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Pocket Guide: Woodstock

Information about Woodstock

Woodstock is a picturesque market town in Oxfordshire county, eight miles northwest of Oxford. It is best known for being home to Blenheim Palace, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

Woodstock means “clearing in the woods” in Old English, and the origin of the town’s name seems to suggest kings lodged in the area. One of the most historic inns in town, the Bear Hotel, was a coaching inn in the 13th century and provided refuge to travellers. Woodstock is steeped in history. The Domesday Book describes it as a royal forest. Henry I is believed to have kept a menagerie in the park. And it was in Woodstock that Henry II conducted a courtship with his mistress Rosamund Clifford, or “Fair Rosamund”. In 1179 King Henry II awarded Woodstock a Royal Charter and the town’s market was then established.

The predecessor to Blenheim Palace was Woodstock Palace, a residence popular with several English kings until it was destroyed during the English Civil War. Today the town prospers on the proceeds from tourism, particularly at Blenheim Palace.

Where to stay in Woodstock

Being a town that thrives on its tourism industry, it is to be expected that Woodstock hotels would provide excellent accommodation with many clustered around the town centre, others scattered beyond. Oxford is less than10 miles away; another option would be to look for hotels in Oxford and explore the delights of the renowned university town.

Different types of hotel

The town centre of Woodstock is packed with hotels from 3 stars to 5 stars to suit every taste and budget. One of the finest and probably the most historic 4 star hotel in Woodstock and in Oxfordshire is the Bear Hotel, with a history that goes back to the 13th century. It combines original features with modern comforts and has been highly rated for its dining.

Some guests prefer staying at a bed and breakfast or a public house for a more intimate feel or for better prices. The Marlborough Arms, formerly a coaching inn, offers luxurious rooms with a classic character and a complete set of modern amenities, such as flatscreen TV, hairdryer, tea and coffee-making facilities and free high-speed Wi-Fi.

Self-catering accommodation is also available for travellers wanting to make a saving by paying a weekly rate while still having all the comforts of a fully equipped home. Stable Cottage in Chadlington, 10 miles from Woodstock, sleeps up to four guests. Activities nearby include fishing, golfing and horse riding. Finstock village, eight miles from Woodstock, also has a quintessentially English stone cottage for rent with exposed beams throughout, the Witts End Cottage.

Caravanning sites can be found within town, such as the Bladon Chains Caravan Club Site, one and a half miles from the centre, near the famous Bladon church, where Winston Churchill is buried.

What to do during your stay in Woodstock

You can’t not see Blenheim Palace, of course. The famous house was built between 1705 and 1722 in English Baroque style and designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is the main residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and where Sir Winston Churchill was born. Blenheim Palace is surrounded by 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland, a lake and stunning formal gardens. It is open from February to December but looks particularly beautiful in the autumn. Churchill is buried in the churchyard of St Martin’s Church in Bladon, a couple of miles outside Woodstock.

The Oxfordshire Museum, opposite the historic Bear Hotel in the heart of town, celebrates every aspect of the ancient county, its natural history, art, archaeology, landscape, wildlife and science. Children will enjoy the life-size Megalosaur in the Dinosaur Garden and the interactive exhibits. Admission is free.

Fans of poet, novelist, textile designer and socialist William Morris will want to visit Kelmscott Manor, his country home, where he lived from 1871 until his death in 1896. The house was built of local limestone on the edge of the village of Kelmscott, 20 miles from Woodstock. The well-preserved house has an interior décor and furniture in Morris’ distinct signature.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens in Burford, about 18 miles west of Woodstock, is the country’s largest privately owned zoological collection, with 260 different animal species set in a landscaped parkland and beautiful gardens.

Time allowing, plan day trips to the other lovely Cotswold villages around Woodstock, such as Burford, Bourton-on-the Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden and Broadway.

Feeling inspired to make your booking for a Woodstock hotel and start planning your holiday? Don’t forget you can save money on Expedia if you book your hotel in Woodstock and your flight together. Use the Expedia search tools to check out the best package deals to suit your needs.