Market town in Oxfordshire, central England, on the River Cherwell, 40 km/25 mi north of Oxford, and administrative centre for Cherwell District Council; population (2001) 41,800. Industries include food processing (Kraft Jacobs Suchard), traditional brewing (Hook Norton, Merivales), printing, and the manufacture of car components, electrical goods, and aluminium. The Banbury Cross of the nursery rhyme ‘Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross’ was destroyed by the Puritans in 1602, but replaced in 1859.
There was a castle in Banbury from 1125, although the structure was destroyed during the English Civil War. In 1469, during the Wars of the Roses, the Yorkists suffered a defeat nearby at the Battle of Banbury. In the English Civil War, Banbury surrendered to Charles I in 1642, and was besieged by the Parliamentarians, led by John Fiennes, in 1643, 1644, and in 1646, when the garrison finally surrendered. The town had been an important wool-trading centre, especially in the 13th century, although the opening of the Oxford Canal in 1790, that connected Banbury to the Midlands, furthered the growth of new industries.
Features The 19th-century Banbury Cross was erected to celebrate the marriage of the Princess Royal to the Prince of Prussia, although it was completed 18 months after the wedding. There is a neoclassical church designed by Samuel Cockerell, that was built to replace the town's medieval church after it was destroyed with gunpowder in 1792. Broughton Castle, a moated 14th-century fortified manor house, lies 5 km/3 mi to the southwest. While urban regeneration has replaced many of Banbury's historical buildings, several period facades remain, such as the 17th century facade on the Edward Vivers building, and the entrance to the Corn Exchange (1857) on the Castle Shopping Centre. Banbury Museum has permanent exhibitions of local history.