The Bridge of Sighs over New College Lane
Oxford is a university city, and the county town of Oxfordshire. It has achieved worldwide fame from its mediaeval university which dominates and shapes the city centre. The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world.
Noted for its dreaming spires, the city attracts vast numbers of tourists who visit the University and many sites of interest. The Royalist capital in the Civil War, Oxford has had many notable roles and seen countless notable people throughout its ancient history.
The city stands on the north bank of the River Thames, where the River Cherwell meets it, although its suburbs spread to the Berkshire side too. For a distance of some 10 miles along the river, in the vicinity of Oxford, the Thames is known as The Isis, apparently an affectation invented by the scholars of Oxford University. It is the largest town in Oxfordshire, and indeed the largest town on the Thames above Middlesex. Though famed for scholarship, it is a town of industry too.
Buildings in Oxford demonstrate an example of every British architectural period from Anglo-Saxon to the twenty-first century. The grandest buildings are those of the university, including the iconic, mid-18th century Radcliffe Camera, the Sheldonian Theatre, the buildings of the Bodlean Library, and the individual colleges. The soaring, harmonious architecture of Oxford's university buildings inspired the poet Matthew Arnold to name Oxford the "city of dreaming spires".
Oxford is 24 miles north-west of Reading, 26 miles north-east of Swindon, 36 miles east of Cheltenham, 43 miles east of Gloucester, 29 miles south-west of Milton Keynes, 38 miles south-east of Evesham, 43 miles south of Rugby and 51 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames (also sometimes known as the Isis locally from the Latinised name Thamesis) run through Oxford and meet south of the city centre.
As the county border between Oxfordshire and Berkshire passes through the city, suburbs are to be found in both counties. Suburbs and neighbourhoods within the borders of city of Oxford, include:
- Blackbird Leys, Oxfordshire
- Cowley, Oxfordshire
- Iffley, Oxfordshire
- Cutteslowe, Oxfordshire
- Grandpont, Berkshire
- Headington, Oxfordshire
- New Hinksey, Berkshire
- Osney, Oxfordshire
- Sunnymead, Oxfordshire
- Wolvercote, Oxfordshire
Suburbs and neighbourhoods outside the city boundaries include:
- Botley, Berkshire
- Cumnor Hill, Berkshire
- Dean Court, Berkshire
- Kennington, Berkshire
- North Hinksey, Berkshire
Universities and education
The University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. It contains 38 colleges and 6 permanent private halls, found in and around the city centre.
In the 1990s the Oxford Polytechnic became "Oxford Brookes University" (which has no connection to the ancient university). The city also plays host to Ruskin College.
Oxford is home to wide range of schools many of which receive pupils from around the world. Three are University choral foundations, established to educate the boy choristers of the chapel choirs, and have kept the tradition of single sex education. Examination results in state-run Oxford schools are consistently below the national average and regional average. However, results in the city are improving with 44% of pupils gaining 5 grades A*-C in 2006.
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