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Oxford Out and About

Oxford , The City of Dreaming Spires , is famous the world over for its University and place in history. The centre of Oxford is dominated by the University colleges, the most famous being Christ Church, Trinity and Balliol (from a total of 36).

Oxford City is a bustling cosmopolitan town, with its mix of ancient and modern, there is plenty to do for all tastes. Whether it’s visiting one of the many historic buildings, colleges or museums, going out for a meal or a drink, going ice-skating, taking in a show or shopping till you drop, Oxford has it all! Some of the more popular activities for visitors to Oxford include punting on the river, watching an outdoor Shakespeare Play, taking a walking tour of the famous Oxford Colleges that form Oxford University, visits to the famous Bodleian Library, Ashmolean Museum, Natural History and Pitts Rivers Museum, Oxford Castle Tour, Open Top Bus Tour and of course Blenheim Palace in Woodstock as well as a shopping trip to the retail outlet centre in Bicester Village.

If you are in need of a relaxing and leisurely programme Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds has a long history with some of the most beautiful historic towns and villages in the UK. It's famous for its beautiful green countryside, stunning landscapes and picturesque villages. So there are some beautiful places to explore in your own time….

Bicester village/town

Situated only 6 miles north of Oxford. Bicester has a traceable history of over a thousand years and was recorded in the Domesday book. It is a busy market town and now home to Bicester Village – the factory designer outlet shopping village, housing famous names such as Burberry, Diesel, Donna Karan, Elle, Fat Face, Fred Perry, Helly Hansen, Jaeger, Karen Millen, Lacoste, Max Mara, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ted Baker, Tommy Hilfiger Denim and Versace – to name but a few!


8 miles North of Oxford and only 5 miles from Islip, is often visited for two reasons; Blenheim Palace and Sir Winston Churchill's grave in nearby Bladon. But Woodstock has much more to offer.

Before the Norman Conquest, when the Wychwood Forest stretched from the Cotswolds to London, English Kings had lodges in Woodstock – ‘a clearing in the woods' giving a possible derivation of its name. King Alfred is reputed to have stayed at Woodstock in 890. Ethelred the Unready held a council in the town suggesting its size had grown fit to accommodate a king. In 1279, Henry II established a market and by the 13 th century it had grown to the status of a Borough.

The church of St. Mary Magdalene, rebuilt in the 19 th century has a Norman doorway, early English windows and a musical clock which plays tunes on the hour. The Town Hall is 18 th century and there are numerous attractive period buildings including the 17 th century Fletcher's house now home to the County Museum. Chaucer's house in Park Street was once home to Chaucer the poet.

Blenheim Palace was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for John Churchill, 1 st Duke of Marlborough. It was largely paid for by the nation in gratitude for his victory over the French and Bavarians at Blenheim in 1704. The deerpark surrounding the house was landscaped by “Capability” Brown. Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim in 1874 and is buried in nearby Bladon churchyard.

Stratford Upon Avon

Situated 45 miles and a 50 minute drive from Islip. Stratford Upon Avon is the birthplace of William Shakespeare and is steeped in culture and history. Set in the beautiful rural Warwickshire countryside, on the banks of the river Avon, it is one of the most important tourist destinations in the UK.


Situated 40 miles and a 45 minute drive from Islip. The town of Warwick was founded on the banks of the River Avon in 914 AD by Ethelfleda, sister of Edward the Elder, as a defence against the Danish invaders, on a site overlooking earlier riverside settlements.

Within a relatively small area there are many buildings of historic interest of which Warwick Castle is the most important. This is one of the most dramatic and complete medieval castles in the country. It has been inhabited continuously since the Middle Ages, and was the home of the Earls of Warwick until recently.


Best known for its Royal Regatta held every July since 1839. For about a mile at Henley the river is straight providing an ideal course for what has become a major international event. It became ‘Royal' in 1851 when Prince Albert became Patron of the Regatta. As well as a sporting event it is a major social event retaining much of the ‘garden party' feel of Edwardian times.

Many buildings in Henley are designated ‘of special architectural interest' including a 14 th century chantry house, connected to the church and the Speakers house, the home of William Lenthall, Speaker of the House of Commons (1629-1640) who was a signatory to the warrant for the execution of Charles I. The main street has many Georgian frontages built on to older buildings. There are many coaching Inns including the Red Lion, which, so legend has it, has accommodated Charles I, Boswell and George III.


The City of London is only a short coach or train ride from Oxford and takes only an hour if the traffic isn’t too busy. Visitors cannot leave without taking in the amazing atmosphere of this vibrant and bustling City. Many visitors to Oxford love the idea that they can catch a bus or coach every 15 minutes in and out of London and then be back in Oxford to relax after a full day of busy sight-seeing and shopping.

There are so many things to see and do in London from a boat trip on the Thames, to viewing the many places of interest by foot or bus such as Buckingham Palace, The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Madam Tussaudes, the Tower of London, Hyde Park, Oxford St for Shopping – the list is endless!

There are also the big West End shows that are big sell outs and always very popular – so be sure to book in advance if you want to include a show in your itinery.


Oxford Homestay office