by Janis on 27th July 2018 / 10 comments

The making of Scholars and Professors

Our visit to the City of Oxford

Oxford is so often high on visitors list, however, for some reason or another Gary and I had never quite managed to make it there. Often passing close by on our way to another town or city.

So, we thought it was about time that we rectified that; and even the Great British sunshine made an appearance, (wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t mention the weather).

The pin image for our post - 'Colleges, Courtyards & A Camera, Oxford, England'
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Where is Oxford?

Why not jump on a train and explore Oxford.

Historic Oxford

How old?
Oxford’s roots can be traced back to the 8th-century and has some fascinating history. However, it’s the University, the exclusiveness and the incredible architecture of the colleges that are the main draw.
The view over the gardens from Broad Walk at the southern edge of Christ Church College, Oxford
Christ Church Collage
Having said that the University of Oxford is known to have been teaching as far back as 1096, which makes it the oldest university in the English-speaking world, so I suppose it does have some credence of its own.

If you're intrigued by Oxfordshire, a historic UK county, then why not check out  "The Little Book of Oxfordshire".  Full of facts and obscure information. It's a fun read on the region.

You won't be able to put it down.  You can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.

The cover to the book - 'The Little Book of Oxfordshire'

Oxford's Sights

The Radcliffe Camera
Therefore, Gary and I set about exploring the city and where better to start than around the cobbled lanes of Radcliffe Camera.
The 18th-century neo-classical domed-circular Radcliffe Camera in the centre of Oxford
The Radcliffe Camera
This is a beautiful piece of architecture; the circular neo-classical building was completed in 1748 to house the Radcliffe Science Library.

Where to stay in Oxford

We stayed at the;
-voco - Oxford Spires – Located along the River Thames, the historic city centre is only a 15-minutes' walk away. Perfect for a road trip as it has onsite parking.

Or alternatively why not checkout the;
- Mercure Oxford Eastgate Hotel - This 17th-century converted coaching inn is just a 5-minute walk to the ancient heart of Oxford. Lovely comfortable rooms.

The Radcliffe Camera in Oxford as the sun goes down on a summer's day. Is just like a scene from Inspector Morse.
Radcliffe Camera in the evening
John Radcliffe attended Oxford University and later became a prominent doctor.

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Ancient lanes in Oxford

Brasenose Lane
One little lane here is Brasenose Lane, believed to be the last remaining street in Oxford to have central guttering; and often used during films & dramas based around Oxford.
A couple of young ladies strolling towards the sunlight in Brasenose Lane.
Along Brasenose Lane
The black cast-iron street sign for Brasenose Lane set against a stone wall in Oxford
Brasenose Lane sign

Oxford's Historic Library

The Bodleian
Just beyond the Radcliffe Camera is Bodleian Library built in 1602 and is the second-largest library in Britain after the British Library, it has available over 12 million items of literature.
The golden stonework of the ornately decorated Tower of the Five Orders entrance to Bodleian Library in Oxford
Tower of the Five Orders
A statue in the courtyard in front of the entrance to Bodleian Library in Oxford
Inside the Courtyard of Bodleian Library
Stroll into the elegant inner courtyard to see the intricate architecture on the Tower of Five Orders.

Iconic Oxford

“Bridge of Sighs”

There are so many lovely historic buildings & structures is such a small area.

Just behind Bodleian Library is the Hertford Bridge nicknamed “Bridge of Sighs’, due to its resemblance to the one in Venice. Although I agree with others that say it has similarities to the Rialto Bridge instead.

The Bridge of Sighs in Oxford on a bright clear day.
The Bridge of Sighs
The bridge was completed in 1914 and connects Hertford College on either side of New College Lane.
A close-up view of the Hertford Bridge, also known as the Bridge of Sighs, with the Sheldonian Theatre in the background.
The Hertford Bridge or Bridge of Sighs

A homage to...

The Bridge of signs in Venice - one of our '16 Very good excuses to visit Venice, Italy' - why not take a look

Oxford's Notable Architects

Sir Christopher Wren
Just a stone’s throw away is the beautiful Sheldonian Theatre, built in 1669 and designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
The stunning Sheldonian Theatre in the heart of Oxford
The Sheldonian Theatre

Nicholas Hawksmoor

Adjacent to the Sheldonian Theatre is the Clarendon Building, built in 1715 and once housed the Oxford University Press.
The Nicholas Hawksmoor designed Clarendon Building in Oxford, with its facade dominated by four plain Doric columns
The Clarendon Building

Did you know?

That Sir Roger Bannister was the first person to run under the 4-minute mile on 6th May 1954 in Oxford?

