King Alfred was born in 849 AD in Wantage at a time when it was an important  Saxon centre. The towns buildings are mostly 17th and 18th century with narrow  cobbled streets and passages.

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, part of which is 13th century contains  tombs of the Fitzwarren family into which Dick Whittington - four times Lord  Mayor of London - married. Wantage lies at the foot of the Downs and there are  numerous racing stables in surrounding villages. Nearby is the historic,  probably pre-Roman, Ridgeway track running from Ashbury to Streatley on the  Thames.

Wantage is also in the heart of an area of high technology close to AEA  Technology, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Culham Laboratory, Esso Research  Centre and the Williams Motor Racing Centre.

The town is undergoing great change with a new shopping centre about to be  built. The "in town" supermarket will be a useful addition to the shops in  Wantage. The town centre is being refurbished and the Town Council are keen to  see new shops and businesses move into the town and the nearby Wantage Business  Park.

Wantage has a thriving social life with many clubs and local organisations.  Music is important with a brass band in the first division and an operatic  society. A month long festival of music and arts is held in June and July. There  is a Dickensian Evening before Christmas when shops open late and the Town Mayor  and town Crier lead the townspeople and visitors around the town.

John Betjeman, Poet Laureate, lived in the town for many years and wrote a  number of poems about Wantage and the surrounding areas for example "Wantage  Bells" and "On Leaving Wantage". There is a strong local campaign to create a  Betjeman Memorial Park which would include a statue and display several of the  poet’s better known works.

King Alfred already has a statue, commissioned by Lord Wantage, and designed  and carved in 1877 by Count Gleichen, (a cousin of Queen Victoria) it stands the  town centre. On the base of the statue the following words are found:

Alfred found learning dead and he restored it
Education  neglected and he revived it
The laws powerless and he gave them force
The  church debased and he raised it
The land ravaged by a fearful enemy from  which he delivered it
Alfreds name will live as long as mankind shall  respect the past

Winston Churchill, not usually reputed for his modesty, when being told that  he must be the greatest Englishman that ever lived is supposed to have replied  "No ! The greatest Englishman that ever lived was King Alfred".