University Church of St Mary the Virgin

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University Church of St Mary the Virgin: Our most recommended tours and activities

Oxford: Complete University Tour with optional Christ Church

1. Oxford: Complete University Tour with optional Christ Church

You will begin in central Oxford, with a brief and engaging introduction which will lay the foundation for the vast periods of history to be covered! Then the tour will enter a college renowned for having the most beautiful lawns in Oxford along with an iconic dispute with its neighbour - resulting in a supposed theft of the College tortoise (Oxford Annual Tortoise Race explanation included!). Then the group will visit the Sheldonian Theatre, where students experience the most iconic ceremony at Oxford University. You can hear from your student guide how the experience was for them. Next you will enter a historic museum -complete with a chalkboard used by Einstein in Oxford - and visit the Weston Library, a great example of a hybrid historic and modern interior. This tour will then cover sites that none of our other tours do! Including Rhodes House, the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. The latter is known to have one of the most exceptional collections in England, including Victorian shrunken heads. The tour stops for lunch at the Eagle and Child pub, a second home to J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis while they were members of the Inklings. After lunch, you can get a photo under the Bridge of Sighs before gazing up at the first round library in England, where your Oxford student guide will give you rare insights into the labyrinth of underground tunnels students. Not to be forgotten, All Souls College. With entrance exams as complex as they are bizarre, this site will highlight how exclusive a College can be and how influential its members are. Heading down to the southern part of Oxford, we visit a hidden door depicting the most famous characters in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Before entering the largest College at Oxford, Home to Oscar Wilde and C. S. Lewis, and its own deer park. Explore the iconic grounds which have been home to Oxford’s most influential writers, complete with medieval cloisters. The tour will head over to Merton College, home of Tolkien, to discuss not only its literary importance, but it’s multi million pound kitchen, funded by the current Emperor of Japan! The tour will then go to Christ Church College, exploring the unique meadows - such a stunning expanse of land incredibly rare in a medieval city. Here you will learn about its close connection to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland - along with its decision to be held to a different time zone than the rest of Oxford. Those who have selected the option to enter Christ Church will then have their pre arranged tickets given to them, and they will be free to explore the college at their own pace. The guide will be at hand before entering to offer further advice and guidance. Please note - the structure on the day may differ.

Oxford: Private Walking Tour with University Alumni Guide

2. Oxford: Private Walking Tour with University Alumni Guide

Whether you’re coming for a family holiday or a day trip with friends, Oxford is the perfect historic destination. If you know where to look, you’ll find Harry Potter filming locations; the alma maters of some of the world's most famous literary figures, politicians and philosophers; the pub in which the first copies of 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe' were handed out; and much, much more. But how do you make the most out of your time in this magical city? A private tour is a great way to get an intimate and tailored insight into Oxford and the beautiful university. You can completely tailor the experience: from meeting and starting points to any particular themes you wish to be covered (please email the local supplier in advance with any requests). Speak to your guide if you would like to visit any paid sites  this can be discussed and arranged for you. Depending on what you would like to see, there may be additional entrances fees but your guides can discuss all available options for you at the start of the tour. Your guides have a great insight into Oxford and are committed to providing interesting and enjoyable tours of this beautiful city, rather than tours which put people to sleep. Most of your guides have themselves studied at The University of Oxford and can provide you with details on how the institution really works. Cover the highlights of Oxford to ensure you see the best the city has to offer. A typical itinerary includes: • Balliol College • Trinity College • Sheldonian Theatre • The Divinity School • Bridge of Sighs • The Bodleian Library • The Radcliffe Camera • The University Church of St Mary The Virgin • Christ Church College • All Souls College • Oriel College • Merton College

Oxford: Costumed Ghost Tour with Special Guests

3. Oxford: Costumed Ghost Tour with Special Guests

Prepare for the unexpected and keep your wits about you as you undertake one of the most entertaining experiences in Oxford. Home to some of the most brutal murders in England's long history, Oxford is uniquely known as the epicenter of troubled souls, dark energy, and flesh-eating beasts. Venture through the dark alleyways and haunted squares of the town while enjoying mysterious tales of ghosts, horror. and sinister happenings. Learn about Oxford’s terrifying history with a combination of stories and dramatic performances by expertly trained actors who will play out the most barbaric and brutal punishments exacted during Oxford's Medieval and Civil War years. Be prepared for the surprise appearance of multiple wild beasts! After an exhilarating and entertaining wander around the city, finish up at one of the famous pubs in Oxford.

