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Guides approved by Southern Tourist Board pass a rigourous examination about all aspects of UK life and history Treacle well at St Margarets Church, Binsey Guides approved by the Oxford Tourist Board have passed a rigourous examination on all aspects of Oxford
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e-mail: sally@walkingtours.co.uk
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Oxford Walking Tours 

A Personal Selection of Interesting Places in and around Oxford  

Art Colleges Concerts Kids Miscellaneous Museums Modern Oxford Outdoors Shopping
Places with letters and numbers in brackets are shown on the maps.

Most people who visit Oxford want to see some University colleges, museums and buildings. Details of these can be found by following links from the University site, information on daily events and Oxford City. Below is an idiosyncratic list of some places which sometimes get left off other lists.

Miscellaneous Go to top of page

Sharks ! On your way to Oxford by car or coach from London, Heathrow, Gatwick etc, there is a house with a life size model of a shark which appears to have crashed from the sky into the roof, in the suburb of Headington. A careful observer may spot it on the left in a side street (New High St.) two thirds of the way into Headington shopping area after the main crossroad/redlight.It was the cause of much controversy when first installed but has now been accepted by most people.
Alice's Shop (19): opposite Christ Church in St. Aldates was frequented by the original Alice of `Alice in Wonderland'. Lewis Carroll (or Charles Dodgson) was a Mathematics don at Christ Church  Alice was a daughter of the Dean.

Shopping Go to top of page

Gloucester Green: (L) next to the bus station. "Piazza'' surrounded by trendy shops and restaurants and markets on Wednesdays (food and utilities) and Thursdays (antiques and bric a brac)
Little Clarendon Street: lots of trendy shops and restaurants.
The Covered Market (U) (1771)A maze of alleys with shops selling food, clothes, flowers, books, gifts plus numerous little cafes, snack bars at very good value . Just outside the covered market through the Golden Cross is an old inn courtyard going back to 1193 where you will find the Pizza Express chain restaurant and coffe lounge in one of the most interesting 15th to 17th C domestic buildings with original wall decorations upstairs. Drop in. There are strong grounds for thinking Shakespeare did during the plague years of 1603 when his company was on the road.

Particularly good for kids Go to top of page

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History (E) on Parks Road famous for dinosaurs and the Dodo's head and foot that they rescued from the ashes in 1795. The museum is housed in a beautiful Victorian Gothic building. In spring a television camera points at a nest of swifts in the tower and can be seen on a TV screen live.
The Pitt Rivers Ethnological Museum (E) This museum is closed for refurbishment until spring 2009 but you can go on a virtual tour . The museum, at the back of the National History Museum, is a treasure trove of everyday items  from all the civilisations in the world even  mummies and shrunken heads. It has exhibits in drawers, museums as they used to be!
Other museum details can be found at this University site.

Entertainment: Ice rink (P)(01865 248076);Science oxford (J) is closed for refurbishment until spring 2009 .Science Oxford is a unique public venue enabling everyone to discover, explore and debate science. With three central activities in the modern building there is something for everyone from 5 to 80 years.Our public Exhibition Space showcases a new science exhibition every couple of months. Topics range from space science to neuroscience, genetics to technology and physics to engineering, and with interactives to play with and SciArt pieces to contemplate our free exhibitions are not to be missed.For more information, call 01865 728953 or e-mail info@scienceoxford.com.

Concerts Go to top of page

The most famous concert venue is the Sheldonian Theatre in Broad street , built by Christopher Wren in 1669. Handel and Haydn played in it and and still receive world famous orchestras and conductors . Booking is recommended.
A not so well known but delightful Holywell Music Room (D) is the oldest purpose built concert hall in Europe (it is very small). Opened in 1748, it has played host to Handel, Mozart and Haydn. Mostly classical concerts are held in the evenings and also on most Sunday mornings at 11.15am.Price include free coffe at the nearby Kings Arm pub or at the Turf tavern in Bath Place opposite . Booking is usually not essential if you arrive half an hour early. For other concert facilities see the Oxford City site.
Christ Church cathedral offers evensong most evenings at 6pm by the world famous boys choir founded at the same time than the college in 1546.

Museums Go to top of page

Ashmolean Museum (F)The museum will be closed until November 2009 for major redevelopment.It is situated in Beaumont Street and is the oldest public museum in Britain (founded 1683, although moved from the original site in Broad street). It contains a wide variety of exhibits like King Alfred's jewel, Paulo Uccello's 'A Hunt in the Forest', and a good range of Pre-Raphaelite pictures plus excellent selection of ancient greek, egyptian, roman and prehistoric treasures. Also a lot of silver ware and some musical instruments. Kids ask for the Tradescant room to see Guy Fawkes' lantern, King Henry VIII's huge gloves and a ceremonial cloak given by Pocahontas's father in 1608!
Museum of the History of Science next to the Sheldonian in Broad Street. This is the original site of the Ashmolean Museum, and later the Oxford English Dictionary. It has the largest collection in the world of astrolabes , microscopes and other scientific instruments.Also a blackboard with  formulas written by Einstein. The house of Edmund Halley (Halley's comet) is just past Hertford College's `Bridge of Sighs' (opposite the Sheldonian), down New College Lane on the left.

