Programme

We run a year-round programme of Oxford-themed talks, visits and guided tours 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 guided tours (members only and usually for a small charge) is led by local experts and held both in and out of Oxford.

For any queries about the Programme, please email events@oxcivicsoc.org.uk.

Accessibility

Rewley House is wheelchair accessible via a ramp. Once inside there is a lift to the lecture theatre and to the bar! There is limited parking in Wellington Square and more in St Giles.

Magdalen’s Grove Auditorium has level access via the main entrance doors though the foyer. Wheelchairs may be placed in front of the front row of seats. There is an accessible toilet via the fire exit leading to Longwall Street from the front of the Auditorium. Neither venue has disabled parking spaces nearby although there are limited general pay-and-display parking places in Longwall Street near the Grove Auditorium entrance.

Oxford Town Hall Assembly Room is on the first floor. There is a street-level entrance to the Town Hall on St Aldate’s immediately after the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop. You may need to ring the bell to get the door opened by Reception. Once inside there is a lift to the first floor and then a level floor to the meeting room.

Open talks — all welcome

Here are our Winter/Spring season talks. They are free and open to all – no booking required.

James Sadler, Oxford’s ‘King of all Balloons’, and his aeronaut son, Windham

Thursday 7th March 6pm [NOTE EARLIER TIME]
Rewley House

Mark Davies, a local historian, will tell the story of the aeronautical Sadlers. James Sadler (1753–1828), pastry cook of the High, was the unlikely first Englishman to build and fly a hot-air balloon, in Oxford in 1784. After subsequent spells as a laboratory technician, engineer, naval chemist, and designer of armaments, Sadler returned to professional ballooning, joined by his son Windham (1796-1824). Individually they set many aeronautical records, but in 1824 Windham tragically became the second aviation fatality that year – these were Britain’s first ever – hence the timing of this 200th-anniversary talk.

Pevsner guide to the buildings of Oxford and South-East Oxfordshire/AGM (followed by the Annual General Meeting)

Wednesday 27th March, 6pm followed by AGM at 7pm
Rewley House

The newly updated Pevsner guide addresses half a century of change and development since the previous edition, including a wealth of ambitious new buildings for the University of Oxford and its colleges. Familiar buildings such as the Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Camera are reinterpreted, and the many renovations and extensions are described and assessed. Oxford’s commercial buildings, suburbs, and houses are also explored in depth, some for the first time. The county area extends from the outskirts of Oxford to Henley-on-Thames, following the historic Thameside boundary of Oxfordshire and taking in the hills of the southern Chilterns. Dr Simon Bradley, series editor of the Pevsner Architectural Guides and author or coauthor of four other Buildings of England volumes, will explain how this classic guide has been updated.

Members-only Walks and Visits

Here is the programme of visits and guided tours for Winter/Spring. They are for members only, and booking is essential.

Booking must be carried out via Eventbrite; please use the web links below to book your place on these visits and pay for them. If you find we have reached our maximum capacity for a particular event, please make use of the waitlist function in Eventbrite.

Bookings are taken on a first come first served basis but the lists will stay open until seven days before the event. If you are offered a ticket via the waitlist you have 72 hours to claim it.

A joint member may book two tickets.

You can cancel your booking up to 30 days before the event and get a partial refund — Eventbrite takes a small percentage of the fee. After that no refunds can be offered.

If you book and cannot attend the event, we urge you to cancel as soon as you can so that someone else can take your place. Our events are popular and we almost always have a waiting list.

Somerville College

Wednesday 20th March, 2:30pm
Ticket price £8

Please join us for a tour of Somerville College, a former women’s hall founded in 1879. The college has a tradition of including the excluded, and on the tour you will learn how this tradition came into being, as the college grew from a single building housing 12 students to its current incarnation providing education to over 800 students, and along the way educating some very well-known individuals. The tour, conducted by the College librarian, Sarah Butler, will last approximately 90 minutes, and will explore the college’s history through its architecture.

Book now

RSPB Otmoor

Tuesday 16th April, 10am
Ticket price £8

The Otmoor reserve has evolved from unenclosed marshland in the early 19th century into agricultural land (converted by enclosure and drainage) and, since being acquired by the RSPB in 1997, back to a habitat of wet meadows, wetland and reedbeds. Our tour will be led by volunteer wardens at Otmoor and will last around 2 hours. Booming bitterns, migrant warblers and cuckoos are some of the birds we might hope to see or hear. Stout footwear and waterproof clothing will be required and ideally binoculars. Unfortunately this visit is not accessible to those with mobility issues. There is also no toilet on site. Car sharing is encouraged as parking is limited.

Book now