Oxford: 3-Hour Private Tour with Student Guide

4. Oxford: 3-Hour Private Tour with Student Guide

Embark on an extended 3-hour tour of the best Oxford has to offer with a local student guide. Go behind closed doors with an energetic and knowledgeable student guide who will help you to peel back the complex layers and mystique of this world-famous institution. First, visit one of the oldest colleges at Oxford University for a peek inside this restricted world of academia. Stroll the gardens, unearth the peculiar Oxford traditions, and see from a real student, how this elite educational institution operates. Then, head over to the Bodleian Library - a colossal site that houses over 13 million books. Enter the first purpose-built lecture room at Oxford, where you can admire some of the most ornate medieval architecture in Europe. Listen as your guide explains the early rituals and tests students underwent, how the British Parliament was held in the building by King Charles I and later King Charles II. Discover the library’s role in the most defining ceremony at Oxford and see the locations where multiple scenes of the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Along with these focal points, also cover the most famous landmarks in Oxford city and at Oxford University. Your private tour can be tailored to the specific locations or subjects you wish to cover. Just contact the operator in advance if you have anything specific in mind and they will do their best to incorporate anything that’s available to the public on the day (additional entrance fees may be required for such requests).

Oxford: Bike & Walking Tour w/ University Alumni Guide

5. Oxford: Bike & Walking Tour w/ University Alumni Guide

Immerse yourself in the culture of Oxford University and learn all about the extent of the renowned campus on this biking and walking tour. Explore the dramatic modern architecture of the Blavatnik Centre and the medieval facade of Magdalen College. The walking element of the tour takes you inside one of the oldest colleges of the university and the world-famous Bodleian Library, famous as a filming location in the Harry Potter films. Experience the scenic landscape of the Christ Church Meadows before visiting All Souls College and the Radcliffe Camera. Weave in and out of the old city with rides across local green spaces and explore the Port Meadow while learning about Lewis Carroll’s time at Oxford.

Oxford Day Trip from London: City Tour, Colleges & Lunch

6. Oxford Day Trip from London: City Tour, Colleges & Lunch

Travel back in time on this Private Day Trip Tour into one of the world's most academic and intellectual cities. Get away from busy London and tour Oxford with a private local guide. Admire not only the city's medieval architectural beauty and its river and natural environment, but also its traditional English cuisine. Learn about the history of Oxford Castle, an ancient castle over 1,000 years old, famous for having once been a prison. Visit the only 12th-century tower still standing in the city. Take the opportunity to enter the History of Sciences Museum to see the famous blackboard that Einstein once used during a lecture at some Oxford University, and which still preserves its formulas. Relax and enjoy a delicious British lunch with a typical English beer in a traditional 14th-century tavern. Enjoy the best views of this university city by climbing to the top of the 13th-century tower of the University Church of St Mary. See the most prestigious colleges in the world, from Balliol College (the oldest in Oxford) to the most important college in the city: Christ Church College. Enter and breathe the university and intellectual air of Oxford. Get to know its beautiful Gothic building and discover how its students live. Enjoy Oxford in-depth, with its History, its Culture, Gastronomy, Colleges, and local’s lifestyle in this amazing Private Day Tour.

Oxford: Hidden Histories - An Oxford Walking Tour

7. Oxford: Hidden Histories - An Oxford Walking Tour

Uncomfortable Oxford’s “Hidden Histories” tour engages with overlooked narratives and celebrates the stories of women and queer people working and studying within Oxford’s culture of traditional masculinity. The tour group meets at the Radcliffe Humanities Square and begins with an analysis of the public space, and especially of its overwhelmingly male representations. For instance, the famous Radcliffe Camera and the Radcliffe Humanities building are named for John Radcliffe, whose estate paid for the construction of several pieces of architecture in Oxford, although countless others contributed to the history of these buildings. Radcliffe Humanities originally served as the Radcliffe Infirmary, where nurse Thora Silverthorne trained and worked in the early 20th century, while also participating in activism that would later lead to the formation of the NHS. Today the NHS is a point of pride for Britain, but it rarely recognizes the contributions of nurses to the organisation, while COVID-19 has made the job more stressful and demanding. Another example of erasure is presented through the example of Oxford's Somerville College, founded in 1879 as one of Oxford University’s first women’s colleges, the other being Lady Margaret Hall. However, women still faced sexism and racism as students at the university and those who were able to attend often came from wealthy backgrounds. One of these women is Catherine Duleep Singh, the daughter of the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire and the goddaughter of Queen Victoria, who was also an openly queer women throughout her life and career. As the tour unfolds, participants will question the intersecting challenges faced by many people in Oxford's gendered and classist space. At the same time, the discussion will celebrate the opportunities that individuals managed to create in spite of these limits, from individual success to wider group visibility and representation in the present. The tour will end at St Mary's Church on Radcliffe Square, on a debate between real and idealised representations of women in the city.

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What people are saying about University Church of St Mary the Virgin

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 21 reviews

Richard was incredibly knowledgeable and fun - the entire concept of touring a place with such history like Oxford paired with the working knowledge of the present workings helps ground the fantastic access and foundational knowledge. Highly recommend!

We really enjoyed meeting Trevor and walk around the University with him. He has a wealth of knowledge and seemed happy to share with us.

Jessica was extremely knowledgeable and friendly and she tailored the tour to our interests. We learned a lot and loved the experience.

Jess was a great guide! Loved hearing her insights and in-depth knowledge. Was great to have a chat with her after the tour too!

Our guide, Lizzie, was outstanding. Knowledgeable, delightful, and flexible.