The oldest botanic garden in Great Britain.
This is one of the oldest scientific gardens in the world. It was founded in 1621 as a physic garden growing plants for medicinal research.The project was started by Henry Danvers, 1st Earl of Danby, who donated £5,000 to set up a garden for "the glorification of the works of God and for the furtherance of learning". The site chosen was on the banks of the River Cherwell opposite Magdalen College. This corner of Christ Church Meadow had been a Jewish cemetery until the Jews were expelled from Oxford in 1290. Four thousand cartloads of "mucke and dunge" were brought in to raise the land above the flood-plain of the River Cherwell but today the site is still considerably lower than traffic on the Magdalen Bridge.
Today the garden contains more than 8,000 different plant species, making it one of the most diverse collections of plants in the world. The garden has its own walled garden, surrounded by the original 17th-century stonework. Here stands Oxford's oldest tree, an English yew. There are also the glasshouses, which allow the cultivation of plants that would not survive the British weather.
The most striking feature of the gardens is the Danby gateway built in 1633. The gate was designed by Nicholas Stone and was completed in 1633, making it one of the earliest structures in Oxford to use the early Baroque style. Stone also designed the new entrance porch for the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, which counted against Bishop Laud when he was accused of Popery.