“And that sweet city with her dreaming spires, she needs not
June for beauty’s heightening”
No-one knows exactly when scholars first began to congregate at
this small town on the western reaches of the river Thames – the
ox ford. The famous university dates its beginnings from the 12th
century, and the earliest formal college foundations date from 1249.
Since then, Oxford has weathered civil war and bloody clashes between
scholars and townsfolk to become the beacon of learning that now
draws students and visitors from all over the world.
A walk along the bustling high street, and through the busy covered
market, with its enticing aromas of local produce, is a contrast
to the serene calm of the “quads”. These courtyards are the quiet,
green heart of each college, around which students live, study,
debate and play. We will visit Christ Church, one of the most splendid
colleges - its chapel doubles as Oxford’s Cathedral, and its wonderful,
timbered Hall has played host to Lewis Carol, an astonishing roll-call
of British Prime Ministers, and the students of Hogwarts! We may
also get to visit some of the smaller, quieter colleges too, all
filled with wonderful stories of the famous and infamous who studied
here. Along the way you will find out what present day Oxford student
life is like.
Browsing in Blackwells bookshop, admiring antiquities at the world-class
Ashmolean Museum, climbing St Mary’s church tower for amazing views,
or sipping a drink in the ancient Turf Tavern – there are any number
of ways to spend your time in Oxford. We can create a whole day
tour in Oxford or you might like to combine it with a visit to Blenheim
When John Churchill – first Duke of Marlborough – lead a triumphant
coalition of armies against France and Spain, a grateful Queen Anne
endowed him with the Manor of Woodstock and the promise of funds
to build a fittingly grand house. The Duke himself had died before
the stupendous Blenheim Palace was completed, but it is still home
to the Spencer-Churchills, which is why Winston, a cousin of the
then Duke’s, was born there. He maintained a lifelong attachment
to the place, and is buried in the simple churchyard at nearby Bladon.
The Palace itself almost defies description; vast painted and gilded
halls, a priceless collection of paintings, ceramics, tapestries
and furniture and sweeping landscaped grounds as far as the eye
can see. A visit to Blenheim gives a remarkable insight into court
life and aristocratic taste in a bygone age – and all only a relaxing
90 minute drive from London!