Uffington is a village in the Vale of the White Horse, four miles south of Faringdon and seven miles west of Wantage. Although below the Berkshire Downs, it is now within Oxfordshire. The village is built almost entirely of chalk, apart from some newer houses constructed of sandstone. Many cottages have thatched roofs. The village is only a short distance from White Horse Hill.
Thomas Hughes, (1822-1896) the novelist, was born at Uffington Vicarage. The whole area was made famous by his novel, ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’. The village museum, ‘Tom Brown’s School Museum’, is actually housed in the school building featured in ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’. John Betjeman, Poet Laureate, also lived in the village from 1934-1945.
St. Mary’s Church, known as the “Cathedral of the Vale”, has an unusual octagonal tower, which was once topped by a spire. It blew down in 1740 and an extra storey was added to replace it. The church otherwise, is almost entirely 13th century.
Uffington is the ancestral home of the Thatcher family who were landowners and farmers in the village. Denis Thatcher was the husband of Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female Prime Minister. In 2003, when Sir Denis died, he left instructions in his will for a plaque to be put in St. Mary’s Church, in memory of him and Margaret Thatcher, who died in 2013. The South Porch of the church, is known as Thatcher Corner, where several memorials to the Thatcher family have been erected.
White Horse Hill, at 856 feet, is the highest point on the Berkshire Downs. Close to Uffington, it can be climbed by the Portway, an old Roman road which goes past a round hill, Dragon Hill. Legend says St. George killed the dragon here. There is a bare patch on top of the hill which is supposed to have been caused by the dragon’s blood. The White Horse is the oldest chalk cut figure in Britain, probably over 3,000 years old. It is not known with any certainty who cut it and when, but it is likely that it is connected with Epona, the Celtic goddess of horses. The great horse carved out of the chalk, is 360 feet long and 130 feet wide. White Horse Hill is crowned by Uffington Castle, an iron age prehistoric fort, which gives superb views in many directions.