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Old Fortification

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UNIVERSTIY &CITY of

OXFORD.

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XFORD, as we read in our Chronicles, was,

even in the British Age, confecrated to the Muses. It was called by the Romans Bellofitum, When the place was first fortified does not appear ; but the walls, of which some parts are still remaining, were raised upon former foundations, about the time of the Conquest, by Robert D'Oilie, who erected the Castle at the command of the Conqueror in 1071; a work of great strength, and confiderable extent, of which the Tower is the only part at present remaining: the old building being much decayed, on its scite, and at the expense of the County, a large and commodious Gaol has lately been erected, which, for strength and convenience, will hardly be surpassed by any in the Kingdom. King Henry I. built a Royal Palace on a spot called Beaumont, on the west side A

of

of the City, remains of which are still seen. King
Richard I. called Cour de Líon, was born in this
Palace.
The University of Oxford has

many

fabulous accounts relating to the time of its origin. It most probably was instituted soon after the propagation of Christianity in this kingdom. Alfred is supposed by fome to have been its founder ; but Alfred rather appears to have restored it, in an age of confusion and ignorance, and to have been the father of that efta. blishment and security, which, notwithstanding some temporary shocks and interruptions, it has maintained ; ever since. Alfred erected certain Schools or Halls,

and assigned pensions to the students. The first Cola lege of the University, incorporated by royal charter, was that of Walter de Merton, A. D. 1274; about which time, 15,000 scholars are reported to have been resident here: but in the reign of Henry III. the University is said to have consisted of double that number.

In the City and its environs were several Monasteries, the principal of which were St. Frideswide's, and Ofeney Abbey. The Bishopric, which was heretofore part of Lincoln Diocese, was erected by King Henry VIII. in 1542.

The situation is on an eminence, rifing gradually from its extremities to the centre. It is encompaffed by meadows and corn fields. The meadows, which are chiefly to the south and weft, are about a mile in extent; beyond which are hills of a moderate height, bounding the prospect.

The eastern profpect has likewise fome hills at a little distance ; the valley growing considerably narrower 'towards the Touth : but the north is open to corn fields and enclosures for a considerable extent, without any 'hill to intercept the air. It is washed by a number of streamis : on the eaft, by the different

branches

branches of the Cherwell; on the south and west, by those of the Thames : all which meet and join a little below the City, forming one beautiful river. The foil is dry, being on a fine gravel, which renders it not less healthful than pleasant.

Before the Colleges were erected, the Students were instructed in the houses of citizens, or in inns or halls, supported by benefactions from rich persons, or their own patrimony.

The Town, including the Suburbs, is a mile in length from eaft to west, and almost as much in breadth from north to fouth, being three miles in circumference; but it is of an irregular figure; and several airy spaces are comprehended within these limits, besides the many courts and gardens belonging to the respective Colleges.

The City, properly so called, formerly surrounded by a wall, with baftions at about 150 feet distance from each other, is of an oblong form, and about two miles in circumference. Magdalen College, with the eastern as well as the northern suburbs, which contain the parishes of Holywell, Magdalen, and St. Giles, with Balliol, Trinity, St. John's, and Wad ham Colleges, are without the old walls, of which some part remains as a boundary to New College beginning near the east end of the High-Street, and continuing almost to the Clarendon Printinghouse, where there was a Portal and a Chapel ; some remains of which are still visible.

The principal Street of the City runs from east to west, the entire length of the Town, but under different names; the High-Street, beginning at Magdalen Bridge, includes at least two-thirds of that length; the remainder is to the end of Castle-Street. The High-Street is perhaps without a rival, being of a spacious width and length, adorned with the fronts

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of three Colleges, St. Mary's and All-Saints Churches, termirated at the east end with a view of Magdalen College Tower, and a beautiful bridge. Every turn of this street presents a new object, and a different view, each of which would make an agreeable picture in perspective; whereas, had it been straight, every object would have been seen at one and the fame inftant, but more foreshortened than at present.

The second street is that which runs from south to north, crossing the street already described. The fouth fide is called Fish-Street, and the other the Corn-Market; from whence we pass into Magdalen Parish, and St. Giles's, which form a very spacious treet, and in some respects is preferable to either of the former, it having the pleasure and advantage of the country, though connected with the town. One end of this street is terminated by St. Giles's Church, and adorned with the front of St. John's College.

On the east side of Fish-Street (commonly called St. Old's, by corruption from St. Aldate's) stands Chrift-Church College, the magnificent front whereof is extended to 382 feet in length. On the same side is the Town HALL, where the Town and County Sessions, and the Affizes, are held; which was rebuilt at the expense of THOMAS ROWNEY, Esq. late representative in Parliament, and High Steward of the City.

The principal Bridges are, I. Magdalen Bridge, over the Cherwell, being 526 feet in length, by which we enter the town froin London. 2. High-bridge, in the western suburb, over the Isis; consisting of three Arches. 3. Folly-bridge, as it is commonly called, in the southern suburb, on the same river, where formerly stood an arched entrance, over which was the celebrated Friar Bacon's Study; it confifts of three arches, and is, like the rest, entirely built

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