Oxford's Town Hall is such a prime example of late-Victorian pomp, pride and grandeur that it is a 'listed' building (that means only approved changes an be made).
It's the third Town Hall on the site in St Aldgate's, and dates from 1893. It cost £94000+ to build...a massive sum in those days!
Inside the building the rooms are decor as just as impressively twiddly as one might expect from the exterior. It's now a popular venue for weddings, conferences and events of all types: you can see a 'what's on' list on the website below.
There's also a giftshop, a display of mayorial regalia, a gallery and a small museum about the city. There are guided tours of the building available at 11am every Wednesday and Saturday. I think it would be worth taking one of these, for they go into areas not normally accessible to the general public.
I didn't explore the Town Hall as i might otherwise have done...I had no time. But I did enjoy their sparklingly-clean toilets, which is why I went inside in the first place. And, once there, I realised I'd definitely have to make a return visit to explore more of this rather lovely building. :-)
Oxford is a bicycle town which nobody would deny who has been there. With so many students having to go from college to college between their tutorials, a bike is definitely the main means of transportation. Oxford's traffic is not really bike-friendly, however. If there is a bike path, it is almost always way to narrow and car drivers don't give a damn if they block the whole path or not. Moreover, they seem to compete with each other who can pass a bike as close as possible. If you are daring enough and have time, cycling is a great way to get to know this town.
Bike shops are found all along Cowley Road, but if you only want to rent a bike try Bikezone in the city centre - it's as central as possible.
For a nice little bike trip along the Thames I would recommend either going up the river to Wolvercote or down to Sandford. The former tour is a little longer (ca. 12km), the latter not as long (ca. 8km). Both tours start at Folly Bridge.
For Wolvercote cycle upstream. You will first pass a nice Oxford neighbourhood with many houses just next to the river (which are probably incredibly expensive). Later you will pass Osney Mill Marina where you can check out the yachts of rich Oxonians. Cross Botley Road and soon after you will find yourself in a tranquil inner-city river landscape. You can listen to the birds singing or watch the hippies living on some of the house boats. After 1km you'll have to cross another bridge and now Oxford gives way to nature completely. Along the river banks anglers sit silently while across the river, on Port Meadow, dogs chase birds or children chase dogs... This scenery goes on for the next 4km until you reach Godstow Nunnery, the remains of a monastery. There's not much to see, though, only some walls. Follow the little road behind it to the right, and you will reach a very popular pub (Trout Inn) which is great for a quick drink and a break. Just behind the pub is Wolvercote, from where you can go back to Oxford along the Oxford Canal. There are even more house boats here, swaying softly on its shores. Behind the boats are the gardens of Summertown and Jericho - it must be great to own one of them. The path along the canal will take you back to central Oxford.
The tour to Sandford takes you downstream along the Thames. To your left you will see Christchurch Meadow and the boat houses of the college's rowing teams. To your right you will pass Iffley Meadow, a nice place for a picknick or a little break. The meadows are a nature protection area, so refrain from picking flowers even if they grow in abundance. A little further on there is Iffley Lock (see another tip), but instead of ending your tour here, you just follow the Thames. After the huge bridge where the Ring Road crosses the Thames, you'll find yourself in peaceful nature: meadows, anglers, boats swaying on the river, many birds of all kinds. Go on for another 2km or so and you will reach Sandford Lock where there is a very nice pub (The King's Arms) which is the end of your tour. Unlike in the first tour you will have to go the same way back.
For more pictures see my Thames travelogue.
Abingdon is one of the little charming towns of Oxfordshire, just due south of the centre of Oxford. If you want to leave the fast pace of Oxford streets, walk about 10 minutes from the centre and you'll find tranquility. Scenery is lovely especially in the main town park where one can catch a glimpse of the train and simply count the different birds swimming in the pond and roaming all about.
I love to drift into a big town's surroundings residential areas and I did so finding my way to Marston, just east of Oxford's centre. Marston is beautiful with charming brownish brick homes, quiet and very much of a place to raise a family. Just walking distance from the sometimes frantic atmosphere of Oxford streets is the tranquility of Marston.
