The small town of Wantage in Oxfordshire has deep roots that date back to the 1600s. First mentioned in documents during the late 11th century, the area is believed to have been inhabited since the Roman times.
During the 1600s, Wantage was a bustling market town and an important hub of trade due to its close proximity to London. Boasting a vibrant agricultural industry, it became well known for its cheese production; hence it being nicknamed ‘Cheese Town’ by local residents and traders.
Wantage had another claim to fame during this period: King Alfred the Great (877-899), one of England’s most celebrated and powerful rulers, was born here in 849. The area is still marked by monuments dedicated to him, including two bronze statues and a grade I listed building – Alfred’s Tower – built in 1768 on King Alfred’s Hill as a memorial.
Not long after King Alfred’s death in 899, Wantage was granted a royal charter by his son Edward the Elder which allowed it to hold markets and fairs. This gave rise to many economic benefits for the townspeople such as jobs, increased trading opportunities and higher standards of living.
Furthermore, Wantage was home to several religious communities including St Augustine’s Abbey which was established in 1142 by Robert d’Oilly who had been granted land from William II (William Rufus). The abbey served as both a spiritual centre and an educational hub providing education for locals as well as offering shelter for those who were less fortunate.
In 1645 Oliver Cromwell marched into Wantage on his march towards Oxford with his army of 30000 men during the English Civil War. He spent three days reorganising his troops before continuing on his way. However, despite its involvement in such events, Wantage remained relatively unscathed compared with other towns throughout Britain at this time due to its remote location away from large cities like London or Bristol.
Overall, the 1600s saw Wantage evolve from small rural community into a thriving market town with strong trading links and religious ties that set it apart from other towns of its size during this period. Even today it continues to hold onto some of these traditions as if they were never lost along the way!