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A Couple of Days in Oxford

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

On our way back from Cardiff to London we stopped in Oxford. We had briefly visited the city before, but we were on a tour and we had to rush, so we only had an overview. This time we decided to spend the night and we made reservations at the Courtyard Oxford City Center. It has a great location near the city center. The rooms are small, but modern and quiet. The parking is a few minutes away at the Westgate Shopping Center.

We started our visit at Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, which is in Oxfordshire. The drive is around 20 minutes. Blenheim Palace is the only non-royal country house in England to hold the title of palace. It was presented by the English nation to John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his victory in 1704 over French and Bavarian troops. Sir Winston Churchill, who became knighted in his own right, was born at Blenheim Palace in 1874. Grandson of the 7th Duke, he spent a lot of time at the Palace throughout his life and proposed to his wife Clementine in the gardens of the Palace. We visited the State Rooms, the Churchill Exhibition, and the Formal Gardens. There is a lot to see, and the place is huge, so you need time (half a day) and good shoes as the parking is 700 yards from the entrance of the Palace.

Another interesting tidbit if you are a Royal fan: Sarah Churchill, the first Duchess of Marlborough, made clear early on her goal to have a member of her family married into the Royal Family. This will finally be realized when Prince William of Wales ascends the throne, as through his mother, the late Diane Spencer, he is a descendant of Sarah.

We returned to Oxford in the afternoon for our guided walking tour of the university. We met our group at the Weston Library and learned more about the history of the oldest university in the English-speaking world. We visited several colleges and the Divinity School, which is used as the infirmary in several Harry Potter movies. Built between 1427 and 1483, the Divinity School is the oldest surviving purpose-built building for university use. The building, which belongs to the University of Oxford, is attached to the Bodleian Library (the main research library of the University of Oxford,).

After our tour we walked around and stopped at the famous Turf Tavern, a historic pub visited by Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Blair, Stephen Hawking and Margaret Thatcher. It is also the location where future American president Bill Clinton, while a student at University College as a Rhodes Scholar, famously smoked "but did not inhale" marijuana.

We ended our busy day with a good dinner at Chutneys Indian Brasserie , known as the oldest Indian restaurant in Oxford. It was a short visit, but we really enjoyed the city.

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