We run a year-round programme of Oxford-themed talks, walks and visits aimed to encourage an awareness and understanding of our city. The talks (free and open to all) are given by leading speakers in interesting locations across the city. Topics can include Oxford’s history, buildings, arts and science, and current development projects.

The extensive programme of visits and walks (members only and usually for a small charge) is led by local experts and held both in and out of Oxford.


Open talks — all welcome

Come and learn about your city. No pre-booking, free of charge.

  • Heritage at the heart of growth

    Wednesday 29 March

    Magdalen College Auditorium, Longwall Street

    Coffee/tea 6.30pm, talk 7.00pm followed by AGM

    20170329_heritage_thumbnailUntil her recent election as Master of St Cross College, Carole Souter was the Chief Executive of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund. Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the NHMF and HLF, says: “It is  impossible to overstate the contribution that Carole has made to the heritage of our nation”. In this talk she will explain her vision of how heritage and growth can both be accommodated in cities such as Oxford.

  • Learning from Cambridge

    Tuesday 23 May

    Ship Street Centre (The Bastion)


    Last year a group from the Society went on a study visit to Cambridge to see what it might have to teach Oxford about the strategic planning of a city region. This report on the findings and discussion will be led by speakers from both cities.

Members-only Walks and Visits

Tickets are needed for these events. Download the booking form here. Closing date 24 March. download booking form

  • Nuffield College’s island site – a walk

    Tuesday 28 March at 2pm
    Thursday 30 March at 2pm

    Local historian Liz Woolley will lead a 1.5-hour circular walk around the site bordered by Hythe Bridge Street, Park
    End Street, the Worcester Street car park and Frideswide Square. The site was acquired last year by Nuffield College
    and is due for major redevelopment. The area is full of social, industrial and commercial history and the tour will
    highlight this rich heritage.

  • Harwell Campus Rutherford Lab – a visit

    Thursday 6 April 10am

    Harwell is a world-leading science, innovation and technology campus. Around 225 organisations and companies are based there, employing over 5,500 people and investing over £1.5 billion annually in research and innovation.
    Angus Horner, who is a Director of the Campus, will lead a tour including a visit to the famous Rutherford Lab and
    Diamond Light Source, the national synchrotron facility.

    Tea/coffee will be served before the 1.5 hour tour.

  • Wolfson College: a visit

    Tuesday 25 April 2pm

    In 2016 Wolfson College, Oxford’s largest post-graduate college, opened a new entrance and academic wing designed by Berman Guedes Stretton Architects. This links the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium with the original Powell and Moya buildings from 1968, on the bank of the Cherwell. The visit will include a tour of the fine gardens and an opportunity to see the College’s art collection. Tea/coffee will be provided at the end of the visit.

  • Aston’s Eyot nature reserve: a visit

    Tuesday 9 May 6pm

    Aston’s Eyot nature reserve is a little-known part of East Oxford between Meadow Lane and the River Thames which is home to a great variety of wildlife and plant species. Owned by Christ Church, it is maintained by the Friends of Aston’s Eyot, a group of energetic local residents, who will tell us why they took on the task and what they achieved. We recommend stout walking shoes.

  • A walking tour of Witney

    Wednesday 24 May 10.30am
    Wednesday 7 June 10.30am

    Witney is a historic market town with a long heritage of woollen mills and blanket production. This guided walk around some of the historic streets will include a visit to the Blanket Hall, the headquarters of the ‘trade association’. Our guide, Richard Martin, has been involved in the business for many years.

  • Headington Quarry: a walk through Oxford’s industrial village

    Wednesday 14 June 10.45am

    Local historian Barry Carter will lead this walk through Quarry’s distinctive streets and alleys to understand how the impoverished hamlet became the ‘village suburb’ of today. We will encounter intriguing reminders of the old trades and sturdy independence together with work by distinguished architects, men of letters and notable local people.

  • Bartlemas Chapel: a visit and talk

    Saturday 17 June 2pm

    Bartlemas was the site of the medieval  leper hospital and some of the original buildings survive. This visit to the chapel and grounds on Civic Voice Day celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act which first introduced the concept of Conservation Areas. Following the tour, there will be a talk about the effectiveness of Oxford’s 18 Conservation Areas, of which Bartlemas was the ninth.

    Note: the potholed track is unsuitable for wheelchairs.

  • Exeter College Cohen Quadrangle: a visit

    Wednesday 12 July 10.30am 

    Ruskin College’s listed façade on Walton Street has been carefully conserved but the interior has been completely rebuilt. This is an opportunity to discover the modern student and educational facilities within the college.

  • Worcester College gardens: a visit

    Thursday 27 July 

    The college has one of the largest gardens in Oxford with 26 acres including the playing fields. There is much to admire, from its exquisite planting to its lawns and lake. It has won Best College Garden in Oxford in Bloom more than once. The Head Gardener, Simon Bagnall, who transformed the garden, will lead the tour.