St. Mary's parish church
Uffington shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||715 (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|District||Vale of White Horse|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Uffington is a village and civil parish about 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Faringdon and 7 miles (11 km) west of Wantage. It was part of Berkshire until the 1974 boundary changes transferred it to Oxfordshire. Uffington is most commonly known as the location of the Uffington White Horse hill figure.
Location and character
The village is one of chalk-block houses and thatch, at the foot of the White Horse Hills. The Church of England parish church of St Mary is known as The Cathedral of the Vale and has the rare feature of a hexagonal tower. The village is in the middle of the Vale of the White Horse, otherwise known as the Ock Valley. Like most parishes in the Vale, Uffington parish is long and thin, running north-south, so that it includes both low-lying arable land and grazing upland on the Berkshire Downs. The River Ock forms most of its northern boundary. The western boundary runs up across Dragon Hill, Whitehorse Hill, Uffington Down and the gallops on Woolstone Down before turning north again as the eastern boundary across Kingston Warren Down and Ram's Hill, almost to Fawler and partially along Stutfield Brook. The parish formerly included Baulking and Woolstone.
The village is about 3 miles (5 km) west of the A417 road.
The Great Western Main Line was built through the parish in 1840, passing just over 1⁄2 mile (800 m) north of the village. In 1864 the Faringdon Railway was completed, joining the Great Western at a junction 1 mile (1.6 km) northeast of the village. Uffington railway station was opened at the junction. British Railways closed the station in 1964.
The route of the Wilts & Berks Canal passes just north of Uffington. This was developed late in the British canal boom and was only officially opened in 1810. The Canal was never very profitable, facing stiff competition from the Kennet & Avon Canal and then the railways. The Wilts & Berks Canal was formally abandoned in 1914.
White Horse and other prehistoric features
One of the United Kingdom's best-known archaeological sites, the White Horse is a 374 feet (114 m) long Bronze Age hill figure, cut out of the turf on White Horse Hill on the Berkshire Downs, just south of the village of Woolstone. It is generally thought[by whom?] to have been a religious totem of some kind, associated with the people who later became known as the Atrebates. In this capacity it was probably associated with the adjoining Dragon Hill, a small natural hillock with an artificially flattened top. Above these stands Uffington Castle, an Iron Age hill fort (overlying a Bronze Age predecessor) where some of this tribe may have lived. There are also a number of associated burial mounds and there are others further south. Just to the south of the hill fort, the ancient trackway thought to be Britain's oldest road,[by whom?] called the Ridgeway, passes through the parish. Ram's Hill seems to have been a Bronze Age cattle ranching and trading centre.
Despite popular Victorian theories, Uffington was not the location of the Battle of Ashdown in 871 and the White Horse was not created as a memorial by King Alfred's men. The place does, however, appear in mid-10th century boundary charters. Abingdon Abbey owned the manor throughout the Middle Ages and King Edward I visited their grange there.
In 1630 Elizabeth Craven, widow of Sir William Craven, bought the Uffington and Compton estates from Sir Francis Jones. This began a 329 year connection between the Craven family and Uffington. St Mary's Church suffered during the Civil War because of their Royalist sympathies. Despite their long ownership of the Uffington estate the Earls of Craven never lived in Uffington, basing themselves instead at nearby Ashdown House.
- Sir John Betjeman lived in the village in the 1930s.
- Thomas Hughes (1822-1896), author of Tom Brown's Schooldays, was born in the village. The village school mentioned in the book still exists: now it is Tom Brown's School Museum and has exhibits on Thomas Hughes, the Uffington White Horse, and other local subjects. The large village hall is named the Thomas Hughes Memorial Hall.
Amenities and events
Uffington United Football Club plays in North Berks Football League Division Four. Uffington Cricket Club plays in Oxfordshire Cricket Association Division Four. Uffington has also a badminton club and a tennis club.
- "Area selected: Vale of White Horse (Non-Metropolitan District)". Neighbourhood Statistics: Full Dataset View. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
- Page & Ditchfield, 1924, pages 543-551
- Thomas Hughes Memorial Hall official website
- Uffington United FC
- North Berks Football League
- Uffington Cricket Club
- Oxfordshire Cricket Association
- Uffington.net, Clubs & Associations
- Uffington White Horse Show official website
- THE WHITE HORSE SHOW TRUST LIMITED, Registered Charity no. 1151533 at the Charity Commission
- Page, W.H.; Ditchfield, P.H., eds. (1924). A History of the County of Berkshire, Volume 4. Victoria County History. pp. 543–551.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). Berkshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 243–245.
- Royal Berkshire History: Uffington
- Royal Berkshire History: Uffington Church
- Royal Berkshire History: The Uffington White Horse
- Vale of White Horse District Council: Uffington Parish Council
- Tom Brown's School Museum
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