Oxford is renowned the world over, as the home of one of the oldest and most  highly revered Universities in Europe. The city lies at the confluence of the  Rivers Cherwell and Thames, or "Isis", as it is locally known, giving the  opportunity for boating, punting and many pleasant riverside walks. Oxford is a  compact city; its main streets radiate from Carfax Tower in the centre, with  most of the colleges and University buildings all within easy walking distance.  It was Mathew Arnold whose description lingers in the mind, and best sums up  Oxford. "And that sweet City with her dreaming spires, she needs not June for  beauty's heightening". Just outside the City on Boar's Hill is the best place to  see an overall view of the "dreaming spires", a hauntingly beautiful and  unforgettable sight.

The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin - First mentioned in the  Domesday Book, one of the best views of Oxford is from the magnificent tower,  which was built in the 13th century, the nave dates from the 15th and 16th  centuries.

The Ashmolean Museum - Britain's oldest public museum, housing the  University's collections of paintings, glass, silver, ceramics and artefacts  from the ancient world.

Other Museums in Oxford - Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Oxford, Museum of  the History of Science, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Bate  Collection and the Pitt Rivers Museum.

The Radcliffe Camera (closed to the public) a rotunda, whose dome is a  landmark in Oxford's centre, was designed by James Gibb (1737-49). Inspired by  the Tower of the Winds in Athens, it is regarded as one of Europe's most  beautiful buildings. It originally housed the Radcliffe Library, today the 16  sided room on the ground floor is a reading room for the Bodleian Library.

The Bodleian Library - 15th century Divinity School, 17th century Old Schools  Quadrangle and Exhibition Room.

Carfax Tower - 16th century church tower and viewpoint.

Curioxity - Hands on science exhibits for all ages.

The Oxford Story - Ride through exhibition interpreting the fascinating 800  year history of Oxford University.

Sheldonian Theatre - The ceremonial hall of the University designed by Sir  Christopher Wren.

University of Oxford Botanic Gardens - Opposite Magdalen College in Rose Lane  is the oldest Botanic Gardens in Britain. Laid out in 1621 on the instructions  of Henry, Earl of Danby, as a Physic Garden. Entrance is through the beautiful  Italianate Gateway designed by Nicholas Stone, beautiful flowerbeds, trees and  greenhouses filled with rare plants, collected over the centuries from around  the world. The gardens are in a beautiful and peaceful setting, bounded on one  side by the curve of the River Cherwell.

Nearby at Magdalen Bridge punts are available for hire on the Cherwell and  the Thames, other boat houses are located at Bardwell Road and Folly Bridge, St.  Aldates.

The famous Christ Church Meadow, painted by J.M.W. Turner, still exists and  provides rural walkways in the heart of the city.

Today's Oxford, offers interesting shopping facilities, from the well-known  high street names, modern shopping centres and malls to the interesting  Victorian covered market in the High Street. From the University's shop, to many  small specialists, offering old maps and prints, books, jewellery and local  souvenirs you will find shopping interesting in Oxford.

When it comes to eating out, you will have no trouble finding just the right  place. Oxford is well experienced in catering for customers from around the  world, of all ages and all tastes. There is a wide choice from Coffee Houses  through to gourmet Restaurants.

Entertainment in Oxford is as interesting as you would expect in this  university city. The Apollo Theatre is the largest theatre, where visiting  international touring companies present a mix of musicals, shows and rock and  pop concerts. At Oxford Playhouse, leading international, national and local  theatre companies make up a varied programme of high quality drama, dance, music  and opera presented in this newly refurbished Georgian Theatre. There are other  smaller theatres where you can see Drama and Comedy from the University's  leading players. Classical music concerts are held in the Sheldonian Theatre,  Christ Church Cathedral and other famous Oxford settings.

There exists an amiable dispute, about which college in Oxford is the oldest,  and may be determined thus. - University College had the first benefactor and  indirectly, founder and the first property. Balliol College first occupied a  site it has never left. Merton College had the first statutes establishing a  collegiate institution.

Brief details of the official Colleges of Oxford University.

