Known as the City of dreaming spires, Oxford is located in central southern England and is a city full of stunning architecture and rich heritage. Home to the world famous University of Oxford, with its 38 colleges situated throughout the city, a visit to Oxford provides for breath-taking surroundings, which can be explored further on foot or bicycle. With guided tours an excellent way to get the most out of your stay, visitors can learn more about Oxford – the home of Inspector Morse and a source of inspiration and filming location for Harry Potter. With beautiful parks and gardens, Oxford also boasts amazing shopping facilities, all of which ensure an amazing city break.
Originally referred to as Oxenaforda during Saxon times, Oxford was also an important military town in the 10th Century. Following the Norman invasion during which the town sustained much damage, Robert D’Oyly was appointed Governor, and work began on the construction of Oxford Castle, which would also include a chapel.
The famous University of Oxford dates back to the 12th century, and would see numerous colleges set up with many sites built upon to house the growing student population, during this period University College was established in 1249, followed by Balliol and Merton.
Dr John Radcliffe studied at the University of Oxford and after graduating became a highly successful physician based in London, and took the role of William III and Mary II’s royal physician. Radcliffe also enjoyed a political career, becoming Member of Parliament for Bramber, Sussex and later Buckingham. There are many references to Radcliffe throughout Oxford, and this follows his instruction to bequeath £40,000 to build a library in Oxford, the result of which was the construction of the Radcliffe Camera. In addition the Radcliffe Infirmary was built, as well as the establishment of the Radcliffe Observatory.
Oxford is a historic and cultural city, and has also been a focus in popular culture.
Films & TV
Inspector Morse – The long running television drama which starred John Thaw and Kevin Whately was filmed extensively in Oxford, with Exeter College, Brasenose College and Corpus Christi all featuring in scenes of this crime drama, just a few of the locations used throughout Oxford.
Brideshead Revisited – a book by Evelyn Waugh which would later be made into a television series and film, was set in Oxford and as such many scenes were filmed in the city including those of Lincoln College, Merton College, and Magdalen College.
X-Men First Class – Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Hugh Jackman, this sci-fi action adventure was films at various locations throughout the UK, including Oxford.
Lyra’s Oxford (2007) by Philip Pullman – part of His Dark Materials series of novels, following on from The Amber Spyglass, this tale finds Lyra and Pantalaimon in peaceful Oxford, but with witch’s daemons close by the peace can’t last.
Trick of the Dark (2010) by Val McDermid – Oxford features again in this gripping novel as Jay Macallan Stewart completes her latest volume of memoirs, with death a repeating factor.
The Moving Toyshop (2007) by Edmund Crispin – part of the Gervase Fen Mystery Series, this novel features the Amateur Detective and Oxford Professor, as he seeks to solve the mysterious death of an elderly woman whose body is found in a toy shop.
Hugh Laurie was born on 11th June 1959 in Oxford and is a highly successful actor, writer and director as well as being a skilled musician. Having starred in Blackadder, as well as Jeeves and Wooster and A Bit of Fry & Laurie, he also found international fame as the lead role in House, an American medical drama.
PD James was born in Oxford on 3 August 1920, Phyllis Dorothy James is a famous crime writer who has written many novels including the series which feature Policeman Adam Dalgliesh. The renowned author is also The Baroness James of Holland Park, a House of Lords life peer.
Tim Henman was born in Oxford on 6 September 1974, Henman reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon, the first UK player to do so since the 1970’s. Having now retired, the tennis professional is still taking part in ATP Champions Tours.
The Radcliffe Camera
Designed by James Gibbs, construction of the Radcliffe Camera was completed in 1749, with the Palladian style building the home for the Radcliffe Science Library. Part of the University of Oxford, the creation of this beautiful building was funded by the late John Radcliffe.
Established in 1546, Christ Church is one of the best known and largest colleges that is part of the University of Oxford. In addition to the college, Christ Church Cathedral is the Diocese of Oxford, and is home to the famous Cathedral Choir. Christ Church features numerous buildings all of which are fine examples of period architecture including the Library, Blue Boar Quad and Meadow Buildings, with Tom Tower the work of Christopher Wren.
Originally Oxford Castle took the form of a motte and bailey castle with a timber structure. Rebuilt in stone in the 11th century, by the 14th century the Castle was used as a prison but the site would see much destruction during the 18th century at the time of the Civil War. Today St George’s Tower and the Crypt are Grade I listed buildings, with a hotel also on the site.