CLASSIC GEORGIAN TOWN
Moving through our hotel archway beyond the courtyard, you'll enter the honey-coloured streets of Woodstock, Oxfordshire, bustling with life and proudly displaying their Georgian veneer.
While the World Heritage site of Blenheim Palace can be found directly to your left as you walk out of The Bear, there is also plenty in the way of independent shops, art galleries and dining spots to enjoy when venturing through the town - not to mention the collection of appealing period buildings for fans of 18th century architecture.
A market town and civil parish with a population of just over 3,000, Woodstock can be found some 8 miles north-west of Oxford.
The Old English name directly translates as a “clearing in the woods”, which seems especially apparent given its leafy, Oxfordshire countryside surround, while the flowing waters of River Glyme separates the town into New and Old Woodstock.
Journeying towards the area can feel like stepping back in time, with the frequent sights of vintage cars and people on horseback enough to suggest that its inhabitants approach life in a refreshingly traditional way.
Renowned for his rousing speeches in the House of Commons and his role in leading the country through World War II, former Prime Minister Winston Churchill is the town’s most famous son. Born in Blenheim Palace in 1874 and buried in the nearby village of Bladon, many visitors to Woodstock arrive here to understand more about his life.
Regal Roots and notable residents
With the royal history surrounding Blenheim Palace, it stands to reason that many who have graced the town have distinct regal heritage. Woodstock itself was born out of a Royal charter from King Henry VI in 1179 and was even the site for another famous palace named after the town itself.
Woodstock Palace was a popular retreat for much of English royalty through medieval times, before it met an untimely end after being destroyed in the English Civil War - the foundations of which would ultimately lead to the construction of Blenheim Palace, which was left to John Churchill as the 1st Duke of Marlborough - of whom Winston Churchill is descendent.
Outside of the royal circle, taking a stroll down Chaucer’s Lane will lead you to Chaucer’s House, which was the home of the renowned poet’s son circa 1752.
What to see and do
The church of St Mary Magdalene ranks high on must-visit locations in the town, with its grand Norman doorway and musical clock playing a different tune each week adding to the quirky allure of the area.
Just across from the hotel is the Town Hall, which was originally designed by Sir William Chambers in 1766 and once hosted an open market hall that formed a bustling hub of the community until it closed in 1898.
If you want to find out more about the history of the region, then look no further than the Oxfordshire Museum in the centre of the town, while a sobering experience can be found at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, where the role of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry is depicted through an immersive exhibition for all ages.
A vibrant annual calendar of events at Blenheim Palace is bolstered by other literary and poetry festivals, autumn fairs and ‘Woodstock Live’ - the latter of which offers an eclectic mix of live music in the town centre.