Walks in Oxford
· On foot: walks in Oxford
· The Oxford Science Walk
· The Inklings Walking Tour
· Guided Walking Tours
· Riverside Walks
· Port Meadow
A comprehensive list detailing denominations and times of services is available from the Information Office. Christ Church College in St Aldate's has its own choir school. Sunday and weekday services as follows: 8.00am Holy Communion
· 10.00am Matins and Sermon
· 11.15am Sung Eucharist
· 6.00am Evensong
· 6.00pm Evensong (weekdays)
"The character of Morse is one that strikes an immediate empathy in many and sympathy in others. There is a little piece of Morse in us all, or at least in somebody we all know, and this is the great attraction of the man brought to life on the small screen by the excellent portrayal of John Thaw. However, Morse is nothing without Lewis, just as Holmes is nothing without Watson, and so much credit must also go to Kevin Whately for his splendid characterisation of Sergeant Lewis."
Words from the Foreword in "The Oxford of Inspector Morse" by Antony Richards & Phillip Attwell which you can buy for £3 from The Information Office. The writers compiled the booklet which 'surveys some of the locations used in the novels and television adaptations from an historical perspective' to accompany an Inspector Morse Society weekend held in Oxford in 1997. You may not be a fan of Inspector Morse. But this scholarly booklet, delightfully illustrated with old prints from the l9th century, will greatly enhance the Oxford experience for you. Do buy it!
John Thaw is making another Morse next year which he says will 'definitely be the last one, not a Frank Sinatra-like the last one, but definitely the last'. It is not yet certain that Kevin Whately will agree to play Lewis although John Thaw and the producers are very much hoping he will.
There is an Inspector Morse walk. You can find out more about this on the Oxford Link page.
Where to eat
Twenty pence will buy you a very satisfactory guide to eating in Oxford (from the Information Office). It has been compiled by the Oxford Tourism Management, 'helped and supported by those restaurants and cafes who particularly welcome visitors and value your custom'.
All the establishments mentioned in the guide are known and popular with local residents, which is reassuring. Eat nothing till you've checked the guide. On second thoughts, go to Brown's Restaurant & Bar, St Giles (five minute's walk from Keble) of which we have had first hand experience and can heartily recommend.
· Brown's Restaurant
Service is fast, efficient and friendly. There is a comprehensive menu, served all day (but 'specials' tend to sell out fast), including pasta, salads, traditional British, vegetarian, hot sandwiches and puddings. Servings are generous, food is well cooked. Brown's is spacious, (at least by U.K. standards),with a bustling but relaxed atmosphere. Decor is plain cream painted walls, bentwood chairs and round tables, lots of plants.
A cream tea for two with substantial home-made scones and a large pot of tea will cost you around £5. A three course evening meal (without wine which will cost from eight pounds per bottle) will cost between about twelve and eighteen pounds per person.
A pianist plays on Mon-Thurs evenings from 8.45 to 11p.m and on Saturday and Sunday from 4pm to 6.30p.m. (Anything from songs from the shows to Thelonius Monk.) It's busy and popular, especially with young families.
· Chutney's Indian Restaurant
Not included in the Guide, but another restaurant of which we have had first hand experience is Chutneys Indian Brasserie in New Inn Hall Street (about seven minutes walk from Keble). Chutney's is reasonably priced and has a pleasant decor. Dishes are freshly cooked for you. Courteous, efficient service. Dine here early if you're going on to a concert or theatre - you will be fed well, within one hour leaving you plenty of time to reach your venue. You can choose to sit upstairs or down, which is cooler and more spacious. A popular restaurant. Without wine, an evening meal here will cost as little as ten pounds per person.
Go left on leaving, towards Queen Street to see the Methodist Meeting House dated 1783 where John Wesley preached on several occasions. Opposite you'll find a Culpeper shop, highly recommended as a source of special and unique gifts and to treat yourself! (see the shopping section of this page for more details).
North Parade Avenue a small lane off Banbury Road has several eateries - there is a choice of Indian, Italian, a pattiserie, a cafe and a creperie. None appears in the Guide but you might care to try your luck.
One restaurant that does get a mention in the guide is Gees, at 61a Banbury Road. We have not eaten there, but it has an imaginative menu and it looks elegant, Victorian conservatory style, with nice white damask tablecloths. The food is described in the Guide as 'contemporary, with a Mediterranean influence'. Gees is about seven minute's walk from Keble.
