Ancient Oxford becomes a trendy new place to relax, eat and shop.
Oxford Castle was built in 1071 by the Norman Baron Robert D’Oiley. On the top of a mound that still looms over Castle Street, Sir Robert constructed his fortress, a structure known to us today as St George’s Tower. This was immediately following the Norman Conquest of England. Thus it was that Anglo-Saxon Oxford became part of William the Conqueror's realm.
In the nearly ten centuries since, the complex has served as a royal castle, a court of justice and a gaol (prison). While a gaol it featured in the TV series Porridge and the Noel Coward/Michael Caine film The Italian Job.
Recently, however, it has been refurbished as Oxford's newest quarter for shopping, eating and heritage tourism. Accommodation is provided in 40 new apartments and in the trendy Malmaison Oxford, which has been created within the old prison walls. There is also an art gallery, O3, which features Oxfordshire artists with a fresh exhibition line-up every month.
"Oxford Castle - Unlocked“ is a visitor experience that brings the history of the castle alive in a 40-minute tour (.01865 260666; www.oxfordcastleunlocked.co.uk)