Above and Beyond

If ever you find yourself dreaming of spires then it is to the University Church of St Mary the Virgin that you must go. And, while you are there, you must surely invest the £6 required to take you up to the top of the tower. There is a sense of mounting excitement as you climb the creaking staircase, ... 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

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

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

The Morris Oxford Mini-History of Oxford

The clocks have gone forward – and there’s a full moon tonight. What’s more ... The Morris Oxford Mini-History of Oxford  is published  TODAY It’s concise. It’s historical. It’s about Oxford. ‘Absolutely brilliant.’ ‘Wow! I never knew that.’ ‘Without doubt my book of the year.’ ‘Amazing value.’ Just some of the things reviewers will surely say. It’s available at Daunt ... 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

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 Stephenson, son of George 'The 'Rocket'. And ... CONTINUE READING

A River Runs Through It

Running through every story on this website is a silver thread: the river which has shaped Oxford’s destiny, indeed the very reason for Oxford’s existence. The water even takes on a different name as it flows here, turning briefly from Thames to Isis (supposedly from the Latin ‘Tamesis’) though few people now use that term, except in literary circles. ... CONTINUE READING