.[16] They dedicated the theatre to Agatha Christie, who was president of the society from 1951 to 1976.[17] The Corn Exchange has productions put on by the Sinodun players as well as providing space for other dramatics groups. The building functions as the town cinema.

Winterbrook house[edit]

Winterbrook House

Winterbrook House was the home of author Agatha Christie and her husband Max Mallowan from 1934 until her death in 1976 and his in 1978.

It is believed that she based the fictional home of her fictional character Miss Marple called Danemead, which was in the village of St. Mary Mead on Winterbrook House.

The house is still a private residence and forms part of the Agatha Christie Trail.

Flint house[edit]

Flint house

Flint house is owned by Wallingford Town Council and is the current home of the Wallingford Museum. The frame may date back to the late 15th century and the flint exterior dates to the 17th century.

Wilders New Foundry, Goldsmiths Lane[edit]

Built in 1869 by Richard Wilder the new foundry was built to support the existing foundry on fish street. By this time there was rapidly increasing demand for the towns of cast iron working and equipment so more capacity was essential.[18]

The Building was decomisioned in 1983 and was converted into residential flats by 1984

Geography[edit]

Climate[edit]

As with the rest of the British Isles and Oxfordshire, Wallingford experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. There has been a weather station at the nearby Centre for Ecology & Hydrology collecting data on the local climate since 1961. Temperature extremes at Wallingford vary from −21.0 °C (−5.8 °F) in January 1982,[19] up to 35.2 °C (95.4 °F) in July 2006.[20] Recent low temperatures include −17.6 °C (0.3 °F) during January 2010[21] and −17.5 °C (0.5 °F) during December 2010.[22]

Climate data for Wallingford 67m asl, 1971-2000, Extremes 1960- (Sunshine Benson 1961-2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.8
(58.6)
17.9
(64.2)
22.2
(72)
26.8
(80.2)
29.0
(84.2)
33.9
(93)
35.2
(95.4)
35.1
(95.2)
29.4
(84.9)
25.0
(77)
17.9
(64.2)
15.2
(59.4)
35.2
(95.4)
Average high °C (°F) 7.0
(44.6)
7.5
(45.5)
10.2
(50.4)
12.7
(54.9)
16.6
(61.9)
19.5
(67.1)
22.3
(72.1)
22.0
(71.6)
18.6
(65.5)
14.3
(57.7)
10.0
(50)
7.8
(46)
14
(57.3)
Average low °C (°F) 1.2
(34.2)
1.0
(33.8)
2.6
(36.7)
3.8
(38.8)
6.7
(44.1)
9.6
(49.3)
11.9
(53.4)
11.8
(53.2)
9.7
(49.5)
6.8
(44.2)
3.5
(38.3)
2.1
(35.8)
5.9
(42.6)
Record low °C (°F) −21.0
(−5.8)
−13.2
(8.2)
−11.1
(12)
−6.6
(20.1)
−3.3
(26.1)
−2.2
(28)
2.0
(35.6)
1.1
(34)
−2.8
(27)
−5.5
(22.1)
−9.6
(14.7)
−17.5
(0.5)
−21
(−6)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 56.36
(2.2189)
38.54
(1.5173)
43.76
(1.7228)
46.54
(1.8323)
50.09
(1.972)
52.66
(2.0732)
38.44
(1.5134)
53.64
(2.1118)
56.71
(2.2327)
58.98
(2.322)
57.91
(2.2799)
61.46
(2.4197)
615.09
(24.216)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 52.7 67.8 114.7 150.0 198.4 201.0 210.8 192.2 147.0 102.3 66.0 46.5 1,549.4
Source #1: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute[23]
Source #2: RMets[24]

Transport[edit]

River[edit]

The River Thames has been a transport route for centuries and Wallingford's growth as a town relied partly on it. Coal was supplied from North East England by coaster to London and then by barge upriver to Wallingford. This supply could be unreliable in seasons when river currents were too strong or water levels were too low. In 1789 the Oxford Canal reached Oxford from Warwickshire and the Duke's Cut at Wolvercote gave it a connection to the Thames.[25] This allowed coal from the Midlands to reach Wallingford by a shorter and more reliable route than by sea and river from the northeast. In 1799, the Oxford Canal consolidated its commercial position by buying an 80-year lease on a wharf on the Thames just above Wallingford Bridge.[26] Chalmore Lock, a summer or low-water lock and weir, was built at Chalmore Hole, Wallingford in 1838, However, much of the time the fall was only 18 inches, and the lock was open at both ends. It fell into disrepair, and the lock was removed in 1883. The missing lock is the subject of confusion in Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat". A ferry had operated at the site from 1787 to transport horses across the river where the towpath changed banks. As the removal of the lock and weir meant that this was the longest clear stretch of the upper river, it was an ideal site for rowing, and so the Oxford University Boat Club which had long trained here built a boathouse at Chalmore in 2006. In addition to the old Wallingford Bridge, a new bridge was built at Winterbrook in 1993 to carry the A4130 bypass around Wallingford.

