Anyone who prefers to keep their feet firmly placed in the pop section of culture, Oxford is just another University Town. A place that doesn’t hold too much for them.
Well, that’s rubbish!
Oxford has enough pop culture reference points to keep any Star Wars quoting, Harry Potter wand waving fan boy happy. And it’s for that reason that we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite pop culture points of interest in this historic of towns.
Proving that it has both one foot in the past and the present.
Alternative Reasons to Visit Oxford
Christ Church Is Sort Of Where Harry Potter Ate
No, it’s not an actual church (well of sorts), it is just one of the grandiose sounding names that some ancient Oxford University alumnus gave to one of its houses.
If that alone doesn’t blow your mind, then the fact that the hall of this college was also the inspiration for the dining hall in the Harry Potter films should.
When you look at it, it’s easy to see why Christ Church became an influence. The closed off gravel courtyards that surround a cathedral building have a mystical quality that is at odds with modern Britain and create the feeling of another world.
That and it’s super big.
Oxford Is Wonderland
The gardens outside Christ Church where Lewis Carroll would walk with Alice
If you just walk around the outside of Christ Church, along the river, you’ll be walking along the route where the story of Alice in Wonderland was first told. You can even try kayaking on the river if you are an adrenaline junkie like me.
Legend has it that Lewis Carroll was taking the dean of Christ Church’s daughter, Alice, on a trip up the river. However, he got a little lost and it took him a little longer than expected to get back. To amuse Alice, he decided to make up a story.
This story was the foundation of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and later the vehicle for Tim Burton to make another overblown, avant-garde, gothic attempt at telling a fairy-tale.
It’s Also the City of Dreaming Spires
Those of you who a connoisseurs of 60’s music will be able to tell you that The Small Faces and Ronny Lane were one of the most underrated bands and songwriters ever.
They took inspiration from the town, writing a song about its architecture that was, funnily enough, titled “The City of Dreaming Spire”.
Considering every second University building seems to have a spire on it – it wasn’t too much of a stretch to come up with that title.
A Prime Minister Was Once Inducted Into the Guinness Book of World Records There
Okay, it wasn’t a British Prime Minister (it was Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke) and it was before he was elected but it is still pretty impressive.
Especially considering it was for drinking a yard of ale in 11 seconds.
What’s that sayin…You can take the boy out of Australia but you can’t take the Australia out of the boy.
It’s Where Radiohead Were Formed
If you were an angst ridden teen in the 90s or have decent taste in music, then the likelihood is that you’ve listened to Radiohead.
If you walk down to 56 Walton Street, you’ll see where they performed their first ever gig. Just don’t hang around too long or you’ll look like a creep… a weeeeeeeiiiiirrrddooo. People might even ask what the hell are doing there?
Those OUDS Went On To Do Good Things
What the hell is OUDS, you say?
Well it’s a place where a lot of successful people have come from. More precisely, though, it is the Oxford University Drama Society.
However, this isn’t your normal Drama Society that does rehashed versions of Chekov. No, this is a creative powerhouse that has churned out some pretty influential pop cultural figures. For exampleboth Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson met here. They both went on to do a little show called Blackadder.
If that’s not impressive enough; Dudley Moore, Hugh Grant, Maggie Smith, Felicity Jones, Tom Hooper, Kate Beckinsale and Richard Burton were all members as well.
This Guy Who Knew A Lot About Languages Wrote Some Book About Middle Earth Here
There was that really long trilogy of films that were a massive success a while back. They were about Elves, Orcs, Goblins, Dwarves and Hobbits.
And they were all created in Oxford.
Yes, J.R.R Tolkien created Lord of the Rings at Oxford University. What’s more interesting than that is that he sort of did it by accident.
See, Tolkien was a Professor of languages. He studied languages so much that he decided to create the perfect language. After he did this, he realised that languages only exist if people use them. He couldn’t forcibly make anyone speak his language, so he decided to create a story where it was spoken and therefore prevent it from dying out.
And that is how Elvish and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy were created.
The Four Minute Mile Was Ran Here
That’s right, one of the greatest and most well-known athletic accomplishments took place in Oxford. Not only did it take place in the town but it was achieved by a student of Oxford University – Sir Roger Bannister.
Showing that just because you’ve got brains doesn’t mean you can’t have any athletic prowess.