5 Things to do in Oxford

Oxford is the main city in Britain’s Thames Valley and of course famous for being the site of Britain’s first university, which was open in 1167. There’s more to Oxford than visiting the university, so check out this guide of 5 things to do in Oxford.

1. Visit Oxford University
While you’re in the city, it would almost be rude not to visit the historic University. Oxford University’s colleges because there’s simply no escaping it. There are 36 colleges that make up the university, including All Souls, Christ Church, Lincoln, Queens, Corpus Christi, New College and Magdalen (pronounced Maudlin). Because education was the bailiwick of the church back in the day, they’re built largely along the lines of monasteries. Students still sit down to eat at long refectory tables akin to  the Great Hall at Hogwarts. They’re supposed to, sort of.

Other places to visit at Oxford can be the Old Ashmolean, which is now the Museum of the History of Science. Alternatively,  check out the Sheldonian Theatre, which was the first building designed by the great Christopher Wren and is the locale of Oxford’s graduation ceremonies. Radcliffe Camera, the beautiful reading rotunda just off the Bodleian Library, is one of the library’s first buildings. The library itself was founded in 1320 and expanded in 1426 by the Duke of Gloucester to hold his manuscripts, then refounded by Thomas Bodley in 1602. The Bodleian is one of only six copyright deposit libraries in Britain and so must receive a copy of every book published in the country.

2. Visit Blenheim Palace

Not far from the university is Blenheim Palace, the seats of the Duke of Marlborough. Built by Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir John Vanburgh, this astonishing place was given to John Churchill by Queen Anne for his service at the Battle of Blenheim.  The extensive grounds contain such delights as the Butterfly House, the Secret Garden, a narrow gauge railway, a Triumphal Arch, of course, the Temple of Diana, water terraces and the Column of Victory. Winston Churchill was born here, in one of the many maid’s rooms, in 1874.

3. Visit The University of Oxford Botanic Garden
This is Britain’s oldest botanic garden, founded in 1621. At least one of its yew trees dates back to this time. It still has its old walled garden, a delectable herbaceous border, a rock garden and a house for insectivores.

4. Visit the Martyrs’ Memorial
This memorial on Magdalen Street was built to pay tribute to Protestants burned at the stake in 1555 and 1556. These were two Bishops, Latimer and Ridley, and an Archbishop, Cranmer. When Queen Mary came to power she jailed them in the Tower of London, then sent them to Oxford to plead their cases. They lost. The memorial was designed in 1843 by George Gilbert Scott.

5. Go Shopping
Don’t leave Oxford without checking out its wonderful farmers’ markets or its covered market, which has been around since 1774 and sells everything and anything ranging from food to clothing & accessories, to house hold objects such as ornaments, handmade candles, and even cheap electronics such as mobile phones, Xbox 360 games, or Sat Navs for your car.

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