Home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world, which dates back to the 11th century, Oxford has long been associated with academia. The relationship between ‘town and gown’ however, was initially fraught with tension and when, in 1209, a student fled Oxford after allegedly murdering his mistress, the townspeople hanged two scholars in retaliation. Tensions continued for more than 100 years, with one riot in 1355 leading to the death of 93 students and townsfolk. To escape such violence, many academics fled to Cambridge where they established a new university.
Visit: Oxford’s cobbled lanes and honey-hued college buildings moved poet Matthew Arnold to name it ‘the city of dreaming spires’. Walk in the shoes of scholars by visiting the Bodleian Library – one of the world’s oldest public libraries, and Christ Church – the largest of Oxford’s colleges, founded in 1546. Also interesting is the anthropological Pitt Rivers Museum, which is home to half a million objects from all over the world (experienceoxfordshire.org).