Charter 400





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The Virtual Charter 400 Tapestry








About Banbury

June 2008 has been be a special time for Banbury, as it marked the 400th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to the town by King James I.

The town’s history actually dates back to Saxon times, when it was one of a pair of hamlets, Banesberie and Grimsberie, either side of the River Cherwell. The two were later joined together and the enlarged town received a Charter of Incorporation in 1554. However, it was only after the Council petitioned King James I to grant a new Royal Charter, establishing the borough as a mayoral town, that Banbury really grew in status.

Banbury became a staunchly protestant town with strong leanings towards non-conformism and Puritanism, and the famous Puritan Vicar, William Whately, used the Great Fire of 1628 as an opportunity to breathe fire and brimstone himself on his parishioners, attributing the fire to their sinful ways. The townspeople still retain a highly independent streak, though tempered now with a marked tolerance and friendliness towards newcomers and people of different backgrounds and views.

Banburyshire – the area around Banbury - can fairly be described as the cradle of the Civil War, with the Royalist siege of Broughton Castle, the Parliamentarian sieges of Banbury Castle, the Battles (well, skirmishes really) of Easington and Cropredy and, of course, the great Battle of Edgehill.

Banbury has always been the centre of a rich farming area and its geographical position – with excellent communications by road, canal and rail - led to its becoming a market centre for much of England and Wales. It became an industrial centre too, with food products, brewing, weaving (including the most important plush industry in Britain), and later with aluminium and motor parts. Today, it has moved on to embrace the financial sector and the new technologies, and is a centre of motor sports.   

 Taking the long view we can see that the granting of the Royal Charter charter in June 1608 has proved to be a pivotal event in Banbury’s history. It gave it the impetus to grow into an important market town, the focus of the wider area known as Banburyshire and the centre of the M40 Corridor, a major region of economic growth and technological innovation.

 It is this we are celebrating in the Charter 400 Tapestry.

 We are also celebrating that Banbury is now home to Agnes Court, the new Oxfordshire Cheshire Home, right in the centre of the town.