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A nursery rhyme, 'Ride a Cock Horse', has made Banbury one of the best-known towns in England. It has been suggested that the 'Fine Lady' of the nursery rhyme may have been Lady Godiva or Elizabeth I. More likely it was a local girl who rode in a May Day procession. The original cross was pulled down at the end of the 16th century. The present cross was erected in 1859 to celebrate the wedding of the then Princess Royal to Prince Frederick of Prussia.
Banbury Cakes, a special fruit and pastry cake, are still produced. At one time they were being sent as far afield as Australia, India and America.
The name Banbury may be derived from 'Banna', a local Saxon dignitary who is said to have built his stockade here in the 500's. By the time of William the Conqueror 'Banesberie' was mentioned in the Domesday book. In the 13th century it had grown to become an important wool trading centre bringing wealth to the local population. In 1628 the town was ravaged by fire which destroyed many buildings, though some have survived to the present day. The opening of the Oxford Canal in 1790 connecting Banbury with the Midlands bought new industries and growth which continued with the arrival of the railways.
Today Banbury is an expanding market and industrial town experiencing growth as a direct benefit of its proximity to the completed M40 motorway linking London to Birmingham via Oxford. It is home to some major industries such as Alcoa (aluminium products), and Kraft Jacobs Suchard (coffee and custard).