At the beginning of a visit to Oxford, it’s a good idea to get your bearings from the rooftops. You can climb the tower of St Michael’s Church in Cornmarket Street, the cities oldest building. Or survey the city from Carfax Tower, a remnant of the 14th century St Martin’s Church, at the busy crossroads known as Carfax, the cities focal point. Another excellent vantage point is the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, High Street, dating from 1280. This parish church also serves the university and for a time was the university’s reference library and venue for degree ceremonies.
Founded in 1524, Oxford’s largest and most visited college has the biggest quadrangle, and its chapel, Christ Church Cathedral is England’s smallest cathedral. Within the great Hall you will find features from the “Alice the Wonderland” stories written by former don Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll (1832-98), while Ante Hall became Hogwarts Hall in the Harry Potter movies.
One of the largest private houses in Britain and the ultimate in English baroque was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726) and Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736) and was given by Queen Anne to John Churchill, first duke of Marlborough(1650-1722), in recognition of his crushing victory over the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. It is still the home of the Churchill family, now occupied by the 11th Duke and his family.
The Churchill Exhibition, a major highlight, is the room where Sir Winston Churchill ( 1874-1965) Britain’s prime minister during World War II, was born on 30th November.