48.1 miles away from High Wycombe, United Kingdom is a beautiful town from the 1500’s called Stanford in the Vale which is where I can happily call my home.
The village of Stanford in the vale is situated in Oxfordshire and its history is quite phenomenal, I definitely did my research on this little place before we moved.
A Brief History
During the last Ice Age, the area we now know of as the Vale of the White Horse was a tundra environment which gradually developed into deciduous woodland as the ice sheets retreated (around 10,000 B.C.) and the climate grew warmer.
During the Bronze Age, the population grew and settlements expanded in the Vale. Within the local area, a Bronze Age spearhead was found in Hatford parish and other Bronze Age implements have been found elsewhere, at Childrey and Faringdon. Within Stanford, a series of worked flints, including scrapers, have been identified though little evidence has been found for settlement at this period.
As tribal groups began to form in the 1st century B.C., evidence suggests that the Upper Thames became a frontier zone between the Dobunni to the west and the Catevellauni to the east. The Vale was crossed by pathways connecting settlements to tribal refuges and to the primary trade routes along the Ridgeway, to the South along the Berkshire Downs and to the North along the North Berkshire Ridge as well.
In A.D. 43, the Romans invaded Britain, reaching this area by A.D. 44. The Vale appears to have been extensively cultivated, with small settlements and farmsteads linked by trackways. There were villas at Woolstone and East Challow and a large temple complex at Marcham. Within the parish of Stanford, there were two main distinctive Roman settlements, one to the north of the parish and the second underlying the present village. The first of these is a substantial Romano-British settlement near Bowling Green Farm which was excavated by Oxford Archaeology from 1988 to 2009 during the expansion of gravel and sand extraction pits.
Early Modern Stanford
The Civil War gave way to the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth to the Restoration. The Churchwardens’ Accounts note payments for blotting out the King’s Arms and setting up the State’s Arms in 1652, then for setting up the King’s Arms again in 1660.Life continued in Stanford much as before. Drovers would have driven their flocks of sheep to market at Ilsley. Quakers (the Society of Friends) were present in Stanford and Goosey between 1665 and 1702, according to the Churchwarden’s Accounts and the Bishops’ Visitations of 1671, 1683 and 1695.
19th Century Stanford
The next century saw considerable growth in the population and consequently in the number of inhabited houses in Stanford, peaking in the 1850s-70s, then declining somewhat until the 1900s. Similar population trends occurred in other, but not all, villages in this part of the Vale.
Post-war developments included new housing, and the extension of utilities first supplied only to the airfield and associated sites. The population of the village increased dramatically. Turnover of the local population was greater than in preceding centuries; the Rev. H. Selwyn Fry (vicar, 1963- 76) noted in the Parish Newsletter of June 1973 that of the approximately 300 Baptism Services that he had performed in St. Denys’, some 54% of those baptised no longer lived in the parish. Mains water supply from the reservoir at Folly Hill, Faringdon, arrived in Stanford in the early 1950s. Sewerage was extended throughout the village in about 1961-62.
Stanford in the Vale has not only stolen my interest with its beyond fascinating history but its beauty is captivating, It isn’t the busiest with a population of 2000 but the people are friendly and the town is slowly improving with shops and other beneficial community projects. The town itself has a shop (The Co-op), a church, a post office and few small businesses e.g a vet, dry cleaners but the village is mostly farms or fields.
Previously we lived in a town with a much bigger population of 120,256 severely crowded around hundreds of shops and the town centre itself has 175 shops from small cafes to designer shops such as Gucci. We had a two bed flat which took five flights of stairs to climb, a rather cute kitchen, one bathroom and a balcony with a delightful view of the forrest – Recently we moved into a three bed, three bathroom, two story house, the smallest room has become an office for me to study in. We traded in our forest view from a balcony for a lovely garden which is great as we’re in the summer and the temperatures are beautiful reaching almost 25 everyday.
I only moved a few miles away but it feels like I’m on a completely different continent, the people are friendly, the air is warmer, the sky is a brighter blue. I can’t help but feel at home, I’ve moved a lot in the past nine years but i finally feel at home away from home.