Alfred Beesley Collection

Supplementing the main Prints and Drawings collection is Alfred Beesley’s extra-illustrated History of Banbury.

Key Facts

  • Size: 1,900 prints and drawings
  • Coverage: Banbury, Oxford and Oxfordshire
  • Date range: mostly 1700—1850
The Baptist Church, Banbury


  • Alfred Beesley was an antiquary and poet. Born into a Quaker family in 1800, he was later apprenticed to a watchmaker at Deddington, but only served a portion of his time, subsequently devoting himself to literary and scientific pursuits. He was a keen astronomer, botanist and collector of scientific instruments.
  • The pinnacle of Beesley’s achievements was the publication of his one-volume History of Banbury in 1841. He devoted the rest of his life to collecting prints or commissioning watercolours and drawings which would illustrate the places, sites and people mentioned in his text. These were added to his personal “extra-illustrated” copy.
  • By the time of his death in 1847, the one volume had become seventeen, and this unique compilation of topographical views is now housed in Oxfordshire History Centre.
  • A collection of over 300 letters to Beesley, relating to the production of his History of Banbury, are held in the MSS. Top. Oxon. manuscripts collection at the Bodleian Library.
Warmington Church, Oxfordshire