Charlbury's parish church of St.Mary the Virgin is by tradition associated with Saint Diuma, the first Bishop of Mercia, though the present building has some late Norman architecture work it is mainly of the 13th century and 14th century. On the outskirts of Charlbury is Lee Place, the former Dower house of Ditchley and now the summer home of the Duke of Marlborough. Cornbury Park, now owned by Lord Rotherwick, contains a great 17th century country house designed partly by architect Hugh May.
It is served by Charlbury railway station, a Brunelian station in the town, with regular rail services south to Oxford and London among others, and north terminating at Hereford, Great Malvern and Worcester.
The origin of the town's name is a matter of some dispute, with some holding it to relate to the name 'Charles' and others to the Old English word ceorl (probably pronounced ) meaning "freeman of the lowest class", whence the Modern English words "churl" and "churlish" (which are now used only in a derogatory sense). For this reason some hold the latter two pronunciations more valid than the former, and the current spelling incorrect, preferring 'Chorlbury'. Interestingly both the name 'Charles' and the word 'ceorl'/'churl' derive from the same Proto-Germanic root word * thought to have originally meant 'old man', adding another twist to the dispute.
There are a number of annual traditional events which take place in Charlbury. The town has recently become well known locally for the annual Charlbury Riverside Festival, the largest free rock and world music festival in Oxfordshire, held in June on a public area of watermeadow encircled by the Evenlode known as the Mill Field as it was the location of an old watermill, although this event did not take place in 2006 due to crowd violence at the previous year's festival. It will be held again in 2008. Another popular event is the Beer Festival in which a wide range of traditionally produced English beers and ciders are available, with food and live music also provided. This event normally takes place on the second Saturday in July, with all money raised going to local groups. Also in July is the Cornbury Festival, a weekend long music festival at Cornbury Park. There is also the annual Street Fair in mid September, with stalls selling a variety of goods, parades, Morris dancing, music, and other entertainment. This is held to raise funds for the upkeep of the two community buildings in Charlbury, the Corner House and the War Memorial Hall.
Despite its small population (around 1,400 houses) and the increasing tendency of residents to commute to work in larger conurbations, Charlbury does retain a number of shops including a Co-op and Londis supermarkets, as well as four pubs, (The Bell, The Bull, The Rose and Crown and Ye Olde Three Horseshoes), a gift shop, a bookshop, a wedding dress shop, an oven shop, a newsagents, a garage, a second-hand car shop, two estate agents, a men's hairdressers, a women's hairdressers, a post office, and a café. Increasingly people are moving to Charlbury to work from home, increasing commercial and social activity within the town.
Charlbury also has a recently renovated town museum, open mainly at weekends.