All Souls College (1438) Founded by Henry Chichele Archbishop of  Canterbury, to commemorate those who had lost their lives in the Hundred Years  War against France, and to pray for their souls. All Souls has no undergraduate  members, only graduate fellows elected for their academic distinction. The  architecture of the college is among the finest in Oxford, the north quadrangle  and twin towers are the work of Hawksmoor and the sundial is by Wren. The Chapel  is particularly fine, for its hammer-beam roof with angels, the reredos was  uncovered and restored in the 19th century.

Balliol College (1263) Founded by John Balliol was given its Statutes  by his widow the Scottish Princess Dervorguilla of Galloway in 1282. Most of the  college buildings are from the 19th century.

Brasenose College (1509) Founded on the site of an earlier community.  The name is thought to derive from the Brazen Nose doorknocker hanging in the  dining hall, which resembles an animal snout. The front, the first quadrangle  and the gateway tower are all original, the hall and chapel are attributed to  Wren. Past Members - Field Marshal Haig, Jeffrey Archer, and William  Golding.

Christ Church (1525) known as "The House", Founded as Cardinal College  by Cardinal Wolsey on the site of St. Frideswide's Monastery. Re-founded by  Henry VIII (1546) and re-named Christ Church. Oxford's largest and most  magnificent college, incorporates England's smallest Cathedral, which is also  the college chapel. Tom Tower, designed by Christopher Wren contains the great  bell weighing over seven tonnes, known as Great Tom. Each evening at five  minutes past nine the bell rings 101 times, one peel for each member of the  original college. The Cathedral is mainly a Norman building with many  interesting features, the choir with its lovely Norman columns rise to delicate  fan-tracery in the roof. The stained glass is by Burne-Jones and William Morris.  Past Members - Thomas More, Philip Sidney, William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania  U.S.A.), C.L. Dodgson (alias Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice in Wonderland while  he was a mathematics fellow at the college), John Ruskin, John Wesley, A. Waugh,  Sir Adrian Boult, and many British Prime Ministers. The Picture Gallery at  Christ Church, contains a superb collection of paintings and drawings from the  14th-18th centuries. Paintings from Italy, Flanders and France, with works by  Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Corpus Christie College (1516) Founded by Bishop Richard Fox of  Winchester. The college is the smallest in the University, but  one of the most academic of all the colleges. Notable for it's beautiful gardens  and the sundial in the inner courtyard of a pelican, the college symbol and a  perpetual calendar. Past Members - Thomas Arnold, John Keble.

Exeter College (1314) Founded by Walter de Stapledon, Bishop of  Exeter, whose intention it was to provide an educated clergy for the parishes of  his diocese. The college Chapel, by Sir Gilbert Scott was inspired by the Sainte  Chapelle in Paris. It contains a tapestry depicting the Adoration of the Magi by  William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. Past Members - J.R.R.Tolkein, Richard  Burton, Roger Banister, Alan Bennett.

Green College (1979) One of Oxford's newer colleges, named after its  founder Dr. Cecil Green (a founder of Texas Instruments), and his wife Dr. Ida  Green. A graduate college with a pre-eminence in clinical medicine. The  magnificent Radcliffe Observatory is situated at the centre of the college  estate.

Harris Manchester College (1786) Founded originally in Manchester as  Manchester Academy. After several changes of location, the college came to  Oxford in 1889 and is a chartered college of the University of Oxford, for  mature undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Hertford College (1282) Founded by Elias de Hertford, the college was  dissolved and recreated on a number of occasions. Hertford was in the first  group of colleges to become co-educational, and maintains a higher ratio of  women to men than is usual in Oxford. The main college site is composed of Old,  New and Holywell Quadrangles with the famous Hertford Bridge, designed by Sir  Thomas Jackson linking Old and New quads. Past Members - John Donne, Jonathan  Swift, Gavin Maxwell, Evelyn Waugh.

Jesus College (1571) Founded by eight founding fellows, one of whom  was Hugh Aprice. The only college dating from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.  Intended for the education of future clergymen. Past Members - T.E. Lawrence (of  Arabia), Harold Wilson, Magnus Magnussen.

