Oxford ~ The City of Dreaming Spires

Suzy Rhodes Fri, 07/31/2015 - 10:00

England Oxford

I love the dreaming spires of Oxford; it’s such an enchanting city full of gorgeous honey-colored limestone architecture, busy pedestrian-friendly streets full of bookshops and pubs and don’t forget the world-famous university which takes center stage. 

Oxford England

Last time we were in Oxford, we met up with our daughter at the train station; she had just flown into London and spent a few days with my brother and his family before meeting up with us.  Oxford was the perfect location, just an hour train ride from London and so central to some beautiful parts of England...such as: Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle and Bath.  So we spent a week in this area – it can’t get better than that!

Click on the link below for a week in the West of England!


West of England

Oxford has become one of the fastest growing cities in England and we could tell just by driving to the train station.  It took us half an hour to get through the city to the train station because of traffic. I don’t recommend driving in this city at all, if you have a car then do the ‘Park and Ride’ system. Other than that, the city was a delight to wander through; I could see why Oxford and its splendid beauty has been a favorite for numerous film makers from all over the world and has inspired many famous writers for centuries.

Photo Credit: Britain Magazine

Oxford England


Photo Credit: Britain Magazine

Oxford England

Photo Credit: Britain Magazine

Oxford England

Wandering through Oxford is like something out of a fairy-tale; it’s a hilly place and has gorgeous views, just watch out for all the bikers when crossing the streets. We loved seeing all the famous sights like the Bridge of Sighs, Radcliffe Camera, Christ Church College, Bodleian library and Alice’s Shop.  Just remember that shops close around 5pm in England so make sure you visit shops before then, after that the streets become empty and you have the place to yourself! Perfect for photography! 

Oxford England

Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera - Oxford


Bridge of Sighs - Hetford Bridge

Bridge of Sighs - Oxford

Christ Church College

Christ Church College Oxford

Alice's Shop

Oxford England

Gaze out at Oxford’s world-famous university from the top of Carfax Tower, visit the Great Hall and stairs at Christ Church where the inspiration came from for the famous Harry Potter films. You can also visit the Covered Market and pick up some food for a nice picnic at Headington Hill Park.

Oxford England


Trinity College


Trinity College Oxford

We thoroughly enjoyed our day here and recognized many famous sights that are on programmes such as Inspector Lewis, Inspector Morse and Endeavor. It’s hard to believe that I grew up an hour away from here because it’s a unique city, totally unlike the town I grew up in.  That’s what I love about this country, every village, town and city has its own distinctive characteristics, where history unveils itself and tells its personal story.

I loved coming across architecture like this from the 15th century -

Much of Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's birthplace) resembles these type of buildings, which is about 50 miles up the road from Oxford.

Oxford England

Source: http://www.britain-magazine.com

“With its prestigious university, established in the 12th century, and the city’s medieval centre, Oxford’s architecture led poet Matthew Arnold to nickname it the City of Dreaming Spires. Here are some of our favourite spots.

Christ Church College

Christ Church was originally founded by Cardinal Wolsey as Cardinals College in 1524. The college buildings took over the site of St Frideswide’s Monastery, which was suppressed by Wolsey to fund his college. Two of its famous landmarks, Tom Tower, by Christopher Wren, and Oxford’s Cathedral spire, contribute to the city’s celebrated skyline and mark Christ Church as a unique dual foundation; one of Oxford University’s largest Colleges and the Cathedral Church for the Diocese of Oxford.

Bridge of Sighs

Hertford Bridge, popularly known as the Bridge of Sighs, is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane in Oxford, England. Its distinctive design makes it a city landmark. The bridge is often referred to as the Bridge of Sighs because of its supposed similarity to the famous Bridge of Sighs in Venice.

Radcliffe Camera

The Radcliffe Camera is a building of Oxford University, designed by James Gibbs in neo-classical style and built in 1737-49 to house the Radcliffe Science Library. It is part of the Bodleian Libraries. Oxford’s libraries are among the most celebrated in the world, not only for their incomparable collections of books and manuscripts, but also for their buildings, some of which have remained in continuous use since the Middle Ages.

Hardy’s Sweet Shop

A traditional sweet shops supplying old fashioned, retro sweets, with stores in London, Cambridge, Oxford, Canterbury, Windsor and Bath.

New College

New College was founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester, as ‘the college of St Mary of Winchester at Oxford’. Wykeham had risen from modest beginnings in rural Hampshire to become the chief minister of Edward III, his parvenu status being reflected in his self-confident personal motto adopted by his college: ‘Manners Makyth Man’. Architecturally, New College was innovative in its enclosed quadrangle (finished 1386). The cloisters were completed in 1400.

Dreaming Spires

The ‘dreaming spires’ of Oxford are internationally recognised as a symbol of the city and its university. Walk into and through Oxford’s countryside setting and look back on the city’s domes, towers and spires from the green valley or hillsides.

Punts on the river

Punting on the river is one of the activities synonymous with the city. Oxford’s Magdalen Bridge Boathouse is the spot to hire a traditional punt to cruise along the stunning River Cherwell.

Source: http://www.oxfordcityguide.com


  1. The name Oxford comes from the old term 'Oxanforda' which literally meant a ford (shallow crossing) in the river where the cattle (Oxen) could cross safely.
  2. As you walk around the Colleges, be sure to look up once in a while. All over Oxford's buildings are gargoyles (technically 'grotesques' as these don't spout water) - some in the shape of faces, some animals, some entire people.
  3. Alice, from Alice in Wonderland, was a real girl named Alice Liddell. She was the daughter of the Dean at Christ Church, who was a friend of Charles Dodgson (A.K.A. Lewis Carroll), who taught at the College. Dodgson spent much time with Alice and her family, and immortalized her in his books.
  4. The comma used before a conjunction (such as "and" or "or") in a list of three or more items is known as the Oxford Comma. The phrase "shoes, bags, and hats" is written with an Oxford comma, but "shoes, bags and hats" is not. The term Oxford Comma comes from the Oxford University Press, where the use of the comma is standard.
  5. The Great Hall at Christ Church was used as inspiration for the Hogwarts dining hall in the Harry Potter films. The staircase leading up to the hall was actually used in several scenes in the films.
  6. Hitler was intending to use Oxford as his capital if he conquered England which is one of the reasons it was not bombed.
  7. The first colleges of Oxford were built in the 13th century, but it wasn't until 1878 that women were admitted to the university, 1920 when they were awarded degrees, and 1974 when the last of the all-male colleges opened their doors to women.
  8. Matthew Arnold dubbed Oxford as the "City of Dreaming Spires" based on the architecture of the world famous University buildings.