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Wallingford is a small market town and civil parish in the upper Thames Valleymarker in Englandmarker. It was transferred from Berkshire to Oxfordshire in 1974.

Geography

Wallingford is on the western side of the River Thames. Across the river is the village of Crowmarsh Giffordmarker. The two are linked by Wallingford Bridgemarker, a 900 ft long mediaeval stone bridge across the river and the adjacent flood plain. The southern end of the town adjoins Winterbrookmarker, in the parish of Cholseymarker.

Character and local government

The centre of Wallingford has the feel of a typical old market town, with a large open town square around the war memorial, the 17th century arcaded town hall and the church of St Mary-le-More, and flanked by numerous shops. There are some alleyways and a number of historic inns . Although only a small town, Wallingford has three ancient churches and a modern Roman Catholic church. It once had 14 churches. Amenities include the Wallingford Museummarker, the Corn Exchange theatre, the Cholsey and Wallingford steam railwaymarker, public parks (one with a castle ruin), a blues festival, and the annual BunkFestmarker folk festival. In recent years, the town has been used as a location for filming, including Midsomer Murders. Wallingford is run by a town council consisting of 16 councillors. It is part of the South Oxfordshiremarker district and Oxfordshire County, having formerly been represented by the Municipal Borough of Wallingford. The current mayor is Dee Cripps.

History

Wallingford grew up around an important crossing point of the River Thames. The place has been fortified since at least Saxon times, when it was an important fortified borough of Wessexmarker with the right to mint Royal coinage. It was enclosed with substantial earthworks by King Alfred the Great in the 9th century as part of a network of fortified towns known as burhs to protect Wessexmarker against the Vikings. These can still be seen around the centre of the town and are probably the best preserved such fortifications in England. Wallingford became the chief town of Berkshire and the seat of the county's Ealdorman. During the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the Saxon lord Wigod allowed William the Conqueror's invading armies to cross the Thames unopposed from west to east in order that his army might march on Berkhamstedmarker, where he received the English surrender before marching on Londonmarker. At that time, the river at Wallingford was the lowest point at which the river could be forded. The town subsequently stood in high favour with the Normans. The Domesday Book of 1085 lists Wallingford as one of only 18 towns in the kingdom with a population of over 2,000 people.

See main article: Wallingford Castlemarker.
Wallingford Bridge and St Peter's Church
Wallingford Castlemarker was built soon afterwards and became a key strategic centre for the Empress Matilda's party during the civil war that began after her father Henry I's death. The place was besieged a number of times and the Treaty of Wallingford ending the conflict was concluded there in November 1153. The town was granted a Royal Charter in 1155 by the new king, Henry II, being the second town in England to receive one. The castle was a regular royal residence until the Black Death hit the town badly in 1349. The castle declined subsequently, much stone being removed to renovate Windsor Castlemarker, but it became a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War. It was the last holdout of the Royalists in Berkshire, and the castle withstood a 65-day siege. Oliver Cromwell subsequently ordered the destruction of what was left of the castle and little now remains. Some of the castle rubble was used to construct a tower for the church of St Mary-le-More.

Wallingford flourished as a trading centre throughout most of the Middle Ages, and Wallingford Priorymarker produced two of the greatest minds of the age, the mathematician Richard of Wallingford and the chronicler John of Wallingford. After the opening of Abingdon Bridgemarker in 1416 the town went into economic decline. This was only revived in the 18th century when the legal writer and Wallingford resident, William Blackstone, established two turnpike roads through the town. The brewing industry was important with two breweries and 17 maltings in the town. This link was ended with the demolition of Paul's Malt in 2001.

