The castle was originally built in 1071 for William the Conqueror, to enable the Normans to control the area. A prison was built within the castle, which continued to be in use until 1996.
The prison was mainly used to house prisoners from Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and also the University's 'rebellious scholars' (as recorded in 1236). From 1613 until 1785, the prison and castle were owned by Christ Church, who leased the jail (gaol) to prison keepers. In 1785 it was redeveloped into a prison and house of correction, with a tower on which they held public executions. The last execution was in 1863.
A large, grassy mound, St. George's Tower, and the base of a round tower still remain.
* Events listed in purple denote child friendly activities
Tuesday 01 May -
Geocaching Explorers Discover Oxford’s Hidden History
Throughout May, the Castle will be spreading its hidden history a little further by planting 12 geocaches across Oxfordshire with vintage keys concealed inside that the lucky discoverers can exchange for free entry to the visitor attraction. As the weather gets warmer and the population gets out and about, geocaching is the perfect activity for family and friends of all ages to enjoy together. As a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game, players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online at http://www.geocaching.com. Traditional Geocaching rules dictate that the keys concealed inside the Oxford Castle – Unlocked geocache can only be taken if an item is left in its place, thus carrying on the geocaching chain.
Thursday 06 June - Saturday 13 July
Cult Screens Rooftop Cinema
Going to the cinema is getting stylish again this summer, as pop up event company Cult Screens and boutique hotel chain Malmaison have teamed up for six weeks of film magic in Oxford, up high and under the stars at the city’s only rooftop cocktail bar, part the former gaol now known as Malmaison. The cinema will open its doors for the first time on 6th June and be open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night for six weeks. The season includes some of the best films ever made and kicking things off are Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Argo and Back to the Future. Over the following weeks, cult favorites such as The Lost Boys, Labyrinth and The Big Lebowski will be making an appearance, as well as timeless classics including Casablanca, Amelie and Cinema Paradiso. There is also a screening of the British crime caper The Italian Job, filmed on location at the hotel and starring three of Oxfords most famous sons, the mini Cooper. The films will all be projected in high definition onto a big screen and guests will listen through individual wireless headphones. With deck chairs or bean bags to sit on, fantastic cocktails, an amazing BBQ, and even a blanket to snuggle under, Oxford’s newest cinema experience promises to be a long way from the modern multiplex. The bar will be open throughout the evening with the cinema opening at 8.45pm and films starting after sunset, at around 9.30pm. Price: £12.50 For the full listing of films, dates, and to make reservations, please visit the official website.
Monday 01 July - Saturday 13 July
Macbeth at the Oxford Castle
Tomahawk Theatre returns to the Castle for the 4th year running to tell Shakespeare’s story of ambition, power, love, loyalty and betrayal. Set against the magnificent Castle backdrop Macbeth will be a dynamic, action packed 2 hours, including an interval and feature battle scenes, music, dance and song.
Saturday 14 September - Sunday 15 September
Oxford Open Doors
Oxford, a city to celebrate – from the exceptional to the everyday
Discover more at the Oxford Castle Quarter during Oxford Open Doors 2013 taking place on the 14th & 15th September. There will be activities for all ages and a selection of interesting stalls from local people. Oxford Open Doors is organised by the charity Oxford Preservation Trust in partnership with the University of Oxford.
Fun Facts about the Oxford Castle
Spy Games featuring Brad Pitt was filmed on site.
Inspector Morse was filmed on the site, as well as Bad Girls and The Bill.
102 Dalmatians featured Oxford Castle in 2000.
The o3 gallery got its name from being the third ‘O’ in the collaboration between Oxford Castle and OVADA (Oxfordshire's Visual Arts Development Agency).
The o3 gallery used to be a day room for prisoners! It forms part of the old Oxford Prison C-Wing.
O3 stocks Tatty Devine, a quirky, sought-after jewellery brand popular with fashionistas.
Oxford Castle is nearly 1000 years old.
Her Majesty the Queen opened Oxford Castle to the public in 2006.
When a prisoner was ‘sent down’ it meant he was sent down a tunnel leading from the County courtroom into Oxford Prison. There are only 2 of these tunnels in the country.
There were public hangings on the site until 1863.
Oxford Prison is thought to be one of the most haunted places in England.
In the first four years the site has attracted 334 jobs, 11 businesses and 5,400 learning opportunities.
Food and Drink at the castle
O3 Art Gallery
6 Oxford Castle
2 Oxford Castle
La Tasca Tapas Bar
5 Oxford Castle
3 Oxford Castle
0845 365 4247
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
Adjacent to Mound
The Real China
41 Oxford Castle