Wednesday, October 12, 2016

WOODSTOCK: Ancient Oxford Suburb

Alice Tepper Marlin (L) and your
blogger. Photo by Chris Oakley.
Last week Alice and I visited the original Woodstock north of Oxford last week with my nephew Chris.

The first Woodstock a New Yorker would think of is the original site of the famed 1969 Festival in New York State where many cultural rebels settled (Berkeley East?). Here are 81 photos if you have forgotten this. Our friends Cinnamon and Curry Rinzler live there.

For a skier, Woodstock in Vermont is where people risk a trip down Suicide Six. Alice broke her leg there, before I met her in 1971. Her nephew Max Comins bought the Kedron Valley Inn in Woodstock and ran it with his wife for many years.

But for a students or staff of Oxford University, it's the town eight miles north of Oxford, reached by Woodstock Road, where 'The Bear" beckons and Blenheim Palace calls for a visit.

Blenheim Palace is both a visual treat ("England's best view") and has a unique history as the only non-bishop non-royal palace in England.

It used to be in a Royal Forest. Woodstock means "Clearing in a Wood". The town was a staging area for travelers by coach or on horseback.

In the midst of the stabling of horses, accommodation of riders and coachmen, and their related food and beverage needs grew up  "The Bear", an inn and revered tavern and restaurant.

Alice at Woodstock Pharmacy, Oxon.
This and next photo by JT Marlin.
Another revered institution, but one that no longer exists, was the Woodstock Palace, which catered to royal visitors. Woodstock had the honor of an early (1179) royal charter from Henry II.

Here in the Palace in 1361 was married Mary Plantagenet, daughter of Edward III of England, to John V, Duke of Brittany.


Woodstock Palace was destroyed during England's civil war. Its loss created a hole that was filled by the First Duke of Marlborough after he defeated Louis XIV in battle and rescued Britain from a new subjection to the French.
Craft Fair on in Woodstock, Oxon.

The First Duke's achievement is compared with his descendant Winston Churchill's key role in leading his country in resisting attacks by Hitler's Germany. (Winston S. [for Spencer] Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace two months prematurely when his parents were visiting their cousin the Duke of Marlborough.)

Today, Woodstock, Oxon. shares a few characteristics with the Woodstocks in New York and Vermont. All three have a tourist trade, good dining, famous residents, a care for the environment and a focus on arts and crafts activities.

Woodstock, NY and Woodstock, Oxon. share a connection with the pharmaceutical industry–the British town had one of the oldest pharmacies in the country.

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