Things to do in Witney

The market square in the Cotswolds village of Witney

Welcome to Witney, a charming town nestled in the picturesque countryside of Oxfordshire, England. If you’re seeking a delightful destination filled with an abundance of activities and attractions, then would be the best place to visit for you. Witney offers a range of exciting experiences that will captivate visitors of all ages and interests. From exploring its rich history to immersing yourself in nature’s beauty, indulging in retail therapy, and savouring delicious culinary delights, Witney has something to offer everyone.

With its captivating history, natural splendour, vibrant shopping scene, and culinary delights, Witney is a hidden gem that promises a memorable experience for all who visit. So, have a look at the locations you can visit below and discover the best of Witney, where history meets nature, and where every corner holds a new adventure waiting to be explored.

Where is Witney Located?

Nestled on the banks of the River Windrush, just 12 miles west of Oxford, lies the historic market town of Witney. Its name, derived from Old English meaning “Witta’s island,” reflects its intriguing past. Witney proudly stands as the largest market town in Oxfordshire’s Cotswolds region, and its vibrant history is a testament to its significance.

Situated approximately 60 miles east of the bustling city of London, Witney enjoys a strategic location. To the west, the town of Carterton lies just 5 miles away. Falling under the jurisdiction of the West Oxfordshire council, Witney is a vital part of the OX28 postcode district.

Witney’s riverside setting, combined with its rich heritage, makes it an appealing destination for visitors seeking a blend of natural beauty and historical charm. From its origins as an island settlement to its current status as a thriving market town, Witney offers a captivating journey through time and a delightful array of experiences for all who visit.

See the animals at Cogges Manor Farm

Church Ln, Witney, OX28 3LA

Located on Church Lane in Witney, Cogges Manor Farm boasts a history spanning over 1,000 years and even made an appearance in the Domesday Book of 1086. Today, Cogges Manor Farm stands as a beloved tourist attraction, a fully operational working farm, and a venue for local events. Its fame was further elevated as a shooting location for the renowned period drama, Downton Abbey, making it a heritage site that appeals to visitors of all ages.

Children, in particular, will be delighted by the charming animals that call Cogges Manor Farm home. From adorable pygmy goats and Shetland ponies to cuddly rabbits, guinea pigs, and Oxford sandy and black pigs, there is no shortage of furry friends to meet. On weekends, the farm hosts “meet the animals” sessions, allowing kids to interact and even cuddle some of the friendly creatures.

Spanning 15 acres, the farm grounds are a sight to behold. The walled garden and orchard are a treasure trove of fruit varieties, including the luscious Moorpark apricot, Cox apple, Blenheim orange, and Morello cherry. Within the farm, you’ll also find Cogges Kitchen, where locally roasted coffee and homemade scones are prepared using the bountiful produce from the walled garden. Additionally, the Manor House regularly opens its doors for tours, offering a fascinating glimpse into its rich history. Dating mostly from the 16th century, with remnants of the 13th-century structure visible in the kitchen, hall, and dairy, the Manor House is a captivating testament to the region’s architectural heritage.

High Street in Witney
Witney High Street

Meander down Witney High Street

Witney’s vibrant essence is best experienced along its elongated High Street, adorned with Cotswold stone buildings that exude charm. Spanning a considerable length, the High Street is home to numerous amenities and monuments that contribute to the town’s allure. Beginning at the southern end, visitors are greeted by the magnificent Butter Cross, an iconic landmark that stands proudly opposite the 18th-century Town Hall. The Town Hall showcases Classical architecture, featuring an arcade supported by elegant Tuscan columns, adding to its visual appeal.

Another notable gem along the High Street is the Victorian Corn Exchange, dating back to 1863. This remarkable structure often opens its doors to host exhibitions and live music events, inviting locals and visitors alike to partake in cultural experiences. As you stroll along the street, you’ll notice a captivating row of lime trees gracing the west side, providing shade and a touch of natural beauty.

The High Street offers a delightful mix of familiar UK high street chains and an array of locally-owned shops, cafes, pubs, and restaurants, creating a dynamic atmosphere that caters to diverse tastes and interests. Whether you’re in search of well-known brands or seeking the charm of unique local establishments, the High Street in Witney offers a delightful blend of options vying for your attention.

