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.