Bicester - Encyclopedia

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BICESTER, a market town in the Woodstock parliamentary division of Oxfordshire, England, 12 m. N.N.E. of Oxford by a branch of the London & North-Western railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 3023. It lies near the northern edge of the flat open plain of Ot Moor, in a pastoral country. The church of St Eadburg, the virgin of Aylesbury, is cruciform, with a western tower, and contains examples of Norman and each succeeding style. There is, moreover, in the nave a single rude angular arch considered to be Saxon. Incorporated with a farm-house, scanty Perpendicular remains are seen of an Augustinian priory founded at the close of the 12th century. Bicester has considerable agricultural trade and a brewing industry. It is a favourite hunting centre.

The termination tester, commonly indicating Roman origin, does not .do so here, and is perhaps copied from Alchester and Chesterton, 2 m. west of Bicester, where there is a small Roman site, probably a wayside village, at the meeting of roads from the south (Dorchester), west, north-east and east.

Bicester (Berncestre, Burencestre, Bissiter), according to the Domesday survey, was held by Robert d'Oily. In 1182 Gilbert Basset founded here an Augustinian priory, which from that date until its dissolution in 1538 became the centre of the industrial life and development of the town. In 1253 William Longspey obtained a grant of a fair at the feast of St Edburg, and a Friday market is mentioned in the 14th century. Richard II. granted a Monday market and a fair at the feast of St James the Apostle, and in 1440 an additional market was granted to be held in that part of the town called Bury-End, from this date known as Market-End. Bicester never possessed any manufactures of importance, but the fairs and markets were much frequented, and in the 16th century the cattle market was especially famous.

See J. C. Blomfield, History of the Deanery of Bicester (London, 1882-1894); John Dunkin, History of Bicester (London, 1816).

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