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

The Beaches of Oxford

It’s always worth reminding oneself of the benefits of a philosophical education. Parson’s Pleasure is a secluded stretch of grass embankment leading down to the River Cherwell at the point, just before you reach the land known as Mesopotamia, where the water curls south and makes for Magdalen Bridge. It was here, boarded off from the public gaze ... CONTINUE READING

Cherwell Boathouse

The punting station beside the Cherwell Boathouse has a very different personality from its two bigger siblings downstream – at Magdalen and Folly Bridge. It’s altogether harder to locate for a start ­– tucked away since 1904 at the end of a quiet residential road in North Oxford. Refreshments take their cue from the location. Whereas the Head ... CONTINUE READING

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. ... CONTINUE READING

Balloon Madness

Early on the morning of 4 October 1784 a thirty-one-year-old pastry cook by the name of James Sadler took off close to Merton Field in a hot-air balloon. ‘I perceived no Inconvenience,’ he later commented, ‘and being disengaged from all terrestrial Things, contemplated a most charming distant View. With Pleasure and Admiration I beheld the Surface of the Earth ... 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

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. In the words of one observer, there went up in ... CONTINUE READING

A Little More Allotment

Mrs Thatcher was not a friend of allotments, despite (or perhaps because of) being a grocer’s daughter from the famously potato-growing county of Lincolnshire. In July 1980 her government attempted to repeal Section 8 of the 1925 Act. Had she succeeded it would have meant abolition of the last remaining safeguards against local authorities wishing to dispose of ... CONTINUE READING

Allotments

The Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Oxford, Mrs E F M Standingford, couldn’t quite believe her eyes as she stepped decorously through the gates of Osney, St Thomas and New Botley allotments, one warm August afternoon in 1986. Patiently waiting for her on the other side was Mr Trevor Green, and beside him a pumpkin of gargantuan proportions. Over ... CONTINUE READING