More than just a prestigious university county, Oxfordshire is home to some of England’s most fascinating heritage trails and country walks. Not only that, but the quaint surroundings of the region are replete with listed buildings, famous filming locations and more besides. Even if you already live in Oxfordshire, it’s likely that there is still plenty that you don’t know about the area! Here’s our stack of facts about the county to help clue you in on the region. Take a look below for 11 interesting and amazing facts about Oxfordshire.
1. Oxfordshire is, of course, known mainly for being a place of prestige for education, particularly around the capital city of Oxford. However, for the longest time, women were unable to get any kind of places at colleges across Oxford, and possibly into the wider counties. It wasn’t until 1974, believe it or not, that the last of Oxford’s colleges finally started admitting female students, as well as offering women degrees.
2. Believe it or not, if it weren’t for Oxford University, Cambridge University wouldn’t have existed. Don’t say that too loudly around Cambridge students, but it’s true. The two universities have a long-standing rivalry, but Cambridge U was actually formed thanks to ex-Oxford students.
3. Oxfordshire may have been eyeballed by Adolf Hitler during World War II. In fact, the county – particularly Oxford itself – were left well alone in bombing raids by Nazi forces to a huge extent. This is because Hitler fancied Oxford for a ‘new capital’ of England once he took over. Naturally, we’re thankful this never came to pass – but for some reason, the dictator took a fancy to Oxford and the surrounding area.
4. Oxfordshire is well-known for its long-standing heritage trails and exhibitions. Perhaps most interestingly, you will find the world’s oldest museum – that is, a museum built to be as such – which dates back to 1683. This ancient exhibition is the Ashmolean Museum, and it continues to open to the visiting public.
5. Beyond Oxford itself – which is largely of interest to many tourists, students and more besides – the county is home to some of England’s most stunning areas of outstanding natural beauty. Out here, you will have access to the Chiltern Hills, as well as the extensive Cotswolds, which remain hugely popular for walking holidays.
6. If you ever meet anyone from Oxfordshire, or Oxford itself, they have a common demonym – they are known as Oxonians! However, this may not apply to all people from across the various towns and cities in the county – it’ll likely vary from case to case.
7. Oxfordshire is perhaps bigger than you might imagine – it stretches up to 1,000 square km in size. Much of this is rural reach, as the county is only said to be home to around 649,000 people! That’s a lot of space for a handful of folks!
8. When visiting the county area, be sure to tuck into some true local food and drink. Some of the most popular culinary treats you’ll enjoy here include the Banbury cake – named after the local town – as well as unique sausages and cheese made by local people in Oxford itself.
9. Oxfordshire plays host to some of the most appealing tourist attractions in the south of England. For example, you’ll find the popular Didcot Railway Centre, Blenheim Palace, Stonor House and Broughton Castle in the region. It’s always possible to take a few short steps back in time!
10. One of Oxford’s many ancient colleges is Balliol College. However, did you know that it was built in the form of a punishment for its founder, John Balliol? Balliol was thought to have insulted the Bishop of Durham in the 13th century – and bizarrely, he was made to build a college as reasonable justice. Strange but true!
11. Oxfordshire is also known as the home of Alice in Wonderland, thanks to local author Lewis Carroll. Carroll was an interesting sort – upon learning that Queen Victoria enjoyed his writing, he sent her his latest book on algebra.