Oxford

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The Bridge of Sighs, Oxford (Photograph by Tom Murphy VII)

Oxford is a city and the county town of Oxfordshire in England. Despite a population of a little over 150,000 it includes two Universities and is renowned in the arts and sciences today and historically.

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Geography

The city is built where the river Cherwell runs into the River Thames (known as the Isis in Oxford, short for the original Thamesis). The historical centre of the city is orientated around the University of Oxford and its constituent colleges. The city then spreads eastwards across the River Cherwell where more modern residential buildings dominate.

Suburbs of Oxford include Headington (location of Oxford Brookes University), Cowley (location of the BMW motor works), Iffley, Kennington, Osney, Hinksey, Jericho.

University

The University was organised there soon after 1167, perhaps as a result of a migration of students from Paris. The first colleges were founded in the thirteenth century (University, 1249; Balliol, 1263 and Merton, 1264) and Oxford rose to equal status with the great medieval universities.

Numbering among its scholars the philosopher and scientist Roger Bacon, and Sir Thomas More. The esteemed writer J.R.R. Tolkien was an Oxford professor.

The city became a centre of Royalism in the seventeenth century, becoming the Royalist capital during the English Civil War when King Charles I set up court there. Oxford declined during the eighteen century but was revived in the 1800's, particularly as a result of a renaissance in scientific thought. The University includes the Bodleian Library, the largest university library in the country and second in size overall nationally to the British Library.

Sport

In common with most of the United Kingdom, soccer is the dominant sport in Oxford, most notably the professional club Oxford United.

Other notable clubs include the rugby league club, Oxford Cavaliers and the speedway team.

Perhaps the most famous sporting event associated with Oxford, however, is the University Boat race, which has taken place every year for over 100 years, normally in March, between the University of Oxford (the "Dark Blues") and the University of Cambridge (the "Light Blues"). It is a rowing race for "eights" and takes place on the River Thames in London. The boat race is an occasion for students and alumni of each of the two famous universities to cheer on their team, and there have been many incidents during the race including several occasions when one of the boats has sunk. Cambridge has won more races than Oxford. Pressure to have a 'womens' Boat Race has been resisted on the grounds of tradition.

History

Oxford was a base for Royalist forces (Cavaliers in the English Civil War), with King Charles I setting up his court in Christ Church.

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