A few short miles north of Oxford, Bicester is a town with a decent center. People have been doing business in the center of town for almost 800 years, but today Bicester is combined with a more exclusive form of commerce. Located on the edge of town, Bicester Village is a luxury shopping mall attracting large numbers of tourists, mainly from outside the EU. After discovering one or two high-end bargains, you should take a detour to the town center, which is filled with relics dating back 500 years. Let’s explore the Best Things to do in Bicester Village with us.
Stop At The Magnificent St Edburg’s Church
Located in Bicester’s medieval center in Church Street. The church was drastically remade in the 12th century by Normans. It is a very busy and well-attended church. The church has a tranquil environment coupled with stunning architecture and beautiful stained glass windows. Holy Communion at 8 am 9:30 am and 11 am on Sunday, and mid-week Holy Communion at 10 am every Wednesday. St Edburg’s is a haven where you can appreciate peace and tranquillity and engage in quiet contemplation. The Best Things to Do in Bicester Village!
Bicester’s award-winning town park was private land until the last landowner passed away in 1946 and the park was purchased by the local council.
Garth House here is an old hunting lodge, built-in 1840 and now housing Bicester Town Council. The park meanwhile has fastidiously tended formal gardens, a bandstand for Sunday concerts in summer, a children’s playground, and a cafe in a new pavilion. Stop at the entrance to get a closer look at the park’s fine wrought iron gates.
Here you’ll see a bell cast in the old Bicester Foundry in 1732. This used to be the call bell at the Town Hall and Shambles until they were pulled down in 1826.
The first of some obligatory excursions near Bicester, Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site ten miles west, on the edge of the Cotswolds.
Together with grounds landscaped by Capability Brown, this Baroque house is hailed as an archetype for English stately architecture in the 18th century.
Brown’s encompassing park is a “naturalistic Versailles”, while the house by Sir John Vanbrugh is the best expression of the short-lasting English Baroque style.
Blenheim Palace is the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough gifted to the first duke by Queen Anne for the decisive victory at the Battle of Blenheim (1704) in the War of the Spanish Succession.
On Wednesdays, you can pay a visit to this National Trust site on the grounds of a former manor house.
Boarstall Tower has rather a sad story to tell. Built-in the 14th century, the estate was acquired by the Aubrey family after the English Civil War.
The house was abandoned and demolished after Sir John Aubrey’s six-year-old son died suddenly in 1777. All that remained was the magnificent 14th-century gatehouse, which lay empty for decades before being turned into a home in the early 1900s.
Given the romantic scene, Boarstall became a venue for opulent parties, attended by the likes of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier.
The former RAF Bicester, a quick hop from the town center was sold off in 2013 to a company aiming to develop the first business park in the UK devoted to heritage aviation and motoring.
The airfield’s fine 1920s and 30s brick buildings, hangars and tree-lined have been restored and a whole directory of specialist restorers, component manufacturers, upholsterers, metalworkers, and dealers have moved in.
You can take a flight in a Tiger Moth with Finest Hour Experiences, or drive a race-car, which we’ll talk about next.
Bicester Heritage has also become a venue for events like the Sunday Scramble in October when you can see inside the many workshops at the park, and the Flywheel Festival in June to watch rarely-seen planes and cars in action.
Historic Town Trail
The best way to explore the town of Bicester is by taking a self-guided tour by downloading the Historic Town Trail designed by the enthusiasts from Bicester Local History Society, and it provides lesser known interesting facts about the town. The guide also contains historical information about the city and a map of the city with 18 stops around points of interest. The Historic Town Trail lets you discover all the famous cultural and historical places around Bicester.