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Banbury in Oxfordshire, local history and information.


The Oxford Canal near Banbury

The Oxford Canal near Banbury, Oxfordshire. © Copyright Stephen McKay | Licensed

Most people when thinking of Banbury in Oxfordshire also think of the well-known nursery rhyme. The fine lady in the rhyme was a member of the Fiennes family who lived at Broughton Castle. The original cross in Banbury was destroyed by the Puritans in 1602, along with The High Cross, The Bread Cross and The White Cross, and the one that stands today is a Victorian replacement.

To many historians, Banbury had a knack for destroying its own history although many little medieval streets and fine old houses still remain. In 1792 the citizens of Banbury managed to blow up their Norman parish church with gunpowder - only to build a neo-classical church one year later in 1793. Fortunately, the old gabled vicarage of 1649 was saved. The town also managed to dispose of a fine collection of silver in the early nineteenth-century. The famous Reindeer Inn in Parsons Street dismantled and sold its priceless Globe room in 1912 which had 16th-century windows and panelled walls. However, Banbury is now an important business and retail centre and has excellent road links with the north and south of England. The M40 motorway now brings London and Birmingham within easy reach and the main railway station is served by trains from London and Birmingham via Reading and Oxford.

Banbury stands at the junction of two ancient roads: Salt Way which was used for the transportation of salt, and Banbury Lane which originally started from just outside Northampton. Banbury Castle, which was built from 1135 by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, was besieged during the English Civil War as Banbury was once a Royalist town because of its close proximity with Oxford which was the King's capital. The castle was demolished after the civil war due mainly to the inhabitants of Banbury being mostly Puritan. Banbury later became pro-Parliamentarian and was a centre of operations for Oliver Cromwell. It is said that the Battle of Edge Hill was planned in a back room of the old Reindeer Inn which can still be seen and visited.

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