Anyone enjoying a leisurely break at a hotel in Oxford and surrounding area should be sure to set some time aside to explore some of the smaller towns which surround the city which are steeped in hundreds of years of history and culture, particularly from the Civil War era when King Charles the First, being barred from London, used the city as his capital and home. Some of the most interesting towns lie to the south of Oxford and are situated on the banks of the River Thames, Wallingford being a prime example.
From Alfred the Great…
Wallingford dates back to King Alfred the Great who built the town in the 9th Century primarily to use as a defensive position against marauding Viking raiders. Some of the original Saxon ramparts have survived to this day which makes it a fascinating place to visit during your stay. The next visitor of note was William the Conqueror who famously crossed the river where the town’s 300 metre long bridge now stands.
…To King Charles
When the Civil War in England began back in the 1600’s, Wallingford became a stronghold of King Charles. It was actually the last garrison to fall, in 1646. Six years later, in 1652, Oliver Cromwell’s men demolished Wallingford Castle and used stone and timber remains to help build a section of Windsor Castle.
And the infamous Dick Turpin
In the 18th Century, one of the town’s most frequent visitors was England’s most notorious highwaymen, Dick Turpin who particularly favoured the George hostelry since he could sleep in a first floor room with his trusty steed, Black Bess, tethered in the courtyard below. If the law of the land got too close, Turpin would escape through the window and make his getaway – just like in the movies! The George and its convenient courtyard still exist to this day and are a very popular place with the holidaymakers who are keen to enjoy this famous part of English history.
Did you know?
Visitors can find out some interesting facts about the town’s history at Wallingford Museum. For instance, the mace used in the House of Commons is a copy of Wallingford’s which is still a key part of the town’s mayor-making ceremony. There is evidence of the early government mint that existed in the town.
Wallingford is also the burial place of local resident Judge William Blackstone, author of Commentaries on the Laws of England. This was used by the founding fathers of the United States of America when drawing up that country’s constitution.
If the town centre at Wallingford looks vaguely familiar to first time visitors, the explanation probably is that they will have seen it several times in episodes of the hit TV series, Midsomer Murders, as it doubles up as Causton, the fictional town whose police station houses Inspector Barnaby’s office.