Programme

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.

Accessibility

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.

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.

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

Our Winter season talks are below. They are free and open to all - no booking required.

  • Oxford in the Civil War, 1642-1646

    Wednesday 12th January 2022, 8pm
    Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square.

    Stephen BarkerStephen Barker, an independent heritage advisor, looks at Oxford’s role as Royalist capital through the eyes of some of the people who were present, assesses the impact of the war on the city and surrounds and highlights what remains of the defences to this day. He also considers the impact of the tension between town and gown and the extent of the city’s rapid population growth.

  • Life in the Flood Plain

    Wednesday 9th February 2022, 8pm
    Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square.

    Joanna InnesJoanna Innes is a historian, recently retired from Somerville College, who has lived in Iffley Fields for over 30 years. In the early months of 2020, in the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic, she “started exploring and reflecting on the open spaces around me in ways that I had never done before”. This stimulated the launch of the Life in the Flood Plain blog (jminnes.wordpress.com). Joanna will be in conversation with Patrick McGuinness (author of the recent book “Real Oxford”) to reflect on what she learned and experienced in and around the Oxford floodplain.

  • “Oxford’s base and brickish skirt”: the development of the suburbs, 1850 – 1914

    Thursday 24th February, 8pm
    Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square.

    Kingston Road Jericho
    Kingston Road, Jericho

    In 1850 Oxford was still contained largely within its medieval city walls. By the eve of the First World War, its footprint had quadrupled, thousands of new brick terraced houses had been built and the suburbs had “grown up around Oxford on every side like a huge swelling which needs to be cured.” Local historian Liz Woolley examines why the suburbs grew so rapidly, what factors affected how they developed differently to the north, south, east and west of the city, and the effects that suburban growth had on Oxford and its residents.

  • River bathing in Oxford – past, present and future

    Thursday 10th March, 8pm
    Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square.

    river bathing place - old printIn the Covid summers of 2020 and ’21, the riverbanks of Oxford became the city’s own holiday resorts, and a handful of half-forgotten names re-emerged from the city’s memory: Long Bridges, Tumbling Bay, Parson’s Pleasure, Dame’s Delight… In this presentation, cultural historian George Townsend surveys the early evidence of river bathing and swimming. Local historian Richard Mills draws on fascinating primary research to shed light on the rise and fall of Oxford’s official bathing places. And Eleanor Blyth, who has been central in local efforts to establish official bathing water status in the city, surveys current river users and outlines plans to rejuvenate Long Bridges.

  • Annual General Meeting

    The Society’s AGM will take place at Rewley House on Tuesday 22 March 2022.

    Details will be published nearer the time.

Members-only Walks and Visits

Here is the programme of walks / visits for January - April 2022. They are for members only, and booking is essential.

For some time members have been asking for a simpler method of booking events and paying for them. We have chosen the online booking service Eventbrite which seems to offer the flexibility we need. Please go to the web links given 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.

Please note: our walks and visits are open to MEMBERS ONLY. If you book a ticket and are NOT a fully-paid-up member you will be required to join the Society or top-up your lapsed membership before you join the event.

  • Rhodes House redevelopment

    Tuesday 25th January, 4pm

    Rhodes Housse, OxfordRhodes House is undergoing significant redevelopment to construct a conference centre in its basement, as well as to restore the existing parts of the building. This visit will provide an overview of the plans and will include a tour of the site.

    Tickets £6. Maximum number 25.

    Eventbrite booking link: bit.ly/ocs_rhodes

     

  • Guided tour of Barton Park

    Wednesday 16th March, 2pm

    Barton Park, OxfordOxford City Council has been working on plans for the development of this site for housing for over 10 years, and the plans are now coming to fruition. The tour will be conducted by some of the people involved from the start, and will provide an opportunity to learn of the aspirations of the Council and the constraints which have had to be surmounted, and to judge the success in creating Oxford’s newest residential neighbourhood.

    Tickets £8. Maximum number 20.

    Eventbrite booking link: bit.ly/ocs_barton

  • The regeneration of Blackbird Leys

    Wednesday 6th April, 2pm

    Blackbird Leys community centreCatalyst Housing Ltd is working in partnership with Oxford City Council to redevelop council-owned sites in Blackbird Leys and to develop a new heart to the estate. The development will provide much needed new homes as well as shops and a community centre to replace the existing facilities. A talk by Catalyst and City Council staff will be followed by a short walk around some of the areas which will benefit.

    Tickets £8. Maximum number 20.

    Eventbrite booking link: bit.ly/ocs_bbl