Oxfordshire coat of arms.jpg
Coat of arms of Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire flag.gif
Flag of Oxfordshire
Motto of County Council: Sapere Aude ('Dare to be Wise')[1]
Oxfordshire UK locator map 2010.svg
Status Ceremonial & Non-metropolitan county
Region South East England
- Total
- Admin. council
Ranked 22nd
2,605 km2 (1,006 sq mi)
Ranked 19th
Admin HQ Oxford
ISO 3166-2 GB-OXF
ONS code 38
- Total ()
- Density
- Admin. council
Ranked 35th
249 /km2 (640 /sq mi)
Ranked 17th
Ethnicity 95.1% White
1.7% S. Asian

Oxfordshire County Council
Executive Conservative
Members of Parliament
  1. Oxford
  2. Cherwell
  3. South Oxfordshire
  4. Vale of White Horse
  5. West Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire (play /ˈɒksfərdʃər/ or /ˈɒksfərdʃɪər/; archaically the County of Oxford; abbreviated Oxon from the Latinised form of "Oxford", Oxonia) is a county in the South East region of England, bordering on Warwickshire and Northamptonshire (to the north/northeast), Buckinghamshire (to the east), Berkshire (to the south), Wiltshire (to the southwest) and Gloucestershire (to the west).

It is divided into five local government districts: Oxford, Cherwell, Vale of White Horse (after the Uffington White Horse), West Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire.

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

The main centre of population is the city of Oxford. Other significant settlements are Banbury, Bicester, Kidlington, and Chipping Norton to the north of Oxford; Witney to the west; Thame and Chinnor to the east; and Abingdon, Wantage, Didcot, Wallingford and Henley-on-Thames to the south. Future population growth in the county is hoped[clarification needed] to be concentrated around Oxford, Banbury, Bicester, Didcot and Witney, near the South Midlands growth area.

The highest point of the administrative county is White Horse Hill, in the Vale of White Horse, reaching 261 metres (856 ft).[2] The highest point in the historic county is near Portobello Farm in the Chiltern Hills at 255 metres.

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




Oxfordshire was formed as a county 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, since it contains valuable agricultural land in the centre of the county. 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 Oxford was founded in 1096, though its collegiate structure did not develop until later on. The university in the county town of Oxford (whose name came from Anglo-Saxon Oxenaford = "ford for oxen") grew in importance during the Middle Ages and early modern period. The area was part of the Cotswolds 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 Bampton, Banbury, Binfield, Bloxham, Bullingdon, Chadlington, Dorchester, Ewelme, Langtree, Lewknor, Pyrton, 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, Cowley.

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 Caversham area of Reading was historically part of Oxfordshire as was the parish of Stokenchurch, now administratively in 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[3] Agriculture[4] Industry[5] Services[6]
1995 7,607 120 2,084 5,404
2000 10,594 80 2,661 7,853
2003 12,942 93 2,665 10,184


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 Oxford and also Oxford Brookes University, both located in Oxford. Oxfordshire also has Wroxton College, located in Banbury, which is affiliated with Fairleigh Dickinson University of New Jersey.


The "dreaming spires" of the buildings of the University of Oxford play a large contribution in Oxford being the sixth most visited city in the United Kingdom for international visitors[7]. Notable University buildings include the Sheldonian Theatre, built 1664–1668 to the design of Sir Christopher Wren, and the Radcliffe Camera, built 1737–1749 to the design of James Gibbs.

Blenheim Palace close to Woodstock was built by the great architect John Vanbrugh for John Churchill, 1st 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 by the public, Sir Winston Churchill was born in 1874.

Chastleton House, 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 Park, another country mansion, has belonged to the recusant Stonor family for centuries.

Mapledurham House is an Elizabethan stately home in the far south-east of the county, close to Reading.

Settlements in Oxfordshire

Settlements by population

Rank Town Population Year Definition Notes
1 Oxford 134,248 2001 Oxford non-metropolitan district 155,000 Oxford urban area (Oxford district and Seacourt, Botley and Kidlington).
2 Banbury 41,802 2001 Civil parish
3 Abingdon 30,626 2001 Civil parish
4 Bicester 28,672 2001 Civil parish
5 Witney 22,765 2001 Civil parish
6 Didcot 22,762 2001 Civil parish 200 dwellings in the southeast of the town lie in neighbouring East Hagbourne parish.
7 Kidlington 13,719 2001 Civil parish Does not include Gosford.
8 Carterton 11,805 2001 Civil parish
9 Thame 11,072 2001 Civil parish Includes hamlet of Moreton
10 Henley on Thames 10,646 2001 Civil parish
11 Wantage 9767 2001 Civil parish The northern and western fringes of Wantage, lie across the border in Grove and East Challow respectively.
12 Grove 7845 2001 Civil parish Includes the northern fringes of Wantage.
13 Wallingford 6496 2001 Civil parish
14 Faringdon 6187 2001 Great Faringdon civil parish
15 Chipping Norton 5972 2001 Civil parish
16 Eynsham 4665 2001 Civil parish
17 Benson 4464 2001 Civil parish
18 Wheatley 3905 2001 Civil parish
19 Kennington 3881 2001 Civil parish
20 Sonning Common 3778 2001 Civil parish

Places of interest

See also


  1. ^ "Camelot International, Britain's heritage and history". http://www.camelotintl.com/heritage/counties/england/oxfordshire.html. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  2. ^ http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/portal/pls/portallive/docs/1/587934.PDF%7C
  3. ^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  4. ^ includes hunting and forestry
  5. ^ includes energy and construction
  6. ^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  7. ^ http://www.oxford.gov.uk/PageRender/decC/Economic_statistics_occw.htm Oxford City Council – Economic statistics
  8. ^ Abingdon County Hall Museum website

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 51°45′N 1°17′W / 51.75°N 1.28°W / 51.75; -1.28

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