Uffington, Oxfordshire

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Uffington church - geograph.org.uk - 1175199.jpg
St Mary's parish church
Uffington is located in Oxfordshire
Uffington shown within Oxfordshire
Population 783 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference SU3089
Civil parish
  • Uffington
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Faringdon
Postcode district SN7
Dialling code 01367
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
Website Uffington.net
List of places
51°37′N 1°34′W / 51.61°N 1.56°W / 51.61; -1.56Coordinates: 51°37′N 1°34′W / 51.61°N 1.56°W / 51.61; -1.56

Uffington is a village and civil parish about 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Faringdon and 6 miles (10 km) west of Wantage. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 783.[1]

Within the historic county boundaries of Berkshire, in 1974 it was transferred for local government purposes to Oxfordshire under the Local Government Act 1972. Uffington is most commonly known as the location of the Uffington White Horse hill figure.

Geography and character[edit]

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.

Local government[edit]

Uffington is in the Vale of White Horse District and has a parish council. The village has been twinned with Le Chevain in France since 1991.


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 12 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.


See main articles: Uffington White Horse, Dragon Hill, Uffington Castle and The Ridgeway

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.

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.


Uffington is recorded in mid-10th century boundary charters. Abingdon Abbey held 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 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 common lands of Uffington, Baulking and Woolstone were enclosed in 1776.[2]

Parish church[edit]

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.

Monument to John Saunders in St Mary's parish church

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[2] until 1992, when they were increased to six by the addition of a new treble bell.[3] The five original bells were all recast in 1657,[2] 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.[3]

St Mary's church is a Grade I listed building.[4] Its parish is part of the Benefice of Uffington, Shellingford, Woolstone and Baulking.[5]

Notable residents[edit]

The Old School, now Tom Brown's School Museum
  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[7] The large village hall is named the Thomas Hughes Memorial Hall.[8]

Amenities and events[edit]

Uffington has a pub, the Fox and Hounds.[9]

Uffington United Football Club[10] plays in North Berks Football League Division Three.[11] Uffington Cricket Club[10] plays in Oxfordshire Cricket Association Division Four.[12] Uffington has also a tennis club.[10]

The Uffington White Horse Show[13] is held annually, with the profits being distributed for the benefit of the residents of Uffington, Baulking and Woolstone by a registered charity.[14]


Sources and further reading[edit]

External links[edit]