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Oxford as a city of culture

posted on Friday 27th April

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Oxford is reputedly the oldest university town in the English speaking world. Although there
is no clear date of foundation, there are records of teaching practices existing in Oxford as
early as 1096. These developed rapidly after 1167 after King Henry II banned English
students from going to the University of Paris.

Between the 20th and 21st centuries Oxford added research facilities in natural and applied
sciences, such as the study of medicine, to its previously humanistic core. This helped the
university maintain its status as leader in the international forum for academic learning and
intellectual debate.

As a seat of learning, by virtue of its antiquity, curriculum and doctrine, Oxford has received
the highest honours. For example, in 1355 Edward the III paid tribute to the University for its
contribution to learning and high level of service to the state by graduates; this standard
continues into the present day.

Culture has the potential to bring people together from all areas of life, breaking down
barriers, and strengthening communities by increasing a sense of local identity. The Oxford
City Council works with the University and its cultural partners to build Oxford as an
esteemed city of culture.

It has some of Britain’s best museums and most stunning architecture. It also has an unusual
cultural history that includes the presence of writers such as Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and John

Oxford is committed to ensuring that its cultural spaces are open and welcoming to the
general public, designed to provoke inspiration and an enthusiasm for learning. Including the
Ashmolean, Botanic Gardens, Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers, these are some the
most-visited museums in the UK outside London and amongst the best university museums
in the world. Between them, they attract over two million people to the City of Oxford each

The displays and exhibitions are vitalised through tours, open lectures, live performances,
film screenings, classes and after-hours events. These experiences offer visitors a chance to
see and explore the collections in a new light.