The Queen's College is probably the finest example of classical architecture in Oxford. The college was founded in 1340, but the original buildings have gone, and a rebuilding program in the 17th and 18th Centuries resulted in the quadrangles we see today. The architecture of the front quadrangle is particularly noteworthy, and was heavily influenced by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. The screen wall that fronts the High Street also owes much to Hawksmoor, though it is attributed to a local Oxford mason William Townesend. This college is only open to the public on official city tours.
Merton isn't one of the best known Oxford colleges, but it is one of the largest, and one of three colleges claiming to be the oldest in Oxford (the others are Balliol and University). Founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton, the college has the oldest buildings in the entire university and the oldest surviving medieval library.
Christ Church is the most famous Oxford college, probably the grandest and certainly the most photographed. Founded as Cardinal College in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey, the college became Christ Church in 1545. The college chapel, which is also the cathedral of the Oxford diocese, contains the reconstructed shrine of St. Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford, a rich variety of stained and painted glass including works by Abraham van Linge and Edward Burns-Jones and a rare panel depicting the martyrdom of St. Thomas A. Becket.
In the heart of Oxford, just off Broad Street, lies one of the oldest libraries in all of Europe, the Bodleian Library, which was established in 1602. As an Oxford library, the Bodleian Library boasts of a splendid collection of over 11 million volumes of books, journals, magazines, audio recordings, manuscripts and more and the library is amongst the largest in all of the United Kingdom. Functioning primarily as a reference library, visitors or members cannot rent out most of the material and usually must be kept within the reading rooms. Nonetheless, a visit to this library is truly a treat for a visitor, as, besides the marvelous architecture and the collection, the library also plays host to exhibitions and other events.
Turn the corner into Radcliffe Square and you'll see why the Radcliffe Camera is one of the most admired buildings in Oxford. This was the first round library to be built in Britain by John Radcliffe, who studied at Oxford and left much of his wealth and all of his medical books to the university. Building work started in 1737 and in 1860 it became part of the Bodleian Library. It is now used as reading rooms and is not open to the public, but the exterior view is more than enough to make this building worth visiting.
Standing over the entrance to the most famous Oxford college, Tom Tower is a landmark in itself. This imposing octagonal tower with a lead-covered cupola was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1682. It was constructed on top of an archway and turrets dating from the 16th Century and houses Great Tom - the loudest bell in Oxford. Weighing more than seven tons, the bell chimes 101 times at 9.05p every evening to recall not only the 101 students residing in Christ Church when the tower was completed, but also the time by which they were supposed to be in bed.
An architectural gem, the St Frideswide's Church located on the southern edge of the Botley Road is an Anglican Church of New Osney. Built in memorial of St Frideswide, Oxford's patroness, the church was consecrated in the 19th century. Designed in Gothic Revival style of architecture, this active institute of faith almost resembles a modest house. The church is beautifully related to Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland owing to the ‘Alice Door' in the nave. Check website for information on services and timings.
Dating as far back as the 11th Century, the long-standing Oxford Castle is much revered for its unmarred history. Birthed on the grounds of an erstwhile Anglo-Saxon settlement, this medieval castle once commanded much military as well as cultural significance. It was built on the orders of a Norman nobleman, hence being a stirring window into the military, penal and administrative legacy of Normandy. However, today, the castle and its many ruins lie nestled in the heart of Oxfordshire in all their antiquated glory. Among the medieval remains of the castle is a motte, a cavernous crypt chamber adorned with Norman capitals and columns and the enchanting St George's Tower. Also renowned for its role as a prison, this ruinous castle speaks of a forgotten heritage interweaved with timeless lores and legend. What is more, is that the castle offers tours led by colorful and costumed characters. Over the years, the castle has been preserved and is something of a time capsule, entrancing visitors with poignant tales of its eventful existence.
Central Oxford boasts of a beautiful institute of worship in the Church of St Peter-le-Bailey. Located on the New Inn Hall Street, the church is situated right next to Bonn Square, which was the church's former churchyard. The church was built in the 12th century albeit the present building is the work of a series of renovation works. Decorated in Victorian Gothic Revival style of architecture, the church now serves as the chapel of St Peter's College. Check website for more information on the illustrious conversion of this former house of worship.
Every house has its own story and the Northgate Hall speaks a solemn one. This redundant building which sits on St Michael's Street in Oxford has a lot of memories. This 20th century building first served as the Primitive Methodist Church and was shortly converted into the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (OICCU). The end of the 20th century saw the transformation of the building into the Oxford Lesbian and Gay Community Center along with housing Gatehouse, a center for homeless people. With the fire destroying the building, Northgate Hall remains a silent observer of the blows of time.
Dating from about 1040, St Michael at the North Gate is Oxford's oldest building. It is situated in the middle of the shopping area and is passed every day by thousands of people who scarcely give it a glance. Built during the late Saxon period, the two towers of the original north gate were later connected by the Bocardo prison which held the three martyrs (see Martyrs' Memorial) before they were burned at the stake. Their cell door is in the tower, as are a page from a 1437 set of churchwardens' accounts, some fine examples of church silver (including a 1562 chalice), and the great seal of King James I.
Established as a cenotaph to Edward Bouverie Pusey, a prominent figure in the iconic Oxford Movement, Pusey House was built in the year 1884. Edward Pusey also served at Oxford University as a Hebrew professor. The chapel's architecture is credited to Temple Moore while several additions like a baldacchino were created by Ninian Comper. Pusey House is also home to a historical and theological library containing nearly 80,000 volumes of Pusey's historical as well as theological volumes' collection. Today, the organization boasts of a devout student force from the graduate as well as the undergraduate courses.