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The Exchange

The town on Banbury has long been renowned for its cakes.

14–15 Church Street, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 3BQ
Banbury’s former head post office, these premises were rebuilt in 1936, when the telephone exchange was added, giving the building its present name.

An illustration and text about the history of Banbury.

The text reads: It is thought that the area around Banbury was first occupied by the Dobunni tribe some 1500 years ago. The numerous hill forts in the region, such as Crouch Hill, date back to these distant times.

The Dobunni tribe later came under the jurisdiction of the Romans, who occupied this part of Britain following their invasion in 47AD.

The departure of the Romans in the 4th and early 5th centuries was followed by the invasion of the Saxons.

A battle was fought here in 556AD, enabling the victorious West Saxons to extend their kingdom. Eventually the Saxons lost control to the invading Danish armies, who arrived in 851AD. Much of Oxfordshire remained in Danish hands until the arrival of the Normans.

The castle built here in 1135 was a major turning point in the development of Banbury. Several medieval kings held royal courts here. The castle was involved in military action for the only time during the Civil War in the 1640s, and was demolished shortly after.

Above: Crouch Hill.

Prints and text about Banbury Cakes.

The text reads: The town on Banbury has long been renowned for its cakes. It is thought that these world famous products have been made in Banbury since the 16th century.

The Original Banbury Cake Shop was situated in Parson’s Street, opposite the Reindeer Inn. The shop survived well into the 1960s, when it was bought by developers.

For a time in the 18th century the cakes were made by Betty White. Her husband, Jarvis, advertised the wares to all and sundry claiming that they were light enough for a sparrow to fly off with one in its beak.

During the 19th century two other shops sold Banbury cakes – Claridge, also in Parson’s Street, and Betts in the High Street.

The coat of arms above the nameplate (on left side of the building) shows that Banbury cakes were appreciated in very high places. Betts was an ‘official purveyor to Her Majesty Queen Victoria’.

Although Banbury cakes are no longer on sale in this building, they can still be bought in the town.

As well as cakes, Banbury was once famous for its cheese. There is a reference to a Banbury cheese in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor. The trade in cheese must have been quite substantial as a Cheese Fair was held each year following the Michelmas Fairs. However, the Cheese Fair seems to have been abandoned during the second half of the 19th century.

A print of the lady on the white horse, Banbury.

Prints and text about the Town Hall.

The text reads: The proposal to build a new Town Hall on the site of an old rubbish tip in Bridge Street aroused considerable controversy. Nonetheless, the alternative suggestion to rebuild the old Town Hall in the Market Place lost out.

The old Town Hall was resited at Lower Cherwell Street and used as a warehouse. The foundation stone for the new building was laid by mayor Thomas Draper on 29 July 1853. When it was completed 18 months later (at a cost of £3386), a celebration dinner was held for 600 guests.

A clock was added in 1860 as well as a new council chamber some years later. The building also included the police station and the magistrates court, both of which were later relocated. Part of the Town Hall building was occupied later by the National Westminster Bank, which paid for refurbishments.

The photograph shows the Town Hall and the Cattle Market in the late 1870s. drovers and their cattle continued to be part of the Bridge Street scene until well into the inter-war years. The market has since been relocated, but Banbury is still one of the foremost cattle markets in Europe.

Prints of the post office.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.


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