Banbury is a market town in the Cherwell district of Oxfordshire England, which in 1991 had a population of 39,900. The River Cherwell flows through the town.
Banbury's main industries include: car components, electrical goods, aluminium, food processing, and printing.
There was a Roman villa at nearby Wykham Park, and Banbury developed in the Anglo-Saxon period under strong Danish influence. Its medieval prosperity was based on wool. Banbury castle was built from 1135 by the bishops of Lincoln, and survived into the Civil War, when it was besieged. Banbury, due to its proximity to Oxford, the King's capital, was a Royalist town, but the inhabitants were known to be strongly Puritan. The castle was demolished after the war.
Banbury remained a rural market town, until the construction of the Oxford Canal in 1790 which greatly aided the town's growth. Later the railway age also helped its expansion: in 1850 the first rails reached the town, one line from the London and North Western Railway and one from the Great Western Railway.
The improvements in communications thus effected gave rise to more growth, which has continued until the present day, accelerated by the completion of the M40 motorway which has given even faster access by car to London.
The Nursery rhyme Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross refers to a cross destroyed by puritans in 1602 but replaced in 1858. Legend has it that the "Fine Lady" on the white horse was Lady Godiva, but this is unproven. It is also suggested that she may be a lady from the "Fiennes" family, a wealthy family who lived in Banbury around that time.
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