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

Henry Taunt 100

Imagine, if you can, a world before mass tourism and before the internal combustion engine. A world where the summers were languid and the air smelt sweet. A world devoid of selfie sticks. ‘Those ancient courts and quadrangles and cloisters look so beautiful, so tranquil and so solemn … In other towns you hear at all times ... CONTINUE READING

Sunnyside Up

In the summer of 1885 James Augustus Henry Murray, the self-educated son of a Scottish clothier, moved into Sunnyside, a large, redbrick villa on the Banbury Road – number 78 to be precise. There, in the garden, he erected a fifty-foot corrugated iron outbuilding, lined with wooden shelves and pigeon-holes, which he called his scriptorium. In it ... 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 ... CONTINUE READING

John Bigg’s Other Shoe

This month’s story was supposed to have been about the ruined abbey of Godstow, but the response to Bradshaw’s Hat has been so rich and so interesting that we feel compelled to postpone the Dissolution for a while. Martin Sheppard, distinguished publisher of History books, got straight to the point with a reminder of the semiotics of millinery in the ... 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

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 ... This is what ... CONTINUE READING

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. The website ... CONTINUE READING

Flying Over Wolvercote

The members of Oxford Model Flying Club (which celebrated its half-century in 2019) consider Port Meadow to be one of their most important and highly prized gathering places. These aren’t people playing with annoying drones. They are cognoscenti, devoted to lovingly crafted replicas of the real thing. Their club meets monthly and abides by clear protocols. Flying – ... CONTINUE READING

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 STOOD THE KING'S HOUSES LATER KNOWN AS BEAUMONT PALACE KING RICHARD I WAS BORN HERE IN ... CONTINUE READING