WOODSTOCK, a {chapelry~parish~}, market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, locally in Wootton hundred, but comprised within the liberty of Oxford, county Oxford, 8 miles N.W. of Oxford, and 62 N.W. of London, or 71 by the Great Western railway, which had a station at Woodstock Road, which is about 2 miles from the town. It was here that Alfred the Great translated Boathius into Saxon, and here Henry I. formed the first deer park in England by enclosing a portion of the woods with a stone wall. The palace, which had been rebuilt by Henry I., became a favourite residence of Henry II., who here formed the Bower, a white castle, remains of which were visible in 1622, for his mistress, Fair Rosamond, the daughter of Lord Clifford, of Clifford Castle, in Herefordshire. The approach to the Bower was concealed by means of a labyrinth, the site of which is said to be indicated by a fountain or well. The palace was enlarged by Henry VIII., who built the gatehouse in which the Princess Elizabeth was confined by her sister, Queen Mary, in 1554, and which was taken down in 1700. In the civil war of Charles I., the palace was defended by Captain Fawcet, who finally dismantled it, and no traces of it are now left; but at Old Woodstock, a place a little without the limits of the municipal borough, are several old houses, in one of which Chaucer is said to have resided whilst composing some of his poems. At the Restoration, the honour and manor of Woodstock reverted to Charles II., and continued in the possession of the crown till presented by Queen Anne to the Duke of Marlborough, as a reward for his triumph at Blenheim over the French and Bavarians, in 1704. The parliament confirmed the grant, and voted half a million sterling for the erection of Blenheim Palace, 1715. The extreme length of the building, which was erected after designs by Sir John Vanbrugh, is 850 feet, enclosing three sides of a court, and covering seven acres of ground. The town of Woodstock, more correctly called New Woodstock, is situated on the river Glyme, which runs into the Evenlode, a branch of the Isis. The townhall was erected about 1766, at the expense of the Duke of Marlborough, after a design by Sir William Chambers. There are also a bank, savings-bank, and union workhouse, erected at an expense of £4,800, and situated in the parish of Hensington. Woodstock was once famous for the manufacture of steel ornaments, but this trade has totally disappeared. The manufacture also of doeskin gloves was introduced at an early period, and although now declined, still gives considerable employment. The population in 1851 of the parliamentary borough was 7,983, and in 1861, 7,827, inhabiting 1,663 houses. Previously to the passing of the Reform Act of 1832, it returned two members to Parliament from the reign of Elizabeth, but now only one. It is a borough by prescription, having been incorporated by Henry VI., and confirmed by Charles II. The corporation consists of a high steward, a mayor, who is also returning officer, a recorder, and 4 aldermen, who act as magistrates within the borough, besides a town clerk and 16 common councilmen. Woodstock is the head of a Poor-law Union, new county court, and superintendent and registry districts, comprising 31 parishes; it also gives name to a deanery in the archdeaconry and diocese of Oxford, and gives title of viscount to the Duke of Portland. St. Martin's, Bladon, is the mother church, to which Woodstock is a chapelry, joint value £500. Woodstock chapel, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, was rebuilt in 1785, on the site of a chantry founded by King John, of which a doorway has been preserved in the S. wall. In the interior are columns, with grotesque heads on the capitals, supporting pointed arches, and a brass of R. Baily, bearing date 1441. The Wesleyans and Baptists have chapels. There are almshouses for six widows, built in 1793, at the expense of the Duchess of Marlborough. The charities produce about 1150 per annum. There is a grammar school, founded and endowed in 1585, by Richard Cornwall, a native of the town; it possesses an income from endowment of about £70 a year, with a residence, and since 1850 has been reopened to the sons of inhabitants of the town. There are, besides, two endowed free schools, one of which, under the benefaction of the Rev. Sir R. Cocks, clothes and educates 12 boys and 12 girls. Roman coins were discovered here in 1700, on the pulling down of the palace-gate house, and also in 1755, on the site of King John's cottages. Tuesday is market day. Fairs are held on the first Tuesdays in February, April, August, October, November, a rid December, the four first being principally for cheese and cattle; also a pleasure fair on Whit Tuesday.

The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003

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places/woodstock/start.txt · Last modified: 2011/07/28 15:28 (external edit)