Keble College ( 1870) Founded by public subscription as a memorial to  John Keble, with the intention of making an Oxford education more widely  available. William Butterfield designed the college, and to keep costs down  chose to build with bricks. The polychromatic patterning is unique, making Keble  an outstanding building in Oxford, amid the golden stone of the majority of the  colleges. The college chapel is well worth visiting for its mosaic decoration  and the portrait by Holman Hunt of The Light of the World.

Kellog College (1994) Oxford's 36th college, founded by the Kellogg  Foundation in support of adult and lifelong learning in Oxford, evolving from  and co-existing with the Department for Continuing Education. Kellogg College is  unique in the Oxford collegiate system, placing special emphasis on part time  study.

Lady Margaret Hall (1878) LMH, was the first woman's college to open  in Oxford, now co-educational. Past Members - Dame Josephine Barns, first woman  President of the British Medical Association 1979-80. Dame Margaret  Turner-Warwick, first woman President of the Royal College of Physicians  1989-92. Dame Barbara Mills, first woman to be appointed Director of Public  Prosecutions 1992.

Linacre College (1962) A graduate college, whose name commemorates an  outstanding Renaissance figure Thomas Linacre (1460-1524), a distinguished  Oxford humanist, medical scientist and classicist, whose breadth of learning the  college reflects in its multi-disciplinary purpose and ideals.

Lincoln (1427) Founded by Richard Flemyng, Bishop of Lincoln. The  chapel built 1629-31 is an unspoiled example of late perpendicular architecture.  The library is housed in a converted 18th century church. Past  Members - John Wesley who founded his "Holy Club" while at Lincoln, John Le  Carre, Dr. Seuss.

Magdalen College (1458) Pronounced Maudlen, was founded by William of  Waynflete. Magdalen is one of the largest and most beautiful of all the Oxford  colleges. The Great Tower, which dominates the Oxford skyline, was built  1492-1509, and is 144 feet high. Magdalen is famous for its choir, best known  for the ancient ceremony which takes place on May Morning. At sunrise, the choir  climb to the top of the tower to welcome the spring, by singing madrigals and  part of the college grace. The15th century Cloister Quadrangle and Chapel are  very fine and make an interesting contrast to the 18th century New Buildings.  The college has a Deer Park, and some peaceful riverside walks, famous for the  snakeshead fritillary lilies in the spring. Past Members - Cardinal Wolsey,  Oscar Wilde, C.S. Lewis, Dudley Moore.

Mansfield College is the youngest and smallest of the University's  colleges. Renowned for combining the best of traditional Oxford with a unique  and innovative personality.

Merton College (1264) Founded by William de Merton, Bishop of  Rochester. Merton is one of the three oldest colleges and houses possibly the  oldest working librarys in the world. Past Members - Lord Randolph Churchill,  Max Beerbohm, T.S. Elliot.

New College (1379) Founded by William of Wykenham, Bishop of  Winchester. The Black Death in 1348, claimed the lives of many of the church's  parish priests. New College was originally intended for the education of  scholars, to replace those who had died of the plague. Today the Cloisters and  Chapel can still be seen, and the lovely garden bounded by the old city wall.  Past Members - Hugh Gaitskell, Tony Benn, the Rev. W.A. Spooner.

Nuffield College (1937) Founded by Lord Nuffield for postgraduate  students, specialises in the social sciences.

Oriel College (1326) Founded by Adam de Brome. Oriel was at the centre  of the Oxford Movement in the 19th century. Past Members - Sir Walter Raleigh,  Cecil Rhodes, John Keble, Thomas Arnold.

Pembroke College (1624) Named after 3rh Earl of Pembroke, Chancellor  of the University of the time, was originally intended to supply places at  Oxford for boys at Abingdon School. Past Members - Samuel Johnson, Michael  Heseltine, American Senators, Fulbright and Lugar.

Somerville College (1879) Founded by Mary Somerville, to provide an  opportunity for women to gain a higher education at Oxford. The college has a  reputation for cultural diversity. Co-educational since 1992. Past Members -  Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher.

St. Anne's College (1879) Founded as the association for the education  for women, it progressed to the Society of Home Students, then to St Anne's  Society in 1942, finally in 1952 St. Anne's College. In its centenary year the  college was among the first to open its doors to men.