Transport

River

The River Thames has been a transport route for centuries and Wallingford's growth as a town relied partly on it. Coal was supplied from North East England by coaster to London and then by barge upriver to Wallingford. This supply could be unreliable in seasons when river currents were too strong or water levels were too low. In 1789 the Oxford Canalmarker reached Oxford from Warwickshiremarker and the Duke's Cut at Wolvercotemarker gave it a connection to the Thames. This allowed coal from the Midlandsmarker to reach Wallingford by a shorter and more reliable route than by sea and river from the northeast. In 1799 the Oxford Canal consolidated its commercial position by buying an eighty year lease on a wharf on the Thames just above Wallingford Bridge. A summer or low-water lock and weir were built at Chalmore, Wallingford in 1838, However, much of the time the fall was only 18 inches, and the lock was open at both ends. It fell into disrepair, and the lock was removed in 1883. The missing lock is the subject of confusion in Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat". A ferry had operated at the site from 1787 to transport horses across the river where the towpath changed banks. As the removal of the lock and weir meant that this was the longest clear stretch of the upper river, it was an ideal site for rowing, and so the Oxford University Boat Club which had long trained here built a boathouse at Chalmore in 2006. In addition to the old Wallingford Bridgemarker, a new bridge was built at Winterbrookmarker in 1993.

Train

In 1866 the Wallingford and Watlington Railway was opened between and Wallingford. Its relative speed and reliability enabled it to take a large share of freight previously carried on the Thames. Insufficient traffic receipts prevented the W&WR from building its planned extension to Watlingtonmarker. The company sold the line to the Great Western Railway in 1872, and it became known as the "Wallingford Bunk". British Railways closed the line to passengers in 1959 and to goods traffic in 1965. However, most of the line has been preserved as the Cholsey and Wallingford Railwaymarker .

Bus

There are frequent buses to Readingmarker and Oxfordmarker by Thames Travel services X39 and X40(which passes through Woodcotemarker. Other local services are provided by Thames Travel and Heyfordian Travel .

Employment

The main employers based in the town are primarily on the Hithercroft Trading Estate (established in the 1970s), and include Rowse Honey, Royal Mail and Fugro.

Sport and leisure

A.F.C.marker Wallingfordmarker is the local Association Football club. Wallingford has also a Rugby Football Club, Hockey Club, Rowing Club, Cricket Club and Tennis Club.

Schools

There are two primary schools: Fir Tree, St John's, and an infant school: St Nicholas's. Wallingford Schoolmarker is the secondary school in the area, to the north of the town, which is the successor to Wallingford Grammar School, founded 1659. The majority of pupils from both Fir Tree and St John's continue to Wallingford School. Wallingford also draws pupils from Crowmarsh, Brightwell, Cholsey and Warborough primary schools.

Town Twinning

Wallingford has formal town twinning links with:

 Luxeuil-les-Bains, Francemarker;
 Bad Wurzachmarker, Germanymarker;


and informal links with:

 Wallingfordmarker, Connecticutmarker, USAmarker;
 Wallingford, Seattle, Washingtonmarker, USAmarker.


In Spring 2009 Wallingford's then Mayor asked the European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), which co-ordinates twinned town schemes in Europe, if it was possible to "de-twin" Wallingford with Luxeuil-les-Bains after what was described as being "fed up with more than a decade of silence". The story attracted media attention, including a mention on the BBC TV's The One Show and quiz show Have I Got News For You. In response to the row, the mayor of the French town asked for Wallingford not to end the relationship, and declared 2009 as "a year for getting back in touch with Wallingford".

Wallingford School students who take part in the German Exchange programmes visit and exchange with the school in Bad Wurzachmarker in Germanymarker - one of Wallingford's twinned towns.

Famous residents and associated persons

For residents, constables and prisoners at the castle, see Wallingford Castlemarker.


In the town: Wallingford used to return two Members of Parliament (cut to one in 1832 and none in 1885), and had some well-known MPs (often not resident) including:
For more details, see Wallingford


References

  1. http://sites.google.com/site/wallingfordhistorygateway/Home/sites/pubs
  2. Compton, 1976, page 52
  3. Compton, 1976, pages 65-66
  4. Thames Travel
  5. Heyfordian
  6. Rowse Honey
  7. Wallingford Rugby Football Club
  8. Wallingford Hockey Club
  9. Wallingford Rowing Club
  10. Wallingford Cricket Club
  11. Portcullis Tennis Club
  12. Wallingford Herald, 25 April 2009, "Twin Pique: Why Wallingford wants to divorce its French twin town"
  13. Wallingford Herald, 30 April 2009, "French town says it wants to renew twinning links with Wallingford"


Bibliography



External links




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