There can’t be many galleries in the country that span a canal. Watch the narrow boats pass below you and look out to the Lift Bridge and lock gates beyond while looking back at the history of the Oxford Canal, those who worked on ‘the cut’ and Banbury’s role in the survival and revival of Britain’s inland waterways. Adjacent ‘Tooley’s Boatyard,’ with its working 18th century dry-dock and forge, is the oldest working dry-dock in the country.
Discover a taste of what has made Banbury famous over the years, including the ‘Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross’ nursery rhyme, Banbury Cakes and the Banbury Chapbooks. See also the town’s Elizabethan silverware and a 17th century town mace that is still in regular use for civic occasions.
This, our main gallery brings you on a journey through Banbury’s inspiring stories from 1600 to the present day. Find out about the dramatic history of this area during the Civil Wars with objects from Banbury Castle, whose sieges were repelled by the leadership of a teenager. Among the highlights of the exhibits are a rarely-surviving 17th century saddle; one of the best collections of costume in Oxfordshire and beautiful samples of plush woven in this area and used by royal families throughout Europe. Interactive displays and pull out drawers allow you to explore further, and children and adults alike will enjoy the Victorian toys.