A relatively unspoilt market town that originated as a small agricultural centre around the 7th century. Bicester (pronounced Bister) is an old Saxon word meaning 'the fort of the warriors', indicating that a fort (possibly of Roman origin) was once in the area.
Bicester Market Place © TAB
Many of the town's original half-timbered and stone buildings still remain in good standing, including the fine 12th-c church of St. Edburg's, with its original Saxon arch and Norman font. The remains of an Augustinian Priory can be found nearby that was once an important centre of pilgrimage for the area. The street going from the town towards the church has many fine old stone houses, including The Old Vicarage (circa 1500). There are also a number of fine 16th-c gabled houses in Sheep Street.
The old Market Square still retains much of its original heritage and a traditional market-day is held here on Friday’s, along with a Farmers' Market on the second Thursday of the month. The old building facing the Market was once used as the Town Hall.
Sheep Street © TAB
The town centre has a good selection of independent shops, inns and restaurants - from Oriental and Indian restaurants to contemporary dining and traditional tea rooms. Bicester also has two thriving out-of-town retail centres, attracting many thousands of shoppers to the town each week; Bicester Village with over 130 designer & factory outlets and boutiques and Bicester Avenue Garden Centre & Retail Park.
The town is the centre of the Bicester Hunt, established in the late 18th-c
Visitor Information Centre:
|86 Pingle Dr, Bicester OX26 6WD - Tel: 01869 366266|
Follow the Historic town trail from Bicester Village to the town centre. A trail map is available from the Visitor Information Centre.
Fringford, Cottisford and Juniper Hill just to the north-east of Bicester have been immortalised in Flora Thompson’s famous trilogy ‘Lark Rise to Candlewood’.
The park has award-winning gardens with a traditional Victorian bandstand and children's playground. The park plays host to many events, including an annual August Jazz Festival.
Located 4 miles west of Bicester, Rousham House is one of Britain’s finest Jacobean mansions. Constructed by Sir Robert Dormer in 1635. The gardens were designed by William Kent in 1765. Read more about Rousham House...
Although there are no Roman remains within the town to justify its "cester" ending, just a mile to the south is the site of old Roman Alchester. Located on the line of an old Roman road, suggesting there may have once been a military staging post here.