Visit Oxford by Mouse
Oxford (Web site) in Oxfordshire is 62 miles northwest of London. Like Cambridge it is a university town. But Oxford was there first. By the 1200's, several of the University's colleges were identified in records. Cambridge got its start when town and gown relations got a little testy in Oxford. This was serious stuff, with people getting killed. Some Oxford faculty and students became refugees and set up camp in Cambridge.
Oxford's St. Mary Magdalen church was the birthplace of Methodism.  John Wesley preached there in the 1700's. And, it also was where the Oxford Movement got started. This Movement argued for more inclusion of Catholic ritual into the Anglican Church.
The University (Web site) itself is quite handsome with some very unusual or historic structures, for example the Radcliffe Camera, the Bodleian Library, the oldest library in Europe, the Clarendon Building, the Sheldonian Theater, designed by Christopher Wren, and the Oxford University Press.
The University also has created and nurtured several great museums. We visited two of these, the Pitt Rivers and the Natural History, both fascinating. Regretfully we did not have time for a third that we wanted to visit, the Ashmolean (Web site), Britain's oldest museum. Its collection seems to be as varied as is the British Museum's, including art, architecture, archeological artifacts, curiosities. We hope someday to see it.
In the meantime we can assure you that the two we did visit are well worth your time. There are photos from both on the photo pages. The Pitt Rivers ( Web site) collection concentrates on anthropology and archeology to the tune of a half million items, grown from an initial 20,000 owned by Mr Rivers. He believed in the cultural ascent of man and arranged his starter collection from the supposedly simple works of early man to the presumably more complex of the later. But cultural evolution is out of favor today, so the present collection simply tries, and in our opinion, succeeds in illustrating the rich diversity of culture.
The Museum of Natural History (Web site) is really unique in that it contains many of the first fossil specimens ever found and identified as dinosaurs. The collection includes that of geologist William Buckland, who found (in nearby Stonesfield), described and named the first dinosaur, the megalosaurus (great lizard). It also houses the oldest human bones found in England, called the Red Lady of Paviland. The building itself has been the site of important past events. A great debate pitting the Bible's view of creation against the Darwinian view took place there in 1860. Wireless telegraphy was demonstrated there in 1894. And the building was constructed to teach geology. (Both of these are described in the Wikipedia article on the Museum of Natural History.) The many pillars holding up the galleries around the great hall are each made of a different stone, and are labled.
You can take a very extensive virtual tour of Oxford that includes the University.
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Google Map
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Intrepid Traveler
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