Oxford Town Hall
First built in 1897, Oxford Town Hall is a glorious structure in the heart of the city that’s an ever-popular destination for weddings and events. Besides a café and gift shop, it’s also home to the Micro-Museum, a temporary replacement for the Museum of Oxford, which is scheduled to reopen in the town hall in summer 2020.
There’s no charge to visit Oxford Town Hall or the Micro-Museum, which focuses on Oxford life outside the confines of the university, although there is a cost for the Oxford Town Hall tours that run a couple of times a month. These cover the magnificent building and its colorful past, from the medieval cellar to the courtroom where justice was once administered. Although many Oxford walking tours pass the site, few actually stop at the town hall, so most travelers visit independently.
Things to Know Before You Go
Oxford Town Hall is worth a visit for fans of architecture and history.
While the town hall is still the seat of the city council, much of the nitty-gritty of governing is done on more modern premises.
Although Oxford is a city, the town hall has always been called the town hall.
Oxford Town Hall is fully wheelchair-accessible, with the exception of the cellar, which has stairs.
How to Get There
Oxford Town Hall stands in central Oxford, on the corner of High Street and St. Aldate’s Street. Almost everyone explores downtown Oxford on foot, or occasionally by bicycle, and it’s generally easiest to arrive by bus or train. Most London trains start from Paddington, while the popular Oxford Tube coach service stops at Shepherd’s Bush, Notting Hill Gate, Marble Arch, and Victoria. Drivers typically leave their vehicles in park-and-ride zones outside the city.
When to Get There
To appreciate the full splendors of the Oxford Town Hall building—and the medieval structures below it—it’s worth joining the tours that generally run on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. Alternatively, swing by to visit the Micro-Museum, which is open morning to late afternoon Monday to Saturday, or the café, which is open from morning until afternoon Monday to Friday, with shorter hours on Saturday.
The Story of Oxford Town Hall
Oxford has been a city since at least the 12th century, and its first Guildhall, a precursor of the town hall, was built on this site in 1292. The first town hall replaced this around 500 years later, with the new building opening at the end of the 19th century. On opening, Oxford Town Hall also housed a police station and cells, and during World War I it was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers.
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