A visitor's guide to Woodstock
PUBLISHED: 15:43 17 April 2019
We’ve assembled a brief guide to help you to get the most from your visit to Woodstock, sponsored by Caremark
Caremark | 01993 810 918 | caremark.co.uk
Woodstock sits alongside the splendour of Blenheim Palace and its extensive grounds, but it's far from overshadowed by its neighbour. Stop in the town itself and you'll find charming shops, galleries, elegant architecture and excellent eateries with a strong community outlook. Woodstock has the classic Cotswold characteristic of honey-coloured stone buildings, but it also has broad streets and a regal air dating back to the time when a royal hunting lodge attracted kings – and their entourage. The most notable of these was Henry II, who held trysts at the royal manor with his mistress, Fair Rosamund. Later the manor's stones were re-used when Blenheim Palace was built for the Dukes of Marlborough on a site nearby.
Most noted for... being the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill; the celebrated wartime prime minister was born in 1874 at Blenheim Palace.
While you're here... visit the Oxfordshire Museum to learn about the county's – and Woodstock's – long and illustrious history. Its popular dinosaur gallery features fossils, a moving eye and a chance to 'feed' the dinosaurs.
But try not to... miss the Woodstock community woodland and orchard to the north of the town, part of the Sustainable Woodstock campaign.
Edward of Woodstock – also known as the Black Prince – was born at Woodstock Palace in 1330. Thomas Chaucer, son of medieval poet Geoffrey, also lived here, in what's known locally today as Chaucer's House. During the 1646 siege of Woodstock Manor, Oliver Cromwell lodged in Cromwell's House. Internationally acclaimed interior designer, lecturer and author Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, owns Spencer Churchill Designs Ltd and Woodstock Designs, and has a shop on the High Street, and Claire Foy, star of The Crown and Wolf Hall, Lee Boardman, Jez in Coronation Street, and Perrier Award-winning comedian Will Adamsdale, are among the performers and directors who have attended Oxford School of Drama, which is based in the town.
Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh during the early 18th century, this colossal palace features splendid examples of Italo-Corinthian architecture, and has been designated a World Heritage Site. Inside there are treasures and curios of all kinds, the most spectacular of which may be the Blenheim Tapestry, depicting in lustrous thread the great and bloody battle of 1704 that catapulted John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, to the forefront of history. The palace sits among over 100 acres of gardens, filled with follies, a cascade, and curious memorials to various historical happenings. Blenheim Lake, spanned by Vanbrugh's Grand Bridge, prompted Lady Randolph Churchill to declare it the 'finest view in England'. If you live in the town you're granted an annual walking pass for the grounds for around £25.
The princess in the tower
Following an uprising by Sir Thomas Wyatt in 1554 to depose Queen Mary I, Mary imprisoned her half-sister, the future Elizabeth I, in the gatehouse of the ruined Woodstock Palace. Significantly more popular than Mary, due to their religious differences, Elizabeth was cheered by crowds in the streets as the made her way to Woodstock. She remained a captive there until the following year, when she was released on Mary's orders.
Move here for...
And get: A Grade-II listed period cottage with four bedrooms, pretty gardens and stunning views.
Eat at: The Feathers
Why? New head chef Ben Bullen competed on Masterchef: The Professionals in 2017 and continues the tradition of serving fine seasonal produce in a modern international style. The afternoon teas are good too.
Drink at: The Woodstock Arms
Why? It's a quaint traditional pub on Market Street with an extensive wine list, and serves craft ales and cider. The courtyard garden is perfect for lazy summer afternoons.
Stay at: The Bear Hotel
Why? This grand 13th century coaching inn has 54 individually styled bedrooms and an award-winning restaurant to boot.