Museum of Oxford Walks: Canal, Castle and Convicts

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Linked through time by geography, economics and people, Oxford Castle and Oxford Canal hold almost a thousand years of history between them. This unique 90-minute guided walk of Oxford will take you on a scenic tour through Oxford’s past by way of the Saxon Castle and 18th-century canal.

Led by local historian, author and former canal boat resident Mark Davies, this walk will reveal stories and history from Oxford’s past linked to the castle and canal.  You’ll learn of a Norman Empress’s escape from the Castle, other notable escapes and dramatic executions, the extraordinary feats of Daniel ‘damnable’ Harris, and the past and present of Oxford’s historic canal boat community.

As part of the tour, you will see: Swan Island and Oxford’s brewing history, a view of Oxford Castle and tales of convicts, Isis Lock and the meeting point of the Thames and Canal – plus more historic Oxford locations.

The walk will begin at the Museum and finish near the canal’s 1790 terminus (Worcester St).

Join a Canal, Castle and Convicts walking tour to see Oxford through the eyes of an expert and discover another side of Oxford’s history.

Please note that this tour was previously run under the name ‘Canal, Castle and Chapel walk’.

Meeting point: Museum of Oxford Shop (located inside the Oxford Town Hall). Please arrive 5 minutes before the start of the walk and check in at the Museum Shop with our friendly front of house team.

Tickets cost £10 and are available to purchase online (booking fee applies) or at the Museum shop. Please note that this walk is suitable for ages 16+.

Meet your tour guide: Mark Davies

Mark Davies, a man with light-toned skin and short hair, smiles at the camera in front of the Oxford skyline on a cloudy, grey day.

Mark Davies is an Oxford local historian, public speaker, and guide. His publications include the social and cultural importance of the city’s waterways (A Towpath Walk in Oxford; Alice in Waterland; Alice’s Oxford on Foot; What a Liberty!); historical crime (Stories of Oxford Castle; The Abingdon Waterturnpike Murder) and a biography of the Oxford pastry cook who was the first Englishman to fly (King of all Balloons). Until 2020 he had lived on an Oxford residential narrowboat for nearly 30 years, and is the Chair of the Jericho (Oxford) Living Heritage Trust. He is also a trustee of the Lewis Carroll Society, a member of the Society of Authors, and on the committee of the Alliance of Literary Societies.

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