The impressive buildings combined with winding rivers and hidden nooks all work to create a romantic and inspiring atmosphere that many experience when visiting Oxford.
If you haven’t visited before, there are many sights you can admire, the architecture of Oxford being some of the biggest highlights.
Oxford University Buildings
With over 39 college buildings dotted around the city that make up the university, you may not get time to visit them all; here are a couple of the best picks well worth a visit…
All Souls College
This is at the heart of the university, and was founded in 1437 by Henry Chichele for the clergy as a centre for prayer and learning. This is the most prestigious of all the colleges.
The college boasts a four-storey gate tower and two-storey ranges either side, when you pass inside the gate house you enter the Great Quad, here you will be able to view the medieval buildings and spectacular twin gothic towers.
The quadrangle still houses fellows’ bedrooms and studies; additionally the Chapel sits in the whole north quarter and is well worth a visit.
On your visit, don’t miss out on taking a look at the sundial made by Wren and the mallards (the college symbol) that can be spotted all over the college.
College of Brasenose and the King’s Hall is situated in Radcliffe Square in the heart of the University. It was founded in 1509 by William Smythe, Bishop of Lincoln, and Sir Richard Sutton.
The unique name of the college is thought of have come from a 13th century knocker with a lion face that decorated the original academic hall.
Brasenose College has an intimate and romantic feel, typical of smaller medieval buildings. As you pass through the entrance on Radcliffe Square you will be led through to the Old Quadrangle, from here you can browse the beautiful buildings located inside.
Well worth a look is the Chapel Quadrangle, known also as Deer Park, it is home to the library and chapel – both were built in 1656-63 and were designed by mason John Jackson in an unusual Gothic-Classical hybrid.
The Chapel was the last to be designed and built in the traditional T plan, with a crossing antechapel, and replaced an earlier chapel that was located alongside the Hall.
Go inside the Chapel and take a look at the impressive antechapel, it comprises a memorial to Walter Pater a Fellow 1864-94, flanked by figures of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Plato and Dante.
You also won’t be able to miss the stained glass of the west window; it is by James Pearson to designs by J.R. Mortimer, from 1776.
The Bodleian Library is the main research centre for the university. It was founded in 1602 and opened with about 2000 books collected by Thomas Bodley. It is considered to be one of the great masterpieces of Gothic architecture in the UK.
The collection of books grew fast as Bodley made an arrangement with the Stationers’ Company in London to include a copy of every book registered with them, in the Bodleian library in 1610.
As the collections grew, the library was extended in both 1610-1612 and again in 1634-1637. Then, in the 1930’s the New Bodleian building was constructed – a tunnel under Broad Street connects the Old and New library buildings and contains a walkway, , a mechanical book conveyor and a pneumatic Lamson tube system for book orders.
Other places in Oxford well worth a visit include:
- Christ Church Cathedral
- University Church of St. Mary the Virgin
- Harris Manchester College
- House of C.S.Lewis
- Eagle and Child Pub – patrons included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien
This is just a snippet of what you can see on your Oxford break, all that’s left to do now is discover the city for yourselves!