When I was studying in Oxford the majority of our classes were taught on a small farm in a neighboring community called Woodstock. It was just a beautiful place filled with so many great memories I had to mention it. Woodstock is definitely a small town. Farms pepper the landscape. During our time spent out here we got to see the hay being harvested and used our free time to take long walks and enjoy the countryside.
You will find this plaque commemorating the presence of the Jewish community in medieval Oxford right in front of the East Gate, now leading to the Botanic Garden. In the 12th century and even earlier Oxford had a large Jewish population inhabiting the area between Carfax Tower and Folly Bridge with the Synagogue in the middle, on the site of the present Christ Church. The whole area was known as Great Jewry and the names of some of the remaining houses, like Jacob's or Moyses' Halls suggest that they may have been owned by Jews who would keep students in lodgings. The path from Merton College to the Botanic Garden along the old city wall still bears the name of the Dead Man's Walk, as it was the route funeral processions took from the Synagogue to the Jewish burial ground.
Sadly, already in the 13th century persecutions of Jews started in Oxford together with the foundation of a number of monasteries and lasted until 1290 when Edward III expelled the Jews from England. The only traces of their presence there are some names of places and this plaque outside the Botanic Garden.
Whilst walking around the fantastic buildings of Magdalen College you can't help but notice the amazingly detailed figures and especially gargoyles on the walls of various buildings. They really intrigued us and some of them were quite grotesque. Almost as if we'd stepped into a horror film!!
We were quite amused to find very different businesses named together on plaques down the little alleyways. in central Oxford.
Psychology, pregnancy and dental services all rolled into one? Not to mention the Thai. restaurant!!!
When you visit the dining hall in Christ Church, the one where the Harry Potter movie was shot in, you might fancy nicking one of the plates set out on the table. There seems to be only 1 "bouncer" for the whole room, and mostly he just stands there looking at his feet.
Unique and priceless souvenir!! High quality as well, as they are made by Royal Doulton!
One of the reasons I was in Oxford was to visit the grave of J.R.R. Tolkien. Take Banbury Road to the end. It's just passed the roundabout. A map od the cemetery and a sign will lead you to his grave. More txt coming asap
When turning north from Broad Street, from Magdalen street and going into st. Giles on the left you will come across a famous pub: The Eagle and the Child. It was here where J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, would meet regularly with the Inklings (including C.S. Lewis).
Inside there is a commemorative plaque. In his early years in Oxford Tolkien and his family lived just around the corner, in St. John's Street and Alfred Street (now Pusey Street)
A few days in june brought me finally to the grave of the author of one of the most beloved books of the 20th century: The Lord of the Rings. The most moving moment for me was of course when I reached Tolkien's grave (and that of his wife Edith) at Wolvercote Cemetery in the North of Oxford. Altough it's a bit outside of Oxford, it's not difficult to find. (take a bus in the direction of Summetown)
From the entrance of the cemetery there are signs showing you the way to their grave. On the tombstone was written, as youc an see if you look more clearly at the pic, under their names, Luthien and Beren. For those familiar with Tolkien's work well know names.
I am told this is one of the smaller colleges. In the summer it is rented out to the Breadloaf School of English, a program of Middlebury College (Vermont, USA).
Because of a connection to Middlebury College we have had a chance to visit and attend "High Table". The food in earlier visits was wonderful. My last visit was June 04 and I would say the quality of prepration had gone down but it is still as good as many public places a tourist hits by chance, so if you have any friends who attend Lincoln College ask them to take you to dinner, or lunch.
As my photo shows, one of our visits was during exam time for Oxford students.
On Saturday and Sundays, and sometimes in the week many homes and colleges open their gardens for charity. The 'National Gadens Scheme' is countrywide and several Oxford colleges and gardens in the locality of Oxford participate in the scheme.
You can see some beautiful gardens and see local people enjoying the flowers and having tea and cakes. All this at very reasonable prices and for charity.
Check the local paper 'The Oxford Times' 'Weekend' section for details of 'What's On'. The paper comes out every Friday and is available in the library and all news shops. See also on their web page
and search by date.
Single £150.00 Standard double/twin £165.00 Deluxe double/twin £205.00 Superior deluxe...more
During an one week course, we stayed in this place which was nice, but not very close to the center.more
a fantastic new modern Hotel (not actually a hotel as it does not serve alcohol or evening meals)....more