Timeline

Bicester Local History Society has created this Timeline from their archive of pictures and artefacts. The Society would welcome any historical images or artefacts that would be suitable for inclusion in the Bicester Timeline. Please contact the Society if you are able to help in this way.


//-300000000
300 Million B.C
The Carboniferous Period
The Bicester area was covered by Tropical Forests. Coal deposits can be found deep under the town.
//-150000000
150 Million B.C
The Jurassic Period
Dinosaurs roamed around the area. Their footprints have been found at Ardley Quarry.
//-3000000
3 Million B.C
The Ice Age
The last Ice Age brought arctic conditions to the Bicester region and did much to shape the present landscape.
//-500000
500,000 B.C
The Paleolithic Period
Small groups of early Humans and Neanderthals would have crossed the region.
//-4000
4,000 B.C
The Mesolithic Period
Bands of Mesolithic hunter/gathers set up camps near the river Bure. They left evidence of being the first people to live in Bicester.
//-2000
2,000 B.C
The Bronze Age
Bronze Age settlers began to clear the forests and settled as the first farmers in the Bicester area.
//-1500
1500,000 B.C
Bronze Age Barrows
Important evidence of Bronze Age barrows has been discovered close to the Kingsmere development to the south of the town.
//-800
800 B.C
The Iron Age
Evidence of Iron Age settlement in the area is widespread. The farmers traded with tribes in other parts of the country.
//-50
50 B.C
Iron Age Settlement
Excavations at Fields Farm revealed a late Iron Age Roundhouse. A number of animal sacrifices were found buried in ditches close to the house.
//43
43 A.D
Roman Occupation
A large Legionary Fort was built at Alchester, a mile south of Bicester. The future Emperor Vespasian was among the troops to serve there.
//60
60 A.D
Alchester Tombstone
A rare Roman tombstone was excavated on the Alchester site that described the life of a soldier who served at the fort.
//100
100 A.D
Roman Roads
The Romans built a network of roads in the area, such as Akeman Street, which is still in use today.
//100
100 A.D
Roman Temple
An important Roman Temple was built at Woodeaton. Archaeological finds from the site can be seen at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
//410
410 A.D
Local Conflicts
The area became unsettled when the Romans left. The Romano-British residents fought with surrounding tribes at this time.
//630
630 A.D
Bicester Founded
A settlement we now call Bicester was established on the present site of the town when it became impossible to continue to occupy the old Roman town of Alchester.
//700
700 A.D
Saxon Settlement
The Saxon settlement at Bicester had grown to include a substantial church and dwellings on both sides of the River Bure.
//800
800 A.D
Early Growth
Excavations at Saxon Court, in Chapel Street, identified a number of phases linked with the Saxon town's early growth.
//900
900 A.D
Saxon Window
An ancient Saxon window can be found in the tower of Caversfield Church. The oldest surviving example in the area.
//912
912 A.D
Viking Invasion
Bicester was attacked and destroyed by the Danes.
//1005
1005
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor, one of the last Saxon Kings, was born at Islip.
//1086
1086
The Domesday Book
Bicester (Bernecestre) is recorded as a settlement of two Manors and home to about two hundred people. The Lord of the Manor was Robert d'Oilly.
//1104
1104
St Edburg's Church
Built and extended throughout the Middle Ages, the earliest record of it dates from 1104.
//1150
1150
Open Field System
Mediaeval Open Fields surrounded the town and other local villages. Farming was the main occupation.
//1182
1182
Bicester Priory
Gilbert Bassett founded a Priory in the town. This contained the Shrine of the Saxon Saint Edburg, and was visited by many pilgrims.
//1239
1239
The Market
A licence was granted by King Henry III to hold a market in the present Market Square. A market to be held at King's End was granted a licence in 1377.
//1255
1255
Lower Heyford
A notable mediaeval bridge crosses the River Cherwell at Lower Heyford.
//1300
1300
Tithe Barns
A number of Tithe Barns had been built by this time to store crops. A fine example is still to be found at Upper Heyford.
//1349
1349
The Black Death
The plague hit Bicester, though no records survive of how many deaths it caused in the area.
25/5/1355
25th May 1355
St John's Hospital
Nicholas Jordon was granted a licence by King Edward III to build the hospital of St John for the relief of the sick and poor.
//1536
1536
The Dissolution
Bicester Priory was surrendered to King Henry VIII and its treasures seized. The Priory Church was demolished.
//1549
1549
Public Hanging
Richard Whyttington was hung in Bicester for taking part in the Buckingham and Oxfordshire Uprising.
//1577
1577
The Shambles
The Shambles and Town House were erected in the Market Square. They were demolished after a riot in 1826.
//1642
1642
The Civil War
The Bicester area was fought over at various times during The English Civil War. Both Oliver Cromwell and King Charles I are reputed to have spent time in the town.
//1682
1682
The Six Bells
The Six Bells, in Church Street, was built. The terrace contains a number of properties dating from this period that can be identified by date stones placed in their walls.
//1700
1700
Coaching Inns
A number of Bicester Coaching Inns became established such as The Kings Arms and The Crown.
//1700
1700
Toll Roads
Toll roads were constructed to improve communication which had deteriorated since medieval times. North Street was the site of an early toll gate.
//1700
1700
