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Tourist Info




Sightseeing

Aside from the beautiful buildings of Oxford University, there are many other buildings worth visiting while in town. Some are associated with the University, and some are not, but most of them are old and fascinating and are definitely photo-worthy.

Carfax Tower
Corner of St. Aldate's, Cornmarket Street, Queen Street, High Street

Open from April to October 10am to 5.30pm (4.30pm in October). Open Daily November to March, 10am to 3pm (4pm in March). Adults £2.20 - Seniors £2.20 - Students £2.20 - Children £1.10

Carfax is located at the junction of St Aldate's (south), Cornmarket Street (north), Queen Street (west) and the High Street (east) in Oxford, England. It is considered to be the centre of the city. The name "Carfax" derives from the French "carrefour", or "crossroads".

Carfax Tower is located at the north-west corner of Carfax. The Tower is all that remains of the 13th century St. Martin's Church and is now owned by the Oxford City Council. It is 23 m (74 ft) tall and still contains a ring of six bells, recast from the original five by Richard Keene of Woodstock in 1676. These chime the quarter hours and are rung on special occasions by the Oxford Society of Change Ringers.

It is possible to climb to the top of the tower for a good view of the Oxford skyline.

Official website

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin
Entrances on High Street and Radcliffe Square

Church open daily 9am -5pm (6am-6pm in July & August), Sundays the Tower opens at 12:15pm October - May, 11:15am June - September.

The Tower: The tower commands some of the finest views of Oxford's famous skyline. It is worth the climb of 124 steps to make it to the top to enjoy fine uninterrupted views in all directions across Oxford and the surrounding countryside. The Church Guide Book indicates the major buildings to be seen. Entrance: adults £3, children (under 16) £2.50, Family ticket (2 adults and up to 2 children), £10.

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is the largest of Oxford's parish churches and the centre from which the University of Oxford grew. It is situated on the north side of the High Street, and is surrounded by university and college buildings.

St Mary's has one of the most beautiful spires in England and an eccentric baroque porch, designed by Nicholas Stone, facing High Street. Radcliffe Square lies to the north and to the east is Catte Street, pedestrianised since 1973. The 13th century tower is open to the public for a fee and provides good views across the heart of the historic university city, especially Radcliffe Square, the Radcliffe Camera, Brasenose College and All Souls College.

Official website

Martyrs' Memorial
Intersection of St. Giles', Magdalen Street, and Beaumont Street

The Martyrs' Memorial is a rather imposing stone monument positioned at the intersection of St Giles', Magdalen Street and Beaumont Street in Oxford, England just outside Balliol College. It commemorates the 16th-century Oxford Martyrs.

Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the monument was completed in 1843 after two years' work, having replaced "a picturesque but tottering old house". The Victorian Gothic memorial, whose design dates from 1838, has been likened to the spire of some sunken cathedral.

The inscription on the base of the Martyrs' Memorial reads as follows: "To the Glory of God, and in grateful commemoration of His servants, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, Prelates of the Church of England, who near this spot yielded their bodies to be burned, bearing witness to the sacred truths which they had affirmed and maintained against the errors of the Church of Rome, and rejoicing that to them it was given not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake; this monument was erected by public subscription in the year of our Lord God, MDCCCXLI".

Cuthbert Bede (in his novel The Adventures of Mr Verdant Green) wrote about the setting of the Martyrs' Memorial thus in 1853: "He who enters the city, as Mr Green did, from the Woodstock Road, and rolls down the shady avenue of St Giles', between St John's College and the Taylor Buildings, and past the graceful Martyrs' Memorial, will receive impressions such as probably no other city in the world could convey."

The actual site of the execution is close by in Broad Street, located just outside the location of the old city walls. The site is marked by a cross sunk in the road.

There is also an urban legend in Oxford that generations of Oxford students have duped groups of tourists into believing that the memorial is, in fact, the spire of an underground chapel or a sunken church, offering tours of it for a price, and then directing them to the stairs round the corner, which in fact lead to the public toilets.

Saxon Tower of St Michael at the North Gate
Cornmarket Street

Open 10am - 5pm Mon-Fri, 12 noon - 5pm Sunday. Admission £1.50.

St Michael at the Northgate is a church in Cornmarket Street, at the junction with Ship Street, central Oxford, England. The church is so-called because this is the location of the original north gate of Oxford when it was surrounded by a city wall. Dating from 1040, it is Oxford's oldest building. The church tower is Saxon.

