Woodstock: Overview

Page 325

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.

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WOODSTOCK lies 8 miles (12 km.) north-west of Oxford on the river Glyme close to the east side of Blenheim Park. (fn. 1) The borough and market town, called formally New Woodstock until the 19th century, was founded in the 12th century in Bladon parish and remained ecclesiastically dependent on Bladon thereafter. Woodstock was a borough until 1974 when, as a successor parish, it retained town status and the privilege of appointing a mayor and other officers. (fn. 2) The name Woodstock (place in the woods) (fn. 3) may have applied first to a royal hunting lodge established on the edge of Wychwood forest in the Anglo-Saxon period. The site, on the north bank of the Glyme opposite Blenheim Palace, was occupied until the early 18th century by a royal residence, called the king's houses or Woodstock Manor. (fn. 4) By the 12th century it was surrounded by a great park, Woodstock Park, renamed Blenheim when granted by the Crown in 1705 to John Churchill, duke of Marlborough. The history of the park, an extraparochial place later Blenheim parish, is treated separately below. Before the creation of the borough the name Woodstock also applied to a small hamlet outside the park on the north bank of the Glyme; the hamlet, later Old Woodstock, lay in Wootton parish but, as an adjunct to the borough into which it was absorbed in 1886, its history is also treated separately below.


  • 1. Principal maps used for this article were O.S. Maps 1/2,500, Oxon. XXVI. 8 (1876 and later edns.); ibid. 1/25,000, SP 41/51 (1982 edn.); O.S. Plan, 1/2,500, SP 4416-4516 (1974 edn.); Blenheim Mun., map of 1719 in wooden chest; ibid. E/P/58: survey of 1863 and associated map; O.R.O., D.V. VIII/275; X/23: survey and map c. 1910.
  • 2. Boro. Mun., council mins. 1974-5
  • 3. P.N. Oxon. (E.P.N.S.), ii. 292-3.
  • 4. Below, Blenheim, King's Hos.