Banbury Historical Society

If you’re fascinated by local history the Banbury Historical Society is the place for you.  From varied and lively lectures to summer visits to local places of interest, the Society offers a great opportunity for meeting new people within a relaxed atmosphere, dedicated to encouraging interest in the history of the town and its locality.

The Society runs a programme of events from September through to July and aims to provide something for everyone, from a programme of talks by authors and researching historians to a summer schedule, which might include visits to archaeological digs or walks exploring historical landscapes. 

Banbury is more than just an historic market town; it also fits in to national history as a steam engine producer and second world war aircraft manufacturer, as well as having a motor racing focus and being the home of various authors and artists.

Co-Chair Helen Forde explains: “Lectures are held monthly in Banbury from September through to April. All our presenters are experts in their field, speaking on a range of diverse historical topics such as the secrets behind the historical buildings of local towns like Chipping Norton, or more widely, some new perspective on Georgian Oxford or the latest research on landscape and garden archaeology and issues surrounding metal detecting and ‘treasure’.

“In the summer the Society offers a wide-ranging summer programme. This year we enjoyed a visit to the ancient site of the Rollright Stones, near Long Compton. Here, we were especially fortunate in having our own guide, an archaeologist of some renown who specialises in pre-history. Everyone found it extremely interesting.

Later in the summer we met in the village of Adderbury, with its fifteenth-century tythe barn and seventeenth-century Quaker Meeting House, which is one of the earliest in the country and still survives as a meeting place today.  In 2022, we’re looking forward to a guided visit to RAF Heyford to look at the relics of the Cold War when the enormous B52 bombers were flying regularly from Upper Heyford.” 

“We are also delighted to announce the re-opening of our Reference Library, on the top floor of the Banbury Museum building, refurbished and renamed the Rosemarie Higham room. This library will be open to the public one afternoon a week after Christmas for accessing a huge amount of local material including almost anything ever written about Banbury, and also much about Banbury’s hinterland in north Oxfordshire, south Warwickshire and south Northamptonshire. 

“Our Journal’Cake and Cockhorse’, has been published continuously over a period of sixty years. During this time, it has included more than 600 articles on the history of Banbury and the surrounding area. The searchable Cake and Cockhorse archive is available online via our website. 

The journal goes free to all members. More recent articles have covered such topics as the Victorian Poor in Neithrop (awarded a prize by the British Association for Local History), the pre-enclosure farming of Somerton, smallpox in eighteenth-century Banbury and Banburyshire’s Victorian Boatpeople.

Helen says: “Cake & Cockhorse is a really good place to start if you are curious about a locality or topic. It is equally stimulating to see what has and what has not been tackled already”.

The society has also published 37 volumes of local history to date. The most recent volume is Banbury Remembered by Brian Little and edited by Barrie Trinder. This book is now available in Banbury Museum shop in Castle Quay Shopping Centre.

What’s more, we’re hoping to expand this collection with research being conducted on restoration and stained glass in All Saints Church, Middleton Cheney. Current members receive a complimentary copy of each new volume as it is published.

Helen concludes: “The Historical Society has lots to offer anyone who would like to enhance their knowledge of local history.”

The Society meets for the lectures at 7.30 pm on the second Thursday of each month in the Education room of Banbury Museum (or alternatively, members can access lectures via zoom) where members and visitors are made very welcome.

For more information visit  https://banburyhistoricalsociety.org/ or e mail the membership secretary,  Margaret Little,  membership@banburyhistoricalsociety.org   or phone 01295 264972.