powered by FreeFind





Woodstock in 1843

WOODSTOCK, NEW, a parliamentary and municipal borough in Oxfordshire, 62 miles west-north-west from London, and 8 miles north-west from Oxford. The town is situated on rising ground, on the east bank of the Glyme, a stream which is expanded into a lake in Blenheim Park. The town is in the parish of Woodstock and liberty of Oxford. The hamlet of Old Woodstock, though not included in the municipal borough, may be considered as forming a part of the actual town of New Woodstock.

The town contains many good stone houses, and the streets are sufficiently wide and well-paved. The town-hall was erected about 1766, at the expense of the duke of Marlborough, after a design by Sir William Chambers. It is a good stone building, with a piazza beneath it, which is used as a market-place. The greater part of the church was rebuilt in 1785, on the site of a chantry founded by King John. A round-arched Norman doorway remains in the south wall, and three massy ancient columns in the interior, with grotesque heads on the capitals, support pointed arches. The living is a rectory, united with the neighbouring parish of Bladon, in the gift of the duke of Marlborough, and of the yearly net value of £329. There are places of worship belonging to the Methodists and Baptists. Almshouses for six poor widows were erected in 1793, at the expense of the duchess of Marlborough. A free grammar-school was founded and endowed, in 1585, by Richard Cornwell, a native of the town.

The municipal borough, which was not affected by the Municipal Reform Act, consists of a mayor, high steward, recorder, four aldermen (besides the mayor), two chamberlains, town-clerk, fifteen capital burgesses, and an indefinite number of freemen. The constituency is self-elected. The titles to the freedom are birth, apprenticeship, and gift by the council. The borough received charters from Henry VI, Edward VI, Elizabeth, James I, Charles II, and James II, but the last charter was surrendered after the Revolution, and the governing charter is 16 Charles II (1665). The number of freemen in 1835, including the councillors, was 200. The population of the borough was 1,320.

Previous to the Reform Act Woodstock returned two members to parliament. The greatest number of electors who had polled at any time during the thirty, years preceding 1832, was 145. By the Reform Act the parliamentary boundary has been much extended, and, in 1841, included a population of 7,404. It now returns one member to parliament. The number of parliamentary electors on the register in 1839-40 was 369, of whom 316 were £10 householders and 53 freemen. In 1835-6 the £10 householders were 240, and the freemen 64, in all 304.

The only manufacture of importance is that of gloves ; it is said to have declined of late years from foreign competition, but is still carried on to a considerable extent, partly in the town of Woodstock, but chiefly in the surrounding villages. The present population of the town and suburbs is about 1,600. The population included strictly within the limits of the parish was, in 1841, 1,421. There has been little change in the number of inhabitants for the last forty years.

Blenheim Park, the magnificent domain of the duke of Marlborough, is in the neighbourhood of Woodstock.