The small market town of Wantage, located in Oxfordshire, has a rich and interesting history that stretches back to the 8th century. According to records, Wantage was first mentioned as “Wandesiege” in the 8th century, which is thought to refer to a fortification built by the Saxons. The area was historically part of Berkshire until 1974, when it became part of Oxfordshire.
During this period, Wantage was an important Saxon settlement and contained a royal palace along with several churches and homes. In 871 King Alfred the Great chose Wantage as his capital and resided in the royal palace there for many years, often using it as a base for his campaigns against the Danes. Alfred is believed to have ordered the construction of several churches in the area during his time there.
Wantage also played an important role in Alfred’s efforts to unify England’s disparate kingdoms into one unified kingdom. In 878 he held a conference at Wantage where he was able to convince many of England’s rulers to accept him as their leader and unified their forces against Danish invasion. This event marked the beginning of England as we know it today.
In addition to its political importance during this period, Wantage was home to some remarkable people who left their mark on history in various ways. One such person is Saint Ethelwold, a hermit who lived near Wantage from 893 until his death in 925 CE. He is credited with founding several churches and monasteries throughout Britain including Abingdon Abbey which remains active today as Abingdon School.
Another famous person associated with this era in Wantage’s history is King Athelstan who reigned from 924-939 CE and is regarded by many historians as England’s first true king due to his efforts at unifying England’s numerous small kingdoms under one ruler. His reign saw great strides made towards central government which culminated in his coronation ceremony at Kingston-on-Thames which recognized him as king over all of Britain – something no other monarch had achieved before him.
Wantage has come a long way since its early days but still retains much of its historic charm thanks largely to its preserved ancient buildings such as St Mary’s Church (which dates back to 1060) and The Market Place (which has been trading since 1218). Today visitors can explore these historical sites for themselves or attend local festivals such as Worthy Fest or Thame Show which take place throughout the year and celebrate local culture and heritage through music, dance and food events.