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Oxford

Oxford, city (1991 pop. 113,847) and district, county seat of Oxfordshire, S central England. In addition to its importance as the site of the Univ. of Oxford, the city has significant industries, including the manufacture of automobiles and steel products. Tourism is especially popular. A trading town and frontier fort, it was raided by Danes in the 10th and 11th cent. By the 12th cent., Oxford was the site of a castle, an abbey, and the university. It had foundations of several orders, including the Dominicans and the Gray Friars. During the 13th cent., frequent conflicts arose between the town and the university in which the university, with the support of the church and the king, was usually victorious. During the civil wars, Oxford was the royalist headquarters; it was besieged but not damaged by the parliamentarians. Among its famous historic buildings (apart from the colleges) are the Radcliffe Camera (1737), the Observatory (1772), and Sheldonian Theatre (designed by Christopher Wren); the churches of St. Mary the Virgin (13th cent.) and St. Michael (11th cent.); and several old inns. The chapel (12th cent.) of Christ Church College is also the cathedral church of the city. The Ashmolean Museum (see under Ashmole, Elias) and the Bodleian Library are notable. Besides the university, Ruskin College (1899) and the Magdalen College School (c.1480) are in Oxford.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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