Wantage is a historic market town and civil parish situated in the county of Oxfordshire. Located on the eastern side of the Vale of White Horse, Wantage offers a good selection of shops, services and amenities.
Historically part of Berkshire, Wantage is on Letcombe Brook and sits eight miles south-west of Abingdon, 24 miles north-west of Reading, 15 miles south-west of Oxford and 14 miles north-west of Newbury.
Wantage is the birthplace of King Alfred the Great and is an area with strong links to England’s past.
History of Wantage
Wantage was originally a small Roman settlement. The name is thought to have originated from an Old English phrase meaning “decreasing river”.
Its most famous son is undoubtedly King Alfred, who was born at the royal palace in Wantage in the 9th century. A certain Winston Churchill once replied to being told he was the greatest Englishman that ever lived with – “No! The greatest Englishman that ever lived was King Alfred”.
Wantage appears in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, at a value of £61. It also has links to Richard I, who passed it on to the Earl of Albemarle in 1190.
Interestingly in the 18th century, Wantage built quite a reputation as a home for unscrupulous layabouts and criminals and became known as ‘Black Wantage’.
The town was cleaned up through the efforts of Reverend William John Butler from the mid-19th century. The Agricultural Revolution also brought prosperity to the town as it became an important spot for the manufacturing of agricultural tools.
In the 19th century, Lord Wantage became a notable local and national benefactor. Lord Wantage was heavily involved in founding the British Red Cross Society. In 1877, he paid for a marble statue of King Alfred to be erected by Count Gleichen in Wantage market place, where it stands to this day.
Wantage has been the site of a church since at least the 10th century. The present-day Church of Saints Peter and Paul dates back to the 13th century.
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Transport Links in Wantage
Wantage has good transport links and services, both in the town itself and nearby. Bus services link Wantage with Oxford and other nearby towns including Abingdon, Didcot, Grove and Faringdon. Stagecoach West provides the main services between Wantage and Oxford with up to three buses per hour Monday to Saturday and up to two buses per hour on a Sunday.
Wantage is conveniently located for easy road access to the likes of Hungerford, Oxford, Reading and Cirencester. A car journey from Wantage to Oxford takes just 30 minutes, and you can reach Reading in around 45 minutes.
Wantage is not served by a railway station. However, Didcot railway station is just 8 miles to the east where regular services to Bristol, Reading, Cardiff, London and Oxford run.
The nearest airport to Wantage is Heathrow, which is approximately 42 miles east from the town.
What is it Like to Live in Wantage?
Wantage is a busy market town with around 12,000 residents. The town is characterised by narrow cobbled streets and passages and 17th and 18th century buildings.
Wantage is an ideal choice for those who are looking to live in a historic town in the heart of Oxfordshire. Wantage offers a good standard of living, with all the essential amenities and a number of annual festivals.
Wantage can be a good place to settle for retirees, but there is also appeal for young families and professionals too.
In recent years, the town has seen significant development and rejuvenation, with affordable housing and employment being a focal point for council redevelopment plans.
The town’s Chamber of Commerce is very active and has managed to bring a significant increase in business and trade into the area. In fact, Wantage was voted Britain’s Best Town Centre in 2014.
Wantage Market Place, Eateries and Shopping
Market Place exemplifies Wantage’s market town status and is effectively the heart of Wantage. In and around Market Place you will find a sizeable selection of places to eat and drink including Wildwood, a bright and airy restaurant serving up delicious food, the highly regarded Yummy Thai, and Masooms, a restaurant which knows a thing or two about Indian food.
The Market Place holds popular markets on a Saturday and Wednesday, where you can find local and delicious produce.
The King Alfred’s Head is a warm and vibrant local pub situated right in the heart of Wantage. You can enjoy a traditional pub setting here with local ales, a good selection of wine and food and open fires. There is also a large beer garden with a barbecue and live music stage.
Wantage is also home to a number of quirky, independent shops, with the main concentration of them located around Market Place. Unique jewellery, rare books and original artwork are just some of the items the curious shopper will enjoy.
The Kings Park shopping centre is a where you will find some of the familiar retail names and a number of bargain stores.
Wantage Festivals and Attractions
The Wantage Dickensian Evening is held every December around the Market Square too. This Christmas festival is a free social community event for all the family. Shops open late and the Town Mayor and Town Crier lead the townspeople and visitors through the town.The programme of events includes a range of commercial stalls, local artists and performers, community groups showcasing their work and a host of Christmas activities for children.
The Arts Festival is held during the summer in Wantage, where music and dance groups of many-a-variety perform including step-clog dancers and a 17th century dance group.
The Vale and Download Museum is nationally acclaimed as an outstanding example of community partnership. There are a broad range of services hosted in the museum including galleries interpreting the cultural heritage of the Vale of White Horse region, and a lovely terrace and garden to enjoy. The museum also serves as a springboard for those looking to explore some of the countryside around Wantage.
Schools in Wantage
The most highly regarded school in the area is King Alfred’s Grammar, which is rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted.
Wallingford School and St Birinus School, located in nearby Wallingford and Didcot respectively, also hold a good standard of education.
Fitzwaryn School, located in Wantage, caters for pupils aged 3-19 with special needs. It was rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted in 2014.
UTC Oxfordshire is a university technical college in Harwell with an exceptional reputation. It caters for students aged 14-19 and specialises in science and engineering. It is backed by leading companies in these industries.
Can You Help Me Find Property in Wantage?
The average property price in Wantage currently stands at £348,238. The majority of sales in the previous year were semi-detached properties, which sold for an average of £333,723.
Wantage has a range of properties available including shared ownership properties, modern duplex apartments, semi-detached family houses and large detached houses.
If you are looking at buying or renting in Wantage, Chancellors estate agents can help. We have been operating in the Wantage and wider Oxfordshire area for decades and we understand the intricacies of the housing market in these parts.
Our estate agents in Didcot would be delighted to take your enquiry. We have a number of fabulous properties available in Wantage and the surrounding towns and areas, including Hungerford, Oxford, and Wallingford.
We pride ourselves on delivering a personal service to our clients. We will take the time to understand your needs and requirements, before drawing up a list of suitable properties for your consideration. Our experienced estate agents will support you through every step of the buying process.