When you have seen the university buildings and are a bit tired of the touristy and noisy city, come to Iffley to enjoy its peace and quiet. Situated on the Thames, it can be reached by boat from the pier by Folly Bridge or just by bus. See the interesting Iffley Lock but don't stop at that. This little village boasts a wonderful little church built in the Norman style, with some ancient stone decorations, and an interesting graveyard. Note the little staircase on the right that was meant to be used by lepers attending church services.
Don't miss the most recent addition - the beautiful stained-glass Nativity Window by John Piper and David Wasley dedicated to St Mary's Church in 1996. The window shows animals on a Tree of Life greeting the birth of Christ each in its own voice:
'Christus natus est' , 'Christ is born', crows the cockerel.
'Quando, quando?' 'When, when?' asks the goose.
'In hac nocte'. 'Tonight.' replies the crow.
'Ubi, u-u-ubi?' 'Where, where?' hoots the owl.
'Bethlem! Be-e-ethlem! baas the sheep in reply.
Underneath you can find this inscription:
'Let man and beast appear before Him and magnify His name together.'
This is a very pleasant nature reserve on the River Thames on the opposite bank to the village of Iffley (which has a great Norman/romanesque church btw). It's particularly recommended in April when the Snakes Head Fritillary is in flower, with its strange checkerboard design in shades from white through to purple. It is quite a long walk down the Thames towpath from Folly Bridge; Donnington Bridge is a more sensible starting point, or if you have a car, park in Iffley Village & walk downhill & over the lock. Surprise, surpise, you can also take in a pleasant riverside pub, the Isis Tavern, just north of the lock, & watch the antics of the rowers turning their boats (most fun in October when the total novices are out!). Sorry, but I haven't photo'd a fritillary, so here's a cowslip, another beatiful native spring flower.
Iffley Village is a medieval village close to the centre of Oxford. You can walk down the river to it (very pleasant, especially in summer): walk down St. Aldate's, and cross over the bridge at the end (Folly Bridge). Then turn left onto the river, on the right bank opposite the boat houses. Walk about 1.5km down and you will get to a pub called the Isis Tavern (nice place, though give the Morrells beers a miss); you can cross the river at Iffley Lock, then walk into the village itself (turn left after the lock at the top of Mill Lane). There is a 12th century church in the village (http://www.iffley.co.uk/). There is also a good pub (The Prince of Wales) with the best range of real ale in East Oxford, and good food (main course c. £5.50).
You can also get to Iffley Village by bus from the city centre, destination 'Rose Hill'. Get off at the terminus (The Oval), walk down Lenthall Road, follow it around to the left, and then walk through the barrier to Eastchurch - then you're in Iffley Village.
I represent the Rose Hill and Iffley ward on Oxford City Council - so perhaps I am biased in recommending this trip!
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