During your Wander Oxford tour, you will learn all kinds of fun and interesting facts and anecdotes about the city of Oxford and it’s many sites. To get you started here are a few fun facts to get you in the mood for an enjoyable trip to our beautiful city.
You’ve Heard About Romulus & Remus, The Mythical Makers Of Rome But Have You Heard About Frideswide, The Abbess And Alleged Patron And Protector Of Oxford.
Whether or not Frideswide was a real person, the accounts of her life have been embroidered with the religious fervour of Medieval Oxford.
According to the legends, Frideswide was such a pious and devout nun, her prayers were readily answered and caused enemies to be struck blind, water to spring from wells and lepers to be cured! A colourful tale for sure with conflicting accounts and dubious authenticity.
It is claimed that this Medieval Oxodian saint spent time in a monastery that is now the site of Christ Church, one of the many historical sites we recommend you visit during your time in Oxford.
Alice Liddell – The Real Alice In Wonderland
Another famous connection to Christ Church is the real Alice in wonderland, Alice Liddell, who was a friend and photography subject of one Lewis Carroll (or more accurately Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Lewis Carroll was his pen-name).
A teacher at the college, Charles Dodgson was a friend of the family who preserved Alice’s legacy through the now world famous story that has spawned several films.
We highly recommend taking the time to visit Christ Church while you are in Oxford. It is such a big plot with an incredible amount to take in, make sure you have an hour or so to wander around the building and grounds. Too good to be missed!
Matthew Arnold The Poet, The ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ And “Itchycoo Park”
A popular nickname for Oxford is the ‘City of Dreaming Spires.’ Matthew Arnold, a renowned poet and Oxford lecturer from the 1800s coined this name in a poem entitled ‘Thyrsis’, an ode to the stunning architecture of the city that is as true today as it was then.
Matthew Arnold was a scholar of Balliol College at the time of writing ‘ Thyrsis’ and you can visit Balliol as part of the Oxford University section of the Wander Oxford tour.
The ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ and the famous Hertford ’Bridge Of Sighs’ are referenced in the lyrics to ‘Itchycoo Park’ by The Small Faces.
It doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume the lyrics do in fact refer to Oxford given how strongly the terms are attached to the city.
The Ashmolean, The Worlds First Museum To Open To The Public
Now situated on Beaumont Street, The original site of the Ashmolean opened on Broad Street in 1683.
The museum is a must see for lovers of exquisite art from across the globe and also has the unique distinction of the first ever museum to open to the public.
We’re can’t recommend a visit to the Ashmolean highly enough and it should definitely be on your list of things to do while in Oxford.
With some fairly recent renovations the museum now also has a rooftop dining area which looks back across Oxford and the luxurious Randolph Hotel, just about the finest hotel in Oxford if you’re looking for a place to stay!
Although not quite as famous as the Ashmolean, but no less interesting, we recommend the Pitt Rivers Museum on South Parks Road.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you about the shrunken heads cabinet!
The Reason For The Unusually Named Brasenose College
During your Wander Oxford tour, we pass many of the colleges that make up Oxford University including Brasenose College.
The reason for this rather strange name originates from an animal snout like bronze door knocker that is currently displayed in the dining hall. The strange looking door knocker has been around as far back as the 11th century.
There is a myth attached to the piece whereby some sources allege that it was stolen and brought back some years later.
This is actually false and in truth was taken by a collective of students and monks left when they left Oxford and tried to found another college in Stamford, Lincolnshire. The unique knocker was then returned to its former home again in 1890.
Unfortunately Brasenose is not open to the public but you can take a look at the famous door knocker right here.
The Legacy Of Oxford
Oxford’s legacy stretches far beyond the United Kingdom. The United States has 21 Oxfords in total plus 2 lake Oxfords, an Oxford mountain and an Oxford county. Canada and New Zealand have their own Oxfords too.
You can purchase clothes, furniture and outdoor items in ‘Oxford grey’, spread ‘Oxford marmalade on your toast and sport a splendid looking Oxford bag on your bike or over your back!
Some people such as newspaper editors like to write with the stylistic ‘Oxford comma, the final comma in a series of three that appears before ‘and.’
Take a free walking tour or a private Wander Oxford tour and you will enjoy being regaled with many more fun and interesting facts your knowledgeable guide as they take you around the many historic and prestigious sites of Oxford.