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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Oxford Attractions

Oxford is one of Britain's most lovely towns especially the old centre where Oxford University's 39 colleges are located.

Tower Views from St Mary's Church, Oxford

The university at Oxford is one of Europe's oldest and has its roots in the 12th century and the rule of Henry I, the so-called "Scholar King."

The earliest colleges were founded by wealthy English bishops who imposed an ecclesiastical curriculum and architecture on the institutions they endowed, centred around the quad (quadrangles) with dining halls, student halls and the library in the surrounding buildings.

Oxford professors were forbidden from marriage until 1877 and women were not granted degrees at Oxford University until 1920 underlying Oxford's traditional Christian heritage.

Tower Views from St Mary's church, Oxford

Oxford's centre is Carfax from where the High Street, Cornmarket and St Aldgates radiate west, north and south. From Carfax is is easy to explore the historic centre on foot or by rental bicycle. The 14th century Carfax Tower here is the only surviving remnant of St Martin's Church and supposedly has an historic connection to William Shakespeare. Just south of here on Pembroke Street is the acclaimed Modern Art Oxford, a gallery showcasing modern British and European art in a variety of media.

A better view of Oxford than from the top of Carfax Tower can be had from The University Church of St Mary the Virgin, the Radcliffe Camera (see above), England's earliest circular library, is clearly visible on a fine day, as is All Souls College (below).

Tower Views from St Mary's Church, Oxford

Merton College on Merton Street, close to Christ Church College was founded in 1264 and is one of the oldest colleges at the University of Oxford. Alumni include the writer Angus Wilson, Louis MacNeice, the poet TS Eliot, Kris Kristofferson and Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan. Visitors enter Merton College into the Front Quadrangle (see below).

Merton College

The large chapel at Merton College (see below) was built from 1290 to the mid 15th century. Merton chapel features original stained glass from the 14th century and does not have a nave, thus unusually situating the choir in the main body of the church.

Merton College

The Mob Quad at Merton College is the oldest quadrangle architecture at Oxford. The Mob Quad was built between 1288 and 1378.

Close to the pedestrianized Cornmarket shopping precinct is the Ashmolean Museum - the world's first university museum. The Ashmolean Museum was built between 1678–1683 to house the curiosities Elias Ashmole (1617-1692) gave to Oxford University in 1677. These included the collections of John Tradescant, a gardener for King Charles I and his son of the same name. The present Ashmolean Museum building (see below) dates from as late as 1845 and underwent an expansion completed in 2010.

Ashmolean Museum

Oxford has a number of good hotels suitable for all budgets including the Holiday Inn Oxford, the exclusive MacDonald Randolph Hotel and the boutique Vanbrugh House Hotel on St Michael's Street.

Map of Oxford

© 2012 Britain-Visitor.com

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Hotels and Guesthouses in Oxford UK

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Aquatics Centre London

The Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park in east London was designed by the award-winning Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and forms part of the gateway into Olympic Park. The Aquatics Centre was used for the swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events at the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics.

Diving Pool, Aquatics Centre London

The Aquatics Centre's vital statistics are: completed in 2011 after three years of construction work, seating capacity 17,500 reduced to 2,500 post-Games, 160m long and 80m wide roof done in a wave motif, three pools - a 50m competition pool, a 25m diving pool and a 50m warm-up pool holding 10 million litres of water, creche and cafe.

Aquatics Centre Windows London

The windows of the Aquatics Centre have a steel design in the shape of the Olympic Rings. The Aquatics Centre is now undergoing extensive modification so it can be re-opened to the public in 2014.

Stratford Tube Station is the nearest station on the Central Line, Jubilee Line, Docklands Light Railway and North London Line.

Aquatics Centre London 2012

Aquatics Centre
Olympic Park
E20 2ZQ

© Britain-Visitor.com

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cheltenham Attractions

Cheltenham's fame and grandeur can be traced back to the discovery of a spa in this once-sleepy Cotswolds town in 1716.

Neptune Fountain, Cheltenham
Neptune Fountain
Cheltenham developed rapidly over the next century as the rich and famous, from Kings and Queens to artists and admirals flocked to take the curative waters, which were thought effective for a wide range of ailments.

Nowadays Cheltenham is considered to have the best preserved Regency architecture in Britain.

Cheltenham Regency architecture

Cheltenham's many attractions include the Pittville Pump Room, built by Joseph Pitt to the north of the town centre before he went bankrupt in the 1820s and the Neptune Fountain, designed by Joseph Hall, the town's borough surveyor at the time and modelled on the magnificent Trevi Fountain in Rome; the Promenade is the town's main shopping area and includes the Municipal Offices, a fine example of Regency architecture.

The Holst Birthplace Museum at 4 Clarence Road celebrates the life of Gustav Holst (1874 –1934), the composer of The Planets. Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum contains work by William Morris as well as ceramics from The Netherlands and China. (Note the Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum is closed for renovation until 2013).

Regency Architecture in Cheltenham, UK

Cheltenham also boats some lovely parks and gardens: the large Pittville Park, Montpellier Gardens, Imperial Gardens and Sandford Park with its open air 1930s lido.

Cheltenham is also a city of festivals chief among them the classical music festival in July along with a jazz festival in April and May, a science festival in June and a folk music festival in February.

For horse racing fans the annual four-day Cheltenham Festival in March is a must. The steeple chase event at Cheltenham Racecourse in Prestbury Park attracts visitors from all over Britain and Ireland.

Cheltenham Tourist Information Centre
77 Promenade, Cheltenham GL50 1PJ
Tel: 01242 522878

Snowshill Manor

Within easy travelling distance of Cheltenham are many other things to see: Snowshill Manor, Chedworth Roman Villa, Sudeley Castle, the Gloucester Docks and Hailes Abbey.

Cheltenham is 2 hours, 10 minutes from London Paddington, around 45 minutes to an hour to Bristol Temple Meads and 10 to 15 minutes to Gloucester.

© Devon-Visitor.com

Hotels and Guesthouses in Cheltenham UK