The Cultural World of Oxford

‘Majestic assemblage of towers and spires’

with Peter Medhurst

& Dr William McVicker

6 days from £2,499 • Departing 1st September 2024

The booking form may be downloaded here

To book, download the booking form immediately above, or

for telephone bookings contact Sandy Cornish at Tailored Travel on 01227 830624

(Monday to Wednesday 0800-1600,

and mornings on Thursday to Friday 0800-1145)


In his novel, Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh remarks of Oxford that it ‘exhaled the soft airs of centuries of youth’ and that ‘It was this cloistral hush which gave our laughter its resonance’. While the streets of modern Oxford may be as noisy and frenetic as any other city in England, its colleges continue to provide the perfect environment for the promotion of study, scholarship and research. Established in 1096, Oxford is the second oldest university in existence, and for six days, our tour immerses itself in the academic and cultural world associated with it. Accommodation for the group has been arranged in Christ Church College (founded 1546) and from this unique, central location, all Oxford venues on the itinerary – Ashmolean Museum, Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera, Bate Collection, Magdalen College – fall within comfortable walking distance of the college.

The Oxford Camera, designed by James Gibbs, built 1737–49

The Itinerary

Day 1

The tour begins with a morning departure to Oxford from Victoria Coach station in London. We travel directly to Oxford and upon arrival have lunch in the city centre. After time to check into our rooms at Christ Church College, we meet our specialist guide for a private tour of the College. Christ Church was the brainchild of Cardinal Wolsey who in 1525 dissolved Wallingford Priory – and other similar foundations in Oxford – to fund the erection of a new and magnificent university building called Cardinal College. Four years later, upon his fall from grace, only 75% of Wolsey’s building work had been completed, but Henry VIII refounded the college, naming it Christ Church in the process. Following our tour, we return to the College chapel (which also doubles as Oxford’s Cathedral) to enjoy a private organ recital. A welcome dinner in a nearby restaurant concludes the day.

Christ Church College, Oxford, founded 1546

Day 2

We begin the morning with a joint lecture given by Peter and Dr William McVicker, head of organ studies at the Royal Academy of Music, after which we divide into two groups to explore i) the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments and ii) the Oxford repertoire of organ music (the groups then change over). The Bate Collection was established through a bequest left to the Oxford Faculty of Music by woodwind instrument collector Philip Bate, in 1963. Over the years the collection has been enlarged and now possesses a fine range of historic keyboard instruments, including the Kirkman harpsichord upon which Joseph Haydn played in 1791. After an included lunch, we have a guided tour of Magdalen College, founded in 1458, and famous for its large, square tower from which May Day carols have been sung every year since the time of Henry VII at 6 o’clock in the morning. In the early evening there is an optional attendance of sung evensong at Christ Church. The evening is at leisure.

Harpsichord by Kirkmann, Bate Collection

Day 3

This morning’s lecture discusses the connection between Oxford and the Austrian composer, Joseph Haydn, who received his honorary doctorate from the University on 8th July 1791. However, the lion’s share of the morning will be spent on a guided tour exploring the Bodleian Library. This is the main research library of the University and was founded by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1602, although its roots go back to an earlier purpose built library established in the 14th century. Today, the Bodleian comprises five separate buildings near Broad Street, and with over 13 million printed items, is the second-largest library in Britain, after the British Library. Lunch will be taken in a local restaurant, after which we visit the Sheldonian Theatre and the nearby Holywell Music Room, said to be oldest purpose-built music room in Europe, and therefore England’s first concert hall. The evening is at leisure.

Bodleian Library

Day 4

Our morning lecture presents an overview of music making in Oxford ranging from reports of part singing at Queen’s College in 1340, to modern composers who have studied there, including Joseph Horovitz, Nicola LeFanu and Stephen Oliver.

GF Handel by Louis Francois Roubiliac c 1760

We then make our way to the oldest British public museum, the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, first erected in the 1670s and 80s to house Elias Ashmole’s cabinet of curiosities, presented to the university in 1677. However, the present building dates from the mid-19th century and in 2009 underwent a complete refurbishment programme, resulting in a museum of international status. Our guided tour explores the highlights in the collection ranging from Raphael to Rubens, and Pissarro to Picasso, as well as one of the finest collections of Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the country. The museum also has an excellent collection of period musical instruments, including a Stradivari violin. Following lunch, we spend the afternoon sailing on a private boat along Oxford’s rivers, all the while enjoying a cream tea as we do so!

Stone Bust of Sir Thomas Bodley 1605, Bodleian Library 

Day 5

The morning lecture discusses the writer and mathematician, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his nom de plume, Lewis Carroll, writer of the famous Alice books, and former student and employee of Christ Church. After the lecture, there is a tour of Christ Church library where Samuel Teague, the librarian who carries out significant work with the music collections in the library, guides us through a selection of its priceless music manuscripts and printed editions. After a coffee break, we continue to Christ Church Picture Gallery, unique among the Oxford and Cambridge colleges. The gallery possesses an important collection of Old Masters amassed by General John Guise and presented to the college in 1765. The art works are housed in a purpose-built gallery designed by Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya, which opened in 1968 (once again the group will be split in two for this visit). We have a late lunch, with the afternoon at leisure. An evening drinks reception has been organised at the Eagle and Child pub, where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien – members of the Inklings literary group – would enjoy a pint. We then go to a local restaurant for our farewell dinner.

The Ashmolean Museum

Day 6

After checking out of Christ Church, we board our coach and journey the 10 or so miles to Woodstock for a guided tour of Blenheim Palace, seat of the Dukes of Marlborough. The building, named after the Battle of Blenheim, is the only non- royal country house in England to hold the title of palace, and was built between 1705 and 1722 in the English Baroque style. Following lunch, and time permitting, we make a short stop at Horspath Church on the fringes of Oxford, to view the stained glass window erected to the memory of John Copcot, an academic at Queen’s College Oxford and the subject of the famous 15th century Boar’s Head Carol. We then make our way back to Victoria Coach Station in good time for people to make their onward journeys.

The Accommodation

Christ Church College

We stay five nights on bed and breakfast basis at Christ Church College halls of residence, which are located in the centre of Oxford.  All rooms are en suite. Dinners in good local restaurants are included on the first and last nights and lunch is included every day.


Tour limited to 24 passengers
Lectures on the mornings of
Days 2 to 5
All excursions, guided tours & entrance fees included
Welcome & farewell dinners
All breakfasts & lunches included
Private executive coach
Listening headsets


Christ Church College – private tour
Christ Church Cathedral – private organ recital
The Bate Collection of Musical Instruments – guided tour
Magdalen College – guided tour
The Bodleian Library – guided tour
Sheldonian Theatre
Holywell Music Room – piano recital by Dr William McVicker
The Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology – guided tour
Private boat cruise along Oxford’s rivers
Christ Church Library – guided tour with Samuel Teague
Christ Church Picture Gallery
Evening drinks reception at the
Eagle & Child pub
Blenheim Palace – guided tour
Horspath Church

Extras to the tour
Insurance (including Covid cover) £34
Single room supplement £149

6 days from £2,499 • Departing 1st September 2024

Booking form may be downloaded here

For bookings over the phone, contact Sandy Cornish at

Tailored Travel on 01227 830624

(Monday to Wednesday 0800-1600,

and mornings on Thursday to Friday 0800-1145)