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Status Ceremonial & Non-metropolitan county
Region: South East England

- Total

- Admin. council
Ranked 22nd

2,605 km²

Ranked 19th
Admin HQ: Oxfordmarker
ISO 3166-2: GB-OXF
ONS code: 38

- Total ( )

- Density

- Admin. Council

/ km²

Ethnicity: 95.1% White

1.7% S. Asian

Oxfordshire County Council
Members of Parliament
  1. Oxfordmarker
  2. Cherwellmarker
  3. South Oxfordshiremarker
  4. Vale of White Horsemarker
  5. West Oxfordshiremarker

The parties ruling the district councils by 2005.

Oxfordshire ( or ; abbreviated Oxon, from the Latinised form Oxonia) is a county in the South East England region, bordering on Northamptonshiremarker, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshiremarker, Gloucestershiremarker, and Warwickshiremarker.

It is divided into five local government districts: Oxfordmarker, Cherwellmarker, Vale of White Horsemarker (after the Uffington White Horsemarker), West Oxfordshiremarker and South Oxfordshiremarker.

The county has a major tourism industry. The area is noted for the concentration of performance motorsport companies and facilities. Oxford University Press has headed a concentration of print and publishing firms; the university is also linked to the concentration of local biotechnology companies.

The main centre of population is the city of Oxfordmarker. Other significant settlements are Banburymarker, Bicestermarker, Kidlingtonmarker, and Chipping Nortonmarker to the north of Oxford; Witneymarker to the west; Thamemarker and Chinnormarker to the east; and Abingdonmarker, Wantagemarker, Didcotmarker, Wallingfordmarker and Henley-on-Thamesmarker to the south. Future population growth in the county is hoped to be concentrated around Oxford, Banbury, Bicester, Didcot and Witney, near the South Midlandsmarker growth area.

The highest point of the county is White Horse Hill, in the Vale of White Horse, reaching 261 metres (856 ft) .

Oxfordshire's county flower is the Snake's-head Fritillary.


The county of Oxfordshire was formed in the early years of the 10th century and is broadly situated in the land between the River Thames to the south, the Cotswolds to the west, the Chilterns to the east and the Midlands to the north, with spurs running south to Henley-on-Thames and north to Banbury.

Historically the area has always had some importance, containing valuable agricultural land in the centre of the country and the prestigious university in the county town of Oxfordmarker (whose name came from Anglo-Saxon Oxenaford = "ford for oxen"). Ignored by the Romans, it was not until the formation of a settlement at Oxford in the eighth century that the area grew in importance. Alfred the Great was born across the Thames in Wantage in Berkshire. The University of Oxfordmarker was founded in 1096, though its collegiate structure did not develop until later on. The area was part of the Cotswoldsmarker wool trade from the 13th century, generating much wealth, particularly in the western portions of the county in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. Morris Motors was founded in Oxford in 1912, bringing heavy industry to an otherwise agricultural county. The importance of agriculture as an employer has declined rapidly in the 20th century though; currently under one percent of the county's population are involved due to high mechanisation.

Throughout most of its history the county was divided into fourteen hundreds, namely Bamptonmarker, Banbury, Binfieldmarker, Bloxhammarker, Bullingdonmarker, Chadlington, Dorchestermarker, Ewelmemarker, Langtree, Lewknormarker, Pyrtonmarker, Ploughley, Thame and Wootton.

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the main army unit in the area, was based at the Barracks on Bullingdon Green, Cowleymarker.

The Vale of the White Horse district and parts of the South Oxfordshire administrative district south of the River Thames were historically part of Berkshire, but were added to the administrative county of Oxfordshire in 1974. Conversely, the Cavershammarker area of Readingmarker was historically part of Oxfordshire as was the parish of Stokenchurchmarker, now in administrative Buckinghamshire.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Oxfordshire at current basic prices published (pp. 240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 7,607 120 2,084 5,404
2000 10,594 80 2,661 7,853
2003 12,942 93 2,665 10,184

  2. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  3. includes hunting and forestry
  4. includes energy and construction
  5. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  6. Abingdon County Hall Museum Home page


Oxfordshire has a completely comprehensive education system with 23 independent schools and 35 state schools. The state schools are from the ages of 11 to either 16 or 18. Only eight schools do not have a sixth form; these are mostly in South Oxfordshire and Cherwell districts.

The county has two universities, significantly the University of Oxfordmarker and also Oxford Brookes Universitymarker, both located in Oxford. Oxfordshire also has Wroxton College, which has an affiliation with Fairleigh Dickinson Universitymarker in the United States of America, and whose campus is located in Banbury.


Arguably the most famous building in Oxfordshire is Blenheim Palacemarker at Woodstockmarker. It was built by the great architect John Vanbrugh for John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, after he had won the battle of Blenheim. The gardens, which can be visited, were designed by the landscape gardener "Capability Brown", who planted the trees in the battle formation of the victorious troops. In the palace, which can also be visited, Sir Winston Churchill was born.

Chastleton Housemarker, on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire borders, is a great country mansion that was built on property bought from Robert Catesby, who was one of the men involved in the Gunpowder Plot with Guy Fawkes. Stonor Parkmarker, another country mansion, has belonged to the recusant Stonor family for centuries.

Settlements in Oxfordshire

Settlements by population

Rank Town Population Year
1 Oxfordmarker 155,000
2 Banburymarker 52,000
3 Abingdonmarker 36,000
4 Bicestermarker 28,672
5 Witneymarker 23,765 2001
6 Didcotmarker 22,700
7 Kidlingtonmarker 17,000
8 Cartertonmarker 14,000
9 Thamemarker 12,000
10 Henley on Thamesmarker 10,513
11 Wantagemarker 9,767
12 Wallingfordmarker 7,000
13 Chipping Nortonmarker 5,972
14 Faringdonmarker 5,600
15 Watlingtonmarker 3,000

Places of interest

See also


Further reading

  • Philip Powell - The Geology of Oxfordshire (Dovecote Press, 2005) ISBN 1-904349-19-6

External links

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