BANBURY, a parish, market town, and municipal and parliamentary borough, chiefly in the hundred of Banbury and county of Oxford, but partly also in the hundred of King's Sutton, in the county of Northampton, 23 miles to the N. of Oxford, and 73 miles to the N.W. of London, or 77 miles by the London and North-Western railway, with which it is connected by a branch line from Bletchley. It is also a station on the Oxford and Birmingham section of the Great Western railway. The town stands in a pleasant valley on the banks of the river Cherwell, and includes the hamlets of Neithrop, Grimsbury, Nethercote, Wickham, and Hardwick. It is a place of great antiquity, and was called by the Saxons Banesbyrig. Roman relics have frequently been found in the town and neighbourhood. In the first half of the 12th century, a fortress was founded here by Alexander de Blois, Bishop of Lincoln, then lord of the manor of Banbury. It continued to be the occasional residence of the bishops till the reign of Edward VI. Danesmore, a level tract 3 miles from Banbury, was the scene of the battle of Banbury in 1469, when the Yorkists, led by the Earl of Pembroke, were totally defeated by the great Earl of Warwick, the kingmaker, and last of the Barons. Pembroke and his brother, and several other gentlemen, were captured the day after, and beheaded. The manor came into the possession of the crown in the reign of Edward VI., and the castle was granted by Queen Elizabeth to the Saye and Soles of Broughton. During the Civil War of the 17th century the castle was first garrisoned for the parliament, but was surrendered to the royalists in 1642, after the battle of Edgehill. It stood a siege of thirteen weeks in 1644, and another of ten weeks in 1646, when it was given up to the parliament, and was a short time afterwards dismantled. Scarcely any traces of it are visible. A fragment of the strong wall now forms the foundation of a lowly human dwelling-place, and garden vegetables grow on the site of the vanished fort. The market-cross, famous in all nurseries, no longer exists: it was destroyed by the Puritans in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Banbury, which was a borough by prescription, received a charter of incorporation from Queen Mary, which was subsequently confirmed and enlarged. It is now governed, under the Reform Act, by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, with the style of “the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of the borough of Banbury.” The borough has returned one member to parliament since the reign of Queen Mary. The mayor is the returning officer. The limits, however, of the municipal and parliamentary boroughs are not co-extensive, the former comprising, according to the census of 1861, only 790 inhabited houses, with a population of 4,055; while the latter includes 2,067 inhabited houses, with a population of 10,194. The borough magistrates hold petty sessions once a-week, and general sessions every half-year. Ban bury is the seat of a Poor-law Union and of a County Court district. The town is generally well built, and the streets are broad, paved, and lighted with gas. Great improvements were made under the authority of an act passed in the reign of George IV. And the continued prosperity of the borough is shown by the rise of its population from 8,715 in 1851 to 10,194 in 1861, showing an increase in the decennial period of 1,479. The trade of the town has long flourished, and is greatly indebted to the Oxford and Coventry canal, by which it is connected with the general system of inland communication. The district is one of remarkable fertility, and the principal occupations of the people are those connected with agriculture. There is a manufacture of plush, shag, and girth webbing, though of less extent than it was formerly. Farming implements are made. The “cakes “are still famous, and are exported in large quantities, and a superior cheese is made though it is doubted by some whether it be the kind so much in repute in the 16th century. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Oxford, and in the patronage of the bishop. The church is a large modern structure, erected in 1797, on the site of a fine ancient one which, with its monuments, was entirely demolished. There is also a district church in South Banbury, called Christ Church, the living of which is a perpetual curacy of the value of £180, likewise in the gift of the bishop There are chapels belonging to the Roman Catholics, Unitarians, Friends, Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists. A free grammar school here attained such reputation that it served as a model for St. Paul's School, and the Manchester Free Grammar School. It has long ceased to exist. Here is a blue-coat school founded in 1705, and subsequently united with the National school. The former has an income from endowment of £70 a-year. There is an almshouse for twelve persons, and some other charitable institutions. The annual value of the parochial charities is £263. The town has an ancient gaol, a modern town hall, a savings-bank, a mechanics' institution, a library, and a racecourse. The principal seats in the neighbourhood of Banbury are -Wroxton Abbey, the seat of Colonel North; Broughton Castle, the seat of Lord Saye and Selo; and Neithrop House, that of Miss Milward. Two hospitals, dedicated, one to St. John, the other to St. Leonard, formerly existed here. The remains of the former are converted into a dwelling-house: of the latter no ruins are left. The market, which is held on Thursday, is large and well attended. Fairs are held in every month throughout the year except February and November.The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003
An index by Peter Cook of names found in Banbury - A History.
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