St Mary the Virgin parish church
Witney shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||27,522 (2011 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|Website||Witney Town Council|
The Church of England parish church of St Mary the Virgin was originally Norman. The north porch and north aisle were added in this style late in the 12th century, and survived a major rebuilding in about 1243. In this rebuilding the present chancel, transepts, tower and spire were added and the nave was remodelled, all in the Early English style. In the 14th century a number of side chapels and some of the present windows were added in the Decorated style. In the 15th century the south transept was extended and the present west window of the nave were added in the Perpendicular style. The tower has a peal of eight bells.
Witney Market began in the Middle Ages. Thursday is the traditional market day but there is also a market on Saturday. The buttercross in the market square is so called because people from neighbouring towns would gather there to buy butter and eggs. It was built in about 1600 and its clock was added in 1683.
The Friends Meeting House in Wood Green was built in the 18th century. Since 1997 Quakers in Witney have met at the corn exchange. The Methodist church in High Street was built in 1850. It is now one of five Methodist churches and chapels in Witney. The Roman Catholic parish of Our Lady and Saint Hugh was founded in 1913. It originally used a chapel in West End built in 1881 but now has its own modern building. The old chapel in West End is now Elim Christian Fellowship.
West End, part of the road to Hailey, is one of Britain's best-preserved streets and inspired the song Just an Old Fashioned House in an Old Fashioned Street. Although it is called West End, it is actually on the northern side of the town and gets its name from when it was not actually in Witney parish but at the west end of the adjacent Hailey parish.
Witney Workhouse was on Razor Hill (now Tower Hill). It was built in 1835–36 by the architect George Wilkinson. It had four wings radiating from an octagonal central building, similar to Chipping Norton workhouse, which also was built by Wilkinson. His younger brother William Wilkinson added a separate chapel to Witney Workhouse in 1860. During the First World War the workhouse contained prisoners of war. In 1940 it became Crawford Collets engineering factory under the direction of Leonard Frank Eve. The chapel became the factory canteen. In 1979 Crawford Collets demolished the main buildings and replaced them with a modern factory but preserved the entrance gate and former chapel. In 2004 the modern factory was demolished for redevelopment. The gate and chapel have again been preserved but the chapel is in a poor state of repair.
Witney has been famous for its woollen blankets since the Middle Ages. The water for the production of these blankets is drawn from the River Windrush, which was believed to be the secret of Witney's high-quality blankets. The Blanket Hall in High Street was built in 1721 for weighing and measuring blankets. At one time there were five blanket factories in the town but with the closure of the largest blanket maker, in 2002, Early's, the town's blanket industry completely ceased production. Early's factory, once a vital and important part of the town's history, has now been demolished, and is the site of several new housing estates. Witney United FC retains its nickname "The Blanketmen" from the town's traditional trade.
For many years Witney had its own brewery and maltings: J.W. Clinch and Co, which founded the Eagle Maltings in 1841. Courage took over Clinch's and closed it down, but since 1983 Refresh UK's Wychwood Brewery has brewed real ales in the Eagle Maltings. In 2002 Refresh UK contracted to produce ales for W.H. Brakspear, who had sold their former brewery in Henley-upon-Thames for redevelopment. Refresh UK also brews ale for the Prince of Wales' Duchy Originals company.
The Witney Railway opened Witney's first station in 1861, linking the town to Yarnton where the line joined the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway. In 1873 the East Gloucestershire Railway opened from a new station, linking Witney with Lechlade and Fairford. The Great Western Railway operated services on both lines and eventually took them over. In 1962 British Railways closed the EGR completely and withdrew passenger services from the Witney Railway. In 1970 British Railways closed the Witney Railway completely and it was dismantled.
Reopening the railway
There is a strong case to reopen the railway given the severe traffic congestion on the roads to and from Oxford. 
Witney has three museums. Cogges Manor Farm Museum, in the 13th-century manor house and farm of Cogges, represents farming and countryside history. The Witney and District Museum has many artefacts and documents representing the history of the town. The Wychwood Brewery has a museum open at weekends.
Witney has three county secondary schools: Henry Box School, Wood Green School and Springfield School. In 1660 Henry Box founded Witney Grammar School. In 1968 it became the comprehensive Henry Box School. In 1970 new school buildings were added to the original 17th-century premises beside Church Green. Wood Green School was founded in 1954 and is at the top of Woodstock Road. Springfield School was founded in 1967 and is a special-needs school for pupils with severe learning difficulties. Springfield School senior section is a self-contained unit, with some shared facilities, within the grounds of Wood Green School. Wood Green was substantially expanded from 2000 to 2004; an additional block with 15 teaching rooms was added, together with a purpose-built sixth form centre, school restaurant and new AstroTurf pitch. 2009 saw part of the old Lower School being remodelled to provide new changing and shower facilities for the AstroTurf pitch and its many users from local community sports clubs.
Cokethorpe School is an independent secondary school, founded in 1957.
