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Absorbing the city of Oxford

A city rooted in the history of education, Oxford is a fantastic place in which to study and an equally fascinating place to get to know and to fall in love with. 

With just under 165,000 inhabitants, it is fairly compact, so you can explore without going too far wrong. Just wander around and don’t be afraid to get lost. Peek into alleyways and amble down streets lined with unusual shops and cafes, past the colleges and meadows, to the more industrialised parts of town, or the village-like neighbourhood of Jericho. Jump on a bus, cycle or walk. Perhaps take a boat down-river or head towards a pub. Or to discover the city’s hidden secrets, take a guided walk with captivating storyteller Felicity Tholstrup.

Royal origins

The foundation of Oxford is uncertain but it is thought to date back to the Saxon era of the 8th century AD, perhaps by Frideswide, a local Anglo-Saxon princess who is said to have restored the sight of a suitor blinded by lightening with water from a holy spring, by what is now St Margaret’s Church.

King Henry I chose Oxford as his royal residence in the early 12th century and not much later English scholars, who were expelled en masse from the University of Paris in 1167, gravitated here leading towards the foundation of the university some time later and the creation of the first college in 1249.

Turbulence and expansion

Oxford’s passage through the centuries has at times been turbulent – three Protestant clerics were burnt at the stake on Broad Street by Queen Mary and during the Civil War, King Charles set up court here – and its position between London and England’s second city, Birmingham, saw it put on the industrial map with railways and canals turning it into a commercial hub. This was further enhanced with the arrival of car manufacture in 1913, which continues to this day at Cowley.

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