The Bates Museum: The Bate Collection celebrates the history and development of musical instruments of the Western Classical tradition from the medieval period until the present day. The Collection is made available for study and judicious use by scholars, students, makers, and players, so as to enhance and increase the knowledge of the history of music as well as the enjoyment of historic performance for all. It contains a collection of historical woodwind, brass and percussion instruments; over a dozen historical keyboard instruments; a complete bow-maker's (William Retford) workshop and a collection of bows. It is situated in the Faculty of Music,next to Christ Church in St Aldate's, Oxford, OX1 1DB. Tel: 01865 276139 Admission is free ; Opening times:
Monday to Friday 14.00–17.00, Saturday 10–12 during Oxford Full Term
Closed – Christmas and Easter Holidays ring for details:

Art Go to top of page

Modern Art Oxford (G) on the corner of St Ebbes has 5 large exhibition galleries and an excellent bookshop and cafe.
Museums with important works include the Ashmolean which has a drawing for a Crucifixion by Michaelangelo and works by Durer, Samuel Palmer, the pre-Raphaelites as well as 300  accurate plaster casts of Roman and Greek statues and reliefs from 6BC to 2AD; the Bodleian Library has an exhibition room in the School Quad (free); colleges include Christ Church Picture Gallery (drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Bellini, Verrochio, paintings by Carracci, Lippi); the antechapel of Magdalen College has a near-contemporary copy of the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci first recorded in 1626; University College has Shelley's memorial (see University College).
There are two important events in the art-calendar in Oxford: Art in Action (01844 338085) at Waterperry which takes place over 4 days at a country house 40km outside Oxford usually during the 3rd weekend in July and features artists and artisans creating their works on site in a vast assembly of marquees; Arts Week (01235 538828) during which artists and craftspeople open their studios to the public from the middle of May to the beginning of June.

Modern Oxford Go to top of page

Oxford colleges have continued the tradition of commissioning important architects to create their extensions and new buildings. As a result Oxford has many buildings of this century which are studied as models of design by students of architecture.
Museum of Modern Art (G) (see Art)

Colleges Go to top of page

There are 38 colleges so far. On the High University College (8)  founded in 1249, claims to be the oldest. University likes to think that King Alfred had something to do with its existence although he died in 899! See the plaque commemorating two of the few well known Oxford scientists Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke.  Inside the College there is Shelley's Memorial: he was expelled from the College for writing and publishing a pamphlet on the Necessity of Atheism, and then distributing it to all the heads of the Colleges. The College forgave him once his poetry became famous. Over the years, some of the the statue's anatomy has suffered due to the removal of paint applied during student pranks. However his wife had to pay for the memorial.

Each of the 38 colleges has its own history, traditions and characters and the only way to really find out about them is on foot with a qualified guide!

Outdoors Go to top of pageCanals:the Coventry -Oxford  Canal ends in Oxford and has good tow paths to walk along from Hythe Bridge street . You can also hire a canal boat cruiser for a holiday, it is the perfect way to see the beautiful Oxford countryside, the Oxford canal is a gentle easy paced canal holiday with few locks and plenty of pubs.
Riverside walks:Don't look for the Thames in Oxford as it changes its name into the Isis while in Oxford.
Botanic garden (Y): one of the oldest in europe (1621). Opposite Magdalen College.It has beautiful tropical greenhouses and is an ideal spot to have a rest in the summer and watch the punts (see below)
glide on the river Cherwell.
Magdalen College Deer Park (Z):(pronounce Maudlin College). Breathtaking views. There is a charge.in the summer . Magdalen College Choir have been singing at dawn on 1st May each year for over 500 years from the top of the college tower. If you can be in Oxford on May Day go and hear them. The pubs open at 4 a.m., there are Morris Dancers, buskers and lots of people.
Christ Church Meadow: riverside walks, boat houses, good views of the Oxford spires in the distance.
Punting:a typical Oxford pastime on the river in the summer which needs a little bit of practise in using the pole to propel the barges. An expert can do it without getting his shirt-cuffs wet. Don't forget the picnic. Punts can be hired from Magdalen Bridge at the east end of the High Street, from Head of the River at Folly Bridge (west end of High Street) and from Cherwell Boathouse in north Oxford (Barwell Road off Banbury Road) for a different stretch of river about 30 minutes walk from central Oxford.
Binsey Well: Strange to think of King Henry VIII and all his retinue coming to this isolated spot for some magical eye drops  Binsey treacle well: (W on ring road map) A delightful walk in the summer to St Margarets Church which is a tiny unassuming little church in the middle of fields at the end of Binsey Lane off the Botley Road leading out of Oxford to the west. A traditional Oxford legend of St Frideswide refers to how she "hid at Bampton in a certain wood called Binsey" (Christchurch cathedral has a series of stained glass windows designed by William Morris in 1859 representing the story). At Binsey there is a small church to the west of which there is a holy well reputed to cure eye problems. King Henry VIII with his retinue visited. This well became the "treacle well" of Alice in Wonderland. If you have some energy left you can pick your own strawberrys at the PYO farm on Binsey Lane!
What to do when you leave Oxford: Discerning Traveller designs unencumbered 4 to 7 day walks through inspiring landscapes all over the UK, at an unhurried pace, with a warm welcome at comfortable, well-furnished lodgings each night and luggage transported separately to await you at the your destination at the end of each day.
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