Visit The Witney Blanket Hall

100 High St, Witney, OX28 6HL

The historic Witney Blanket Hall, erected in 1721 by the Company of Blanket Makers, holds a significant place in the town’s heritage. For over 120 years, this esteemed establishment played a vital role in the local blanket industry. Every blanket woven in Witney made its way to the Hall, where it was meticulously weighed and measured. Upstairs, in the grand Great Room, the Company established the regulations and standards for the trade. However, with the establishment of New Mills after 1845, which had their own measuring systems, the Blanket Hall’s original purpose became obsolete.

The Blanket Hall went through a series of transformations throughout its history, serving various purposes in different eras. It housed a brewery, a lemonade factory, an engineering shop, an office for recording births, marriages, and deaths, and even a dancing school. At one point, it even stood as a distinctive Gentleman’s House, reflecting the changing tides of time.

In 2015, the Blanket Hall turned back the hands of time and reopened as a captivating museum, dedicated to showcasing Witney’s historic relationship with blankets and the hardworking people involved in this trade. Visitors can take informative tours of the Blanket Hall, delve into the fascinating history of the blanket industry, and even purchase authentic woollen blankets as cherished mementoes. The premises also house a delightful cafe and pie shop, where visitors can indulge in delectable treats.

Minster Lovell Hall
Minster Lovell Hall

Soak in the history of Minster Lovell Hall

Minster Riding, Witney, OX29 0RR

Minster Lovell Hall is a captivating historic site nestled in the village of Minster Lovell, located approximately 8 miles southwest of Witney in Oxfordshire, England. This enchanting hall holds a rich history and is known for its picturesque ruins, which date back to the 15th century.

Once a grand manor house belonging to the Lovell family, Minster Lovell Hall offers visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and immerse themselves in the region’s past. The remains of the hall showcase the architectural grandeur of the era and provide a glimpse into the lives of the noble families who once called this place home.

Surrounded by beautiful countryside, the hall offers a serene atmosphere, inviting visitors to explore its grounds and marvel at the remnants of its former glory. From the weathered stone walls to the impressive tower and the scenic River Windrush flowing nearby, the site exudes a captivating charm that resonates with history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Saint Marys Church Witney
Saint Mary’s Church, Witney

Look for the monkey on the Spire at St. Mary’s Church

Church Grn, Witney, OX28 4AW

St. Mary’s Church is a prominent and cherished landmark located in the heart of Witney, Oxfordshire. With its towering spire and historical significance, St. Mary’s stands as a testament to the town’s rich heritage.

This impressive church dates back centuries and showcases stunning architectural features. Its origins can be traced to the medieval period, with parts of the building dating as far back as the 12th century. Over the years, the church has undergone various expansions and renovations, resulting in a captivating blend of architectural styles.

As you approach St. Mary’s Church, you’ll be greeted by its majestic spire, reaching towards the sky. Step inside, and you’ll be welcomed by a peaceful and serene atmosphere. The interior is adorned with intricate stained glass windows, ancient stone carvings, and beautiful wooden accents, creating a sense of awe and reverence.

St. Mary’s Church is not only a place of worship but also a hub for community gatherings and events. It has witnessed countless weddings, christenings, and other important ceremonies, solidifying its role as a cherished space in the lives of the townspeople.

Stop by the Witney and District Museum

Gloucester Court Mews, 75 High St, Witney OX28 6JA

The Witney and District Museum is a treasure trove of local history and culture. This captivating museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the heritage of Witney and its surrounding district, offering visitors an immersive journey through time.

Housed in a charming building, the Witney and District Museum boasts an extensive collection of artefacts, photographs, documents, and interactive exhibits that vividly bring the region’s past to life. From the town’s humble beginnings to its transformation into a bustling market town, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of Witney’s development over the centuries.

As you explore the museum’s various galleries, you’ll discover fascinating displays of traditional industries that once thrived in the area, such as the renowned Witney Blankets, glove-making, and brewing. Delve into the lives of the town’s inhabitants through captivating stories and personal accounts, gaining insight into the daily lives, struggles, and triumphs of past generations.

The Witney and District Museum also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the area through exhibitions dedicated to local art, music, folklore, and traditions. From historical artwork and musical instruments to exhibits at local festivals and customs, visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant tapestry of Witney’s cultural identity.

Hobgoblin IPA is made by Wychwood Brewery
Wychwood Brewery make Hobgoblin IPA and many others

Take a tour of Wychwood Brewery

Eagle Maltings, The Crofts, Witney, OX28 4DP

The Wychwood Brewery is a renowned and beloved brewery which produces 50,000 barrels (8,200,00 litres) of cask ale each year in the UK. With its rich brewing traditions and a wide array of flavourful ales, the brewery has become a prominent fixture in the local and national craft beer scene.