St. Mary's School beside Church Green was established in 1813. It was a Church of England primary school but in 1953 it became a Church of England controlled School for Infant children, and the Junior children transferred to the Batt School premises. Witney now has two Church of England primary schools: The Batt School in Corn Street and The Blake School in Cogges Hill Road.
Witney has five community primary schools: Madley Park Community Primary School, Queen's Dyke Primary School, Tower Hill Community Primary School, West Witney Primary School and Witney Community Primary School.
Witney United Football Club first XI played in the Hellenic League Premier Division, until they dissolved during the 2012-2013 season. Witney and District League is a local association football league with about 32 clubs in five divisions. Witney Rugby Football Club first XV plays in the RFU South West 1 East. Wychwood Ladies Hockey Club, 1st play in the Trysport Hockey League Division 1 (http://www.trysportsleague.org.uk/default.aspx?id=9) & 2nd play in the Trysport League Division $ (http://www.trysportsleague.org.uk/default.aspx?id=12) And also Witney Hockey Club men's first XI plays in the England Hockey Men's Conference East division and its ladies' first XI plays in South Clubs' Women's Hockey League Division 3A. Witney Swifts Cricket Club first XI plays in Oxfordshire Cricket Association Division Three. Witney Houstons Basketball Club plays in the Oxford and Chiltern League.
The Toleman Group Motorsport racing team was once based in Witney until it was rebranded Benetton Formula in 1986, the team itself stayed in Witney until 1992 when they moved to Enstone eventually being rebranded in 2002 as Renault F1 when the team was purchased by the French Renault car company, the team competed as Renault F1 until 2011 when it was again rebranded this time under the "Lotus Renault GP" name due to forging a partnership with the British Lotus Cars company, the subsequent year the team became Lotus F1 after they dropped the Renault name, the team was later re-purchased by Renault in late 2015 to become the Renault Sport F1 Team for 2016.
Witney is known as a Conservative safe seat, and as such has been the constituency of both Douglas Hurd and the former leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister, David Cameron. This clear party preference led to controversy after Shaun Woodward succeeded the retiring Hurd as Conservative candidate. Woodward was elected in the 1997 General Election, but switched allegiance to the Labour Party in 1999. In the 2001 General Election Woodward stood as the Labour candidate for St Helens South and David Cameron retook Witney for the Conservatives. He became Prime Minister in coalition with the Liberal Democrats in May 2010 and continued after the 2015 elections in which his Conservative Party gained an absolute majority, but retired to the back benches after the referendum which rejected his government's recommendation to remain in the European Union. The Witney by-election, 2016 is to be held on 20 October 2016.
Witney is twinned with:
In July 2007 Witney saw its worst flooding in more than 50 years. Homes and businesses were evacuated and Bridge Street, a major road into the town and the only road across the Windrush, was closed. About 200 properties in central Witney were flooded, with areas around Bridge Street, Mill Street and West End the worst affected. The new and incomplete housing development Aquarius also suffered substantial flooding.
In 2008 further flooding contributed to the death of a 17-year-old boy who drowned in a culvert.
Witney has a maritime climate type typical to the British Isles, with evenly spread rainfall, a narrow temperature range, and comparatively low sunshine totals. The nearest official weather station is Brize Norton, just under 4 miles to the South West.
The absolute maximum recorded was 35.4c(95.7f) during August 1990, although in a typical year the warmest day should only reach 29.5c(85.1f) with an average of 14.6 days reporting a maximum temperature of 25.1c(77.2f) or above.
The absolute minimum is −20.7c(−5.3f), recorded in January 1982. In a more typical year the annual minimum temperature should be −8.1c(17.4f), although a total of 47.1 nights should report an air frost.
|Climate data for Brize Norton, elevation 88m, 1971–2000, extremes 1901–|
|Record high °C (°F)||14.7
|Average high °C (°F)||6.9
|Average low °C (°F)||1.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−20.7
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||59.84
In May 2010, WitneyTV was launched as a non-profit online broadcaster with a weekly show that features local news and upcoming events within West Oxfordshire for the benefit of the community. An archive of videos featuring local attractions, clubs, organisations and previous shows is also available.
On 30 November 2012 WitneyRadio was launched. Providing hyper-local news, music and current affairs to the people of Witney and West Oxfordshire.
A view of Witney station.
Famous people associated with Witney include:
- David Cameron, former MP for Witney in Parliament, and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Conservative Leader.
- Patrick Steptoe, pioneer of fertility treatment and attended Henry Box School.
- Alan Dapre, children's TV show writer
- Darrell Griffin, England international rugby league player
- Douglas Hurd, former Conservative MP for Witney
- Martin Jones, concert pianist
- Simon King, Gillingham footballer, born in Witney and attended Henry Box School.