The Oxford Martyrs were imprisoned in the Bocardo Prison by the church before they were burnt at the stake in what is now Broad Street nearby, then immediately outside the city walls, in 1555 and 1556. Their cell door can be seen on display in the church's tower.

What to see: the Saxon Tower, which is the oldest building in Oxford; The15th century pulpit where John Wesley, founder of Methodism, preached the Michaelmas Day sermon on 29th September 1726; 13th Century stained glass in the East Window; 14th Century font from St Martin's Church ; Reredos of the 14th century Lady Chapel, restored in 1941; The door of Archbishop Cranmer's prison cellfrom Bocardo Prison is held in the tower.

Archbishop Cranmer and his fellow bishops Latimer and Ridley were burned at stake in Broad Street in 1556; The church treasury, which includes a Elizabethan chalice dated 1562, and a Sheela-na-gig, dating back to late 11th or 12th century.

The Saxon Tower is the oldest building in Oxford and is definitely worth a visit! Inside you can see the door to the Martyrs' cell, when they were imprisoned in the Bocardo. They have an ancient clock mechanism that you can see in action. There are six huge bells that are so heavy that if they rang them it would severely damage the tower! So they chime them instead.

The tower is the easiest climb in Oxford, with good solid stairs including a handrail. There are several places to stop and rest if you need to. From the top of the tower there is a marvellous view of the city of Oxford and its famous "dreaming spires".

Official website

Bodleian Library
Broad Street

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday all year round. Our opening hours are: Monday – Friday 9.00 – 17.00; Saturday 9.00 – 16.30; Sunday 11.00-17.00. With the exception of the Shop and the Exhibition Room, admission to the interior of the buildings is charged for.

Known informally as "The Bod", the Bodleian was opened in 1602 by Thomas Bodley with a collection of 2,000 books. In 1610, Bodley made an agreement with the Stationers' Company in London to put a copy of every book registered with them in the library (nowadays, each book copyrighted must be deposited). Today, there are 9 million items on 176 kilometres of shelving, and the library can accommodate 2,500 readers. Books may not be taken off the premises. The Divinity School and exhibition room are open to the public.

The Bodleian Library is a working library which forms part of the University of Oxford. It is housed in a remarkable group of buildings which form the historic heart of the University, and you can explore the quadrangles of these magnificent structures at no charge. Different ticket options allow you to visit the interior of some of the buildings, such as the University’s oldest teaching and examination room, The Divinity School (built 1427-88). Here you will discover more of the University’s fascinating history. Our guided tours go behind the scenes in the Library, including its oldest research library, The Bodleian, dating from 1602-20.

For guided tours, exhibitions and general visitor enquiries: 01865 287400
For events and venue hire: 01865 277224
For filming and photography: 01865 277216

Official website

Clarendon Building
Broad Street

The Clarendon Building in Oxford, England, stands in the centre of the city in Broad Street, near the Bodleian Library and the Sheldonian Theatre. For many years it was the home of the Oxford University Press; today it is part of the Bodleian.

The building was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor (Christopher Wren's greatest pupil) and built (1711–1715) to house the Press's printing operations. (Before its construction the presses were in the basement of the Sheldonian Theatre, and the compositors could not work when the Theatre was in use for ceremonies.)

The building was financed largely from the proceeds of the commercially successful History of the Great Rebellion by Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, whose money also paid for the building of the Clarendon Laboratory in Oxford.

Official website

Radcliffe Camera
Radcliffe Square

Built in 1749 to house the Radcliffe Science Library, the Radcliffe Camera (camera is another word for 'room') is now a reading room for the Bodleian Library.

The distinctive circular dome and drum of the structure makes it one of the most recognizable and often-photographed building in Oxford. This building is not open to the public except as part of a tour of the Bodleian Library.

Official website

Sheldonian Theatre
Broad Street

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 10.00 to 12.30 hrs, 14.00 to 16.30 hrs March to October, 14.00 to 15.30 hrs November to February. Opening hours will be curtailed when the theatre is in use for University Ceremonies, meetings or concerts. £2.50 per adult, £1.50 concessions, Group rate £1.50 per head parties of 15 and over

The Sheldonian Theatre was built in 1668 from a design created by Christopher Wren. It was named after Gilbert Sheldon, who was Chancellor of the University at the time the construction was funded. The theatre is used for music recitals, lectures (such as the annual Romanes Lecture), conferences, and for various ceremonies held by the University (such as graduation and matriculation). Handel performed here, including the first performance of his third oratorio Athalia in 1733.

