Brave the intimidating Porter to enter through the Lodge, tiptoe past the student experiencing an essay crisis to find portraits of famous Chancellors to start the commentary. The journey of one of the world's most famous institutions begins at the beginning, when poor students of the 1200s scrimped together to pay to hear the lectures of Friar Roger Bacon, inventor of the magnifying glass. The indoor ride takes you from the impoverished shared halls that began the University, to the decadence of Victorian Oxford through to the University of the future which is getting ever closer to discovering a cure for Parkinson¹s disease. Reassuringly, despite the winds of change, the purpose of the University has remained the same since the 1200s namely for students to obtain a better understanding of the world we live in with education being viewed not as a right but as a privilege. Oxford, a city built on a gravel bank, has a remarkable number of stories to tell, for instance the place gained the reputation of being the home for lost causes. The University backed Charles I in the Civil War, forcing the colleges to melt down their silver ware to fight Cromwell's Soldiers, but all to no avail with the troubled Charles I escaping Oxford dressed as a servant. He was captured and taken to London for execution.
The Oxford Story captures all of Oxford¹s quintessential moments under one roof, stylishly recreated in period settings. Whatever the weather you can weave along river Cherwell, pass through the debating chamber to the voice of William Gladstone, sample the vigour of Victorian science represented in the Natural History Museum and hear choirs sing Evensong. Europe¹s darker moments are included, the ravages of war and the waste of millions of men to medical conditions such as gangrene are dramatically portrayed. Such futile waste of young lives galvanised Oxford University to push forward with the development of Penicillin. The Oxford Story is the perfect appetiser to the smorgasbord of 39 Colleges and ends with the peal of bells hurtling visitors onwards and upwards. The rousing finish leaves visitors ready to investigate this famous institution further. Conveniently the Oxford Story is open every day except Christmas Day. Exit through an interactive touch screen display called "Innovate", where you can interrogate Oxford research scientists further, such as Professor Leaver who is a Plant Biotechnology expert. Take away a blast from the past from the eclectic gift shop filled with treats such as a shiny penny farthing, Canasta cards, maps of England from 1610, recordings of Churchill's speeches, playing cards featuring every English King and of course mementoes of "the King", Elvis.