Bicester is a historic town, originating in the Saxon era. Established in the 7th century as a central point in a series of ancient roads, the town has since been the site of many an interesting tale. To the first settlers and traders, the town was known as Berencester, though was later referenced in the Domesday book of 1086 as Berencestra. In which it is also recorded that the town was home to 200 people at that time.   

The earliest Norman settlement grew from the two manors of Bicester and Wretchwick, which were held by Robert D’Oilly, the builder of Oxford Castle.

Where the name Bicester is derived from is still uncertain, one theory is that it is derived from a personal name, Beorna, which means ‘warrior’ or ‘carrier’. Another states that Bicester is Latin and means ‘two forts’.

Modern Bicester would not be as we know it today if it were not for the opening of the railway in 1850. The line to Banbury opened on 1st May, with a 16 mile stretch of the Oxford line connecting Bletchley and Islip opening on the 1st October, 1850. This major development brought with it industry and jobs that helped to transform the area.

And yet, with the town’s continuous development and rich history, there is not a museum in sight today. Save Bicester Heritage, a display centre for historic cars and motorbikes. Which quite frankly, for those uninterested in automobiles, is not much of a place to visit.

Councillor John Broad said: “There are some artefacts around, but I believe they are held in museums around Oxfordshire and really should be on a site here in Bicester. There was some hope that Bicester Heritage, with a name like that, might allow one of the buildings at the aerodrome to be used as the town museum, but they are more interested in cars.”

Is Bicester gradually becoming all chromium and steel, taken over by corporates and chains, new-build flats and uniform shopping centres?

One local resident, seemingly unbothered by the lack of a museum, said: “As far as I’m aware there is no museum in Bicester, that said the museums in Oxford are excellent and it’s only a short trip on the train away.”   

But Councillor John Broad has wider concerns for the town: “I’m afraid Bicester is rapidly turning into a warehouse town with masses of dormitory housing and little or no facilities for the residents or for visitors - other than those who attend Bicester Village - to want to stay.”


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