More than Dreaming Spires and Morse
Although most of us will think of the prestigious University and the iconic TV series Inspector Morse when we think of Oxford, they are by no means all that the city has to offer. As a place for a weekend break, Oxford has it all; history, gardens, culture, food and shopping to name but a few of it’s attractions.
The historic city centre is quite compact and relatively flat and so it’s pretty easy to navigate without feeling overwhelmed, but do look out for the cyclists! Oxford has a long and notable history and as well as the oldest university in the English-speaking world, it has played a role in many of the nations historic past events, including The Anarchy of the 12th Century and the Civil War.
There is so much to see in the centre of Oxford that if you’re new to the city, the best thing to do is to join one of the many city tours. Walking tours, hop-on/hop-off open-top buses, river cruises, and cycling tours are widely available. If you have a specific interest, then tours of the University Colleges, historic pubs, Oxford Castle and of course, the locations for Morse, Lewis and Endeavour are available. For those who want to get a general feel for the place, the open-top bus tours are a good option.
The oldest botanical garden in Britain is in Oxford’s High Street. Founded in 1621 as a physic garden, the Oxford Botanical Garden is a real gem for lovers of horticulture, architecture and for those who just appreciate beautiful, relaxing places. There is a walled garden, various glasshouses (including a insectivorous house and a tropical lily house) and numerous diverse borders, all skirted by the River Cherwell.
For those who want to grab a bit of history and culture, then you’ll be spoilt for choice. Oxford has many fine museums and galleries, such as The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, The Ashmoleum Museum, The Museum of Modern Art and Christ Church Picture Gallery. All are excellent but if you only have one museum /gallery on your itinerary, then the Ashmoleum would be the best option. This fabulous museum has extremely wide-ranging collections of ceramics, paintings, metal work and fabric from all over the world, dating from 8000 BC to the present day and a good art collection. The museum is free and is open daily. There is also a splendid roof terrace restaurant that’s open for lunch between Tuesday and Sunday and for diner on Thursday, Friday & Saturday. Great views over the city to accompany your tasty treats.
Refreshment breaks are essential when you’re sight seeing and Oxford has many varied and excellent watering holes. There are any number places to eat ranging from fine dining restaurants to historic pubs and coffee bars and everything in between. Perhaps one of the best food-related things to do is to visit the covered market. This is gastronomic delight and is a real showcase of local food, drink and crafts. Very much like markets of yester year, the stalls, shops, colours and aromas are a real delight.
If books are your thing, then as you would expect, there are a number of good quality large bookstores in Oxford. It is very easy to while away an hour or three just browsing the miles of shelves, if only to see what they have in stock. The small shop at the Bodleian Library is also worth a visit if only to see the courtyard and facade of the library.
Further afield, Blenheim Palace is worth a day all to itself. The ancestral home of the Dukes of Marlborough, this is the only non-Royal and non-episcopal house in Britain to be styled a palace. It’s the largest house in Britain and is a World Heritage Site. Built by Sir John Vanbrugh, it was completed in 1722 amidst political infighting between the first duke and Queen Anne. A visit is highly recommended and well worth the trip.
This is merely a flavour of what Oxford has to offer but hopefully we’ll have sparked your interest in visiting one of the UKs most interesting and historic cities.
Win a two-night stay at the boutique Vanbrugh House Hotel in Oxford
One lucky reader has the chance to win a luxury two-night stay for two at the boutique Vanbrugh House Hotel in Oxford, with breakfast included.
To stay at Vanbrugh House Hotel is to live in the heart of Oxford, past and present. Each of the hotels 22 bedrooms are uniquely designed and no two rooms are the same. The sumptuous bedrooms combine spacious comfort with classic charm. All the rooms benefit from complimentary Wi-Fi, an en-suite bathroom with powerful rainfall shower and Spa inspired toiletries, and a complimentary soft drink and snack mini bar.
Acclaimed English architect Sir John Vanbrugh, who also designed nearby Blenheim Palace, designed Vanbrugh House Hotel. The helpful hotel staff can arrange transport to the palace for you, where you can easily spend a day meandering the beautiful grounds and palace. For full details please see: www.vanbrughhousehotel.co.uk
For your chance to win, simply answer the following question:
How many bedrooms does the Vanbrugh House Hotel have?
Closing Date for this competition is: 17th June 2017
Terms and Conditions
The winner is entitled to a two-night B&B stay for two people sharing a double room (subject to availability), Sunday to Thursday. No cash alternative available. Travel is not included.
Prize must be redeemed before 30th November 2017.
Post expires at 11:59am on Saturday June 17th, 2017