Oxford: The city of dreaming spires
No need to reach for the sub-fusc, but if you want to, Shepherd & Woodward is your spot to pick up this rarified Oxford academic robe. However, if you are not graduating but just visiting this glorious city you can do so in comfortable shoes, with or without blue stockings, and so we have put together some helpful tips here to give you a fulfilling itinerary from Kingham Cottages.
A mile away is Kingham Train Station with regular services into Oxford just 20 minutes up the line. From Oxford station there is the Oxford sightseeing bus which provides an easy way to navigate the city, hopping on and off at key points with a multi-lingual commentary whilst onboard, including a kids version. Alternatively drive in to the Park and Ride at the Pear Tree roundabout and catch the bus into St Giles.
From here you can walk easily to all the world class sites in Oxford. Whether you want to join a walking tour, head to the Westgate Shopping Centre, the Icerink, Oxford Castle or have lunch in the jail. You may want to see the Hogwarts staircase and hall at Christchurch College or just visit our diocesan cathedral, Christchurch Cathedral, and learn more about Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carol) and Alice in Wonderland. You can go to the Cherwell Boathouse for lunch and rent a punt, or walk straight through the city centre and down St Aldates to Salters Steamers and take a cruise along the Thames.
Turn one way and you can walk in the Oxford University Parks and round into Christchurch Meadow. Turn the other way and walk through Jericho Oxford’s self-proclaimed ‘coolest neighborhood’, and over the Oxford Canal to walk in Port Meadow and round to Binsey, a hamlet tucked away in the fields, where beside the Church you’ll find the Treacle Well from Alice.
The Oxford Museum of Modern Art is a must for some, as of course is the Oxford University Museum,which is the natural history museum at one end, with it’s famous stuffed dodo, and on the other side the Pitt Rivers Museum, famous, ghoulishly for it’s collection of shrunken heads, now no longer on view. This is where Indiana Jones hails from….so any visitor in a wide brimmed hat is fair game for those in the know!
Do not fail to visit our personal favourite, the Ashmolean. Arguably England’s oldest museum, it’s free and could be a day outing in it’s own right. Mummies, Pocahontas’ Cape, The Alfred Jewel, fabulous relics from the ancient world, and wonderful art from the Renaissance to the 20th century. Porcelain, silver, famous Pre-Raephaelite paintings and furniture there really is something for everyone to engage with that is an example of the best in the world. No good museum exists without an excellent gift shop, cafe in the basement and good restaurant at the top with stunning views over the city.
We count 4 meals in a day here at Kingham Cottages, known for sitting down to tea and cake every day at 4pm with anyone in the house or garden at the time, to chew the cud and discuss the mood music of the day. Why wouldn’t you? So, when you are out and about sampling the cuisine is part of the joy. As with any vibrant modern British city you can eat food from around the world and there is superb food in Oxford if you know where to look. Some of our favourites include Pompette in South Parade Summertown, the Cherwell Boathouse, The Old Parsonage, Quad and no list of restaurants in Oxford is complete without mentioning the institution that is Browns. There are, of course a myriad more so don’t be afraid to hit a search engine and hit the streets.
It is more than you can fit into a day, for sure. Oxford is the backdrop to hundreds of TV series and films, all of which will have their own points of interests for devotees. Inspector Morse and Endeavour feature a wide range of Oxford sites as backdrops including divine Divinity Schools, the oldest concert hall in the country the Holywell Music Room and The Sheldonian, which is the original site of the Ashmolean.
A busy academic environment, visits need to be planned to ensure you are able to enter the buildings you want to visit. Many venues in Oxford regularly hold events that are open to the public, from talks to concerts to literary festivals. Colleges are open to visitors at various times and should you just be walking around soaking up the atmosphere, ancient city walls can still be seen crumbling in various college gardens.
Just remember that for all we rave about Oxford the Romans never built there. The clue is in the name, they thought it was unhealthy, low lying and wet. Well reader, they were quite right. There is a lot of water flowing around and through Oxford, and some days it can be very wet.
However, whatever the weather if you visit, look up, look down, look ahead and look to enjoy yourselves!