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Places to Visit in Oxford

The information presented on these Oxford pages is based on the Oxford City Centre Street Map and Guide

ASHMOLEAN MUSEUM, Beaumont Street. Tel: 278000. This museum houses many of the world's greatest treasures and curiosities collected over three centuries, including the King Alfred Jewel, Guy Fawkes's lamp, and Uccello's remarkable painting "The Hunt in the Forest". There are antiquities from Rome, Greece, Egypt, India, China and Japan. Guided tours are available. Open from Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 2pm-5pm, and Bank Holiday Mondays 2pm-5pm. Closed New Year's Day, Easter, and during St. Giles' Fair in September (3 days). Museum Cafe and Museum Shop. Good wheelchair access. FREE. Website

BATE COLLECTION OF MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, St Aldates (D4). Tel: 276139. Open Monday to Friday 2pm-5pm, and Saturdays during term time only 10am-12pm. A fascinating collection of over 1000 historic woodwind, brass and percussion instruments; a dozen historic keyboards, including "Handel's harpsichord"; a unique bowmaker's workshop and collection of bows. FREE.

BODLEIAN LIBRARY and the SCHOOLS QUADRANGLE (D3). The University's first Library was established in Old Convocation House by 1320. In the fifteenth century Duke Humphrey of Gloucester donated many new manuscripts to Oxford. Duke Humphrey's Library was built above the Divinity School to house them. The collection was ransacked during Edward VI's reign and only a few of these texts survive. Sir Thomas Bodley committed his life to restoring the Library. As a result of his work it reopened in 1602 as the Bodleian Library with 2,000 books. He also arranged that it should receive a copy of every new book published. The Schools Quad was built between 1613 and 1619 to provide an extension for Bodley's Library. The 3rd floor of the Quad was to house books while the lower two floors were designed as lecture rooms for students of the Seven Liberal Arts. The names of the subjects studied, which included Rhetoric, Logic and Astronomy, are written in Latin above the doors. The Tower of Five Orders rises above the ceremonial entrance to the Quad. Each tier of columns represents a style of classical architecture (there are Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite). The Exhibition Room has changing exhibitions of some of the library's treasures. It is open from Monday to Friday 9.30am-4.45pm, and Saturday 9am-12.30pm, but please note it is closed between exhibitions.

Tours of Convocation House, Divinity School, and Duke Humphrey's Library are available for those over 14 years old, from Monday to Friday at 10.30am, 11.30am, 2pm and 3pm. From November to March there are no morning tours. Also Saturdays at 10.30am and 11.30am all year. There is a charge for tours. For further details, or to arrange group bookings Tel: 277183.

THE NEW BODLEIAN LIBRARY, Broad Street (D2). Built in 1939. This latest extension to the Bodleian occupies eleven floors and contains well over 5 million books. It is linked to the Old Bodleian Library and to the Radcliffe Camera by an underground tunnel and a conveyer belt to move the books from one repository to another. No public access.

BOTANIC GARDEN, High Street (F4). Open daily 9am-4.30pm (last entry 4.15pm). Begun in 1621, this is Britain's oldest botanic garden. In two hectares it has 8000 plant species. Tropical glasshouses are open from 10am-4pm. Free entry except from April to August, when there is a small charge.

CARFAX TOWER (C3). The tower dates from the 14th century, and is all that remains of St. Martin's, the first city church. Below the clock are replicas of the quarter-jacks which once adorned the tower. The original jacks are on show in the Museum of Oxford in St. Aldate's. Climb the tower (99 steps) for a marvellous view across Oxford. Open daily 10amFebruary 6, 2009e -->e -->

CHRIST CHURCH PICTURE GALLERY, Oriel Square. (Access only via Canterbury Gate in Oriel Square). Tel 276172. The collection includes paintings and drawings by Van Dyck and Tintoretto, and has changing exhibitions of contemporary art and drawings by the Old Masters. Open April to September 10.30am-5pm Monday to Saturday, and 2pm-5pm Sundays; in Winter 10.30am-1pm and 2pm-4.30pm Monday to Saturday, Sundays 2pm-4.30pm. Admission charge.

CITY CHURCH OF ST MICHAEL-AT-THE-NORTH GATE, Cornmarket Street (C3). Tel 240940. The Saxon tower is Oxford's oldest building, dating from c.1000-1050, and good views of Oxford can be seen from the top; the climb takes you past a small treasury and 17th century church bells. William Morris was married here. Open 10am-5pm (Sunday 12.30pm-5pm) from April to October, and until 4pm from November to March.

CLARENDON BUILDING, Broad Street (D2). Built by Hawksmoor to house Oxford University Press. Statues representing the Nine Muses of Greek mythology top the roof. Not open to the public.