The building seats 800–1,000 people and is situated in the grounds of part of the Bodleian Library adjacent to Broad Street. To the left at the front is the Clarendon Building and to the right is the Old Ashmolean Building. Behind the Sheldonian is the Divinity School.

The building has a prominent eight-sided cupola in the centre of the roof, which is accessible via a staircase leading to the dome over the main ceiling. The cupola has large windows on all sides, providing views across central Oxford, and is open to visitors.

Official website

Blackwell's Bookstore
48-51 Broad Street

Opening Hours: Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat 9:00 - 18:00, Tue 9:30 - 18:00, Sun 11:00 - 17:00. Tel: 01865 792792

Blackwell's is an institution in Oxford. It's not just a regular bookstore - it has the largest single room devoted to book sales in all of Europe (the 10,000 sq. ft. Norrington Room). In order to create such a large space in a small city, Blackwell's excavated underneath Trinity College's gardens. Blackwell's sells both new and second-hand books, and has a cafe.

Blackwell runs a series of walking tours: The Famous Blackwell Literary Walking Tours (Tuesdays 2pm, Thursdays 11am); The Inklings Tour (Wednesdays 11:45am); The Historic Oxford Tour (Fridays 2pm). Tours will be conducted between 16th April and 24th October. All tours commence from Blackwell Bookshop, 48-51 Broad St, Oxford and last approximately one and a half hours.

Prices: Adults £7/Concessions £6.50. For booking and enquiries please contact our bookshop located at 48-51 Broad St. Tel: 01865 333606, e-mail: oxford@blackwell.co.uk.

Advanced group bookings welcome. Numbers are limited so early booking is advised.

Official website

Oxford University Press
Walton Street, Jericho, 01865 353527

Tours are available with advanced booking.

The Oxford University Press (OUP) publishes many reference, professional, and academic works, including the Oxford English Dictionary. The OUP grew to the world's largest press after receiving rights to publish the King James Version of the Bible. Today, it publishes more than 4,500 new books each year.

Official website

Botanic Gardens
High Street. Open 9am - 5pm daily.

January, February, November and December - Open daily 9.00am until 4.30pm. Entry: Admission charges apply during the weekends. Weekdays by donation. March, April, September and October - 9.00am until 5.00pm. Last admission 4.15pm. Admission charges apply 7 days a week. May to August - 9.00am until 6.00pm. Last admission 5.15pm. Admission charges apply 7 days a week.

Admission Prices: Annual Pass (valid for 1 year from date of purchase) £12.00. Concessionary season ticket £10.00. Day ticket £3.50. Concessionary day ticket £3.00. Children in full-time education accompanied by their parent or guardian, disabled visitors and their carer Free

Located on the peaceful banks of the Cherwell River, the gardens were started in 1621 as the Physic Gardens, for the study of medicinal plants. These are the oldest botanic gardens in Britain. In addition to the lovely outdoor gardens, there are greenhouses which grow many varieties of exotic plants and flowers. Just next to the gardens, crossing over Rose Lane, there are rose gardens that are exquisite in July.

Official website

Hertford Bridge
New College Lane

Hertford Bridge is often called the Bridge of Sighs because of the similarity to the famous bridge in Venice. Actually, it looks more like the Rialto Bridge, and this Oxford structure was never intended to be a replica of any existing bridge. It was completed in 1914 to connect two sections of Hertford College.

The bridge, and much of its current architecture, was designed by Sir Thomas Jackson. It was completed in 1914, despite its construction being opposed by New College.

Official website

Church of St. Mary Magdalen
Magdalen Street

This pretty Anglican church is located at the intersections of Magdalen Street, Broad Street, George Street, and Cornmarket Street. A Saxon wooden church stood here a thousand years ago, but this was burnt down in 1074. Robert d'Oilli, the Norman Constable of Oxford, built a single aisle chapel to replace the wooden church. St Hugh, the Bishop of Lincoln, rebuilt the church in 1194. Following the Reformation, the church's patronage passed from St Frideswide's to Christ Church. In 1841–42, George Gilbert Scott, then young and unknown, rebuilt the chancel and the north aisle. This complemented his Martyrs' Memorial just to the north of the church. It was the first Victorian Gothic interior in Oxford.

Official website

Oxford Castle Quarter
New Road

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. On the site you will also find the Malmaison Hotel, several restaurants and an art gallery. Outdoor theatre performances feature regularly. Check our castle events page for more information.

Official website