Oxford Castle & Prison | Kidadl

Oxford Castle & Prison

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  • Visit this 1,000-year-old castle and prison in all its glory and be transported back through the ages by costumed character guides on a one-hour tour.
  • Learn all about Oxford Castle's history, from Norman castle to 16th-century prison.
  • Climb one of the oldest buildings in Oxford, the St. George’s Tower, and enjoy fantastic 360° views over Oxford.

If you're looking for the most interesting castles to visit in England with your family, make sure Oxford Castle & Prison is on the top of your list! Take your kids on a trip to this ancient city and enjoy an Oxford Castle & Prison tour. On this dramatised guided tour, you will learn all about the history of Oxford and its castle through fascinating and compelling stories. Kids and adults alike will love exploring the Saxon St. George’s Tower. One of Oxford’s oldest buildings, from the top of the tower you can enjoy amazing 360° panoramic views over the whole city. If this sounds like it'll be too much for little legs, you can watch the Story of Oxford Castle video at the bottom.

The 900-year-old crypt of St. George’s Tower.

Afterwards, will you be brave enough to descend deep underground into the spooky 900-year-old crypt of the tower? One of the UK’s most haunted locations, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the Oxford Castle ghosts! There is even an exciting (or absolutely terrifying) option of spending the whole night at the castle. The sleepover package includes private hire of the castle overnight with a ghost hunt and breakfast in the morning.

Development of Oxford Castle began in 1071, and a large, partly ruined Norman medieval castle remains today. If you want to educate yourselves more about the modern history of the castle and its inmates, there’s a historical Exhibition Wing. After the tour, you will have continued access to the grounds and will be able to explore the prison cells and castle mound on your own.

If you live closer to London or just can't get enough of haunting history, the immersive London Dungeon is a brilliant alternative, especially for older kids.

What to know before you go

  • Admission to the castle is by guided tour only.
  • Typically, tours run every 20 minutes from 10am until 4.20pm.
  • Tours are available in English only. Translation sheets are available in French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
  • No dogs are permitted unless they are a Registered Guide Dog.
  • Buggies that do not fit through the doors must be left at the reception where they will be looked after by the staff.
  • Due to the historic nature of the castle, not all areas are accessible to wheelchairs. This includes St George’s Tower, the Mound and some prison cells.
  • There are toilets and accessible toilets, but please note no baby-changing rooms are available.
  • Luggage is not allowed on the tour. Lockers are available in the gift shop.
  • Bear in mind St George’s Tower has 101 steps on a steep, narrow and winding staircase. If you are unable to climb the tower, you can watch the Story of Oxford Castle video at the bottom. Under-18s must stay with a parent or guardian and rejoin the group after. Children under 5 cannot access St. George's Tower due to health and safety regulations.
  • After the hour-long tour has finished, you will be able to explore the castle at your own leisure.
  • There are loads of great cafes and restaurants in Oxford. Bill’s Oxford restaurant is a six-minute walk away from the castle and has a great kids’ menu.
  • Make sure you see other Oxford attractions on your visit. The city has some wonderful museums, including the Ashmolean Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of the history of Science. The Oxford Botanic Garden is also well worth a visit. If you are looking to do something fun with your family, the Escape Hunt in Oxford is an adrenaline-pumping escape room game.

Getting there

  • Oxford Castle & Prison is easily accessible by bus (routes 1, 5 and 280), train (Oxford station) and coach (Oxford Bus Station).
  • From London, you can take a direct train from London Paddington to Oxford in under an hour. The Oxford Tube coach takes approximately two hours from central London.
  • If you are driving, Oxford is connected to London, the M25 and the Midlands by the M40. There is direct access to Southampton, Portsmouth and Bristol via the A34 from the Oxford ring road.
  • There is no on-site parking at Oxford Castle. Oxpens, Worcester Street and Gloucester Green car parks are all within a short walking distance from the castle.
  • Alternatively, Oxford has five Park and Ride car parks, with buses running into the city centre. The 400 bus can drop you at Westgate, just outside the castle.

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