Population: 7,000
Ordnance Survey
OS grid reference: SU606894
District: South Oxfordshire
Shire county: Oxfordshire
Region: South East England
Country: England
Ceremonial county: Oxfordshire
Historic county: Berkshire
Police force: Thames Valley Police
Post office and telephone
Postal district: OX10
Dialling code: +44-1491
UK Parliament: Wantage
European Parliament: South East England

Wallingford is a small market town in the Thames Valley in southern England.

It is a strategically important crossing point on the River Thames. During the 1066 Norman conquest of England, the Saxon lord Wigod allowed William the Conqueror's invading armies to cross the Thames from South to North in order that his army might march on London. At that time, the river at Wallingford was the first point at which the river could be forded.

Wallingford itself sits on the western side of the Thames; across the river is the village of Crowmarsh Gifford. The two are linked by Wallingford Bridge, a notable 900 ft long stone bridge across the Thames and adjacent floodlands.

Given the town's strategic importance, it has been fortified since at least Saxon times, when it was an important part of the kingdom of Wessex and allowed to mint its own coins. It is probably the best preserved Saxon burh in England, with the substantial earthworks built in the 9th century for protection against the Vikings still enclosing the centre of the town. Since William and his Norman army were permitted to cross the river unopposed, the town received special favour from the Norman conquerors.

The Treaty of Wallingford was concluded there in November 1153, ending the Civil War that had begun after Henry I's death. The town was granted a Royal Charter in 1155 by the new King Henry II, being the second town to receive one in England.

Wallingford, showing the Corn Exchange (left), the Town Hall (centre-right) and St Mary-le-More church (right)
Wallingford, showing the Corn Exchange (left), the Town Hall (centre-right) and St Mary-le-More church (right)

Wallingford Castle was a regular royal residence until the Plague hit the town badly in 1349. The castle declined subsequently (much stone being removed to renovate Windsor Castle) but it became a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War. It was the last holdout of the Royalists in the region, and the castle withstood a 65-day siege. Oliver Cromwell subsequently ordered the destruction of what was left of the castle and little now remains. Some of the castle rubble was used to construct a tower on St Mary-le-More church.

Wallingford was also home to legal writer William Blackstone and detective author Agatha Christie. Writers Rex Warner, Gladys Bronwyn Stern and James H. McClure also lived in the town. It was the birthplace of mathematician Richard of Wallingford and chronicler John of Wallingford, both associated with Wallingford Priory. Wallingford used to return two Members of Parliament (cut to one in 1832 and none in 1885), and MPs for Wallingford included the following: William Seymour Blackstone; John Cator; Thomas Digges (astronomer); Sir Charles Dilke, 1st Baronet; George Parker, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield (astronomer); George Pigot, Baron Pigot; Robert Pigot; Edmund Plowden; Francis Sykes and Nathaniel William Wraxall (writer).

More recently it has been used as a location for filming, including Midsomer Murders. The town has a museum (Wallingford Museum), a theatre (the Corn Exchange), a folk festival (BunkFest) and a steam railway (Cholsey and Wallingford Railway). Wallingford has an informal twinning link with Wallingford, Connecticut, and formal twinning with Luxeuil-les-Bains, France and Bad Wurzach, Germany.

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