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Home of the Great

Dick Whittington & his wife, Alice FitzWarin -  Nash Ford Publishing


  • Wantage was a small Roman town on the road from Frilford to the Ermin(e) Way junction above Speen.

  • It later had an important Royal palace in Saxon times. King Alfred the Great was born there in AD 847.

  • In medieval times, the manor of Wantage was rented to Sir Fulk FitzWarin. He had an argument with King John and was made an outlaw (like Robin Hood). 

  • The manor was later bought by the same family. Sir William FitWarin lived there. He was a friend of the Black Prince. His son, Sir Ivo, was a merchant in London. His kitchen-boy's cat made him rich. So he married Sir Ivo's daughter! He was the famous 3x Mayor of London, Dick Whittington.

  • There was once a Chapel with a statue of Our Lady (St. Mary) in Wantage churchyard. The Pope granted an 'indulgence' to pilgrims visiting it on St. Mary's Day. An indulgence was a pardon for sinners.

  • A small band of Royalist soldiers were sent to Wantage during the English Civil War. They caused a lot of trouble but there was no fighting in the area.

  • Wantage became famous for its tanning (leather making) industry. It had the biggest tanyard in the country.

  • In the 18th century, the town was known as 'Black Wantage'. This was because it was a popular hideout for criminals. They liked to hold cruel and horrible sports called bull-baits and cock-fights. 

  • Life in Wantage was later improved by local benefactors like Bishop Butler and Lord Wantage.


    Nash Ford Publishing 2004. All Rights Reserved. This location is now administered by Oxfordshire County Council.