Whether you've been entreated to bring back specific items, or are simply wanting to buy souvenirs, each can be accomplished without difficulty in Oxford. Museums are a good source of unusual gift ideas and if you have only ten minutes or so to dash out and buy something, you could do so at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History opposite Keble College. Its shop offers tee-shirts, mugs, posters, mobiles, ties, tea towels, jewellery crystals, gemstones, soft toys, and all the usual pocket money toys.
All the museums and galleries of Oxfordshire are listed in a booklet available from the Information Centre.
If you want clothing from chain stores, head for Queen Street. Many of the famous names are there. Try also Cornmarket and Magdalen streets.
Quality toys are to be found in Little Clarendon Street, off St Giles. Also trendy items for the home.
Go to Broad Street for old and new books, silverware and quality gifts of all kinds. Don't miss Castell's (no. 13 Broad Street), also known as The Varsity Shop, for college clothing and accessories.
Also in Broad Street (nos. 9-10) is Oxford Campus Stores which claims to stock Oxford's best selection of University souvenirs. It is also the sole Oxford stockist of Liberty presents and scarves. You can find Mulberry leather bags and accessories, Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries and Steiff bears. Friendly, helpful staff and the added bonus of air-conditioning!
Flaggs (18 Broad Street) offers 'traditional and friendly service of the old style' and claims to be one of Oxford's favourite stores. They stock a wide range of quality merchandise, including products that reflect their close association with the student body.
Before you leave Broad Street visit Boswell's Department Store. They don't make them like this any more! (Boswell's Department Store is on the corner of Cornmarket Street and Broad Street ).
If you collect model cars you might enjoy The Miniature Motor Museum at 1/3 Golden Cross, Cornmarket Street. This little museum displays hundreds of model vehicles, and you can buy models, including the Corgi range.
Do also visit Culpeper (New Inn Hall Street). If you are not familiar with the shop, you have a treat in store. If you are, then you need no further recommendation.
From here, walk toward the Railway Station to Park End Street to visit the Jam Factory (once the home of the renowned Oxford marmalade). It's now a centre for antiques and has stalls selling china, jewellery, retro clothing, books and various other odds and ends.
The University of Oxford Shop is actually owned by the University and is the only shop where you can find the full range of its official merchandise. Here you can find original and distinctive gifts. (106 High Street). The large range includes clothing, housewares, clocks, souvenirs, prints, ceramics and books. They offer a free gift wrapping service.
Between High Street and Market Street is the Covered Market. Fortunately, today we don't have to witness the sight of butchers slaughtering the animals in front of us. The covered market was set up in 1774, before which it was held in the street and shoppers would have needed strong stomachs. Today, as well as meat, fish, cheeses and fruit, you will find the usual market paraphernalia.
Be sure to visit the Turf Tavern in New College Lane, one of Oxford's oldest pubs. Heaps of atmosphere. But beware, if you're over 1.7m "duck or grouse"! The ceilings are low, but low, the beams make them even lower. There are 11 varieties of ale on the cask menu, ranging in strength from 3.6% (Archers Village) to 5.2% (Old Speckled Hen). Also available is a range of Belgian beers and a selection of International wines. If the weather is clement, you can sit outside in one of the three large beer gardens. The Turf Tavern is five minute's walk from Keble.
When you leave the pub turn left into New College Lane. A few yards further along is the charming house where Edmund Halley lived and had his observatory, and presumably first sighted the comet. Further along still, New College Lane becomes Queens Lane and fine examples of gargoyles can be seen.
A detailed list of pubs is provided on the Oxford Link web page. An alternative `guide to 30 pubs' can be found at http://biop.ox.ac.uk/www/pub_guide/pubs.html.
The Eagle and Child pub was a favourite venue for teh Inklings literary group to meet and discuss their work and ideas.
· Carfax Tower
The best place from which to view Oxford's famous skyline of spires is from Carfax Tower. Its location at the ancient heart of the city thus providing a view with a central aspect. The tower is all that remains of the 11th century St Martin's or Carfax Church which was rebuilt in 1818. It is open everyday from 10.05.30. Ninety nine steps to climb! Carfax Tower in St Aldate's.
· Oxford Town Hall
If Carfax has put you in a receptive mood for more local colour, don't leave the area without popping into the Town Hall (virtually next door). The interior reflects the civic pride of the Victorian age, but the main reason for your visit is to meet Ken and Tim, two very genial chaps who look after the building. Ken's father was head waterman at Blenheim; Tim is a mine of information about Oxford. (He told us that when the students were sitting their exams at Merton College, straw would be laid over the cobbles to deaden the rattle of carts on the cobble stones. For the same reason, rubber bricks were laid in St Aldate's but these were taken up when trams were introduced).
