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Pocket Guide: Banbury

Banbury stands on the River Cherwell in Oxfordshire about 64 miles to the north of London. On the edge of the Cotswolds, it's a picturesque market town surrounded by beautiful countryside, and based at an Oxfordshire hotel or B&B in the area you'll have easy access to the attractions here. Despite much recent development, Banbury still has many quiet corners and old alleyways to explore, and numerous little independent shops selling everything from craft items to bargain antiques. Famous people have passed through Banbury, including Jonathan Swift, who apparently came up with the name 'Gulliver' from a tombstone in the local churchyard.

Banbury Attractions

At the centre of Banbury you'll see the famous Banbury Cross. The original cross was demolished by Puritans in the 18th Century, but this one was later erected in the 19th Century for a royal wedding. Elizabeth I visited Banbury in Tudor times and this was celebrated in the famous rhyme which begins, 'Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross'. Another specialty of the town is the delicious Banbury Cake, a confection composed of fruits and pastry which is still being produced today. These cakes have been so popular at various times that they were exported to India, Australia and America. From your Oxfordshire guesthouse or hotel, stroll down to the market square or high street and enjoy one with a cup of tea in one of Banbury's numerous cosy tearooms.

Historic Banbury

Banbury traces its colourful and eventful history back to Saxon times. Its very name derives from a local chieftain in the 500s, who built a stockade here and set the town on the map. It was called Banesberie at the time of the Conquest and is mentioned as such in the Domesday Book, and by the 13th Century had become an important centre for wool trading, bringing much prosperity to the townsfolk. Although many buildings were burnt down in the early-17th Century, enough of them have survived to delight visitors to Banbury to this day and they form a picturesque backdrop worthy of any German stadt!