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.


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Open talks — all welcome

Our autumn programme includes five talks. Come and learn about your city. No pre-booking, free of charge.

  • Making dystopia

    Wednesday 11 September 7.30pm
    Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, OX1 2JA

    The distinguished architectural historian Professor James Stevens Curl was the Society’s first Chairman. He talks about his latest book in which he laments recent trends in architecture which he regards as ‘bizarre and unsettling … remote from the aspirations of humanity’.

  • Five years at the helm of the Ashmolean Museum

    Tuesday 8 October 8pm
    Magdalen College Auditorium, Longwall Street

    Xa Sturgis took up his post as Director of the Ashmolean Museum in 2014. He reflects on five eventful years of running the world-famous collection.

  • Music making in the University of Oxford

    Tuesday 15 October 8pm
    Magdalen College Auditorium, Longwall Street
    Edward Higginbottom
    was Director of Music at New College from 1976 – 2014 and is now Professor Emeritus of Choral Music in the University of Oxford. He will reflect on music making in the University and how, sometimes in spite of itself, it has fostered musical talent. Edward observes that there are some aspects of this story that depend on the ‘genius of the place’.

  • 150 years of Kingerlee in Oxford

    Wednesday 16 October 8pm
    Magdalen College Auditorium, Longwall Street
    Local historian Liz Woolley with a representative of the company, talks about the history of one of the city’s great family firms. Kingerlee has constructed many of the best-known buildings in and around Oxford, such as the Jam Factory and New Theatre.

  • The vernacular buildings of Oxfordshire

    Thursday 28 November 8pm
    St Michael’s Parish Room, Cornmarket Street
    What gives our vernacular buildings their enduring appeal and special place in the landscape? Builder Lawrence Kelly will explore how the materials and craftsmanship used in construction affect our appreciation of these buildings and how we should approach repairs to preserve them.

Members-only Walks and Visits

Tickets are needed for these events. The autumn programme is now available - bookings by 12 August please. Download the booking form

  • Our ancient water boundaries – a river cruise

    Monday 2 September 1.45pm
    Mark Davies
    completes his exploration of the city’s water boundaries with a talk and convivial cruise from Folly Bridge and back. You can buy drinks on the boat and there’s an option to lunch at a discount price at the Folly Restaurant.

  • Worcester College Gardens and the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre – a visit

    Wednesday 11 September 2pm and 4pm
    Worcester College gardens are famous for their rare plants and exquisite
    design. This visit will combine a tour of the gardens, led by the head gardener, with a walk around the exterior of the impressive Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre, winner of the RIBA South Building of the Year award in 2018.

  • Newman College, Littlemore – a visit

    Tuesday 24 September 2.30pm
    By popular request we are repeating this visit to the college founded by Cardinal Newman when he was the local vicar. This 1.5 – hour tour, led by one of the sisters of this small community, will take in the chapel, library and a museum in Newman’s room. Newman is to be canonised this autumn.

  • Making the Mini – a visit to the BMW factory

    Wednesday 2 October 12.45pm
    BMW’s vast industrial complex uses some of the most sophisticated production engineering in the world to produce 1,000 Minis every day. This fascinating 1.5-hour tour will give you a new insight into an Oxford success story.

  • Headington’s arboretum – a walk

    Sunday 20 October 2pm
    Headington Hill Park has been maintained as an arboretum since 1953 with over 1,000 specimen trees. This 1.5 – hour walk, led by Ian Gourlay, Chair of the Friends of the Park, will highlight a few of the most interesting, old and rare specimens. Note that strong footwear is advised.

  • Art at Nuffield College – a visit

    Saturday 9 November 10.30am
    Led by Emeritus Professor Richard Mayou, former chairman of the Nuffield College Art Acquisitions Committee, the visit will include the John Piper Chapel with stained glass by Piper/Reyntiens and the distinguished modern and contemporary art collection in the Quad, the Hall and the Senior and Junior Common Rooms.