· St Mary the Virgin: Broad Street.
You might like a comparative viewing point, which can be obtained from the tower of this University church, worthy of a visit in its own right The church is situated on the High Street by Magdalen Bridge. It was here that in 1556, during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary and her attempt to reverse the Reformation, that Archbishop Cranmer was tried for heresy. You can see where the section of a stone pillar was removed to allow for the building of a platform from which Cranmer was to recant his 'heretical' views. At the last moment, however, he withdrew his written recantation and before dying at the stake at the foot of the tower, he held out to the flames the hand with which had signed.
There is a fine slab of Purbeck marble to be seen here on the tomb of Adam de Brome appointed rector of the church in 1320. Sadly, the brasses have been stolen.
· The Thames River
The rivers have played a leading role in shaping the city of Oxford. It is cited on the Thames but here this great river, known to the Romans as Thamesis, becomes the Isis. However, the exact point at which the river changes its name has never been defined. The river Cherwell (pronounced Charwell) joins the Isis just south of Folly Bridge.
Further downstream at Dorney in South Buckinghamshire, the Oxford Archaeological Unit have discovered the oldest bridge on the River Thames. The two lines of massive oak posts have been radiocarbon dated by the British Museum to between 1300 and 1400 BC. The remains of the Bronze Age bridge was discovered during excavations for a rowing lake, built to international standards, by Eton College. A series of former channels of the River Thames have also been revealed. Formed at the end of the Ice Age, as the climate warmed up, gradually reed swamp developed in the channels and an Early Mesolithic settlement developed. Flint and animal bones have been discovered.
The Neolithic Age (6,600-3,000 BC) brought an increased flow to the major channel. This was the prehistoric river Thames, nearly 2km of which survives within the site. Remains of a beaver lodge have been found, complete with the creature's skeleton, and flint, burnt sandstone and pottery indicate that man and beaver co-existed. The College, in conjunction with the Unit, are taking the opportunity to turn the excavation into a major educational event during a number of summer vacations. No doubt there will be no shortage of volunteers!
The Thames was an important river in the Bronze Age (3,000-1,200 BC) as can be witnessed by the clusters of barrows that occur beside the river. If you were an important person you wanted to be buried in a conspicuous place.
A great river was a potent symbol. Weapons dating from 1200 BC have been found and it is assumed that these were deliberately put into the river, since they were not being used again. This may have been a sign of prestige - you had sufficient wealth to be able to afford to offer your weapons to the river. The river has proved to be a rich source of archaeological finds - the finest of their type.
Crusaders returning from the Crusades would throw souvenirs into the river in thanks for safe deliverance.
In the 17th century there was frequent journeying from Westminster to Oxford. For those who could afford it, Oxford was a centre of culture and a refuge from the ills of London (e.g. plague). Because it was a seat of learning, it was perceived as an alternative to London. At that time the river was crowded with many small craft, the main source of transport for rich and poor alike.
The Thames was a conduit of power - the place where important institutions were sited. This river was a great arterial highway until about the mid 17th century when a coach with decent suspension was designed and roads without potholes were built.
Ceremonial uses of the Thames began in the 18th century and continued through to the early part of the 19th century.
In Dickens' time the Thames was perceived as fit only for sewage and rubbish.
Currently work is underway to create an "Official Thames Path". This will be "A path for everybody" (after much negotiation with landowners). The path is still being perfected. The aim is to democratise the river. In London more and more riverside access is opening, so that now it is almost possible to experience the whole river.
All of Britain's history, all Britain's past has gone into the Thames. It embodies its own history. For many people it has a spirituality and is regarded with great affection ("Old Father Thames"). Especially since the expansion of Docklands in London, people have come to realise its value. They want to travel on the river.
Recently a Hindu family chose to scatter their uncle's ashes on the Thames in formal ritualistic style. Hindus believe that all rivers merge together so the ashes will eventually end up in the Ganges.
Punts can be hired from:
£50 deposit weekends
· Cherwell Boathouse Tel 515978 £8 - 10 per hr
· Bardwell Road £40 deposit weekdays Oxford
· C Howard & Son Tel 202643 £9 - 10 per hr
· The Old Horseford £25 deposit + ID
Magdalen Bridge (please check for chauffeured punts)
IPG Marine Tel 01993 868190 Rowing boat, & motor boats
Details of other boat hire and boat trips can be obtained from the Information Centre.