St. Mary's parish church
|Long Wittenham shown within Oxfordshire|
|Area||1.18 km2 (0.46 sq mi)|
|Population||887 (2011 census)|
|• Density||752/km2 (1,950/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Long Wittenham is a village and small civil parish about 3 miles (5 km) north of Didcot, and 3.5 miles (5.6 km) southeast of Abingdon. It was part of Berkshire until the 1974 boundary changes transferred it from Berkshire to Oxfordshire, and from the former Wallingford Rural District to the new district of South Oxfordshire.
The village is the start of the inside a loop in the River Thames, on slightly higher ground than the flood plain around it. About 1 mile (1.6 km) to the east, across the river, is the Roman town of Dorcic – now Dorchester-on-Thames. To the south-east are neighbouring Little Wittenham which has a much smaller population but much larger area and within which parish is Wittenham Clumps, also called the Sinodun Hills.
The village is supposedly named after a Saxon chieftain, named Wikki, but there is evidence of earlier settlement. Bronze Age double-ditch enclosures and middle Bronze Age pottery were identified in the 1960s, and early Bronze Age items, such as an axe and spearhead, have been found in the Thames. Later settlement evidence is more extensive: Iron Age and Roman presence is indicated by trackways, various buildings (enclosures, farms and villas), burials (cremation and inhumation), and pottery and coins. There is also evidence of possible Frankish settlement: a 5th-century grave that contained high-status Frankish objects. This early habitation was first revealed in the 1890s, in the first ever use of cropmarks to discern archaeological remains.
The core of the village emerges from the Saxon ara. 6th century cropmarks outline a large group of buildings, which indicate, if not a royal palace, then certainly a high status Saxon enclosure, and the variety and number of objects found in Saxon burial sites around the village would appear to support this. These large, Saxon burial sites also indicate a sizeable population that lasted for many years. Historians now recognise that the general area of southern Oxfordshire was the heartland of the Gewisse. The nearness to the Iron Age hillfort of Wittenham Clumps and the Roman (and post-Roman) town of Dorchester show that the localised area was of great importance for many centuries, although the notion that Witta (and/or his family) were related to the later Royal House of Wessex, is unproven.
The Domesday Book of 1086 records the village in one of two entries for Wittenham identifiable as this part of the modern village by government-registered manorial descent (such as the Feet of fines for example. By the Tudor era, parish records show it had a population of around 200, with arable crops: wheat, oats, barley and rye being farmed.
In 1534 Sir Thomas White bought the manor and gave it to his foundation, St John's College, Oxford. Until recently, the President and scholars of St. John's owned most of the houses in the village and much of the land. Until the Enclosure Acts there were just two large, open fields, which the college leased in strips to the various villagers. In 1857, using a special government grant for agricultural communities, the village school was built.
The author and wood engraver Robert Gibbings lived at Footbridge Cottage at the end of his life (1955-8), and is buried in the churchyard. His last book, Till I end my Song (1957), is based on his life in the village.
The Church of England parish church of Saint Mary, begun around 1120, is on the site of a previous Saxon church. The chancel arch survives from the Norman building; the aisles and tower are later additions. The font is a rare Norman lead one; it was later encased in wood, and this preserved it from iconoclastic Parliamentarian soldiers in the 17th century. The church has the smallest monument in England a small stone effigy of Gilbert de Clare. Cruck Cottage can be architecturally dated to being around 800 years old and consequently locals have claimed it may be the oldest house in South Oxfordshire.
The building housing Pendon Museum is a model railway interactive museum set up by Roye England. Its site was The Three Poplars public house. Declining trade forced its sale in 1954 and for a time it traded as a Youth Hostel, being close to the North Wessex Downs and the Thames Path.
Other pubs include The Plough, and The Vine (now The Vine and Spice Indian restaurant). North of the village is the Barley Mow Inn (nowadays just a pub), which is closer to Clifton Hampden but is on the Wittenham side of the parish boundary. The Machine Man was disfranchised in 2003.
The village has a sports club: Long Wittenham Athletics Club, which is based at Bodkins Field. This and other flat fields around the village have often been used as impromptu landing sites by hot-air balloonists.
The village has an annual fete. It used to take place at the Vicarage until the mid-1990s, when it was relocated to The Plough Inn grounds.
- Office for National Statistics. "Area: Long Wittenham CP (Parish): Key Statistics: Population and Area (population density)". Neighbourhood statistics website. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
- Gray, Margaret. Excavations at Northfield Farm, Long Wittenham, Berks. pp. 107–109.[clarification needed]
- National Monuments Record Number SU59 SW 22
- Baker, Steve. Prehistoric and Romano-British landscapes at Little Wittenham and Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire.[clarification needed]
- Hawkes, S. The Early Saxon Period. p. 78.[clarification needed]
- Ford, David Nash. "Long Wittenham". Royal Berkshire History.
- Blair, John. Anglo-Saxon Oxfordshire. p. 31.[clarification needed]
- Entries for Wittenham in the Domesday Book opendomesday.org Retrieved 2016-04-27
- "History". Long Wittenham.com.
- Pilton, Chris (1987). Cottage Modelling for Pendon. Didcot: Wild Swan. ISBN 978-0906867570.
- "Neptune Wood". Tree for All.
- Page, W.H.; Ditchfield, P.H., eds. (1924). A History of the County of Berkshire, Volume 4. Victoria County History. pp. 384–390.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). Berkshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 170–171.
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