CONVOCATION HOUSE (D3), the official meeting place of the University governing bodies. Much of the original 17th century interior remains.

EXAMINATION SCHOOLS, High Street (E3). Built in 1882.

DIVINITY SCHOOL. Built in the 15th century to provide a theology lecture room. The vaulted ceiling is spectacular. Open Monday to Friday 9am-4.45pm and Saturday 9am-12.30pm.

MARTYRS' MEMORIAL, St. Giles (C2). It commemorates the deaths of the Protestant martyrs Archbishop Cranmer and Bishops Ridley and Latimer who were burnt at the stake in 1555 and 1556 during the reign of Catholic Queen Mary. A stone cross is set into the middle of Broad Street on the spot where they met their fate. The gates of Balliol College, now between the front and inner quads, were scorched by the flames and still show the marks.

MUSEUM OF THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, Old Ashmolean Building, Broad Street (D3). Tel 277280. This building originally housed Elias Ashmole's gift of "Tradescant's Ark", a collection of curiosities which had been assembled by John Tradescant on his voyages around the world. It now contains an extensive collection of early scientific instruments including astrolabes, sundials, clocks and watches, microscopes and chemistry equipment. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday 12pm-4pm. FREE.

MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, 30 Pembroke Street (C4). Tel 722733, recorded info 813830. Internationally recognised centre for groundbreaking and ambitious exhibitions of modern and contemporary visual art. Lectures, discussions and workshops are held here. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm. Cafe. Good disabled facilities. Free admission.

MUSEUM OF OXFORD, St. Aldate's (D4). Tel: 252761. A fascinating journey through the history of Oxford from the Ice-Age through to the twentieth century. Open 10am-4pm Tuesday to Friday, 10am-5pm Saturday, 12pm-4pm Sunday. A personal audio tour is available.

OXFORD CASTLE. Although there is very little left of Oxford Castle (the Castle Mound, St. George's Tower, the chapel crypt and well chamber), it played an important role in the city's history. It was built by Robert d'Oilly in 1071 as a royal residence and administrative centre. Access is limited, and it is mainly used as a filming location. Tel 01865 815061 for details. email

OXFORD STORY, 6 Broad Street (C3). Tel 728822. An award-winning journey through the story of Oxford University. Take your seat at a medieval scholar's desk for a ride through 800 years of history. The journey takes about one hour, and the past is imaginatively recreated using sounds and smells to enhance the visual displays. An excellent introduction to Oxford. Open Monday to Saturday 10am-4.30pm, Sunday 11am-4.30pm (daily 9.30am-5pm in July and August). Gift shop.

PITT RIVERS MUSEUM, South Parks Road (D1). Entrance is through the University Museum. Tel 270949. This museum contains too many artefacts to be counted, collected from around the world by Lieutenant-General Pitt Rivers and others. The collection of exhibits is extraordinary in its diversity. Open Monday to Saturday 1pm-4.30pm, and Sundays 2pm-4.30pm. FREE.

PITT RIVERS MUSEUM ANNEXE, Balfour Building, 60 Banbury Road (C1). Tel 270949. The Music Makers Gallery and Hunter Gatherers Gallery are housed here. Open Monday to Saturday 1pm-4.30pm. FREE.

RADCLIFFE CAMERA, Radcliffe Square (D3). Probably England's earliest example of a round library. Built in the mid-eighteenth century to house a medical library donated by the famous physician Dr. Radcliffe. It is now a reading room for undergraduates, and is not open to the public.

SHELDONIAN THEATRE, Broad Street (D3). Tel 277299. Built by Christopher Wren between 1663-1669. The University uses the building for some ceremonies, including the Encaenia at which honorary degrees are conferred. The painted ceiling was designed to create the impression of being in an open air theatre. Open 10am-12.30pm, 2pm-4.30pm (3.30pm in Winter). Closed Sundays and for some ceremonies and concerts.

UNIVERSITY CHURCH, St Mary the Virgin, High Street (D3). This church was the earliest administrative centre for the University. It provided a safe place to store its archives and books, and space in which meetings, lectures and ceremonies could take place. A steep, and in places difficult, climb up the 13th century tower provides breathtaking views over the City. The south porch, with its distinctive twisting pillars was built in 1637. Old Convocation House is now a coffee shop. The Tower and Gift Shop are open 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday (9am-6pm in July and August), and 12pm-5pm Sunday (12pm-6pm in July and August). Last entry 30 minutes before closing time.

UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, Parks Road (D1). Tel: 270949. Includes a large natural history collection, dinosaur skeletons, gemstones and a dodo! The gothic-style building is also of interest; the roof of the courtyard is made of ironwork and glass. Open every day 12pm-5pm. FREE.

For further information about Oxford, including a free visitor pack, please contact the Oxford Information Centre.

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