New heritage guide unlocks Bicester’s historic past

Residents and visitors to Bicester will soon be able to take a self-guided tour around the town’s most historic sites, thanks to the introduction of a new heritage walk and informative map.

Published: Monday, 9th September 2019

Enthusiasts from Bicester Local History Society have devised the route and provided the information including some lesser known facts about the town, originally named Bernecestre, meaning ‘fort of warriors’ and dating back to around 600 AD.

A guide packed full of historical information, alongside a map of the walk, has been produced by Cherwell District Council, with the support of Bicester Village. The artwork has been created by Oxfordshire designer, Lyn Shields, who is also working on a mural to be installed at Bicester Library, detailing an illustrated timeline of Bicester’s past.

Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing, Cllr Andrew McHugh said: “We all know Bicester is changing, but this trail shows just how much the town has retained its historic buildings, particularly in the centre of the town. From its Saxon birth, through to it becoming a market town in the Middle Ages, Bicester has continually evolved.

“This walk not only gives residents and visitors a wonderful opportunity to learn more about what makes Bicester so special, it’s also a great way to build in some exercise, by walking around the town and keeping fit.”

The trail can be joined at any point and takes in historic King’s End, the Dovecote and Garth House. A leisurely walk takes around an hour, but it is possible to complete in around 30 minutes. The heritage trail adds to the three 5K health routes in Bicester, which encourage residents to follow the painted blue lines, offering a free and easy way to build fitness into daily routines.

A guide to accompany the walk can be collected at Bicester Library, while shoppers at Bicester Village can pick up a copy from the visitor centre there, encouraging them to venture into the town centre during their stay.

Cllr McHugh continued: “Some six million shoppers come to Bicester Village each year. By offering a guided walk from the venue into the town centre, traders on Sheep Street and the Market Square will gain access to new customers and potentially provide a boost to the local economy.”

The route will be officially launched during this month’s Bicester Festival, on Saturday 21 September, coinciding with the national Heritage Open Days. To celebrate, members from Bicester Local History Society will offer special guided walks at 11.00am and 2.00pm from outside the Dovecote in Old Place Yard.