This ancient town hosts one of the most famous Universities in the world. However, it's not only students who are attracted to this city of learning. The centre of town is a maze of small narrow streets, in a unique English style. The 38 colleges which make up Oxford University are certainly worth taking the time out to find.
Stroll about the streets of Oxford, the sand stone buildings have an appeal even in the rain.
High Street Oxford
Oxford City, though small is known worldwide as a university town and home to the oldest university in England. The area was inhabited as far back as Saxon times, when the town took itís name as the ford of the oxen. Later it became a military post, watching over the regions of Mercia and Wessex.
The town had a bad experience during the Norman Invasion 1066, when it was taken over by the Normans, who built a castle in the town, remains of which still survive. A monastic community was established within the castle, and through the learningís and teachings of the monks Oxford started along its journey as being a centre of learning. Oxford was first settled in Saxon times and was initially known as "Oxenaforda", meaning "Ford of the Oxen"; fords were more common than bridges at that time. It began with the establishment of a river crossing for oxen around AD 900. In the 10th century, Oxford became an important military frontier town between the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex and was on several occasions raided by Danes.
The Rivers Cherwell and Thames (The Thames was originally called Themesis and locally known as Isis) run through Oxfordís centre and meet. When the Oxford Canal was completed in 1790, Oxford was connected to Coventry. By the mid-1790s a second canal was built joining the Thames at Isis Lock. By mid 1840s Oxford was linked to London via the Great Western Railway.
Oxford was granted a charter by King Henry II, allowing its citizens the same privileges as those in the capital. This brought expansion to the town and a number of religious orders such as Cistercian, Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites and Augustinians set up in the town. Oxford had become a university city by the 12th century. The earliest colleges were University College (1249), Balliol (1263) and Merton (1264). The learned at the colleges translated Greek writings which inspired advancements in the arts and science. The church supported the colleges in order to help bridge the gap between Greek philosophy and Christian theology.
Balliol College Oxford Colleges
Balliol Collge is one of the oldest colleges and was founded in 1263
It was founded by John I de Balliol under the watchful eye of the Bishop of Durham. Upon his death in 1268, his wife provided finance to support the continuation of the college. Trinity While quite a large college, it is quite small in terms of student numbers. To date it equals Balliolís record of having three former students becoming British Prime Minister. It was only in 1979, that Trinity along with other Oxford colleges admitted women under graduates. Trinity College has a tradition of conservatism while itís rival college over the boundary wall Balliol has a moreĒradicalĒ philosophy.
Christ Church Cathedral is a combination of college chapel and a cathedral. The Priory Church of St Frideswide, was extended and incorporated into the structure of the Cardinal's College shortly and has since been the cathedral of the Diocese of Oxford.
Magdalen College was founded in 1458 and is regarded as one of the most beautiful of the collges.
The college is along the banks of River Cherwell. Within itís grounds it has a deep park, where the deer roam freely within open parkland. Magdalen Tower is a landmark on the Oxford landscape. Since the time of Henry VII, the college choir sings from the top of the Tower at 6 a.m. on the 1st May.
Trinity College was founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope.
While quite a large college, it is quite small in terms of student numbers. To date it equals Balliolís record of having three former students becoming British Prime Minister. It was only in 1979, that Trinity along with other Oxford colleges admitted women under graduates. Trinity College has a tradition of conservatism while itís rival college over the boundary wall Balliol has a moreĒradicalĒ philosophy.
The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and is almost as big as the British Library. It is the main research and reference library of the University. The following declaration is recited by visitors and by students on request before they are allowed read in the reading rooms. I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library. The library expanded into the adjacent Radcliffe Camera in the 1860s. The Bodleian Library is open to the public for a small fee. You can take a tour or visit the Harry Potter infirmary.
Dead Man's Walk
The Dead Man's walk along Christ Church meadow and Merton College takes it's name from the route between the Jewish Synagogue and the burial ground (now the Botanical Gardens)
Brewing has a long tradition in Oxford, with a number of the colleges having their own beers, leading to brewing becoming the main business of the town by the 16th century. BrewerStreet takes its name from the industry, and some say that Paradise Street also has origins to the business. By late 19th century there were 9 breweries and the industry continued in the town until the end of the 20th century. The Dead Man's walk along Christ Church meadow and Merton College takes it's name from the route between the Jewish Synagogue and the burial ground (now the Botanical Gardens)
Dead Man's Walk