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St Mary's parish church
Uffington shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||783 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|District||Vale of White Horse|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Geography and character
The village is one of chalk-block houses and thatch, at the foot of the White Horse Hills. The parish church is known as "The Cathedral of the Vale". 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 former Wilts & Berks Canal passes just north of Uffington. It was built late in the British canal boom and was completed in 1810. The canal was never very profitable, competing with the Kennet and Avon Canal and then Great Western Railway. The Wilts & Berks Canal was formally abandoned in 1914.
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 were later called the Atrebates.
The white horse may have been 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 south of the hill fort the Ridgeway passes through the parish. Ram's Hill seems to have been a Bronze Age cattle ranching and trading centre.
In 1630 Elizabeth Craven, widow of Sir William Craven, bought the manors of Uffington and Compton from Sir Francis Jones. This began a 329-year connection between the Craven family and Uffington. St Mary's parish church suffered in the Civil War because of the Craven family's Royalism. The Earls of Craven lived not in Uffington but at nearby Ashdown House.
The Church of England parish church of St Mary is cruciform and was completed about 1250. The tower central, positioned over the crossing between the nave, chancel and transepts, and is octagonal. Some of the present windows were inserted in the 17th century.
In the south transept is a Jacobean monument to John Saunders, who died in 1638. It has a semi-reclining effigy of Saunders set in a semi-circular coffered arch, with a large plaque surrounded by strapwork.
The crossing tower had a ring of five bells until 1992, when they were increased to six by the addition of a new treble bell. The five original bells were all recast in 1657, but each has since been recast again. In 1762 Thomas Rudhall of Gloucester recast the tenor bell and in 1770 Robert I Wells of Aldbourne, Wiltshire recast what is now the fifth bell. In 1803 James Wells, also of Aldbourne, recast what is now the second bell. Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry recast the fourth bell in 1867 and the third bell in 1886. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry also cast the treble bell that was added in 1992.
- The poet Sir John Betjeman (1906–84) lived in the village in the 1930s. He was also a churchwarden of St Mary's and presided over the cleaning of the church's royal arms and conversion of the church's oil lamps to electricity.
- Thomas Hughes (1822–96), author of Tom Brown's Schooldays, was born in the village. The village school mentioned in the book survives as Tom Brown's School Museum, with 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 has a pub, the Fox and Hounds.
Uffington United Football Club plays in North Berks Football League Division Three. Uffington Cricket Club plays in Oxfordshire Cricket Association Division Four. Uffington has also a tennis club.
- "Area: Uffington (Parish): Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
- Page & Ditchfield 1924, pp. 543–551
- Davies, Peter (11 November 2014). "Uffington S Mary". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
- Historic England. "Church of St Mary (Grade I) (1198865)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
- Archbishops' Council. "Benefice of Uffington Shellingford Woolstone and Baulking". Church of England. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
- Delaney, Frank (1983). Betjeman Country. Paladin (Granada). p. 158. ISBN 0-586-08499-1.
- Tom Brown's School Museum
- Thomas Hughes Memorial Hall, Uffington
- The Fox & Hounds, Uffington
- "Clubs & Associations". Uffington.net. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
- North Berks Football League
- "Tables". Oxfordshire Cricket Association. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
- Uffington White Horse Show
- Charity Commission. The White Horse Show Trust Limited, registered charity no. 1151533.
Sources and further reading
- Hooke, Della (1987). "Anglo-Saxon Estates in the Vale of the White Horse" (PDF). Oxoniensia (Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society) LII: 129–144. ISSN 0308-5562.
- Page, W.H.; Ditchfield, P.H., eds. (1924). A History of the County of Berkshire. Victoria County History 4. assisted by John Hautenville Cope. London: The St Katherine Press. pp. 543–551.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). Berkshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 243–245.
- Rhodes, PP (1950). "The Celtic Field-Systems on the Berkshire Downs" (PDF). Oxoniensia (Oxford Architectural and Historical Society) XV: 1–28. ISSN 0308-5562.
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