St. Antony's (1950) Founded as a graduate college, to provide an  international centre within the University, where graduate students from all  over the work can live and work together.

St. Catherine's College (1962) Founded by Lord Alan Bullock, the only  Oxford undergraduate college to have been built since 1945. The origins of St.  Catherine's date back to 1868, when a non collegiate society was formed as a  means for the less well off to study at Oxford.

St. Cross (1965) Founded as a college specifically catering for  graduate students in all subjects. The traditional style buildings are located  in St. Giles.

St. Edmund Hall, or "Teddy Hall" as it is affectionately  known, can trace its history back to the 13th century. The sole survivor of the  medieval Halls, that provided undergraduates with accommodation and tuition  before colleges began to do so. The name derives from St. Edmund of Abingdon,  who resided and taught in a house at the western end of the present front  quadrangle. Full college status was granted in 1957. Past Member - Sir Robin  Day.

St. Hilda's College (1893) founded as a centre for woman's education,  it became a full college of the University in 1960, and is the only college  solely for women.

St. Hugh's (1886) Founded by Elizabeth Wordsworth the great niece of  the poet. The name chosen, was that of Hugh of Avalon, canonised in 1220, in  whose diocese Oxford had been. Originally a woman's college St. Hughes has  admitted male students since 1986. Past member Barbara Castle.

St. John's College (1555) Founded by St. Thomas White, a catholic  Bishop in the reign of Queen Mary. The south wing of the back quadrangle in the  Classical style is attributed to Inigo Jones. Past members - Archbishop William  Laud, Robert Graves, A.E. Houseman, Kingsley Amis, Tony Blair.

St. Peter's College - Situated in New Inn Hall Street, Oxford.

Templeton College is a graduate college specialising entirely in  Management Studies.

The Queen's College (1341) Founded by Robert de Eglesfield, Chaplain  in the household of Edward III, and his wife Queen Philippa, in whose honour the  college was named. The statue we see today, above the entrance, overlooking High  Street is of Queen Caroline, wife of George II. The splendid buildings are among  the finest classical architecture in Oxford, designed by Wren and Hawksmore. The  library contains a collection of rare books and magnificent carvings by Grinling  Gibbons. Past members - Edmund Haley, Rowan Atkinson, Brian Waldon.

Trinity College (1555) Founded by Sir Thomas Pope, a Privi Counsellor  of Mary Tudor. Trinity's history is reflected in the variety of its buildings.  It has an interesting Chapel designed by Christopher Wren, containing a rich  alabaster tomb of the founder, and a carved screen and altarpiece by Grinling  Gibbons. Past Members - William Pitt the Elder, Jeremy Thorpe, Terence  Rattigan.

University College (1249) endowed by William of Durham, claims to be  the oldest College in Oxford University, and known to its students as "Univ".  The buildings we see today mostly date from the17th century. Percy Byssh Shelley  was expelled from the college for distributing a paper called "The Necessity of  Atheism". After his death by drowning in Italy, the college accepted a memorial  to the poet. The romantic white marble statue can be seen in the building to the  right of the porter's lodge. Past Members - Dr. J. Radcliffe, Clement Atlee,  Bill Clinton.

Wadham College (1609) Founded by Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham. The  college is remarkable for its original Jacobean architecture, and the  magnificent hall and chapel, can still be seen today. Past Members - Sir  Christopher Wren, Michael Foot, Melvin Bragg.

Wolfson College (1966) Founded with benefactions from the Wolfson and  Ford Foundations. A large graduate college situated in north Oxford beside the  River Cherwell.

Worcester College (1714) Founded by Sir Thomas Cookes on the site of a  medieval monastery, some of whose buildings still survive. The finest of the  18th century buildings is the library, with its nine tall windows rising above  the cloisters. The college has beautiful gardens and a lake. Past Members -  Richard Adams, Rupert Murdock, John Sainsbury.


Oxford is easily reached  from London Paddington, Slough and Reading. Services normally run twice an hour  during the day; the journey from London takes under an hour.

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