Oxford, the capital of the county, the home of the university, and the seat of the bishopric of the same name, stands about the confluence of the rivers Cherwell and Thames, 52 miles (63 by rail) WNW. from London. Up to 1885 the city returned two members to parliament; since that date only one. Until about 1830 the area and population of the city remained almost stationary, extending only a little beyond the limit of the old city wall as reconstructed in the reign of Henry III. But since then the city has grown rapidly, and the rural districts of St Giles' on the north, St Clement's on the west, Grandpont on the south, and Botley on the east have been covered with lines of close-built streets. Pop. (1801) 11,000; (1861)27,560; (1881)40,837; (1901)49,335. The topography of Oxford is simple in the extreme. The river Thames (locally called the 'Isis'), takes here a sharp bend to the east, and about a mile from the angle receives the Cherwell, flowing from the north. All the old part of the town stands in the rectangle thus formed by the rivers. The centre of the town is at a place called ' Carfax' (derived from quadrifurcus, ' four-forked '), from which four main streets (traversed since 1883 by tram-lines) run to the four points of the compass. North runs Cornmarket Street ('the Corn'); east, High Street ('the High') to Magdalen Bridge over the Cherwell; south, St Aldgate's Street to Folly Bridge over the Isis; and west, Queen Street to the Castle and station. Among Oxford's countless buildings are All Souls College (founded 1437); the Ashmolean Museum (1682); Balliol College (c. 1268); the Bodleian Library (1602; 500,000 books, 30,000 MSS.); Brasenose College (1509); Christ Church College (1525-46; its chapel the cathedral 1120 and onwards); the Clarendon Building (1712-30, till 1830 the University Press); Corpus Christi College (1516); the Divinity Schools (1445-80); the Examination Schools (1882); Exeter College (1314); Hertford College (1874); the Indian Institute (1884); Jesus College (1571; still partly Welsh); Keble College (1870); Lincoln College (1429); Magdalen College (1458); Manchester College (1893); Mansfield College (1886); the Martyrs' Memorial (1841); St Mary's Church (1300-1488), with a spire 2h 180 feet high; Merton College (1264); the New Museum (1856-60); New College (1379); Oriel College (1326); Pembroke College (1624); Queen's College(1340); the domed Radcliffe Library (1749; since 1861 a reading-room for the Bodleian); the Radcliffe Observatory (1795); St John's College (1555); the Sheldonian Theatre (1669; in which 'Commemoration' is held); the Taylor Institution (1843); Trinity College (1554); the Union Society (1823; new building 1859); University College (1249; not founded by King Alfred in 872); The University Press (1830); Wadham College (1613); and Worcester College (1714). To which may be added Somerville Hall (1879), Lady Margaret Hall, and St Hugh's Hall, all for women.
The university of Oxford, which dates from the 12th century, comprises twenty-one colleges. It has a teaching body of 54 professors, readers, and lecturers, and upwards of 3500 undergraduates, including about 150 unattached or non-collegiate students. A few of its great alumni have been Duns Scotus, Roger Bacon, Wolsey, Raleigh, Jewel, Hooker, Sir Philip Sidney, William Harvey, Blake, John Hampden, Burton, Herrick, Jeremy Taylor, Lovelace, Hobbes, Clarendon, Evelyn, Locke, Wycherley, Addison, Steele, Collins, Dr Johnson, Wesley, Chatham, Adam Smith, Gibbon, Gilbert White, Fox, Southey, Shelley, De Quincey, Landor, Keble, Cardinals Newman and Manning, Gladstone, Froude, Freeman, Green, Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Clough, and Swinburne.
See, besides Anthony Wood's great works, others by the Rev. C. W. Boase (' Historic Towns' series, Longmans, 1887); Maxwell Lyte(1886); Dr Bro-drick (1886); the Rev. E. Marshall (' Diocesan Histories' series, 1882); A. Lang (new ed. 1890); and A. Clark (1891); 'A Mere Don' (1894); with Parker's Handbook for Oxford, as an admirable guide to the architectural features of the city.