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24 September 2014

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Did you know?
Alex Gavin as Charles I
Alex Gavin as Charles I
The team at BBC Oxford put their thinking caps on and put together some interesting facts from Oxfordshire.
Famous Oxfordshire

If you know any facts that we haven't covered then email them to us at:


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Did you know that...

Radcliffe Camera
Radcliffe Camera

Fact Oxford has over 1,500 listed buildings including Gibb's Radcliffe Camera, Wren's Sheldonian Theatre, and Hawksmoor's All Soul's.

Fact Sir Christopher Wren designed Oxford's magnificent Sheldonian Theatre.

Fact Oxford's Botanic Garden is the oldest in the world, having been founded as a physic garden in 1621.

FactThe Holywell Music Room, built in 1748, is the oldest music performance hall in Europe.

FactBlenheim is a World Heritage Site - a claim that Oxford can't yet make, strangely.

FactBanbury Cross is not the one in the famous nursery rhyme. That one was knocked down by Puritans in July 1600. Whoops.

City of words

Fact Oxford is the home of the world famous Oxford English Dictionary.

Fact Best selling authors JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis were both Oxford dons, and frequented its many pubs.

FactThe city hosts the annual Oxford Literary Festival featuring the leading lights of the literary world.

FactOxford's Philip Pullman is the writer of His Dark Materials, the most successful British fantasy trilogy since The Lord of the Rings.

FactOxford University is the oldest English-speaking university in the world.

FactOxford was and is home to the creators of Alice in Wonderland, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Inspector Morse and the His Dark Materials trilogy - which actually features several parallel Oxfords, linked by a slit in the fabric of the universe at Summertown and other locations in the City.

FactOxford has more published writers per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Take care not to trip over one.

Fact Books have been printed in Oxford since 1478.

Fact Banbury was a centre for the printing of chapbooks – cheaply produced stories for children. The saying, "Red sky at night, shepherd's delight," was popularised in a Banbury chapbook.

Fact There are several versions of the famous Banbury Cross nursery rhyme. One goes:

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see an old woman get up on a horse
A ring on her finger, a bonnet of straw
The strangest old woman that ever you saw.

History and heritage
Alex Gavin as Charles I
Alex Gavin as Charles I

Fact The Oxford martyrs Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer were burnt on the order of Queen Mary in the city's Broad Street.

Fact Hitler was intending to use Oxford as his capital if he conquered England which is one of the reasons it was not bombed.

Fact Oxford was the country's capital city during the Civil War when Charles 1 held his court here.

Fact Oxfordshire is home to the Rollright Stones, a 4,500 year old Neolithic stone circle and burial chamber

Fact The Ridgeway is the considered to be the oldest road in Europe - 5,000 years old.

FactThe White Horse of Uffington is thought to be the oldest hill figure in Britain. It is 374 feet long and thought to date back 12,000 years, to the late Bronze Age.

Fact Abingdon is claimed to be the oldest-continuously occupied settlement in Britain. It's not the oldest town, because it hasn't always been a town.

FactTooley's Boatyard in Banbury has the oldest working dry-dock in the country, dating back more than 200 years. Writer Tom Rolt had a boat restored there before setting off on a voyage that led to the revival of England's canal system.

Pulp fiction
John Thaw played Inspector Morse
John Thaw played Inspector Morse

Fact Oxford is popular with crime writers with books such as Oxford Blood, Coffin in Oxford, Oxford Exit and Death of A Don.

Fact Inspector Morse writer Colin Dexter has calculated that he killed off 81 Oxonians including three heads of colleges in his crime novels.

Fact Fictitious Oxford colleges include Jordan College (Philip Pullman), Wolsey College (Inspector Morse), Lazarus (Trollope), Biblioll, Episcopus and Simon Magus.

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