Martyrs Memorial L.O.L.No. 213 Oxford

Short History of Oxford

Coat of arms of City of Oxford

The city of Oxford is located at the confluence of the rivers Thames, or Isis, and Cherwell, in the county of Oxfordshire, approximately 56 miles west-north-west of London and 64 miles south-east of Birmingham.

The city has a population of around 135,000. Administratively the City of Oxford covers an area of approximately 46 sq kms.

Described by Matthew Arnold as "that sweet city with her dreaming spires", it is an ancient town internationally renowned as home to one of the world's oldest and most esteemed universities, and with its superb architecture and heritage is a premier tourist destination. It has also developed as a major commercial, retail and cultural centre with excellent visitor facilities. The town is home to the world's first museum, the Ashmolean.

The town's history dates from the 9th century with the foundation of St Frideswide's nunnery. In the 10th century Oxford became an important military frontier town between the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex  and was several times raided by the Danes. The University of Oxford is first mentioned in 12th century records; the earliest colleges were University College (1249), Balliol (1263) and Merton (1264). Christ Church Cathedral is unique as a college chapel and cathedral in one foundation. Oxford housed the court of Charles I in 1642 during the English Civil War, however, it yielded to General Fairfax's Parliamentarian forces in 1646. Oxford is known as the "city of dreaming spires", a reference to the harmonius architecture of the university buildings, coined by Matthew Arnold.

Economically, during the 20th century, printing and publishing industries were well established and the Morris Motor Company was mass producing cars at Cowley. Cowley suffered major job losses during the decline of British Leyland at the end of the 20th century, but is now producing the successful New Mini for BMW. The service industry, including tourism, is the largest sector of the local economy, employing around 78% of all workers.

The name Oxford derives from the Old English 'oxa' or 'oxna' and 'ford', meaning 'ford used by oxen'. It was first occupied in Saxon times, and was initially known as "Oxanforda". In the Domesday Book of 1086 it was recorded as Oxeneford