Bicester’s historic places to save

The monuments, buildings and historic sites in the Bicester area have fallen into disrepair and require urgent repair.

Three places, including a conservation area, a church and listed monuments, have been listed as World Heritage in Danger by Historic England.

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They are: RAF Upper Heyford, the defense and auxiliary structures of RAF Bicester and St Lawrence Church in Caversfield.

Historic sites can be expensive to maintain and some fall into disrepair over the years.

RAF Upper Heyford is being redeveloped by Dorchester Living as part of its Heyford Park development with plans to convert the Cold War base – by demolishing a hangar, bomb stores and a reinforced squadron HQ in the process.

The site will have 1,175 housing units, a primary school, social facilities and a filming site called the “creative city”.

Artist’s impression of the new village center at Heyford Park

The new Heyford Fields housing estate has just been launched and a restaurant and hotel are slated to open this year.

But although the developers have said they are “passionate” about improving the historic value of the former US air base and the RAF, people have expressed concern over the loss of character. site.

Bicester Announcer: RAF Upper Heyford.  Photo by Richard SmithRAF Upper Heyford. Photo by Richard Smith

Matthew Hathaway, a member of the Bicester Local Historical Society, who lives in Heyford Park, said Dorchester had done a good job of preserving the old buildings that will remain, “but the character of the site will be lost so that no amount guided tours or museum exhibits will be able to replicate ”.

Bicester Announcer: Some hangars will be demolished at RAF Upper Heyford to build housesSome hangars will be demolished at RAF Upper Heyford to build houses

RAF Bicester, now home to Bicester Heritage owned by Bicester Motion, has bomb depots to the south of the terrain and defensive structures threatened by rot and vegetation.

The state of the bomb depots and their possible use are under study.

There are 11 listed ancient monument areas across the entire Bicester Motion site and there have been many restoration projects on the grounds over the years with its most recent project being the Restoration of the Oversight Office.

Bicester Announcer: Restored Watchtower at RAF BicesterRestored Watchtower at RAF Bicester

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RAF Bicester as a whole was removed from the Heritage at Risk register 18 months after it was taken over by Bicester Motion (then Bicester Heritage).

The other Bicester site in need of salvation is St. Lawrence Church in Caversfield.

It is a grade II listed building and parts of the church were built in the 10th, 12th and 13th centuries.

In 1874, Henry Woodyer rebuilt the aisles, restored the choir and added the north sacristy.

The roofs of the nave and aisles are very steep and covered with thin stone slates, but water seepage occurs and repairs are needed.

An application for the National Heritage Fund Lottery for Places of Worship grant program in 2017 was unsuccessful.

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Patrick F. Williams