Rail[edit]

On 2 July 1866, the Wallingford and Watlington Railway was opened between Cholsey and Wallingford. Its relative speed and reliability enabled it to take a large share of goods previously carried on the Thames. Unfortunately, two months earlier, in May 1866, the Overend, Gurney & Co bank had crashed causing one of the severest financial crises of the 19th century. The Bank Rate was raised to 10 percent, making it impossible for the W&WR to raise the capital for its planned continuation to Watlington. The company sold the line to the Great Western Railway in 1872, and it became known as the "Wallingford Bunk". British Railways closed the line to passengers in 1959 and to goods traffic in 1965, but the track between Hithercroft Road and Cholsey continued in use to serve the maltings (now demolished) until 1981 when BR removed the junction at Cholsey. However, the line has been preserved as the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway.[27]

Presently, the closest regular railway station to Wallingford is in Cholsey, about three miles away.

Bus[edit]

Bus services for the town are operated by Thames Travel.

RiverRapids comprises two routes: the X40 which runs via Woodcote, and the X39 which bypasses Woodcote. The company also operates a service to Henley-on-Thames and Wallingford, which until 2017 was numbered 139, ran seven days a week and terminated at Wallingford. At the end of October 2017 Thames Travel withdrew the Sunday service from route 139, but extended the Monday to Saturday service from Wallingford to Oxford and renumbered the revised route X38. It retimetabled the X38, X39 and X40 to provide a service every 20 minutes between Wallingford and Oxford. It has branded the three routes "RiverRapids" and applied prominent graphics to its dedicated fleet to promote it.

Connector routes 32A and X32 serve the Milton Park business park and Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. Both routes serve Abingdon and Wantage. The X32 also serves Oxford and runs non-stop between Abingdon and Milton Park. The Connector routes have a dedicated fleet in a livery of two-tone grey with a light green coachline, and "Connector" graphics promoting the route.

Economy[edit]

Castle Street and High Street corner

Historically, Wallingford was a centre for local trading in livestock and corn as well as the general trade of other goods. This decreased after the construction of the bridge at Abingdon.

The town developed as a centre for the production of iron and machinery in the 18th century; this continued until the 1980s.

The brewing industry was important with two breweries and 17 maltings in the town. This link was ended with the demolition of Paul's Malt in 2001.

The Lamb arcade was originally known as the Lamb Coaching Inn and In 1980 after being derelict for some years was converted into an Antiques Arcade. Open Since 1869 Champions hardware store has been serving the residents of the town for nearly 150 years.[citation needed]

Waitrose branch

In 2005, Waitrose moved into a new store in the town centre after occupying an old site in the south of the town for decades. The new store has 22000 sq ft of retail space. A new Lidl is planned to open in 2019 on the Hithercroft Road.[28]

Wallingford has a selection of the nations big Banking groups. The main employers are primarily on the Hithercroft Trading Estate, established in the 1970s. There are some located at Howbury Park the other side of the river and also at Winterbrook Bridge.

Rowse Honey is the UK's largest manufacturer of honey and has been located in the town since 1987 after being founded in the nearby village of Ewelme in 1954.[29] Thames Travel bus company is based on the Hithercroft industrial estate. Other businesses are the Royal Mail, HR Wallingford, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Fugro. To the south east of the town is the headquarters for the non-profit agricultural organisation CABI.

Sport and leisure[edit]

Wallingford Sports Park

A number of sports societies, clubs and associations are co-located at the Wallingford Sports Park.[30]

Wallingford Hockey Club traces its beginnings to 1894[31] and now comprises nine senior teams as well as the Wallingford Wildcats youth setup. Since 1995 the club has been based out of the Wallingford Sports Centre.[31]

Wallingford Town F.C. founded in 1922 is the local association football club. They currently play in the Helenic league and their home games are played at the Wallingford Sports Centre.

Originally founded in 1967 as Cholsey RFC the club changed its name to Wallingford Rugby Club when it moved to the Hithercroft sports ground in 1997. The club has a senior set up which includes fielding three competitive mens senior teams as a development squad and three women's teams known as the Maidens. The club is still headquartered on the Hithercroft which is now known as the Wallingford sports center.

There are two Squash clubs in Wallingford. Wallingford Squash Club is in the town centre and the second is located at the Wallingford sports park.

