About this book
This new edition of Ben le Vay’s irrepressible and irreverent guide to one of the greatest of English cities has been updated and expanded to include even more entertaining tales. There are more civilian/non-academic eccentrics, there is more local history, and there’s a particularly fascinating bit of military history about Oxford that even many locals have never heard of.
Dreaming spires, honeyed stone, cycling dons … forget all that tourist twaddle, says Benedict le Vay. Find out the secrets the colleges don't want you to know, the inside track on the best pubs and eating places, the scandal and gossip about nutty professors and disgraceful students past and present, the brilliant stories about the great, the good and the bad. With 8 maps and a mix of colour and black and white illustrations and photographs, this is the essential guide to take you beyond the normal sights.
William Morris called Oxford 'a perfect jewel' of a city; Benedict le Vay goes in search of the quirkier gems among its medieval back alleys. Here roam batty dons, daft students, barmy aristocrats and political firebrands. Who does that gargoyle remind you of? Why is a shark plunging into that man's house? When do students jump naked into the River Cherwell as Latin hymns are sung? What powers the 'Cosmic Triangle' of vibrant East Oxford? How do you control a punt without looking like a plonker?
. The pubs where Inspector Morse and Bill Clinton enjoyed a pint
. Where to eat a great fry-up in a unique setting
. Where to find a weird museum
. Calendar of annual eccentric events
Press acclaim for le Vay's previous Bradt Eccentric guides: 'Wonderfully barmy', 'The ultimate guide', 'A must', 'Endlessly fascinating', 'One of the best'
About the author
Benedict le Vay, a former resident of Oxford’s Old Marston, is a national newspaper sub-editor who wrote his first book, Eccentric Britain, more or less by accident after collecting oddities about his home country. He describes himself as frankly rather ordinary and is hard-pressed to think of anything eccentric to say about himself.
‘At a push, I’d say, yes, I’m Honorary Secretary of the Friends of the A272, and I’ve asked for my ashes to be blasted from the chimney of my favourite steam locomotive at my funeral. Hasn’t everybody?’
1 The Eccentric Year
January, March, March/April, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, Occasional
2 Eccentric History
Oxford bags of history, The university gets going, William Morris and William Morris, Twentieth-century pressures
3 Eccentric Literature
Alice, the prince, the Nazi and Mr Toad, The Wind in the Willows and real tragedy on the riverbank, Oxford’s unequalled literary pantheon, Further reading
4 Eccentric People
An eccentric Oxford don: Richard Cobb, The deeply eccentric Robert Hawker, The last great eccentric? Baron Berners, Oxford’s most eccentric sculpture, Political also-rans and poly dollies, Sex and the var-sity, The what sports club?
5 Eccentric Colleges
Colleges, their eccentric dons and other animals., All Souls, Balliol, Brasenose, Brookes, Christ Church, Corpus Christi, Exeter, Green Templeton, Harris Manchester, Hertford, Jesus College, Keble, Kellogg, Lady Margaret Hall, Linacre, Lincoln, Magdalen, Mansfield, Merton, New College, Nuffield, Oriel, Pembroke, Queen’s, Ruskin College, St Anne’s, St Antony’s, St Catherine’s, St Cross, St Edmund Hall, St Hilda’s, St Hugh’s, St John’s, St Peter’s, Somerville, Trinity, University College, Wadham, Wolfson, Worcester
6 Eccentric Churches
Name that saint, St Mary the Virgin, High Street, Christ Church Cathedral, St Thomas of Canterbury, Elsfield, St Giles, Horspath, St Barnabas, Horton-cum-Studley
7 Walks: Central Oxford
The architectural crown jewels
8 Walks: East Oxford
Enter the freaky cosmic triangle
9 Walks: North of the Centre
From Broad Street to the Bird and Bastard, From St Giles to Jericho and beyond, North Oxford: plain living and high thinking, Summertown
10 Eccentric Things to See or Do
Punting: pleasure or humiliation?, Children’s stuff (outdoors), Museums (and not just for children), Eccentric days out, Bike to spooky Otmoor
11 Out of Town
Binsey, Boars Hill, Iffley
12 Eccentric Facts
Oxford and Cambridge: strange similarities, Eccentric Oxford street names, 12 peculiar meanings of the word Oxford
13 Eccentric Living
Eat eccentric, Drink eccentric, Stay eccentric, Shop eccentric, Non-eccentric shopping
14 Postscript: Odds & Bods ‘Civilian’ eccentrics, Port Meadow’s secret
'Charmingly eclectic little guide.'
'This refreshing pocket-sized guide will take you through the looking glass into an Oxford as yet unknown.'
'These delightful guide books are perfect for anyone with an interest in England's most famous university cities.'
Good Book Guide