The town of Wantage in the 1100s was a bustling and vibrant community. Located in Oxfordshire, it was one of the most important towns of its time; a centre of trade for local people and travelers alike.
The town had been founded by Alfred the Great, who built a fort on top of the hill where Wantage now sits. By 1086, it had grown to become a large market town with many traders coming from London and other parts of England. During this time, Wantage was known as ‘Venta Belgarum’ – Latin for ‘Market of Belgians’. This suggests that there were traders from Belgium selling their wares in the town.
At this time, Wantage was also an important religious centre, home to various monasteries and churches – such as St Peter’s Church which dates back to 1110. The Benedictine Abbey was also founded around this time, becoming an important part of life in Wantage during the Middle Ages. It became so influential that King Henry I made it part of his royal manor and gave it financial aid every year.
Wantage continued to be an important centre throughout the medieval period and beyond, becoming increasingly prosperous over the centuries. In 1645 it even hosted Charles I after his defeat at Battle Of Naseby – marking an important moment in British history!
Today, Wantage is still a thriving market town – although its spiritual significance has diminished somewhat with time – but its rich history remains evident around every corner, providing visitors with an insight into life long ago.