Round Hill, Port Meadow

On frosty winter days or in the lengthening evenings of May its profile can be picked out easily if you know where to look. On a grey morning with angled light it melts mysteriously into the surrounding grassland. Four thousand years haven’t quite eroded it, and the floodwaters of the nearby Thames never immerse it completely. Round Hill. ... CONTINUE READING

Cuckoos and Blackbirds

There’s something unmistakably romantic about Cuckoo Lane – and not just the name. Perhaps it’s because it seems to emerge from such a completely unremarkable place – a residential cul-de-sac – before it begins its snickety ascent of Headington Hill. Perhaps it’s the sense that it goes back nearly a thousand years, further in time than the walls ... CONTINUE READING

Oxford Abridged

Oxford is a very watery place: encircled by rivers, criss-crossed by streams, perennially flood-prone. Its location has been defined by water, its destiny shaped by it. This is the (beginning of the) Story of Oxford in ten crossings – an abridged history you might say. Do you recognise the bridges below? They are captioned with extracts from next month's Story, ... CONTINUE READING

Brasenose Lane

The rain in Brasenose Lane still goes – mainly – down the drain. The difference is that this particular gutter is in the middle of the road rather than cambered to either side. The technical term for it is a ‘kennel’. Did it get that name, as some claim, because it was a favourite haunt for scrawny medieval ... CONTINUE READING

Rivers Run

Last month’s Story about the Trout Inn prompted a flurry of peacock-, beer-, and river-related reminiscence – including this lyrical passage: And once we rowed together up the river To many-gated Godstow, where the stream Splits, and upon a tongue of land there stands An Inn with willow bowers: it is a spot Where still the flavour of old Merry England Lingers: ... CONTINUE READING

Peacocks and Trout

Quick! Out of the car park (thank goodness it’s too difficult for coaches to get here), across the narrow road (eyes right for the even narrower medieval bridge), through the porch (note the Stonesfield slate roof), over the flagstones (part of the original seventeenth-century fisherman’s cottage), along the refurbished interior (smells of 'artisan breads' and 'rustic thick-cut chips'), under ... CONTINUE READING

Crotch Crescent

You don’t have to be in the back seat of the car playing ‘I Spy’ to find yourself screaming out the names of certain Oxford road signs. Of all the streets in our fair city none quite matches Crotch Crescent. Squitchey Lane comes close in terms of mystery, and is arguably more onomatopoeic, but Crotch Crescent feels not ... CONTINUE READING

Covered Market

Tis the season! Time to deck the halls, fill the mead cup, drain the barrel, and troll the ancient yuletide carol. Time also for a long overdue visit to Oxford’s Covered Market. For maximum impact make your approach via the Turl and Market Street. The air is marginally warmer inside than out, thanks to a scattering of electric ... CONTINUE READING

Bonn Bones

How many people today have heard of the Tirah Expedition? Or could even say where Tirah was/is? So much for remembrance … The answer is that Tirah is a mountain region at the North West Frontier of what was once British India, on the border of present day Pakistan and Afghanistan. And the expedition, which took place in ... CONTINUE READING

A River Runs Through It

Running through every story on this website is a silver thread: the river which has shaped Oxford’s destiny, indeed the very reason for Oxford’s existence. The water even takes on a different name as it flows here, turning briefly from Thames to Isis (supposedly from the Latin ‘Tamesis’) though few people now use that term, except in literary circles. ... CONTINUE READING