There once (from 1988 to 2007) stood a building in central Oxford called ‘The Oxford Story’. It was modelled on the Jorvik Viking Centre in York – a kind of theme-ride through time. You sat at a Victorian school desk which moved along rails, passing a sequence of wax tableaux and accompanying smells, flashing lights and noises, until you were safely deposited at the gift shop. There you could buy assorted University memorabilia and exit blinking onto the street.
It was dire. What’s more it was wrong. For, whereas Jorvik is buried deep underground and difficult to interpret without the skills of a professional archaeologist, the history of Oxford lives all around us. It’s there for everyone to see, etched into the very stones and streets and fabric of the place. And it’s free. Yes, there are hidden parts and private places to which only a few privileged people have access; but there are more than enough riches on public display for the visitor to savour – and so many stories …
Stories of people. Stories of places. Stories of things. Stories of trees and shops and animals and ideas. Stories that sometimes stretch far beyond Oxford. See what you think. Everyone has their favourite images and places. Here are ours. This, as far as we’re concerned, is the real ‘Oxford Story’ (or stories) and if some of them inspire, intrigue and engage you, as we very much hope, then this website will have done its job.
Tony Morris lives in Oxford.
Merlin Matthews floats around Oxford.
They both love Oxford.