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

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

Folly Island

This is the remarkable story of an island that shrunk. Every Oxfordian knows where it’s located but only a few can tell you what goes on there, let alone how it got to be so small. First, the name. Why is it called Folly Island? To find out we need to go back to the Norman Conquest – ... CONTINUE READING

The Lincoln Imp(s)

It's amazing what you can see in Oxford if you look up. A globe bobbling over the dome of the Radcliffe Observatory. A giant figure staring out across the roof of Blackwell’s Art and Poster shop. Tiny people dotted around the tower of St Mary the Virgin. A cycling don on the Harris Manchester weathervane. ... 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