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Oxford Guide


Sheldonian – designed by Christopher Wren, and allegedly one of the least comfortable theatres in England. It’s rarely used for theatre now, you’re more likely to catch lectures, speeches, and the Oxford Philharmonic here.

New Theatre – as the name would suggest, this one’s a little more up to date. You’ll find everything from ballet to top comedians, with a liberal sprinkling of musicals (Grease, the Full Monty, and Dirty Dancing, for example).

Oxford Playhouse – a good mix of recognisable favourites and new productions, the emphasis here is all on theatre and drama.

O2 Acadamy – it doesn’t get as many global superstars as some of the O2 Arenas, but it does a good line in grungy, soulful and rock and roll bands.

TV and Film

Oxford’s gleaming spires have been used as the set for many a film – bits of The Italian Job were filmed here, it made a few appearances in X Men First Class (particularly the Sheldonian), and Brad Pitt and Shia LeBeouf have recently been spotted hanging around the cobbled streets. If you’re hoping for a closer look at the areas inhabited by some of the most famous film and tv stars around, check out Christ Church College. The Great Hall is instantly recognisable as the inspiration for Hogwarts Great Hall, and the Quad was used in the Golden Compass (it had a zeppelin hovering overhead at the time). Other Harry Potter locations in Oxford include New College, which was where Tom Felton got turned in to a ferret, Bodleian Library, which was Hogwarts infirmary, and Duke Humfrey’s Library, which was Hogwarts library.

If you’re more a fan of the small screen, an awful lot of Morse was filmed around the city – so much, that he’s got his own bar at the Randolph Hotel. The detectives own favourite pubs are scattered around Oxford too – The Eagle and Child, the White Horse, the King’s Arms, the Turf Tavern and the Bear are all pubs Morse stopped for a drink in.

Libraries, Museums and Churches

They’re not typical hen do stop-off points, but you can’t go to Oxford without soaking up the culture – it’s literally surrounding you. If you’ve got a spare few hours Sunday morning, check out:

  • Christ Church College. Oxford isn’t exactly short of colleges, but this is easily the most famous – and not just because of it’s connection with the Harry Potter films. If you happen to be passing here in the evening, you’ll hear the bell tolling 101 times at 9:05 in the evening… 101 because that’s how many students the college used to have, 9:05 because Oxford is technically 5 minutes behind GMT.
  • Ashmolean Museum. The oldest university museum in the world, and one of the oldest museums generally. It contains both art and archaeology, and now houses the biggest collections of Raphael drawings, Anglo-Saxon artefacts, and Chinese items in the West.
  • Christ Church Cathedral. The seat of the Bishop of the Church of England, this is one of the most intricate and impressive cathedrals in the UK, and far predates the College – it’s been a site of worship since the 7th century.


Pubs are just as integral part of Oxford’s culture as the university – what else would you expect, with all those students? The Bear Inn (besides being one of Morse’s favourites) is possibly the oldest in Oxford, first opening in 1242… and it has some of the fanciest pub grub around. The Lamb and Flag is said to be the site where Thomas Hardy wrote large portions of Jude the Obscure, and the literary theme is continued in the Eagle and Child, which was a reported favourite haunt of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

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