Pictures of Oxford
Oxford's fame is perhaps second only to Windsor, it is an acclaimed seat of learning with a University whose first college was founded in 1249, almost half a century after the first charter granted to the town by Henry II. Since this time Oxford has had its share of historic events, one of the earliest being the "Mad Parliament" of Henry III held in Oxford in 1258.
The city is fortunate in its beautiful riverside position at the confluence of the River Cherwell and Thames, this gives the opportunity for visitors to enjoy such pleasant pursuits as boating and punting, or to enjoy a stroll along river banks to see the natural life of the waters.
It is the college buildings that form the real "heart" of Oxford; these were mostly founded during the 13th and 14th centuries, Balliol was established in 1263 followed by Merton in 1264 and by the time Queen's college was completed in 1340 Oxford University was a fully established rival to the University of Paris and other continental cities. It is these magnificent buildings together with St Edmund's Hall, Exeter, Oriel and Oxford's churches that have caused Oxford to be known as a city of "Dreaming Spires" and deservedly so for looking across the city from the high vantage point of Boar's Hill one is immediately struck by the immense beauty of Oxford. Another place which gives a remarkable view of the city is the 14th century Carfax Tower, from here the panoramic view is a handsome reward for climbing the towers 99 steps!
The church of St.Mary the Virgin is Oxford's most famous University church, this is mainly of the 15th century but has a 13th century tower and a magnificent ornate 14th century spire. A baroque south porch was added to the church in the middle of the 17th century, this was designed by Nicholas Stone, it is admired for its fine "Barley Sugar" columns and outstanding statue of the Virgin and Child placed above the entrance. The fact that this church was mentioned in the Doomsday Book indicates the possibility of an earlier church on the same spot.
St.Michael's parish church possess a pre-Norman tower dating from early 11th century, although this church has been altered and added to over several centuries, today it stands almost exactly as it was in the 15th century. The tower is the oldest remaining 11th century building in Oxford.
Interestingly Oxford has England's oldest public museum, this is the Ashmolean Museum, its first buildings were opened in 1683, and the present buildings were built in 1845 to a design by Charles Cockerell. The museum houses outstanding collections of paintings, glass, porcelain, silver and artefacts from the great civilisations of the Mediterranean, Eastern countries and the Orient. This museum also houses the University's fine collection of ancient Egyptian relics. Visitors to the city may also visit Oxford University Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Modern Art, The Bate Collection, The Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of Oxford.
Defining the centre of Oxford is the rotunda building known as The Radcliffe Camera, this was designed by James Gibb in the middle of the 18th century. This is a beautiful building thought to have been modelled on The Tower of the Winds in Athens. It is not open to the public, but the 16 sided ground floor room is used as a reading room for the Bodleian Library.
Of great interest are the stunningly beautiful University Botanic Gardens, these are found opposite Magdalen College in Rose Lane. They were originally laid out at the instruction of the Earl of Danby as a Physic Garden during the early part of the 17th century. In their lovely riverside setting these are the oldest established Botanic Gardens in England, and are a triumph of rare trees, flowers and precious plants from all around the world.
Visiting Oxford today you can enjoy the celebration of its historic past whilst part-taking of its modern offerings, these can be found in streets full of tempting shops, a Victorian covered market, multi-cultural restaurants and a diverse range of entertainments. There is an interesting University shop and several shops selling antiques, painting, prints and old maps of the city. Drama and comedy are offered in the city's theatres and often the Apollo Theatre presents shows direct from the west end of London. For music and dance you can do no better than check out the programme for the Georgian Theatre. For anyone interested in the life of C S Lewis, why not take the C S Lewis Tour for a truly unique and memorable experience, tours can be booked at www.cslewistours.com
. With all of this plus two beautiful rivers to glide along to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, Oxford makes an interesting destination for a romantic weekend, or for a longer stay to absorb everything this fine historic city has to offer.
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