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Coordinates: 51°38′38″N 1°09′58″W / 51.644°N 1.166°W / 51.644; -1.166

Dorchester-on-Thames
Dorchester Abbey.jpg
Dorchester with the abbey tower in the background
Dorchester-on-Thames is located in Oxfordshire
Dorchester-on-Thames

 Dorchester-on-Thames shown within Oxfordshire
Population 992 (2001 census)[1]
OS grid reference SU5794
Parish Dorchester
District South Oxfordshire
Shire county Oxfordshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Wallingford
Postcode district OX10
Dialling code 01865
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Wantage
Website Dorchester on Thames
List of places: UK • England • Oxfordshire

Dorchester-on-Thames is a village and civil parish on the River Thame in Oxfordshire, about 3 miles (4.8 km) northwest of Wallingford and 8 miles (13 km) southeast of Oxford. Dorchester is just above the Thame's confluence with the River Thames. Historically the Thames was only so-named downstream of the village; upstream it is named the Isis, and Ordnance Survey maps continue to label the river as "River Thames or Isis" until Dorchester. Practically, however, this distinction is rarely used outside of the City of Oxford.

Contents

History

The area has been inhabited since early times. In the north of the parish there was a Neolithic sacred site, now largely destroyed by gravel pits. On one of the Sinodun hills on the opposite side of the River Thames, a ramparted settlement was inhabited during the Bronze Age and Iron Age. Two of the Sinodun hills bear distinctive landmarks of mature trees called Wittenham Clumps. Adjacent to the village are Dyke Hills which are also the remains of an Iron Age hill fort.

Dorchester's position on the navigable Thames and bounded on three sides by water made it strategic for both communications and defence. The Romans built a town here, with a road linking the town to a military camp at Alchester, 16 miles (25 km) to the north.

In 634 Pope Honorius I sent a bishop called Birinus to convert the Saxons of the Thames Valley to Christianity. King Cynegils of Wessex gave Dorchester to Birinus as the seat of a new Diocese of Dorchester under a Bishop of Dorchester, which was extremely large, and covered most of Wessex and Mercia. Dorchester became the de facto capital of Wessex, which was later to become the dominant kingdom in England, but eventually Winchester displaced it.

In the 12th century the church was enlarged to serve a community of Augustinian canons. King Henry VIII dissolved the Abbey in 1536, leaving the small village with a huge church.

Amenities

Dorchester Abbey[2] is both the village's Church of England parish church and its main tourist attraction. The Abbey has a museum.

Festivals and events

Dorchester on Thames is the home of a number of annual events:

Nearby is Day's Lock on the Thames, where the annual World Poohsticks Championship is held.

Notable people from Dorchester

References

Sources

  • Lobel, Mary D., ed (1957). Victoria County History: A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5: Bullingdon Hundred. pp. 56–76. 
  • Lobel, Mary D., ed (1962). Victoria County History: A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 7: Thame and Dorchester Hundreds. pp. 39–64. 
  • Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin. pp. 576–586. ISBN 0 14 071045 0. 
  • Tiller, Kate, ed (2005). Dorchester Abbey: Church and People 635–2005. Stonesfield Press. ISBN 0-9527126-4-4. 
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