Country Estates
The wealthy gentry built large country estates in the area and created impressive parks and gardens such as those at Kirtlington, Bletchingdon and Rousham.
//1724
1724
Water Lane Fire
Fire ravages a part of Water Lane (Chapel Street) causing considerable damage.
//1729
1729
Congregational Church
The Congregational Church was built in Chapel Street in the area destroyed by fire.
//1732
1732
Town House Bell
Edward Hemmings cast the bell for the old Town House. It is now displayed at the entrance to The Garth Park.
//1753
1753
Enclosure Act
Bicester's Open Fields system was enclosed to improve agricultural efficiency. This was responsible for the countryside pattern we see today.
//1778
1778
Bicester Hunt
The Bicester Hunt was founded. The hunt was a popular pastime for the gentry and attracted members from as far as London.
//1784
1784
Balloon Flight
James Sadler made one of the first successful balloon flights from Oxford to Woodeaton.
//1790
1790
Oxford Canal
The Oxford Canal was completed which aided the transport of goods throughout the country.
//1795
1795
First Stage-Coach
The first stage-coach ran from Bicester to London.
//1830
1830
Otmoor Riots
Rioters on Otmoor rebelled against the agricultural reforms.
24/5/1830
24th May 1830
Pauper Emigration
A hundred pauper emigrants leave Bicester for North America.
/6/1832
June 1832
Cholera Epidemic
Cholera outbreak killed 64 residents of Bicester in six weeks. A memorial stone (pictured) can be found in the Churchyard.
//1836
1836
Bicester Workhouse
A purpose built Workhouse was opened at Highfield. It was demolished in 1966.
//1845
1845
Mains Gas
Gas was brought to Bicester in 1845. The photograph of the top of Sheep Street shows a gas lamp used for street lighting.
1/10/1850
1st October 1850
Oxford-Bletchley Railway
The Oxford to Bletchley railway was opened. A station was built at London Road.
//1857
1857
Police House & Courthouse
The Police Station in Church Street was built. Shortly after the Courthouse was built next door.
1/6/1859
1st June 1859
Bicester National Schools
Bicester National School was opened at the top of Cemetery Road. It later became St Edburg's Primary School.
//1865
1865
County Court
The County Court Hall in Sheep Street was first used.
24/12/1874
24th December 1874
Hampton Gay Disaster
The worst recorded railway disaster of the Victorian era took place at Hampton Gay on 24th December 1874. Thirty passengers were killed.
13/12/1882
13th December 1882
St Edburg's Hall
St Edburg's Hall was opened and became a valued venue for recreational functions for many years.
//1888
1888
Lord Jersey Cup
The Lord Jersey Challenge Football Cup is one of the oldest competitions in the country. The 1888 winners are pictured above.
//1905
1905
Mains Water
Mains water was piped through the town.
//1906
1906
Great Western Railway
Construction of the Great Western Railway (Bicester North) commenced. The line opened in 1910.
//1910
1910
Cattle Market
The final Cattle Market took place in Sheep Street. The market then moved to a new site in Victoria Road.
//1911
1911
Forced Landing
An aeroplane made a forced landing near to Launton.
//1914
1914
Bicester VAD Hospital
Bicester Hall (Hometree House) was used as a troop hospital during the First World War.
//1918
1918
Bicester Aerodrome
Bicester Aerodrome was opened to train Flying Corps pilots towards the end of the First World War.
19/9/1924
19th September 1924
County School
Bicester County School was opened at Bicester Hall with forty three pupils.
29/6/1933
29th June 1933
Open Air Swimming Pool
Bicester Open Air Swimming Pool, built by the Causeway, was opened.
//1939
1939
Evacuees
Bicester received many evacuees from London at the start of the Second World War.
//1939
1939
Prototype Test Flights
Secret flights of the prototype Halifax heavy bomber took place at R.A.F. Bicester.
/10/1939
October 1939
Causeway Flooding
Serious flooding took place in the Causeway.
/7/1940
July 1940
George VI Visit
King George VI visited Bicester Aerodrome.
//1941
1941
Bicester COD
Construction began at the Central Ordinance Depot, Bicester. It was to become one of the armed forces major supply bases in the Second World War.
//1954
1954
Plane Crash
An R.A.F. training plane crashed into houses in Priory Road.
//1963
1963
Hedges Block Demolishes
Hedges Block, for many years a dominant feature of Market Hill, was demolished as part of a road widening scheme.
10/5/1965
10th May 1965
Royal Visit
Queen Elizabeth II visited Bicester Ordnance Depot, and the town, for the first time.
//1980
1980
RAF Upper Heyford
R.A.F. Upper Heyford became an important airbase for the United States Air Force during the Cold War. F111 bombers from the base carried nuclear weapons.
26/11/1988
26th November 1988
Crown Walk Opened
The Crown Walk Shopping Centre opened as part of a town centre redevelopment scheme.
/1/1991
January 1991
M40 Motorway
The M40 motorway linking London and Birmingham opened in January 1991. It has had a major effect on traffic use in the area.
//1994
1994
Pedestrianisation
Sheep Street was fully pedestrianised. It remains one of the important shopping centres in the town.
26/4/1995
26th April 1995
Bicester Village
Bicester Village Retail Outlet attracts over three million shoppers a year. It is a major tourist attraction in the area.
 

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A more detailed chronology can be viewed here.


Copyright: While every effort has been made to contact the copyright owners of the pictures used in the Timeline, it is possible that some have not been traced. Those concerned are asked to accept the Society’s apologies.