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Pocket Guide: Oxford Carfax Tower Hotels

The rolling hills and winding river valleys of Oxfordshire make up some of the most attractive countryside in England. This verdant landscape is sprinkled with traditional, picture-perfect villages that date from Norman times and beyond, and cities such as Oxford are hotbeds of history and culture. As well as the great variety of outdoor activities on offer here, guests of Oxfordshire hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses can explore the riches of the Oxford colleges and many other national treasures, including Carfax Tower in the centre of Oxford.

Carfax Tower from Oxfordshire Hotels

At the junction of the High Street, Queen, Cornmarket and St. Aldgate's you'll find this magnificent old tower, a real piece of living history that dates back to the 13th century. The name, like so many other place names in the south of England, comes from the French, in this case for 'crossroads' (carrefour). For visitors making a tour of the older parts of Oxford the tower provides them with an easily recognisable and visible reference point as they negotiate the narrow, winding alleyways.

Oxfordshire Hotels and Carfax Tower

The tower was not actually built as a standalone structure but is all that is left of a church which once stood on the same spot, the Church of St Martin's, erected in the 13th century. If you want a really brilliant panoramic view across Oxford and beyond to the surrounding countryside, climb Carfax Tower's inner staircase to the battlements 74 feet above you, if you have the stamina!

It's easy to identify directions and get your bearings from the clock on the tower, as it occupies the east face. It's not the original clock from the church but a replica, and every quarter hour mechanical figures (quarterboys) bang out the time. It's easy to find Carfax Tower as it's in the middle of the city and conveniently reached from local Oxfordshire hotels such as The Tower House on Shop Street or The Buttery on Broad Street. The tower is open throughout the year and there is a small charge to get in. The opening hours are shorter during winter.