Oxfordshire Day in England Date in the current year: October 19, 2024

Oxfordshire Day in England Oxfordshire Day is an annual holiday celebrating the historic English county of Oxfordshire. It is observed on October 19 to promote the history and culture of Oxfordshire, coinciding with the feast day of Saint Frideswide, the patron saint of the University of Oxford and the city of Oxford.

Oxfordshire is a ceremonial non-metropolitan county in South East England, bordered by Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire. The county is best known for the University of Oxford, which is the oldest university in the English-speaking countries and one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

The area that is now known as Oxford was first settled by Anglo-Saxon tribes around 900 A. D., and the first recorded mention of Oxfordshire as a county dates back to the early 10th century. The famous University of Oxford was established circa 1096. During the Middle Ages, Oxfordshire was not only an academic center, but also part of the Cotswolds wool trade.

The patron saint of the University of Oxford, Oxford and by extension the entire Oxfordshire is Saint Frideswide (Frithuswith). She was an English princess and abbess who founded a monastery later incorporated into the University of Oxford’s Christ Church College.

Frideswide was the daughter of sub-king Didam of Eynsham, who ruled the part of Mercia that roughly corresponds to present-day western Oxfordshire. While still young, Frideswide decided to dedicate her life to faith and took a vow of celibacy. The vow, however, didn’t stop King Algar of Leicester from seeking her hand in marriage.

When Frideswide refused Algar, he tried to abduct her, and she fled first to Bampton and then to Binsey, where she performed a miracle. When local nuns complained that they had to fetch water all the way from the Thames, Frideswide prayed to God, and a well sprung up at the monastery. Its water had healing properties.

Frideswide founded a monastery at the site of the present-day University of Oxford and became its first abbess. It was vandalized during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. In 1546, the church of the former monastery became the cathedral church for the diocese of Oxford.

The feast day of Saint Frideswide was popularized in the 19th century by Henry Liddell, dean of Christ Church (and the father of Alice Liddell who inspired Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). Since then, it has been celebrated every year with a civic service in Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.

Today, Saint Frideswide’s Day is also celebrated as Oxfordshire Day. It is marked by flag-raising ceremonies held throughout the county. The flag of Oxfordshire was adopted in 2017. It is a dark blue banner with two white wavy stripes and a red ox head situated against them; there are a golden oak tree and a sheaf of wheat in the lower left and upper right corners, respectively.

The dark blue color is associated with the University of Oxford, the white stripes symbolize the Thames, the ox head alludes to the origin of the name “Oxford” (it is derived from a Middle English expression that means “ford of the oxen”), and the wheat sheaf and oak tree represent Oxfordshire’s agriculture and woodland.

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Oxfordshire Day in England, holidays in England, county days in England, Saint Frideswide, flag of Oxfordshire