Founded in 1983, the Wychwood Brewery has a strong commitment to quality and craftsmanship, creating distinctive and characterful beers that capture the essence of traditional English brewing. The brewery takes its name from the ancient Wychwood Forest, which once covered a vast area surrounding Witney.

Wychwood Brewery is celebrated for its range of ales, including its flagship brand, Hobgoblin. This iconic beer, with its bold flavours and distinctive branding featuring the mischievous Hobgoblin character, has gained a loyal following both in the UK and abroad. The brewery also produces a diverse selection of other beers, each with its own unique characteristics and tastes, catering to a variety of palates.

Visiting the Wychwood Brewery offers beer enthusiasts and curious visitors an opportunity to learn about the brewing process and delve into the rich history of the brewery. Guided tours, lasting around 2 hours, provide an insight into the art of brewing, showcasing the traditional methods and modern techniques used to craft their exceptional ales. Visitors can witness first-hand the passion and expertise that goes into each brew, and even sample a few of their finest creations.

Ducklington Lake in Witney

Take a walk at Witney Lake and Country Park

Ducklington Lake, Witney

Witney Lake and Country Park, also known as Ducklington Lake, is a picturesque and tranquil oasis located near the town of Witney, Oxfordshire. Situated just a mile from the town centre, this beautiful park offers a perfect escape for nature lovers and those seeking outdoor recreation. The park centres around a scenic man made lake, which spans approximately 70 acres.

Witney Lake, formed through gravel extraction, boasts an impressive depth without the presence of muddy edges or sandy beaches. Encircled by a recently enhanced path, the lake offers a picturesque stroll with convenient picnic tables and benches scattered along its banks.

This scenic water body not only supports a variety of seldom-seen invertebrates and wetland plants but also serves as a sanctuary for a diverse range of birdlife. During the summer months, you might catch glimpses of vibrant kingfishers darting about and swifts soaring gracefully through the air. As winter sets in, the lake becomes a temporary habitat for snipes and lapwings. Meanwhile, the great crested grebes call the lake their year-round home, showcasing their elegance throughout the seasons.

Play golf or visit the spa at Witney Lakes Resort

Downs Rd, Witney OX29 0SY

Situated on the outskirts of Witney, a premier leisure destination awaits, catering to those seeking a rejuvenating spa experience or an exhilarating game of golf. The highlight of this destination is an immaculate 18-hole par-71 championship golf course, nestled within scenic lakeland terrain. With its strategic doglegs, expansive drives, and challenging par 3s, this course demands the use of every club in your bag and tests your skills to the fullest.

To enjoy discounted green fees, it is advisable to book through the website. Weekday rates start at £22 for a round (One Ball), while weekend rates are £26. This enables golf enthusiasts to indulge in their passion while making the most of their budget.

For those seeking ultimate relaxation, the spa at Witney Lakes offers a comprehensive range of treatments to pamper and revitalize your senses. The extensive menu includes five types of massages, indulgent facials, rejuvenating wraps, exquisite manicures, professional make-up services, as well as waxing and tanning options. The spa aims to provide a complete wellness experience, catering to your specific needs and ensuring a blissful escape from the stresses of everyday life.

See the Crocodiles of the World in Brize Norton

Burford Rd, Brize Norton, Carterton OX18 3NX

Situated just a short distance from Witney, there is a one-of-a-kind zoo that is a must-visit for animal enthusiasts in the area. Established in 2011 by renowned conservationist Shaun Foggett, this extraordinary zoo has gained tremendous popularity and relocated to its current home in Brize Norton in 2014 due to its remarkable growth.

At this remarkable zoo, you’ll encounter a captivating collection of over 150 crocodiles, representing 17 out of the total 24 species known worldwide. It stands as the only zoo in the UK solely dedicated to the preservation and study of these awe-inspiring creatures.

Among the notable inhabitants are the formidable saltwater crocodiles, alongside several rare species that may be unfamiliar to many visitors. The endangered Siamese and Cuban crocodiles, Tomistoma, slender-snouted crocodile, Cuvier’s caiman, black caiman, and broad-snouted caiman are just a few examples of the diverse crocodile species you’ll encounter here.

In addition to its crocodile population, the zoo houses a diverse array of other fascinating animals. From playful meerkats and Asian short-clawed otters to the rare cotton-topped tamarins, there are various mammalian species to admire. Furthermore, the zoo is home to a captivating selection of monitor lizards, snakes, tortoises, and a small collection of exotic birds.