Oxford. The very name captures the imagination and stirs the soul. With its stunning architecture and historical significance, Oxford is steeped in centuries-old traditions, but can also claim a fair bit of intrigue and a sense of humor.
Put on your tourist hat and take a look at just 15 of the most fascinating facts about Oxford.
1. Oxford was the capital of England during the English Civil War.
2. Adolf Hitler had plans to invade England and use Oxford as his base if he won World War II.
3. The first colleges at Oxford were erected in the 13th century. Women weren’t admitted until 1878 and it was 1920 before women were allowed degrees. Women were finally admitted to the last of the previously all-male colleges in 1974.
4. Someone is picking his nose…and that’s just one of the strange and fascinating gargoyles perched around the colleges of Oxford, much to the delight of visitors.
5. Oxford residents are called Oxonians. Oxford is hardly a unique name – there’s one in Canada, one in New Zealand, and the United States boasts 21 Oxfords.
6. The Oxford Comma (used after a conjunction in a list of three or more) gets its name from the Oxford University Press.
7. A bell located in a tower of Christ Church Cathedral goes by the name Old Tom. It strikes 101 times each night, once for each of 100 original scholars plus one added in 1663. The bell tolls at precisely 9:05 p.m., a holdover from the traditional curfew time.
8. Scenes from the Harry Potter series were filmed at Oxford. So were several TV series, including Brideshead Revisited and Inspector Morse.
9. Author Lewis Carroll was inspired to write Alice in Wonderland while living at Oxford.
10. Other authors with an Oxford connection include J.R.R. Tolkein, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia; Colin Dexter, Inspector Morse novels; and Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’s Diary. And let’s not overlook the Oxford English Dictionary, which published its first edition in 1884.
11. In 1954, med student Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes at Iffley Road track in Oxford.
12. The world’s first public museum, Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, opened its doors in 1683.
13.Two roads, two miles apart, run parallel to each other in North Oxford. The southern road is called North Parade. The northern road is called South Parade.
14. Twenty-six British Prime Ministers were educated at Oxford.
15. Participants try to knock a wooden skittle off the top of a post by throwing sticks at it. Aunt Sally is the name of this quirky pub game you probably won’t see anywhere but Oxfordshire.