Four Minutes

The first step on the moon, the first ascent of Everest, the first solo voyage round the world … There are a handful of moments of extraordinary and heroic human endeavour that live forever in the collective memory. The holy grail of athletics was the four-minute mile. People said it couldn’t be done, that it was physically impossible. ... CONTINUE READING

Ox Photo

A year ago, on the centenary of his departure to the great darkroom in the sky, we published a Story in honour of Henry Taunt (1842-1922). Author of richly illustrated guidebooks and publisher of countless picture postcards, he was, without doubt, our city’s most prolific photographer. He also happens to have sported of one of Oxford’s finest ever ... CONTINUE READING

Treacle Well

There are certain, special places where the modern world feels very far away. As you pass through the wooden gate into St Margaret’s churchyard, Binsey, the relentless thrum of the ring road seems to recede into the distance, and time starts to slip … For centuries pilgrims have made their slow journey to this sacred spot. Walking it today ... CONTINUE READING

Oxford and Stratford

With perfect patriotic symmetry, William Shakespeare, England’s greatest playwright, was born and died on the same day: St George's, 23 April (1564 -1616). The first folio of his collected dramatic works, published four hundred years ago in 1623, is visitable at the Weston library. And every year the citizens of Oxford are treated to an outdoor performance of ... CONTINUE READING

21 today

A lot has happened in Oxford on 21 March over the years: Colin Dexter, creator of the opera-, beer-, and jaguar-loving Inspector Morse, died on 21 March 2017, aged 87. There are no fewer than fifteen black-and-white photographs of his detective hero in the recently refurbished Morse Bar at the Randolph Hotel (one of Colin’s preferred drinkeries); and ... CONTINUE READING

Saints Daze

Oxford boasts a rich assortment of saintly associations – not least the former Cardinal, John Henry Newman, canonised as recently as 2019. His bust sits on a quiet plinth in the garden of Trinity College, greening serenely with age. Some saints are very obvious, their names visible on churches and road signs: St Andrew, St Edward, St ... CONTINUE READING

Monawar Hussain

Monawar Hussain isn’t your typical Eton tutor. And he certainly isn’t your typical Oxfordshire High Sheriff. But then, not much is typical about the Imam from East Oxford. The Hussain family first came to Oxford in 1985, from Maidenhead – and before that Kashmir. His brother had bought a small petrol station on Between Towns Road, and that’s ... CONTINUE READING

Henry Taunt 100

Imagine, if you can, a world before mass tourism and before the internal combustion engine. A world where the summers were languid and the air smelt sweet. A world devoid of selfie sticks. ‘Those ancient courts and quadrangles and cloisters look so beautiful, so tranquil and so solemn … In other towns you hear at all times ... CONTINUE READING

St Frideswide’s Door

The great architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner had little time for St Frideswide’s Church in Osney. ‘Violently high Victorian’ was his verdict; an example of architectural ‘ruthlessness’, with its ‘very low octagonal central tower’ and ‘stunted north transept … squeezed in between mighty buttresses’, not to mention its ’lean-to roof’. Worse still, he lamented, ‘It has all been left ... CONTINUE READING