Faringdon is a mid-sized market town in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire. The Vale is wedged between the River Thames and the River Ock. Faringdon was the first town in England to achieve Fairtrade Town status in 2004. The town is a half hour drive away from Oxford.
Due to its strategic position, Alfred the Great built a castle there. Faringdon was once a rather important town; it was the original capital of Wessex and had its own mill and plentiful farming land. In 1216 King John granted Faringdon a charter for a weekly market. You can still attend this market today.
The Town Hall constructed in the 17th century has an idiosyncratic history, having served as market hall, meeting room, whipping post, jail house, storage area for the town’s fire engine, ambulance station and town library at various points of history. Today it remains a well known landmark, as interesting for its diverse past as for its architecture.
There are several areas just outside town which would are of definite interest to visitors. Folly Park is an open, natural park with a lake for fishing and tables for picnic dinners. The local folly is located on Faringdon Hill to the east, a tall, slender tower built by Lord Berners in 1935 and designed by his friend Lord Wellesley to stand a hundred feet high. Perhaps the most famous landmark and the most remarkable in Faringdon is on White Horse Hill. The chalked-in hill figure of a galloping steed is the second largest hill figure in the area and has existed for 3000 years! It is this ancient white horse which gives its name to the Vale and Hill.
With so much to see which is distinctive, Faringdon makes for a fascinating side trip on a journey through the Cotswold Hills.