Oxford Facts

Interesting Facts about Oxford

1. Fun Fact
The name 'Oxford' derives from the Anglo-Saxon 'Oxnaforda' meaning a ford for oxen! The ford would probably have been where Folly Bridge crosses the Thames which, in the 8th C AD would have been on the border between the counties of Mercia and Wessex.

2. Cultural Fact
The Ashmolean Museum is the oldest museum in world, with its doors officially being opened in 1683.

3. Historical Fact
You might be confused by the fact that South Parade is actually North of North Parade. When Oxford was besieged by Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War, North Parade was  the King's Northern Front, whilst South Parade was Cromwell's Southern Front.

4. Pretty Cool Fact
Amongst Oxford's many accolades is that it was once the capital of England! During the English Civil War, from 1642, Charles I, expelled from Parliament in London by Oliver Cromwell, held his forces on Port Meadow and the royal court at Oxford. The King himself actually lived in Christ Church College.

5. Well I Never Fact
Relations between Oxford townspeople and students have been notoriously tricky. In 1209 a riot occurred that forced a number of students to flee the city and head to Cambridge, where they founded a second university.

6. Interesting Fact
In the Second World War, Hitler was intending to use Oxford as the capital of his new dominion if he eventually conquered England, this is one of the main reasons why the city was spared German bomb attacks.

7. Weird Fact
In the 17th Century the doctor of Christ Church College prescribed potato peels for most meals in order to keep rid of the Black Plague. Obviously this didn't go down too well with the students and after many protests the diet was ended. If you look carefully at the bottom of the stairs to the Great Hall in Christ Church College, you can still see the graffiti 'no peel' burned into a door.

8. Geeky Fact
The Oxford Comma (immortalised in the recent Vampire Weekend song of the same name) is a comma used before a conjunction in a list of three or more items. This usage was founded by the Oxford University Press who uses it as standard.

9. Random Fact
2, New High St, Headington, Oxford is home to the Shark House. That is, a house with a 25-foot long headless shark stuck into its roof! American Bill Heine commissioned the shark as owner of the house in 1986 as a comment on Cold War Politics.

10. Need to Know Fact
Natives and residents of Oxford, along with member of the University are known as 'Oxonians'.

11. Creative Fact
Oxford is well-known as the city of the 'dreaming spires'. This term was coined by the poet Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) in his poem 'Thyrsis', who wrote of Oxford,
'And that sweet city with her dreaming spires,
She needs not June for beauty's heightening...'

12. Sport Fact
The famous Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race was the idea of friends Charles Merivale, a Cambridge student, and Charles Wordsworth, an Oxford student. They decided to hold the first battle of the blades at Henley back in 1829.

Things to See in Oxford

  • Oxford University Press
  • Carfax Tower
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • Radcliffe Square
  • Oxford Rail Station
  • Gloucester Green
  • The Plain
  • Cowley
  • Headington
  • Summertown

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