Oxford's Architecture

Too many to show
As mentioned there are sooo many lovely buildings around here, another that caught our eye was Rhodes House, which runs its own scholarship programme.
The 20th-century built neo-classically designed Rhodes House, Oxford
Rhodes House

Oxford's Museums

Given more time
If time is on your side, then there are two wonderful museums in Oxford. The first is the Ashmolean Museum which houses Art and Archaeology, it’s the world's first university museum and the oldest museum in the UK.
The entrance to the Ashmolean Museum on Beaumont Street in Oxford
The Ashmolean Museum
Then there’s the University Museum of Natural History, which is adjoined by the Pitt Rivers Museum that houses archaeological and anthropological collections.
The exterior of the 19th-century Oxford University Museum of Natural History
University Museum of Natural History

Oxford University

It’s all about the colleges.
As you stroll around Oxford the number of colleges is impressive, charming courtyards hidden behind huge doors and gates. In some colleges you can manage to sneak a peek, but in others, the porters keep a close eye on you.
One entrance to Christ Church college, the Meadowgate on its southern side
Christ Church College

The University of Oxford is made up of different institutions of which there are 38 colleges.

Some of the more well-known are Christ Church, Corpus Christi, Oriel, Magdalen & Merton to name a few.

The gated stone tower which is the entrance to Merton College, Oxford
The entrance of Merton College
Red banners, with the Oriel College logo, flutter in the courtyard in front of the exterior to the main hall.
Oriel College
Often the colleges are open to visitors in the afternoon, although there may be an entrance fee to visit the popular ones.
A stone square dominated by the Pelican Sundial at the entrance of Corpus Christi College, Oxford
Corpus Christi

Discover more

Discover more of historic Britain and tour its picturesque countryside, head through Cotswolds and onto Stratford-upon-Avon. You can do it all on a road trip, Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

Oxford's past

Bulldogs

Oxford University had its own police force for 180 years, who were known as “Bulldogs”.

They were disbanded in 2003; however, some porters still where the synonymous bowler hats at the gates of colleges.

A Bowler hatted porter at the gates to Christ Church College, Oxford
Wearing the Traditional Bowler hat

Have You?

Visited the historic town of Oxford and wandered around the colleges, which ones did you discover?  or did you study at one?  Leave us a comment, we would love to hear from you.

Digging a little deeper in Oxford

Magdalen College
We chose to go and have a look around Magdalen College, which is one of Oxford Uni’s icons and was established in 1458. It had an entrance fee of £6 per adult, but I was quite inquisitive to see what went on behind closed doors.
The exterior of Magdalen College, including the chapel tower, from the High Street
Magdalen College
Within each college, there is a chapel, a hall for dining, library, a college bar and lodgings. However, Magdalen College even had a deer park in The Grove.
Deers in the park at Magdalen College, Oxford
The Deer Park of Magdalen College

Uncovering the mystery

We wandered across St John’s Quadrangle, into the chapel, which was rather impressive in size, and had some incredible sepia colour stained glass windows.
A detailed stained glass window and three ring lights in the chapel of Magdalen College, Oxford
Inside the chapel of Magdalen College
Heading around to the cloister you pass memorials to Magdalen’s lost members during the First & Second World Wars. Two of whom were honoured with the Victoria Cross.
Inside Magdalen college Oxford a view of the cloisters and the tower on a summer's day
The Founders tower in Magdalen College
The grounds of the college are so well kept, and the cloister is immaculate.
The well-manicured lawns of the green in front of the cloisters of Magdalen College, Oxford
The Magdalens cloister

Where’s Harry?

Then we come across The Hall which was also built during the 15th-century and used by members of the college for mealtimes and entertainment. It was like looking at a scene from Harry Potter.
A wood-panelled communal dining hall of Magdalen College, Oxford
The Hall - Magdalen College
Magdalen College is located near the River Cherwell along the Holywell Mill Stream, so it’s really pleasant to take a wander passing the New Building (built in the 1720’s) and take a stroll along the river.
A small stone bridge over the River Cherwell in front of the New Building of Magdalen College, Oxford
The New Building of Magdalen College by the River

Did you know?

That Magdalen College was used by Richard Attenborough to film Shadowlands?

After the hard work

Relaxing
And as then there’s the Old Kitchen Bar, decorated with oars and paddles from Magdalen’s success of rowing in the Summer Eights.
The Old Kitchen Bar of Magdalen College with an oar over the giant fireplace and commemorative oar blades decorating the wall.
Old Kitchen Bar of Magdalen College
Magdalen College can boast at having Sir John Betjeman, Erwin Schrodinger, Oscar Wilde, C.S.Lewis, Cardinal Wolsey, Ian Hislop & Dudley Moore, as some of its famous alumni.

Oxford's Rivers

Boating

What else may spring to mind when you think of Oxford, is the famous English Boat Race along the River Thames, held annually against Cambridge.

You can stroll along the Thames by Christ Church Meadow and see the colleges taking to the water.

