Bicester Town In Oxfordshire, South East England

8-Digital-ImagePlaceHolder2Bicester is a town in Oxfordshire, England which boasts a population of 28,672 (as of 2001). The town has a rich history that goes back to Anglo-Saxon times, but the first time the town was documented was in the Doomsday Book of 1086.

Medieval Times

Wooden castles were built in the area during medieval times, and the Doomsday Book points to economic and population growth during this time. During the 11th century, there seems to have been around 200 residents of Bicester, but by the 16th century this had risen to about 500. A market at King’s End helped the growth of the small town. The Priory, or monastery, was completed in 1320, and the church of St. Edburg was an important pilgrimage site at the time. The Priory was torn down in 1536 when the monasteries were dissolved.

Tudor and Stuart Periods

During the Tudor and Stuart periods, many of the churches in the area were remodeled in favor of a more plain style thanks to the Reformation and the desire to remove all Catholic symbols from churches. Only some of the previous decorations survive as evidence of earlier time periods. The Reformation was also responsible for the closing of the Priory as England cut itself off from the Catholic Church, even as many in the area continued to practice Catholicism in secret. Most residents of the area made a living from agriculture.

Georgian Era

During the Georgian Era, farmers were beginning to use more scientific methods of farming. This gave the rich landowners more money, but the actual laborers still lived in poverty. The Oxford Canal was opened in 1790, and it helped increase the prosperity of the area. The Otmoor Riots that took place just outside of Bicester during the 19th century were one result of the laborers unhappiness with their unjust situation. The leaders of the riot were arrested but later released, and the area had reached a calmer time by 1836.

Victorian Era

Although the residents of Bicester still relied on farming more than anything else, during the Victoria Era, a clock making industry had developed in Bicester. Another industry in Bicester was Oxford Clays. The pits that were used to mine the clay can still be seen around Bicester today. The Workhouse, a factory where textiles were made, became one of the largest buildings in Bicester. This is also the time period when many of Bicester’s public services, such as police and fire services, were created.

Modern Times

Military bases were created in the area during the World Wars, and this led to an increase in Bicester’s population. The Royal Air Force built Bicester Air Field during World War I, which became important training fields later on. America even used Bicester’s air fields during the Cold War. During World War II, many people who had been evacuated from London came to Bicester, but even in Bicester, air raids were a constant threat. The Great Train Robbery in 1963 helped Bicester capture national attention when the people responsible hid in the area.

There is no doubt that Bicester is a small English town that is full of history. It is a town that has roots far back in time, and even in modern times, it has gathered more than its fair share of stories. There is no doubt that there is a story in this town’s past to interest just about anyone.


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