We’re fast approaching Morris Oxford’s fifth anniversary, and all the excitements of a New Year. Before we finally ring out the old, however, let’s take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary year that was 2023.

In January we published the first of our profiles of Oxford people: Monawar Hussain MBE is an Imam in East Oxford, a Tutor at Eton, an ex-petrol-pump attendant, and, until recently, High Sheriff of Oxfordshire.

High Sheriff Declaration Ceremony 2 - Feedback 2023

The greatest ever town/gown bust-up kicked off on St Scholastica’s day, 10th February 1355 – and finished three days later. We marked the riotous occasion with a story about Oxford’s saintly – and sometimes less than saintly – connections.

Morris Oxford Cardinal Newman - Feedback 2023

Spring Equinox: 21 March. All sorts of significant events have occurred in Oxford on this day over the centuries. We like to think that this is the first time Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band have featured side by side.

Marking the 400th anniversary of the acquisition of the First Folio, and the Bard’s deathday (23 April) we explored William Shakespeare’s relationship with Oxford – and rumours that his interests here may have gone beyond the purely literary.

morris oxford A COMEDY OF ERRORS BODLIEAN 3627 - Feedback 2023

With the coming of Summer it was time to indulge in some good old-fashioned May mayhem, a spot of Morris dancing, and some early morning carousing …

mayday - Feedback 2023

We’ve never really recovered from our first sighting of ‘The Devil over Lincoln’; but it has taken several years to put together a Story about it – and to get a second, even more disconcerting sighting of the Lincoln Imp, close up and ugly, in June.

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Julys Story centred on Folly Island, the island that shrunk. How did it happen? Why is it called Folly Island? And what occurred when Caudwell’s Castle came under siege?

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The Headington Shark first crashed into Oxford on 9 August 1986 – and it has been provoking controversy ever since. We were delighted to receive a letter from Bill Heine’s son, Magnus, pointing out a surreal twist in the tale – or should that be fin?

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Notwithstanding the sewage being pumped into our once crystal streams, outdoor swimming has become a big thing in Oxford in recent years, so we took the opportunity of a September exhibition at the Museum of Oxford to dive in.

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We always mark St Frideswide’s Day, 19 October, with a Story featuring our patron saint. This year we returned to the source of it all – The Treacle Well.

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A year after Henry Taunt’s centenary in November, we re-visited the theme of photography in Oxford, with a gallery of stunning images from some of our top lens-folk.

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The Morris Oxford Mini History of Oxford was published as an eBook in December. (The paperback is still available too.) It’s concise. It’s affordable. It’s about Oxford. What more could you ask for? All proceeds go to charity.

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Thank you to all of our wonderful Morris Oxford readers (Yes – You!) who, during the course of the year, got in touch with comments, reflections, anecdotes, and photographs. Week by week the Feedback sections are growing into an ever richer archive of insight, information and images.

This extraordinary revelation, for instance:

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‘The face you are looking at is over 1000 years old. It is the recreated image of a young Danish man, possibly a captured and executed Viking warrior, possibly a victim of the St Brice’s Day massacre, 1002. His face has been reconstructed by Professor Caroline Wilkinson and her team at Facelab, the people responsible for bringing Richard III to life on the basis of his skeletal remains.’

And, on a lighter note, this:

‘We felt our front hedge was a bit boring. Being so close to the Headington Shark and Posh Fish we decided to continue the aquatic theme. We got in topiarist Jethro Hyde-Sheppard and the whale slowly began to take shape. It’s been three years of cutting so far – he told us it would be slow and the whale would gradually reveal itself.’

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There really is no end to the number of remarkable Oxford stories. We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. So do, please, continue to get in touch. And encourage your friends, family, and neighbours to get in touch too. We’d love to hear from you.

Onward and Oxford!

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