Oxford Open Doors launches!
Oxford Open Doors returns for 2023
Buildings and venues around Oxford will welcome the public for a sixteenth year this September for Oxford Open Doors. Taking place on 9 and 10 September, Oxford Open Doors is a celebration of Oxford’s heritage, community, culture, and research, during which members of the public are invited into Oxford’s historic buildings, research centres, and community spaces for free. Oxford Preservation Trust have worked with partners across the city to organise a weekend of openings, family activities, exhibitions, tours and talks so that Oxford’s community can be welcomed into venues across the city. Whether you are interested in History, Art, Science, or looking for a fun day out for the family, there will be something for you. Read on to see some highlights of this year’s festival.
On Sunday, climb the 99 steps to the top of Carfax Tower, all that remains of the twelfth-century St Martin’s church, once the official city church of Oxford. Carfax Tower remains the tallest building in central Oxford, so the climb to the top will be rewarded with fantastic views of Oxford’s skyline and spires.
Visit Balliol Historic Collections Centre to view an exhibition of the life and manuscripts of the twentieth-century classicist and medievalist, R. A. B. Mynors.
Join a guided walk with the Oxford Guild of Tour Guides to find out more about the story of Oxford and its people: those who have lived, worked or studied here over the centuries. Advanced booking is required.
Art and Architecture
On Sunday, take a tour of the Sheldonian Theatre, the University of Oxford’s official ceremonial hall, which was designed by Christopher Wren. Explore the theatre’s architecture on one of the guided tours or experience a free classical recital by the Pavlova Wind Quartet in the afternoon.
The Divinity School opens its doors on Sunday. Oxford’s oldest purpose-built teaching and examination room, the Divinity School dates back to the 15th century, and is recognisable from the Harry Potter film series.
On Saturday, take a tour of the Western Art Print Room at the Ashmolean Museum to see beautiful drawings, watercolours and prints not usually displayed to the public, dating from the 15th century to the present day. Advanced booking is required.
Head to the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging in Headington to have a go at the Rogue Brain Escape Room. This neuroscience themed escape room is guaranteed family fun, suitable for anyone aged 11 or over (though families with younger children are also welcome). Advanced booking is required.
Find out more about groundbreaking research taking place in cancer care and treatment at Oxford Cancer (Old Road Campus). Learn more about research into stroke recovery at the Department of Experimental Psychology (Radcliffe Observatory Quarter).
Visit many of Oxford’s colleges to see the historic buildings from the inside, including older colleges such as University College, All Souls and Exeter College. See some of the newer colleges, including Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville College, which were the first to admit women to the University of Oxford.
Take a tour of the Bodleian Law Library, the largest law library in the UK, housed in a modern building, now Grade II* listed. Advanced booking is required.
On Saturday, Make your way to Woodstock Road to see inside the Radcliffe Humanities building, once a hospital—the Radcliffe Infirmary—and now home to TORCH, a hub for interdisciplinary research at the University of Oxford. Then, walk to Walton Street, where you can visit the Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities, currently under construction, to see progress to this building set to open in 2025.
Attend a talk at St Mary’s Church, Iffley on Sunday Afternoon to find out about ‘Who Lived Here Before Us? Clues in Stone and Ink.’ Or, come for the family session to add your own memories and photos to the Iffley Families Archive.
Visit St Michael at the North Gate on Cornmarket Street on Saturday. This church dates from the thirteenth century, though the adjoining Saxon tower was built around 1050. Step into the Tower room, possibly the oldest room in Oxford that is still in use, to see a display of ecclesiastical vestments.
Children, Families and Young People
Follow a family-friendly garden trail and Green Templeton College, a children’s library trail at Mansfield College or complete a children’s treasure hunt at St John’s College.
Walk to University Parks for a breath of fresh air, and take a guided tour of the parks to learn about the Parks Department, see machinery such as tractors and mowers, and sow your own seeds.
Visit Barracks Lane Community Garden, off Cowley Road, on Sunday for their Harvest Festival. Chill out to music from DJ Baps, make your own pizza, and participate in kids fruit and vegetable based craft activities.
Oxford Preservation Trust will also be organising events and trails aimed at young people, including a special event for 19-25 year olds at Oxford Castle and a street art and graffiti trail. More details will be available soon.