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Its strategic position between the Thames and Ridgeway has given rise to a long history for the town. Faringdon (meaning 'fern-covered hill') was the first capital of the ancient kingdom of Wessex and Alfred the Great had his castle here.
The Domesday book records a manor with mill, fishing and land for 15 ploughs. The great tithe barn at nearby Great Coxwell by the Abbey of Beaulieu bears evidence to the fertility of the Vale of the White Horse.
King John gave the town a royal charter in 1216 for a weekly market which continues to this day in the Market place.
Later during the Civil War, Roundhead Sir Robert Pye found himself a prisoner in his own home, Faringdon House, which dates back to 1730. A poorly aimed cannon-ball knocked the spire off All Saints church !
The 17th century Town Hall remains the focal point of the town, surrounded by Georgian-fronted inns and shops of the market-place.