Oxford Visitor information
Oxford is a beautiful yet vibrant city on the Thames. Its famous university has given the city much of its exceptional architecture and its rich cultural heritage: over 900 buildings are listed as having historic or architectural merit, all located within a square mile. A view along the High Street has been described as one of the most celebrated views in Europe.
Oxford has had a role in educating four British, and at least eight foreign kings, 47 Nobel prize-winners, three Fields medallists, 25 British Prime Ministers, 28 foreign presidents and prime ministers, seven saints, 86 archbishops, 18 cardinals, and one pope. Seven of the last eleven British Prime Ministers have been Oxford graduates. Amongst the University's old members are many widely influential scientists, artists and other prominent figures.
It should be understood that colleges are designed primarily for students: not for children or adults expecting a high level of luxury. However, with this in mind, the colleges do meet a level of comfort that we expect most visitors to be happy with, and we will welcome any feedback where this is not the case.
Dates of Oxford's academic vacations
Rooms are mainly available during the academic vacations.
Easter: mid-March to mid-April
Summer: mid-June to mid-October
Christmas: beginning of December to mid-January
Detailed Map of Oxford showing colleges and museums: https://www.ox.ac.uk/visitors/map?wssl=1
Activities of interest in Oxford
In addition to simply soaking up the atmosphere, UniversityRooms.co.uk recommends the following:
Getting to Oxford
Oxford is about 60 miles (90 kms) northwest of London and has excellent road and national rail links.
- From London: options include train or bus. Trains leave regularly from London Paddington (enquiries: 08457484950; www.nationalrail.co.uk ). For buses, options include the Oxford Tube (enquiries: 0(044)1865772250) / Oxford Express (enquiries: 0(044)1865785410), which leave every 12 minutes during peak times. Coaches stop along the High st at intervals and end at Gloucester Green Coach Station in the city centre.
- From London airports: if travelling from Heathrow or Gatwick, use The Airline coach service, which operate a direct frequent service twenty-four hours a day. For information telephone 0(044)1865 785400. London Stansted airport is linked to Oxford by the National Express 757 coach service, running every two hours (tel: +44 (0)8705 747777). Alternatively, a number of companies, including Oxicars and CCB Cars, offer pre-bookable airport transfers.
- By car: We recommend public transport for travelling to Oxford, as many Oxford streets are now closed to traffic and parking is limited. Visitors by car could opt to stay at St Hugh's or Lady Margaret Hall colleges which have car parking, can find out more about parking options on the council website, or could use the Park and Ride bus services which operate between the city centre and parking areas on the outskirts of the city. Having left your car in the car park a regular bus will take you into the centre of Oxford, stopping at stages along the High St (the bus driver should know the nearest stop for you).
- Taxis: Taxis can be found at Gloucester Green Coach Station, Oxford Railway Station, and St Giles' in the city centre. Some taxi numbers: Radio Taxis, Tel: 0(044)1865 249743 or 242424 or ABC Taxis, Tel: 0(044)1865 770077.
Oxford: the City
The city's roots trace back to 700 when a priory was formed "where oxen were wont to ford the Thames" (thus "Ox-ford"). In 1214 the University received a charter from the Pope. Influxes of Dominican friars in 1221, and then Franciscans in 1224, contributed Oxford's strong Catholic traditions. Oxford as an important centre of religious activity continues today: all colleges have a chapel (Christ Church's is a Norman cathedral), and several colleges continue to function as religious foundations.
Oxford: the University
In the early years of the second millennium, any Englishman in search of learning would study at the University of Paris, the foremost academic institution of the time. However, in 1167, all English academics in Paris were moved to Oxford. Whether this was because Henry II recalled them or they were expelled by the French isn't clear. But Henry, who had built Beaumont Palace (of which no trace remains) as a residence near where Worcester college now stands, and who had given the city a charter in 1155, clearly established Oxford as England's principle academic centre.
Today there are 39 colleges of varying age, size and character. Every student at the university is a member of a college, which provides students with accommodation, meals, tutoring, libraries, common rooms, and sports and social facilities.
1231 Roger Bacon Scholar
1480 Thomas Wolsey Lord Chancellor
1492 Sir Thomas More Statesman and martyr
1499 Desiderius Erasmus Humanist and scholar
1520 William Tyndale Translator of the Bible
1572 Sir Walter Raleigh Explorer and statesman
1620 William Harvey Scientist who discovered the circulation of the blood
1647 Sir Christopher Wren Architect
1660 William Penn Founder of Pennsylvania
1726 William Pitt the Elder UK Prime Minister
1727 Dr Samuel Johnson Writer; contributed to 1st English dictionary
1828 William Gladstone UK Prime Minister
1851 Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) Author
1873 Cecil Rhodes Statesman and philanthropist
1874 Oscar Wilde Author
1875 Clement Attlee UK Prime Minister 1945-1951
1907 Lawrence of Arabia Soldier and diplomat
1911 JRR Tolkien Author
1912 Harold Macmillan UK Prime Minister 1957-63
1913 TS Elliot Poet
1916 Aldous Huxley Author
1922 Graham Green Author
1922 Evelyn Waugh Author
1925 WH Auden Poet
1934 Harold Wilson UK Prime Minister 1964-70, 1974-76
1938 Indira Gandhi Prime Minister of India 1966; 1977, 1980-84
1943 Baroness Margaret Thatcher British Prime Minister 1979-1991
1946 Sir Roger Bannister Athlete- first person to break the 4 minute mile
1951 Colin Cowdrey Cricketer
1953 Bob Hawke Prime Minister of Australia 1983-1991
1962 Michael Palin Broadcaster
1962 Joanna Trollope Novelist
1968 Bill Clinton President of USA 1992- 2000
1969 Aung San Suu Kyi Burmese National League for Democracy
1972 Tony Blair British Prime Minister 1997- 2007
1975 Rowan Atkinson Comedian
1977 Benazir Bhutto Prime Minister of Pakistan 1988–1990, 1993–1996
1979 Hugh Grant Actor
1979 Nigella Lawson Broadcaster
1988 David Cameron British Prime Minister 2010-present