Oxford as a city is something like an advent calendar; endless doors each offering up different, often unexpected, and usually quite beautiful treasures. Even though the summer sees the city filled with tourists eager to discover its timeless gems, it is in September that glimpses of what lies within become accessible through the marvellous Oxford Open Doors annual event.
Evergreen quads, infamous enclaves and private chambers – all of which contribute to Oxford’s mythical appeal are revealed – for two days only. The ephemeral mysteries of the city are ours to divine.
Oxford Open Doors has been organised by the Oxford Preservation Trust for the past 15 years and for the 2022 chapter the theme follows that of national organisation, Heritage Open Days (albeit with a slight twist): Astounding Inventions, Innovations, and Inspirations. On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September the gates to Oxford's history and heritage will be opened, with old favourites once again on offer plus some new venues will be opening their doors to the public. In 2021 an astonishing 12,500 people visited the 69 venues and events on offer (held both IRL and online). With restrictions lifted, this year promises to be bigger than ever.
Highlights for 2022 include;
- Come and meet Ai-Da, the world’s first ultra-realistic robot artist, at the Weston Library.
- Visit the homes of the 2019 Nobel Prize Laureate and Oxford-Astrazeneca Covid vaccine at The Old Road Research Campus.
- Explore the delights of St John’s College, with its traditional quads, award-winning modern architecture, and beautiful gardens.
- The Discovering Heritage and Green Spaces self-guided walk around Rose Hill. The Oxford Preservation Trust has worked with the local community to create this walk, which will be launched and available over the weekend.
- Step inside history at the Oxford Castle & Prison. Look out for the stone carving demonstration in the Castle yard
- Take a tour of Oxford in a vintage bus, courtesy of Oxford Bus Museum.
- Find out about some of the big ideas and amazing inventions made here in Oxford, with the guided walk with Oxford’s Guild of Guides,
- Hidden Oxford at its best: Shakespeare’s Painted Room at The Crown Tavern in Cornmarket street.
Visitors can explore colleges, university buildings and green spaces along with a variety of hidden heritage sites across the city - many of which are normally closed to the public.
For full listings, of which there are many, and a helpful map of the city, visit oxfordpreservation.org.uk.
There will be also be a number of special events held over the weekend, and also throughout the year (it’s well worth bookmarking the Trust’s website oxfordpreservation.org.uk/content/events)