Oxfordshire

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Oxfordshire (abbreviated Oxon, from the Latinised form Oxonia) is a county in the South East of England, bordering on Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Warwickshire.

It is divided into five local government districts: Oxford, Cherwell, Vale of White Horse (after the Uffington White Horse), West Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire.

The county has a major tourism industry. The area is noted for the concentration of performance motorsport companies and facilities. Oxford University Press has headed a concentration of print and publishing firms; the university is also linked to the concentration of local biotechnology companies.

The main centre of population is the city of Oxford. Other significant settlements are Bicester, Banbury, Kidlington, and Chipping Norton to the north of Oxford; Witney to the west; Thame and Chinnor to the east; and Abingdon, Wantage, Didcot, Wallingford and Henley-on-Thames to the south. Future population growth in the county is hoped to be concentrated around Banbury, Bicester, Didcot and Witney, near the South Midlands growth area.

The highest point of the county is Whitehorse Hill, in the Vale of White Horse, reaching 856 feet (261m).

Oxfordshire's county flower is the Snake's-head Fritillary.

The county of Oxfordshire, at that time entirely situated to the north of the River Thames, was formed in the early years of the 10th century.

Historically the area has always had some importance, it has been valuable agricultural land resting between the main southern cities and containing the prestigious settlement at Oxford (whose name came from Anglo-Saxon Oxenaford = "ford for oxen"). Ignored by the Romans, it was not until the formation of a settlement at Oxford that the area grew in importance. Alfred the Great was born in Wantage. The University of Oxford was founded in 1096. The area was part of the Cotswolds wool trade from the 13th century. The Great Western Railway reached Didcot in 1839. Morris Motors was founded in Oxford in 1912 and MG in Abingdon in 1929. The importance of agriculture as an employer has declined rapidly in the 20th century; currently under one percent of the county's population are involved.

In 1808 the county had fourteen hundreds, namely Bampton, Banbury, Binfield, Bloxham, Bullingdon, Chadlington, Dorchester, Ewelme, Langtree, Lewknor, Pyrton, Ploughley, Thame and Wootton.

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was based at the Barracks on Bullingdon Green, Cowley.

The Vale of the White Horse and parts of South Oxfordshire south of the River Thames were historically part of Berkshire, but were added to the administrative county in 1974. Conversely, the Caversham area of Reading was historically part of Oxfordshire

The most famous building in Oxfordshire is Blenheim Palace at Woodstock. It was built by the great architect John Vanbrugh for John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, after he had won the battle of Blenheim.The gardens, which can be visited, were designed by the landscape gardener "Capability Brown", who planted the trees in the battle formation of the victorious troups. In the palace, which can also be visited, was born Sir Winston Churchill.

Chastleton House, on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire borders, is a great country mansion that was built on property bought from Robert Catesby, who was one of the men involved in the Gunpowder Plot with Guy Fawkes. Stonor Park, another country mansion, has belonged to the Stonor family for centuries.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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