Wantage in the 9th Century

The small Oxfordshire town of Wantage has a rich and vibrant history stretching back to the 9th century. During this time, Wantage was an important market town in which goods, services and livestock were traded and exchanged. The town was also home to many local farms, as well as a bustling economy supported by its strategic location along the River Ock.

In 871AD, Alfred the Great established his kingdom here at Wantage. He founded a royal palace within the walls of the old Roman fort in order to rule over his newly acquired domain. This is widely regarded as being one of his most important contributions to history, as it marked the beginning of Wessex, which would later become England’s dominant power for centuries.

Alfred built upon his success in Wantage by granting special privileges and rights to townsfolk – such as allowing them to hold markets and choose their own mayor – thus ensuring that Wantage enjoyed a high level of autonomy from central government control.

By the end of 9th century, Wantage had become an important trading hub between London and Bristol. The Saxon king Athelstan also contributed significantly to its prosperity when he granted a royal charter for weekly markets in 901AD, providing further encouragement for traders travelling through the area. It was during this period that St Mary’s Church was built – constructed using locally-quarried stone – standing proudly even today at the centre of town.

Wantage has since gone on to play an important role in English history; it was home to Edward III who passed away here in 1377; it was visited by Sir Francis Drake when he arrived in 1581; and it saw great celebrations when Queen Victoria made her first visit here in 1846. However none of this could have been achieved without its humble beginnings in 9th century Oxfordshire – laying down foundations for centuries of success yet to come!

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