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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Oxford Attractions

Oxford is one of Britain's most lovely towns especially the old centre where Oxford University's 39 colleges are located.

Tower Views from St Mary's Church, Oxford

The university at Oxford is one of Europe's oldest and has its roots in the 12th century and the rule of Henry I, the so-called "Scholar King."

The earliest colleges were founded by wealthy English bishops who imposed an ecclesiastical curriculum and architecture on the institutions they endowed, centred around the quad (quadrangles) with dining halls, student halls and the library in the surrounding buildings.

Oxford professors were forbidden from marriage until 1877 and women were not granted degrees at Oxford University until 1920 underlying Oxford's traditional Christian heritage.

Tower Views from St Mary's church, Oxford

Oxford's centre is Carfax from where the High Street, Cornmarket and St Aldgates radiate west, north and south. From Carfax is is easy to explore the historic centre on foot or by rental bicycle. The 14th century Carfax Tower here is the only surviving remnant of St Martin's Church and supposedly has an historic connection to William Shakespeare. Just south of here on Pembroke Street is the acclaimed Modern Art Oxford, a gallery showcasing modern British and European art in a variety of media.

A better view of Oxford than from the top of Carfax Tower can be had from The University Church of St Mary the Virgin, the Radcliffe Camera (see above), England's earliest circular library, is clearly visible on a fine day, as is All Souls College (below).

Tower Views from St Mary's Church, Oxford


Merton College on Merton Street, close to Christ Church College was founded in 1264 and is one of the oldest colleges at the University of Oxford. Alumni include the writer Angus Wilson, Louis MacNeice, the poet TS Eliot, Kris Kristofferson and Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan. Visitors enter Merton College into the Front Quadrangle (see below).

Merton College

The large chapel at Merton College (see below) was built from 1290 to the mid 15th century. Merton chapel features original stained glass from the 14th century and does not have a nave, thus unusually situating the choir in the main body of the church.

Merton College

The Mob Quad at Merton College is the oldest quadrangle architecture at Oxford. The Mob Quad was built between 1288 and 1378.

Close to the pedestrianized Cornmarket shopping precinct is the Ashmolean Museum - the world's first university museum. The Ashmolean Museum was built between 1678–1683 to house the curiosities Elias Ashmole (1617-1692) gave to Oxford University in 1677. These included the collections of John Tradescant, a gardener for King Charles I and his son of the same name. The present Ashmolean Museum building (see below) dates from as late as 1845 and underwent an expansion completed in 2010.

Ashmolean Museum

Oxford has a number of good hotels suitable for all budgets including the Holiday Inn Oxford, the exclusive MacDonald Randolph Hotel and the boutique Vanbrugh House Hotel on St Michael's Street.

Map of Oxford

© 2012 Britain-Visitor.com

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