- Graham Leonard, 130th Bishop of London, subsequently Prelate of Honour
- Robert Llewellyn, Red Dwarf actor, author, attended Henry Box School and was expelled
- Andrew Logan, artist, born in Witney
- Gugu Mbatha-Raw, TV and film actress, grew up in the town and attended Henry Box School
- David Moss, footballer, Luton Town FC, previously Swindon Town FC and Witney Town FC
- Miss Read (Dora Saint), author, lived in Witney. The town was the inspiration for the fictional "Lulling" of the Thrush Green novels.
- Shaun Woodward MP, Conservative and then Labour MP for Witney, now Labour MP for St Helens South
- Robbie Mustoe, footballer, Middlesbrough F.C.
- Lawson D'Ath, footballer, Northampton Town F.C. lived in Witney and attended Henry Box School.
- Jorge Grant, footballer, Nottingham Forest F.C., attended Wood Green School.
- Paul Salter, heir to Salters Bros, Attended Springfield school
- Larry Sanders, Green party councillor and brother of US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
- Jamie Cook (footballer)
- "Census 2011 overview for West Oxfordshire" (PDF). District Data Analysis Service. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
- Eilert Ekwall, Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p. 528.
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, pages 843–845
- Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell ringers, Witney & Woodstock Branch
- "Church of England Parish of Witney". Witneyteamparish.org.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 846
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, p. 847
- Burford Quakers Archived 7 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "High Street Methodist Church". Witneymeth.org.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Oxfordshire Churches: Witney". Oxfordshirechurches.info. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- 1&1 Website Builder. "The Parish of Our Lady & St. Hugh Catholic Church". Ourladyandsthugh.org.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Oxfordshire Churches: Witney RC". Oxfordshirechurches.info. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Find a Church". Find a Church. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 851
- The Workhouse: Witney Archived 21 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Crawford Collets". Crawford Collets. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Witney Workhouse chapel". Oxfordshirechurches.info. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Clare Sumner. "history Witney Blanket Story – A brief history of the wool trade in the Witney area". Witneyblanketstory.org.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Elvery, Martin (2015-02-05). "Campaigners want new railway station at Yarnton to ease A40 congestion in West Oxfordshire". Witney Gazette. Retrieved 2015-02-12.
- Henry Box School Archived 12 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Wood Green School". Woodgreen.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Springfield School". Springfield.oxon.sch.uk. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Oxfordshire Community Churches". Occ.org.uk. 25 September 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Education | Oxfordshire Community Churches". Occ.org.uk. 12 December 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "St. Mary's Infant School". St-marys-witney.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "The Batt C of E Primary School". Thebattschool.org.uk. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- The Blake School Archived 28 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic Primary School". Our-lady-of-lourdes.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Madley Park Community Primary School". Madleybrook.org. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Queen's Dyke Primary School Archived 27 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Tower Hill Community Primary School". Tower-hill.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- West Witney Primary School Archived 1 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Witney Community Primary School". Witney.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Abingdon & Witney College". Abingdon-witney.ac.uk. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Witney United FC". Witneyunited.co.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Hellenic League Premier Division Archived 15 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Witney and District Football". Witneyfootball.com. 29 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Witney Rugby Football Club". Witneyrfc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- RFU Southern Counties North division
- "Witney Hockey Club". Witneyhockey.org.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "England Hockey League Men's Conference East Division". Englandhockey.co.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- South Clubs' Women's Hockey League Archived 21 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Witney Swifts Cricket Club". Witneyswifts.co.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Oxfordshire Cricket Association". Oxfordshire Cricket Association. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Witney Houstons Basketball
- "''Oxford Mail'', 4 June 2008". Oxfordmail.co.uk. 4 June 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "August 1990 Maximum". Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- "Annual average maximum". Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- ">25c Max Days". Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- "January 1982 Minimum". Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- "Annual average minimum". Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- "1971-00 Frost average". Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- "Annual average rainfall". Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- "Annual average raindays". Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- "Climate Normals 1971–2000". KNMI. Retrieved 28 Feb 2011.
Sources and further reading
- Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). Oxfordshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 843–851. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
- Baggs, A.P.; Chance, Eleanor; Colvin, Christina; Cooper, Janet; Day, Christopher; Selwyn, Nesta; Williamson, Elizabeth; Yates, Margaret (2004). Townley, Simon C., ed. A History of the County of Oxford, Volume 14: Bampton Hundred (Part Two). Victoria County History. pp. 1–170.
- Jenkins, Stanley (2013). The Witney & Fairford Branch Through Time. Amberley Publishing. ISBN 1445616491
- Jenkins, Stanley (2010). Witney: A History. Phillimore & Co. ISBN 1860776205
- Monk, William J. (1894). History of Witney. Witney Gazette.
- Witney website – Witney website
- Witney – 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
- Witney Blanket Story
- Witney TV
- Witney Radio
- Witney & District Football
- Witney United Football Club
- Witney Rugby Football Club
- The Book Of Witney - by Charles and Joan Gott
- Witney & District Historical and Archaeological Society - Talks, articles and photo galleries relating to Witney and local area.
- Archival material relating to Witney listed at the UK National Archives