Rowing[edit]

Wallingford Rowing Club

Wallingford Regatta was formerly "Wallingford Skiff Regatta" the only organised boating in 1949 on the longest stretch of the Thames between two locks (Benson- Cleeve Lock). It had taken place every year in peacetime since the late 1890s and there is evidence that it existed as early as 1861.[citation needed] In 1949, the regatta committee founded Wallingford Rowing Club which started competing in other regattas. The regatta was developed as a conventional regatta although it still awards the Wallingford Skiff Regatta Cup. The town hosts Wallingford Rowing Club,[32] Oxford Brookes University Boat Club.[33] and Oxford University Boat Club.[34]

The regatta was held on the same reach at Wallingford for most of its existence, but river conditions caused problems and there was a growing need for larger facilities. In 2001 the Regatta moved to a new home at Dorney Lake in Windsor where it is still held. The event is the largest single day rowing regatta in the UK.

In 2008 the new Oxford University Boat Club opened in Wallingford. Located on the site of the disused Wallingford marina on the Thames Path the building designed by Tuke Manton Architects LLP[35] replaced the club's historic home on the Isis which was destroyed by fire in 1999.

Wallingford festival of cycling[edit]

The Wallingford Festival of Cycling started in 2015 with attendance of 3000.[36] In 2018 British cycling billed the event one of the biggest cycling events of the year[37] with events including both 50 km and 110 km road sportives. In excess of 7500 were expected to attend.[38]

The event in 2015 was used as the backdrop for the filming of the Midsomer murders episode called breaking the Chain. Breaking the Chain was the 3rd episode of the 18th series.[39]

Music festivals[edit]

Osibisa.jpg

Starting in 2002 in the Cross Keys pub, BunkFest usually held in the first week in September, has become the largest free multi-day festival in the UK with an attendance of over 25,000 in 2017.[40]

Bunkfest folk music festival, combines a broad range of folk music, dance displays, a beer festival and the local (Bunk) steam railway. It is a not-for-profit festival. The festival is intended to appeal to a wide audience. The main stage features light music and dancing during the day and lively folk, folk-rock and world music acts in the evening. Other venues around the town feature a wide variety of acts, ranging from quiet, contemplative folk artists and singer-songwriters to raucous rock bands. It attracts between 30 and 50 dance sides. The dance programme has included Cotswold and Border Morris, Appalachian and Eastern European forms, as well as traditional Irish, Scottish and Welsh forms.[41]

RugFest is Wallingford's summer music festival located at the Wallingford Sport Park on the Hithercroft. Founded in 2008 Rugfest took two years off due to site refurbishments, returning in 2018. The 2018 festival was headlined by Scouting for Girls.

Vintage Car Rally[edit]

Founded in 2002 the Wallingford vintage car rally takes place on the Kine Croft in mid May with a parade that includes the whole town. In 2018 the number of cars in the parade increased to over 350 with the total number of vehicles on show being just over 400.[42] The event is run for local charitable causes and raised £14,000 in 2018 which brought the cumulative total to over £100,000.[43]

Education[edit]

St John's; a junior school: Fir Tree; and an infant school: St Nicholas's are all located within the town itself with additional schools at Brightwell, Cholsey and Crowmarsh serving the surrounding areas. The Oratory Prep school is a Co-educational Catholic Prep school. The school takes boys from 3-13 and girls from 3-11. The Oratory School is the senior school for the Oratory prep and takes Boys from 13-18.

Wallingford School[edit]

Wallingford School is the successor to Wallingford Grammar School, founded 1659 when Walter Bigg left money for a school in his will. Located to the north of the town, it is an academy school and part of the Merchant Taylors’ Oxfordshire Academy Trust. The school provides the education provision for the Wallingford area for Boys and Girls between the ages of 11-18. The majority of pupils from both Fir Tree and St John's continue on to Wallingford School. Wallingford School also draws pupils from Crowmarsh, Brightwell, Cholsey and Warborough primary schools and occasionally Didcot primary schools.

Town twinning[edit]

Wallingford is twinned with:

Wallingford has an informal link to:

Media[edit]

The popular television detective drama Midsomer Murders films in Wallingford and the surrounding area, which poses as the fictional town of Causton in the county of Midsomer.

In the British TV series, Sorry! starring Ronnie Corbett, the exterior town scenes were filmed in Wallingford. Corbett's character, Timothy, drank in the Dolphin Public House.

The Christmas special Professor Branestawm starring Harry Hill as well as David Mitchell, Simon Day, Ben Miller and Miranda Richardson was filmed mainly in Wallingford. it aired in 2014.

Notable people[edit]

For residents, constables and prisoners at the castle, see Wallingford Castle.

