The town of Wantage in Oxfordshire has a long and rich history, reaching back to the 1300s. In 1347, it was granted its first charter from King Edward III, giving it a range of rights and privileges such as the ability to hold markets and fairs. This further encouraged its development as a trading centre.
The prosperity of Wantage during this period was largely due to its access to nearby rivers, which allowed for easy transportation of goods across the country and beyond. The town also had an important role in supplying food and drink to other parts of England; it was known for its alehouses, which sold locally brewed beer – something that was popular throughout Britain at this time.
As well as being commercially successful, Wantage also had a thriving cultural life in the 1300s. It became home to two great monasteries – Abbey Church of St Mary and Vale Royal Abbey – which were both established by local noblemen and played an important part in local life. The abbey church produced some impressive works of art during this period too, including manuscripts, tapestries and paintings.
Wantage’s importance did not end with the 1300s however; it continued to be an important commercial hub up until the 19th century when the railway arrived and changed things drastically. Until then, it had remained relatively untouched by modern developments; retaining much of its medieval architecture. Today it is still possible to walk through Wantage’s streets and get a sense of what life would have been like many centuries ago!