Many of our Cotswold tours start – and finish – in Oxford. Our company began more than ten years ago when Isobel Lewis started offering her guided walking tours through the streets of Oxford, and these personal and hugely enjoyable group explorations remain at the heart of what we do.
Oxford is one of the most ancient of English cities, and has played many varied and important roles in the history of the nation – not least as capital during the turbulent years of the English Civil War, when King Charles chose Oxford as his centre for administration and planning.
Known for generations as The City of Dreaming Spires, an epithet coined by Matthew Arnold in his poem Thyrsis, Oxford is home to one of the world’s oldest and most respected universities, where some of humanity’s most influential leaders and thinkers have been educated. These not only include politicians and theologians, but also scientists, philosophers, writers and actors – Oscar Wilde, Imran Khan, T.E. Lawrence, Graham Green, Theresa May, Rowan Atkinson, John le Carré, Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, Aldous Huxley and Richard Burton, to name just a few.
Steeped in over 1000 years of history, the city abounds with almost every architectural style imaginable, from Classical-Roman and Medieval, to Revivalist and Post-Modern. Overwhelmingly, however, it is the mellow warm glow of Cotswold stone, carved into elaborate shapes and lofty towers, topped by domes and pinnacles, that moves the heart and is so admired by visitors. Naturally, such surroundings have provided rich inspiration for literature and film, as well as industry. Iconic names, like Morris Cars, Oxford Marmalade, Oxford Bags and Oxford Shoes, vie with Inspector Morse, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and, of course, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to cement their association with Oxford.
Anyone planning a tour of the Cotswolds would do well to begin by exploring Oxford first. Whether you have just a few hours to spare, or several days, our sister company; Explore Oxford Tours, can provide information on the best ways to make the most of your visit. We can offer guided walking tours of Oxford, exploring the famous colleges and historic buildings, or help you to see the sights by boat, from your coach, or using one of our minibuses.
Visit the Explore Oxford Tours website for further information, and pick Oxford as the start-point for your venture into the glorious west-country with Cotswold Exploring.
“And that sweet City with her dreaming spires,
She needs not June for beauty’s heightening.”