A four-person crew training in front of the different rowing clubs on the banks of the River Thames at Oxford
Rowers on the Thames at Oxford
If you are not quite to Olympic standard then I suggest you go punting, it looks a lot more fun.
A punt on the River Cherwell under the Magdalen Bridge
Punting on the river
Or even more sedate.
A canal boat passing in front of the different rowing clubs on the banks of the River Thames at Oxford
A canal boat on the river Thames at Oxford

Escape for a few days

So, you'd love to visit the chocolate-box towns and villages in the Cotswolds, and you’re in search of a tranquil hideaway to unwind in.

Take a peek at the handpicked properties and unique retreats at Holiday Cottages.

Shopping in Oxford

It’s not all academia
There’s a charming Covered Market in the centre of Oxford, along Market Street. Go take a look there’s a great cheese shop, and it goes without saying a lovely ice cream parlour as well.
The historic interior of the Covered Market full of individual boutique shops in the centre of Oxford
The centre of the Covered Market
There’s a charming Covered Market in the centre of Oxford, along Market Street. Go take a look there’s a great cheese shop, and it goes without saying a lovely ice cream parlour as well.
A treat from the iScream Gelateria

Getting There

Take it a relaxed pace and opt for the train, you can catch this from London Paddington to Oxford Station which takes just over 1 hour.

Pretty Little Oxford

Quirky Shops & Charming buildings
Within any town or city, you can always come across those little unusual shops and houses, go take a look for yourself.
A row of terrace houses on Holywell street in Oxford, each painted a different soft pastel colour.
The Pastel houses
An old bicycle repurposed as a planter outside number 14 B&B on Holywell Street in Oxford
Pretty little Oxford
A sign above a shop for Walters of Oxford, a traditional gentleman's outfitters, on Turl Street, Oxford
Walters, The Mans Shop
A bijou takeaway sandwich bar on Holywell Street in Oxford named the Alternative Tuck Shop
The Alternative Tuck Shop

Oxford's Watering holes

A pit stop or two
Now if you need a bit of refreshment, and want to reminisce about the wonderful British drama series starring John Thaw as Inspector Morse, and his sidekick Lewis, then pop into The White Horse pub.
The front of the White Horse pub on Broad Street, with a chalkboard remembering it was a favourite of the fictional Inspector Morse
The White Horse Pub

From the number of photos on the wall, they were in there quite a bit.

Now, honestly, just for research purposes, we popped into The Turf Tavern, it’s down a little side alley, but it looks like a few famous alumni have frequented here.

A chalkboard from the Turf Tavern listing the distinguished guests who have visited over the years
Facts from the Turf Tavern

The Silver Screen

Oxford has been used in many films over the years, some of which you may have heard of, one with a wizard named “Harry Potter”. Also, Brideshead Revisited, Alice in Wonderland, Wilde & Howards End, the list goes on.

Would you like a little more?

We have created a little YouTube video of Oxford - why not check it out?

Why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

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  1. I was curious to see if you were able to get into any of the buildings, because I was not, which was a bummer. #farawayfiles

  2. Although the colleges have signs up to say they are closed, from around 2pm they open to the public. Some you have to pay to visit, we went to Magdalen College which was £6.

  3. Oxford really is beautiful. We visited in the pouring rain earlier this year and it was still fabulous – although we spent most of our time in the brilliant Blackwell’s bookshop and the aforementioned Turf Tavern! A visit to one or two of the colleges is a must and the museums here are superb. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  4. Yes, it is lovely and very easy to stroll around, you turn corner after corner and so many incredible buildings. We visited Magdalen College, however, we also wanted to see Christ Church College but it was closed to visitors for a couple of days for new students to visit.

  5. I was in Oxford just a few weeks ago for a work conference and vowed to come back and investigate the colleges a bit more. Its such a beautiful city and so easy to get to from London. I’m definitely inspired to visit Magdalen college now #FarawayFiles

  6. Magdalen College was lovely, particularly that it has a deer park. It’s interesting to see a little bit of life behind the doors. I believe that most of the Colleges don’t open to the public until around 2pm.I hope you enjoy it.

  7. I find it interesting how others view a place I’m well acquainted with. It holds so many memories for me. #FarawayFiles

  8. Hopefully you liked the post. I understand what you mean, when you live somewhere for a period of time you often see things differently from visitors.We live in Kent, so also find it interesting to hear what other people have to say about it.

  9. I’ve always wondered whether should I visit Oxford or Cambridge but after reading your post, I’m convinced that Oxford might be worthwhile to make a day trip from London 🙂 Great that you had a fantastic weather!

  10. Oxford is a lovely city; the historical centre is actually reasonably small. I really enjoyed visiting Magdalen College, we also wanted to visit Christ Church college, however, it was closed to the public that day, as new students were visiting.I have only visited Cambridge briefly some years ago, so we are going to take a trip there hopefully early next year. Keep you posted.

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