Oxford, with a population of 170,000, is the city of "Dreaming Spires". Oxford University for some is a temple of learning and elitism. Some 26 Prime Ministers have studied at Oxford, along with many heads of State and Government from around the world and some notable alumni include Stephen Hawking, Oscar Wilde, J.R.R Tolkien and Hugh Grant. The university has 38 colleges, 24000 students and 70 research faculties. The acceptance rate is 17%. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English speaking world. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry 11 banned students from studying in Paris. The University is very much part of the town, and unlike most other universities it does not have its own campus.
Oxford was first settled in Anglo-Saxon times and was initially known as Oxenaforda meaning ford of the oxen. In the 10thC Oxford became an important military frontier town between Mercia and Wessex. The city centre is relatively small and is centred on the CarFax Tower. Blackwell's bookshop is the largest single room devoted to book sales in the whole of Europe, the Norrington Room. Because of its beauty, Oxford has attracted many filmmakers, with probably the most notable being Harry Potter, Inspector Morse, Brideshead Revisited and Abba "Here we go again"
The River Cherwell is the place for punting and provides almost rural views of Magdalen College one of Oxford's richest and spacious colleges. Founded in 1458 it was set in its own deer park. The University rowing crews train here. Oxford Botanic Garden founded in 1621 is the oldest garden of its kind in Britain. Travel through this you can reach Christchurch meadow either on foot or by renting a punt from Magdalen Bridge or the Cherwell Boathouse.
Beautiful honey-coloured buildings populate the "city of dreaming spires" among them the Museum of History and Science, The Pitt Rivers Museum, and the Ashmolean, England's oldest museum. Founded in 1638 it houses a huge collection of priceless art and antiquities. The famous and lovely Bodleian Library and Sheldonian theatre nestle nearby in an enclave of 17th C buildings. If you walk from Oxford's high street, down Queens' lane through New College lane emerging under The Bridge os Sighs you will have walked from neoclassical architecture along a medieval passageway, under an Edwardian Bridge in front of another neoclassical building, The Sheldonian. By doing that you will have experienced some 600 years of architectural history.
Home of the Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is an English Baroque masterpiece to rival Versailles. Fine furniture, sculpture, paintings and tapestries are set in magnificently gilded staterooms that overlook sweeping lawns and formal gardens. Capability Brown landscaped the 2000 acre park which is open to visitors and offer pleasant walks and beautiful views. Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough live in the Palace.
Containing some of the finest formal and Baroque style gardens in Britain, the gardens of Blenheim Palace is a "must see" for students of garden history and those who enjoy gardens with plenty of "wow". The scale and grandeur of both the palace and the garden lift it into a class of its own. and Blenheim's creator Sir John Vanbrugh, along with the garden's designer Achille Duchene both considered Blenheim to be their greatest triumph. Water terraces, fountains, Pools, box knots, and yew topiary and a folly bridge over the main arch give the visitor the feeling of a very grand garden indeed.
While The Grand Bridge was designed by Nicholas Vanburgh, the 2000 acre estate was landscaped by Capability Brown. He created the two large lakes through which the River Glyme, a tributary of the River Evenlode, flows. The footpaths across the Great Park give outstanding views of the palace and lakes. Many events such as concerts, light shows, and vintage car rallies are organised in the Park every year.
Colonel John Churchill married Sarah Jennings in 1678, a great friend of the then Princess Anne who later came to the throne in 1702. In 1704 the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill) defeated Louis XIV at the battle of Blenheim and was given land at Woodstock in recognition. The Palace designed by John Vanburgh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, and the grounds by Capability Brown. Work stopped in 1712 after a major row, aand the Duke was exiled. George 1st. pardoned the Duke in 1716 after Queen Anne's death and the work was finished in 1722 at a total cost of £180m.
"Thank you for such a wonderful trip yesterday. It was informative and we really enjoyed the Cotswolds. The restaurant served us wonderful food. " Gayatri