FROM SCRATCHWOOD TO WYCHWOOD

Blood & Guts

general roistering that accompanied Banbury's "Cocky" celebrations of fecundity included the eating of ceremonial cakes, the ancestors of the Banbury Cake, which may still be sampled in the Banesburie Cafe. It's remarkably like an Eccles Cake - currants in pastry.

There seem to be no rituals associated with animal sacrifice in Banburian tradition. Perhaps slaughter was always much too serious a business for such flimflammery.

Today Banbury possesses the biggest livestock market in Europe, a huge and efficient meat machine. It does not feature on the guided tours.

Or rather, Banbury used to have the biggest livestock market in Europe. In June 1998, Banbury Market closed down, hit by a succession of problems, including the B.S.E. scare (so-called "mad-cow disease"), general health worries about meat-eating, and the strength of the Pound. The closure ended 800 years of livestock trading in Banbury.

Now, there's a challenge for the heritage industry.

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