Colleges, Courtyards & a Camera, Oxford, England

In Cities, Counties, En-Route, Our Journeys, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Trip-Types, UK Travel by Janis10 Comments

The making of Professors.

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.

University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, England, UK

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).

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.

Christ Church College, Oxford, England, UK

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.

The Camera

Therefore, Gary and I set about exploring the city and where better to start than around the cobbled lanes of Radcliffe Camera.

The Radcliffe camera, Oxford, England, UK

This is a beautiful piece of architecture; the circular neo-classical building was completed in 1748 to house the Radcliffe Science Library.

Radcliffe Camera in the evening, Oxford, England, UK

John Radcliffe attended Oxford University and later became a prominent doctor.

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.

Along Brasenose Lane, Oxford, England, UK
Brasenose Lane sign, Oxford, England, UK

Our tip

We strolled around the Radcliffe Square in the early evening, and it was so peaceful.


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.

Tower of the Five Orders, Bodleian Library, Oxford, England, UK
Inside the Courtyard of Bodleian Library, Oxford, England, UK

Stroll into the elegant inner courtyard to see the intricate architecture on the Tower of Five Orders.

“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, Oxford, England, UK

The bridge was completed in 1914 and connects Hertford College on either side of New College Lane.

The Hertford Bridge or Bridge of Sighs, Oxford, England, UK

Christopher Wren

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

The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, England, UK

Adjacent to the Sheldonian Theatre is the Clarendon Building, built in 1715 and once housed the Oxford University Press.

The Clarendon Building, Oxford, England, UK

Did you know?

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

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.

Rhodes House, Oxford, England, UK

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 Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England, UK

Then there’s the University Museum of Natural History, which is adjoined by the Pitt Rivers Museum that houses archaeological and anthropological collections.

University Museum of Natural History, Oxford, England, UK

It’s all about the Uni

As you stroll around Oxford the number of colleges is impressive, charming courtyards hidden behind huge doors and gates. Some colleges you can manage to sneak a peek, but others the porters keep a close eye on you.

Christ Church College, Oxford, England, UK

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 entrance of Merton College, Oxford, England, UK
Oriel College, Oxford, England, UK

Often the colleges are open to visitors in the afternoon, although there may be an entrance fee to visit the popular ones.

Corpus Christi, Oxford, England, UK
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Discover more

Discover more of historic Britain and tour its picturesque countryside, head through Cotswolds and onto to Stratford-upon-Avon. You can do it all on a road trip, SIXT car hire cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.


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.

Wearing the Traditional Bowler hat, Oxford, England, UK

Have You?

Visited the historic town of Oxford and wandered around the colleges, which ones did you discover?

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.

Magdalen College, Oxford, England, UK

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.

The Deer Park of Magdalen College, Oxford, England, UK

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.

Inside the chapel of Magdalen College, Oxford, England, UK

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.

The Cloisters of Magdalen College, Oxford, England, UK

The grounds of the college are so well kept, and the cloister is immaculate.

The Magdalen's cloister, Oxford, England, UK

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.

The Hall - Magdalen College, Oxford, England, UK

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.

The New Building of Magdalen College by the stream, Oxford, England, UK

Did you know?

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


And as then there’s the Old Kitchen Bar, decorated with oars and paddles from Magdalen’s success of rowing in the Summer Eights.

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.

Point to Note

Although some of the colleges may say closed at the entrance, they often open around 1pm or 2pm to the public. Some may charge a fee.


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.

Rowers on the Thames at Oxford, England, UK

If you are not quite to Olympic standard then I suggest you go punting, it looks a lot more fun.

Punting on the river, Oxford, England, UK

Or even more sedate.

A canal boat on the river Thames at Oxford, England, UK

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 centre of the Covered Market, Oxford, England, UK
A treat from the iScream Gelateria, Oxford, England, UK

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.

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.

The Pastel houses, Oxford, England, UK
Pretty little Oxford, England, UK
Walters, The Man's Shop, Ten the Turl, Oxford, England, UK
The Alternative Tuck Shop, Oxford, England, UK

Pit Stop

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 White Horse Pub, Oxford, England, UK

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

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

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.

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About the Author


Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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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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