A centre of academic excellence, Oxford, with origins dating from the 8th century, has a long history interwoven with religion and learning. Because of the geography in crossing the river Isis, the Saxons named it from a combo of "oxen" and "ford". Realising its importance as a location both politically, on the border of the two kingdoms, and commercially because it lay at the confluence of two rivers, a new fortified town was then created in the 10th century.
Oxford's long association with study dates from the 12th century when an Augustinian monastery was created for learned monks. Previously the University of Paris had been the nucleus of European learning, but following a feud with the French. English scholars were expelled. These disgruntled job dodgers headed to Oxford because of the town's growing reputation as a centre of religious learning, by the end of the 12th century Oxford could boast its own University, a new rival to the University of Paris, and so the legend began.
Oxford is around 60 miles northwest of London and has excellent road and national rail links. There are regular coach services connecting Oxford with London and also Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton airports.
If you’re getting the train then a direct service operates between Oxford and London Paddington (approx every 30 minutes) and between Oxford and Birmingham via Banbury and Coventry. If you’re travelling to the city by coach then there are frequent 24-hour direct services connecting Oxford with London, with coaches arriving at Gloucester Green Coach Station.
By car from London you take the A40-M40-A40, from Birmingham you take the M40-A34, from Bristol you take the M32-M4-A34 and from Cardiff take the M4- A420. .
The best way to get around Oxford is by foot - the city centre is fairly compact so it’s easy to get around without a car. If you are driving then bear in mind that many Oxford streets are now closed to traffic. Oxford does have an excellent bus service, with main bus stop being Magdalen Street and other stop requiring you to hail the bus driver. There is also several taxi companies operating in the city - you can phone and prebook one, hail one, or get one from the Gloucester Green bus station or the Train Station.
Know before you go
Taxi numbers: 001 Taxis: 01865 240000, Radio Taxis: 01865 242424
Local police: 101
Emergency Services: 999
famous for: the university, Inspector Morse
famous sons, scholars and residents: Bill Clinton, Supergrass
interesting fact: until 1950 the university had 2 MPs