Most people know that Oxford is home to the oldest and arguably most prestigious university in the English-speaking world: the University of Oxford. However, the university is not the only attraction of note in Oxford. Though steeped in hundreds of years academic tradition, Oxford is a thriving, cosmopolitan city of 160,000 people with several prosperous industries, including car manufacturing, publishing, education, science, and technology.
Located some 56 miles northwest of London, Oxford is nestled in Oxfordshire’s Thames Valley along the rivers Thames and Cherwell. The area was first settled by the Anglo-Saxons in the 10th century, when it became an important crossing for oxen; hence the city’s original name, “Oxnaford.”
Although it is unclear when the University of Oxford was initially founded, teaching in Oxford has existed in some form since at least 1096. Over the next millennium the university flourished, and grew to become one of the most culturally significant educational institutions in the western world. The university boasts a myriad of prestigious alumni, including 28 British prime ministers, over 30 international leaders, over 50 nobel prize winners, and the likes of Stephen Hawking, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Bill Clinton, Lawrence of Arabia, and Emma Watson, among many others.
The University’s 45 colleges can be scattered throughout the city center. Although they teach the same curriculum, each college has its own unique traditions, teaching style, and architectural flair. The city itself is an architect’s dream, as an example of nearly every style of English architecture can be found within its historic colleges and modern buildings.
Tension between Oxford’s “town and gown” populations (“town” being the city’s permanent residents, “gown” referring to students and their traditional university garb) has been ever-present since the university’s founding. In previous centuries, this tension occasionally boiled over into violence. The most infamous example is the St. Scholastica’s Day riot of 1355, which erupted after two students accused the landlord of the Swyndlestock tavern of serving them “indifferent wine.” The subsequent bar brawl spilled into the the city streets, and after three days 30 townsfolk and 63 university members were dead. Nowadays, the tension mostly manifests as resident noise complaints regarding late-night student parties.
Owing to the international diversity of its student and resident populations, nearly every cuisine imaginable can be found in Oxford. From traditional pub food to Thai, French, Spanish, Sri Lankan and extravagant fusion, visitors are sure to find something to satisfy their appetite. Many restaurants in Oxford also offer meals and cocktails with scenic rooftop views, including Sticks n’ Sushi, The Alchemist, and Victor’s (all located on the roof terrace of Westgate shopping center), and the Ashmolean Museum Rooftop Restaurant.
Visitor’s also have the opportunity to visit one of the town’s many historic pubs, including the Eagle and Child (frequented by the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien C.S. Lewis), the 13th century Bear Inn, and the 14th century Turf Tavern.
If you would like to learn more about this incredible city, you’re in luck! Stay tuned for more details about an exciting joint event with the Oxford Brookes University Business Society! More information available in coming weeks.