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
times. King Alfred the Great was born there
in AD 847.
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.
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
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.