Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for BICESTER

BICESTER-popularly Bister-a town, two townships, a parish, a subdistrict, and a district in Oxford. The town stands in a rather flat situation, on Akemanstreet, and on the Oxford and Bletchley railway, near the ancient Alcester, 12 miles NNE of Oxford. It was called by the Saxons Burenceaster or Bernaceaster; was probably built, in the time of Birinus, from the ruins of Alcester; and was a frontier garrison of the West Saxons against the Mercians. An Augustinian priory, dedicated to St. Edburgh, was founded at it, in 1182, by Gilbert Basset, baron of Hedingdon; and given, at the dissolution, to Charles, Duke of Suffolk. Both parties, in the civil war of the time of Charles I., inflicted damage on it; and the royalists, in 1643, were defeated in a skirmish here. A fragment of the priory, now a dwelling house, still exists; a spring called St. Edburgh's well, formerly held in high repute for medicinal virtue, is in the neighbourhood; and a path, called Edburg balk, a corruption of St. Edburgh's walk, leads from the priory to the well. Numerous ancient coins and other relics have been found. The town is neat; contains many recently rebuilt houses; and has, of late years, been much extended by new streets and buildings. The parish church is spacious; was erected in 1400, on the site of the priory church; has a seemingly Saxon arch, early English and decorated nave, and perpendicular tower; was recently restored and adorned, at a cost of £3,500; and has a brass and many tombs. There are three dissenting chapels, a cemetery of 1861, large national schools, a workhouse built at a cost of £4,640, and charities £247. A handsome county courthouse was erected in 1864. The town has a head post office,‡ a railway station, a banking office, and two chief inns; is a seat of petty sessions; and publishes two weekly newspapers. A weekly market is held on Friday; and fairs on Easter Friday, the first Friday of June and of July, 5 Aug., the Friday before and the Friday after 11 Oct., and the second Friday after 11 Oct., and the Friday after 11 Dec. Manufactures in clothing, sacking, and pale ale are carried on. Pop., 2,798. Houses, 620.

The two townships are called Bicester-Market-End and Bicester-Kings-End. B.-Market-End contains most of the town, and includes Wretchwick hamlet. Acres, 1,040. Pop., 2,711. Houses, 593. B.-Kings-End lies to the N; had formerly a market, which was removed to B.-Market-End; and contains Bicester House and the site of Bigenhall. Acres, 1,540. Pop., 338. Houses, 64.—The parish consists of the two townships. Acres, 2,580. Real property, £10,498. Pop., 3,049. Houses, 657. The property is not much divided. The hunting establishment of T. T. Drake, Esq., the master of the Bicester hounds, is at Stratton-Andley, 2 miles N of the town. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford. Value, £270.* Patrons, the Trustees of the late Sir G. P. Turner.-The subdistrict contains the parishes of Bicester, Stratton-Andley, Caversfield, Fringford, Newton-Purcell, Shelswell, Hethe, Cottesford, Tusmore, Hardwick, Stoke-Lyne, Launton, Merton, Ambrosden, Piddington and Boarstall, the last electorally in Bucks. Acres, 33,949. Pop., 8,115. Houses, 1,749. The district comprehends also the subdistrict of Bletchington, containing the parishes of Bletchington, Ardley, Bucknell, Middleton-Stoney, Chesterton Wendlebury, Weston-on-the-Green, Charlton-upon-Otmoor, Oddington, Noke, Islip, Kirtlington, Lower Heyford, Upper Heyford, Somerton, Fritwell, and Souldern. Acres, 64,127. Poor-rates in 1866, £9,440. Pop. in 1861, 15,555. Houses, 3,378. Marriages in 1866, 80; births, 562,- of which 40 were illegitimate; deaths, 299,-of which 100 were at ages under 5 years, and 16 at ages above 85 years. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60,1,085; births, 5,371; deaths, 3,277. The places of worship in 1851 were 33 of the Church of England, with 7,655 sittings; 9 of Independents, with 973 s.; 2 of Baptists, with 150 s.; 14 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1,519 s.; 2 of Primitive Methodists, with 110 s.; and one of Roman Catholics, with 170 s. The schools were 26 public day schools, with 1,073 scholars; 26 private day schools, with 534 s.; 52 Sunday schools, with 2,320 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 15 s.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "two townships, a parish, a subdistrict, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 4th order divisions")
Administrative units: Bicester CP       Bicester SubD       Bicester PLU/RegD       Oxfordshire AncC
Place: Bicester

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