Godstow

Once upon a time there were three abbeys in Oxford: Godstow, Osney, and Rewley. Along came King Henry VIII. Now there are none. All that remains of Rewley Abbey (founded by Cistercian monks at the end of the thirteenth century) is a segment of the precinct wall, and an arch, easily missed as you walk down the side of Castle Mill Stream, across from the canal … Continue readingGodstow

Bradshaw’s Hat

At two o’clock on the bitterly cold afternoon of Saturday 30 January 1649, King Charles I stepped out from the balcony of the Banqueting House, Whitehall, and onto the executioner’s scaffold … A few minutes later, the masked axeman held up his bloody trophy for all to see … Continue readingBradshaw’s Hat

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 … Continue readingBonn Bones

Swing Bridge

Once it was pivotal. Now, ivy-clad and rusting, it tells of an era long since past. Yet still it retains a grandeur and a fascination, like the mouldering carcass of some giant metal dinosaur. It’s a railway swing bridge. It dates from 1851. It was designed by none other than Robert, son of George ‘Rocket’ Stephenson … Continue readingSwing Bridge

Castle Mound

Of all the many wonderful (and often true) stories about Oxford none is more magical or dramatic than the tale of Lady Matilda and her escape from the Tower. Matilda (1102-1167) was daughter of King Henry I of England. When her father died she was ousted from her rightful inheritance by her rivalrous cousin, Stephen. Anarchy and Civil War ensued. Matilda fled to Oxford for safety. But when Stephen’s forces encircled the castle they appeared to have her trapped … Continue readingCastle Mound

Paradise Paved

We had such a powerful response to our recent Westgate Story that we were prompted to dig back further into the Morris Oxford archives. Once the dust had settled, we came across the piece below.  Alas – or perhaps mercifully – there were no accompanying photographs, so we’ve added some present-day images of similar artistic merit … Continue readingParadise Paved

Westgate

Yes, it’s clean. Yes, it has lots of shops. Yes, it’s more spacious, more airy, altogether less horrid then its concrete predecessor. But we can’t help feeling as we walk off the street, through the gaping entrance to the Westgate Centre, or ‘Westgate Oxford’ as it now styles itself, that we could be more or less anywhere … Continue readingWestgate

Beaumont Palace

Pull aside the Springtime foliage which will have grown over it, and there, on the corner of Beaumont Street opposite Worcester College, on a stone pillar beside the iron garden railings, you will find a plaque bearing this inscription: NEAR TO THIS SITE … Continue readingBeaumont Palace

Martyrs’ Cross

Far at the end of the long sweep of St Giles, dark and pointedly brooding (some say it resembles the needling spire of a subterranean church) lurks the Martyrs’ Memorial, one of Oxford’s best-known monuments. It is a grim reminder of the often bloody history … Continue readingMartyrs’ Cross