Past Talks

“The Bicester Gang” and other stories of Oxford Castle – including a personal Norman, Indian and local association

Date: 15th October 2018
Speaker: Mark Davies

The Bicester Gang & Other Stories of Oxford Castle - Mark Davies

Mark Davies began his intriguingly-named talk with a brief history of Oxford Castle.  Built in 1071 by Norman baron Robert D’Oyly, the castle was of typical Norman design.   Most of the original moated, wooden motte and bailey castle was replaced in stone in the late 12th or early 13th century and by the 14th century the site became used principally  for county administration and as a prison.  St George's Tower is now believed to pre-date the remainder of the castle and be a watch tower associated with the original Saxon west gate of the city.

In 1142 Empress Matilda escaped from King Stephen’s forces by crossing the frozen mill steam dressed in white as a camouflage in the snow. 

The last assizes were held at the castle in 1577 and were called the ‘Black Assize’ as three hundred people died from what was thought to be gaol fever.

King James sold the castle and by 1613 it was in the ownership of Christ Church College. 

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