Coast’s Choice: Oxfordshire

This week, Coast’s Choice is visiting Oxfordshire – the sixth most visited area in the country by international tourists.

In addition to its rich academic tradition, the city of Oxford and its surrounding towns are home to some wonderful architecture, beautiful views and fascinating museums. Here are the Coast team’s favourite places to visit.

Blenheim Palace

This fine baroque house was a gift to the first Duke of Malborough, John Churchill, from Queen Anne after he led her cavalry to victory over the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. Today, his descendent the 11th Duke of Malborough resides at the palace and it is also open for the public to enjoy.

The house itself features breathtaking state rooms bursting at the seams with priceless art and furniture, alongside an exhibition dedicated to telling many of the building’s lesser known stories.

Perhaps the most famous modern resident of the palace was former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, who was born there in 1874. Visitors can see the actual room where he made his entrance into the world and there is also an exhibition on his legacy.

Blenheim Palace gardens are equally impressive, spanning 2,000 acres. Designed by Capability Brown, its outdoor offering includes a secret garden, large lake, rose garden, maze, butterfly house and adventure playground.
The palace is open daily from 10.30am-5.30pm and the gardens are open from 10.00am-dusk. Entry costs £20 for adults and £11.50 for children. Click here to find out more.

Nearest caravan site: 8.3 miles

Bodleian Library

There are many charming places to visit within Oxfordshire’s main city, and the Bodleian Library is a must-see for anyone with an interest in the history of the area.

The Bodleian is Oxford University’s oldest research library, dating back to the early 1600s, and in the modern age it contains many unique and valuable books.

Guided tours of the library offer not only an insight into its heritage and development, but also a chance to view parts of the building including The Divinity School, the university’s oldest teaching and examination room.
The Bodleian Library is open seven days a week but it is advisable to check the official website in case a ceremony or event is affecting guided tours.

Nearest caravan site: 1.6 miles

Cowleaze Wood

If fresh air and inspiring nature is your idea of a good day out, make sure you take a walk in Cowleaze. Located on the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border, May is the ideal month to visit as the 70 acre forest floor is covered in a carpet of bluebells, but a huge variety of flora and fauna are visible all year round.

The wood was originally home to the Chiltern Sculpture Trail, which sadly closed in recent years due to a lack of funding. However, you may still catch sight of one or two sculptures which have yet to be re-homed.  There is also a memorial to an RAF Halifax bomber that crashed in the woods in 1944, killing all seven crew members aboard it.

Nearest caravan site: 4 miles

Didcot Railway Centre

In this humble 1930s engine shed is a phenomenal collection of Great Western Railway steam engines and related paraphernalia, some of which are still active along the centre’s purpose-built railway track.

Among the museum’s highlights are a 70 foot turntable, locomotive restoration workshop, period platforms and signal boxes and displays of classic steam trains. The working railways is half a mile long and transports visitors between two platforms.

Didcot Railway Centre is open most weekend of the year, although train rides are not offered every day. Check the website further information on opening times and entertainment programmes. Admission costs £5.00/£8.00 for adults (depending if trains are running) and £4.00/£7.00 for children.

Nearest caravan site: 5.5 miles

Pitt Rivers Museum

The home of Oxford University’s anthropology and archaeology is another intriguing museum within Oxford city. Founded when anthropologist General Pitt Rivers gave his collection to the university in 1884, it contains thousands of diverse objects collected from across the globe.

Look out for a Tahitian mourner’s costumer collected by Captain Cook in the 1770s, North American Inuit fur parkas, early masks worn by actors in Japanese Noh dramas and ceremonial ivories from the Kingdom of Benin. The museum also holds regular exhibitions focussing on elements of anthropology, history and art.
Entry to the Pitt Rivers Museum is free of charge from 10.00am-4.30pm between Tuesday and Sunday and midday-4.30pm on Mondays. Twenty minute weekday tours are available (also free of charge), while more in-depth guides and family friendly events run at the weekends. Click here to find out more.

Nearest caravan site: 1.9 miles

Protect your caravan or motorhome while you’re on holiday this year by taking out comprehensive cover with Coast. For a competitive quote on your touring caravan insurance or motorhome insurance, contact us on Freephone 0800 614 849. Caravan owners can also click here for an instant online quotation.