Banbury’s beauties

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross, to see a fine lady upon a white horse, with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, she shall have music wherever she goes. 

And so I set out to find this fine lady, who is now immortalized with a magnificent sculpture.  And to check out the origins of the nursery rhyme. As I expected, there are several versions and interpretations to choose from.

In medieval times there was an annual celebration where children rode hobby horses through the town, they were known as cock horses. Although an adults knee is also known as a cock horse-I shall leave you to draw your own conclusions about that one. The fine lady could be Elizabeth I, Lady Godiva, (Although it was in Coventry that she bared all) or Celia Fiennes, one of the family from nearby Broughton Castle, as in “see a Fiennes Lady”.

Whoever she is, she is celebrating spring, new growth and creativity. As she wears a crown of 13 spring flowers on her head which was originally meant to have 2 butterflies and a moth sitting on it, however before the bronze was finally cast, they fell off and landed on her hair and cloak, the sculptors liked it so left them there. She has bluebells and musical bells on her toes. And her horse is a Welsh Cob


A frog was added to the base later and indont known if it was deliberate, but it sits in a puddle after it has rained.

It really is a stunning sculpture and I returned on several days and each time found a new aspect of it to enjoy.

Banbury’s cross however was overshadowed by it’s Victorian benefactors. There have been several crosses in Banbury as it grew from a Roman settlement, through to a thriving medieval market town and stronghold for Oliver Cromwell. Those crosses have all gone now but the Victorians took every opportunity to erect a memorial to their greatness, this one was to celebrate the marriage of Victoria’s eldest daughter, also Victoria to Prince Frederick of Prussia, in 1859

I didn’t find any spring lambs in Banbury but I did discover one of the parks had an aviary

Banbury Banter

I have to apologise for a very sparse blog over the past few weeks.  We’ve had a mixture of some lovely cruising and several trips off the boat for various reasons.  At this time of year we celebrate a “royal” birthday and eat as much cake as possible.  There’s usually one of us that can legitimately blow out the candles. We even had a visit from Tim and Veve.

Anyway this is a boat blog and this week we are enjoying Banbury. The Oxford Canal runs straight through the centre of Banbury and the local authorities have taken advantage of this, creating a pleasant communal shared space.

However mooring is restricted to 48 hours so we stopped about a mile out of town.

We had the advantage of some noisy neighbours, 5 guard geese, who belonged to cottage opposite.

It was quite amusing watching people’s reaction to 5 hissing geese, made all the more hilarious because we had so much rain last week that the tow path had become a quagmire.

We’ll moor here again, 10 minutes walk to Tesco, and 30 minutes walk into town. And the neighbours kept us amused.

Company at Cropredy

We only stayed one night in Cropredy but it was a pretty mooring and I think we’ll do a bit more exploring on our return journey.

But next time we’ll try not to be cruising through on a Saturday morning because the canal becomes a super highway when the canoe club takes to the water.

We’re not complaining, it’s great to see so many people enjoying the canal but we did feel like we were having a Jurassic park moment when we, the lumbering brontosaurus was being chased by a pack of high speed velocaraptors.

There were lots of lovely things to see on this journey, the May blossom was glorious

And some not quite so pretty but still made us smile

It was only after we’d cruised past that we realised this boater had his trousers down, probably a good job I didn’t zoom in for the photo.

And of course every spring post should have an obligatory lamb