In the town:

Wallingford used to return two Members of Parliament (cut to one in 1832 and none in 1885). Its prominent MPs, often not resident, included:

For more details, see Wallingford (UK Parliament constituency)

Nearby places[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "District Data Service - South Oxon Census 2011 summary leaflet". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 5 August 2018. 
  2. ^ "Wallingford History Gateway". Google. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c The Borough of Wallingford: Introduction and Castle, A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3 (1923), pp. 517–531. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Ditchfield, P. H.; Page, William (1906). The Victoria history of Berkshire. edited by P.H. Ditchfield and William Page. London: Constable. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f 1915-1988., Young, Peter, (2000). The English civil war. Holmes, Richard, 1946-2011. Ware: Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 1840222220. OCLC 59404015. 
  6. ^ "RAF Benson | Royal Air Force". www.raf.mod.uk. Retrieved 2 August 2018. 
  7. ^ "No. 36835". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 December 1944. p. 5692. 
  8. ^ Fleming, Rob (2006). "The Wallingford Story". RCAF 426 (Thunderbird) Squadron Association. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  9. ^ Hazell, Zoë; Crosby, Vicky; Oakey, Matthew; Marshall, Peter (15 November 2017). "Archaeological investigation and charcoal analysis of charcoal burning platforms, Barbon, Cumbria, UK". Quaternary International. 458: 178–199. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2017.05.025. ISSN 1040-6182. 
  10. ^ "Tilby, Rev. Canon Angela Clare Wyatt, (born 6 March 1950), Diocesan Canon, Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, since 2011; Adviser for Continuing Ministerial Development, Diocese of Oxford, since 2011", Who's Who, Oxford University Press, 1 December 2007, retrieved 1 August 2018 
  11. ^ "St Peter's Church, Wallingford, Oxfordshire | The Churches Conservation Trust". www.visitchurches.org.uk. Retrieved 1 August 2018. 
  12. ^ a b Ditchfield, P. H.; Page, William (1906). The Victoria history of Berkshire. edited by P. H. Ditchfield and William Page. London: Constable. 
  13. ^ a b c d Hayes, Francis C. (March 1958). "Three Bell Ringers". South Atlantic Bulletin. 23 (4): 12. doi:10.2307/3198317. ISSN 0038-2868. 
  14. ^ "Wallingford, Oxfordshire, St Leonard's Church, History & Photos". Britain Express. Retrieved 1 August 2018. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Wallingford". Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 1 August 2018. 
  16. ^ "Sinodun Players". sinodunplayers.org.uk. Retrieved 2 August 2018. 
  17. ^ "Sinodun Players". sinodunplayers.org.uk. Retrieved 2 August 2018. 
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  19. ^ "1982 temperature". KNMI. 
  20. ^ "2006 temperature". KNMI. 
  21. ^ "Jan 2010 temp". KNMI. 
  22. ^ "Dec 2010 temp". KNMI. 
  23. ^ "Wallingford Climate". KNMI. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  24. ^ "Benson Sunshine". RMetS. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  25. ^ Compton, 1976, page 52
  26. ^ Compton, 1976, pp. 65–66
  27. ^ "History". Cholsey and Wallingford Railway. Retrieved 8 April 2007. 
  28. ^ "Four new supermarkets currently being planned in Oxfordshire". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  29. ^ "Our History | Rowse Honey". Rowse. Retrieved 1 August 2018. 
  30. ^ "Wallingford Sports Park". Wallingford Sports Park. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  31. ^ a b Lanyon, James. "Club History". wallingfordhc.org.uk. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  32. ^ "Wallingford RC Rowing". wallingfordrc.co.uk. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  33. ^ "Facilities". OBUBC. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  34. ^ "Oxford University Boat Club". OUBC. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  35. ^ "Tuke Manton/Architects | Design and consultancy". www.tukemanton.co.uk. Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  36. ^ "About – Wallingford Festival of Cycling". wallingfordfestivalofcycling.co.uk. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  37. ^ "Events". British Cycling. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  38. ^ "Wallingford Festival of Cycling set to be 'bigger than ever'". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  39. ^ Evans, Rob (27 January 2016), Breaking the Chain, Neil Dudgeon, Gwilym Lee, Fiona Dolman, retrieved 5 August 2018 
  40. ^ "Folk music, beer and dancing - it can only be Bunkfest". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 1 August 2018. 
  41. ^ "'Welsh Springsteen' to perform in Wokingham". Wokingham Today. Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  42. ^ "PICTURES: Spectators cheer on drivers at vehicle rally". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  43. ^ "Welcome – Wallingford Vehicle Rally". wallingfordcarrally.org.uk. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 

Sources and further reading[edit]

External links[edit]