Any expedition to Oxford should always start with its history. There are some sublime historical buildings, which have risen from the green hills of Oxfordshire, many of which hail from different eras of British history. To delve into what this historic county has to offer is to step back in time, and this blog reveals some of the best historic sites to discover in Oxfordshire.
Our first stop when discovering Oxford's history simply has to start with the institution, which has brought the most fame, the most infamy and the most intriguing, characters to this former fortified city. We are of course talking about the iconic University of Oxford whose libraries, lecture halls, classrooms and chapels cast themselves like a net across Oxford. This whole list could be made of the illustrious colleges of Oxford, so we'll keep it down to one: Christ Church which can be found at the city's core. This college is a classic image of Oxford, and its manicured lawns, framed by beautiful corridors, are focused by a fountain in the centre of the main buildings. Its meadow offers respite from the city centre, and from a historic point of view, it was the college of thirteen British Prime Ministers and King Edward.
The Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and its astonishing collection, numbering up to 13 million printed works, is housed in a striking building in central Oxford as the focal point of Radcliffe Square. It was founded by a bishop in the 14th century and contained a modest collection until Thomas Bodley, a former student, worked with the university to establish the library as a leading fountain of combined human knowledge across the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Today, its gorgeous halls and extensive oak bookshelves lend an air of reverence to each of its remarkable buildings. A walk past the Radcliffe Camera and the Tower of the Five Orders, both separate segments of the library, offers a memorable snapshot into the Oxford University experience.
The University of Oxford Botanic Garden
The first of its kind in the UK, the Oxford Botanic Garden is home to a marvellous collection of different plant species, from enormous trees to tiny lily plants. 130 acres of diverse botanical sights make the Oxford Botanic Gardens an excellent place to bring children and family, both as a learning experience and as a chance to escape the busy streets of Oxford. The Arboretum here is perfect for that very reason, with wildflower meadows and ancient treelines playing host to peacocks, foxes, hares, butterflies, dragonflies and much more. The gardens were set up by Henry Danvers, the 1st Earl of Danby, and many famous artists, poets and writers have found inspiration here, including Lewis Carroll and JRR Tolkien.
Moving away from the university, Oxford Castle is Oxford's 1,000 year old castle that stands over the western side of the city centre. Built by Norman invading forces as far back as 1073, a wealth of history has passed through the ancient halls and weathered battlements of Oxford Castle, and today, the fortifications and the castle prison are open to the public. A host of tours are available to visitors, led by guides in costumes, who take their charges deep into the bowels of the castles, including visits to the mysterious crypts, the eerie Debtors' Tower, the original Motte and Bailey Castle and the marvellous St George's Tower.
With so much history and culture to see, Oxfordshire is a vibrant and exciting place to live, rife with opportunity and days out. If you're looking to buy property in this beautiful county, get in touch with us today or discover our Oxfordshire listings.