Oxford Castle has the oldest non-religious towers in the country and was built 1000 years ago to help keep the Vikings out of the city. Then the Normans came and turned the tower into a castle. The castle soon turned into a prison, and remained a prison for many eras, finally closing in the mid-1990s.
We popped along to Oxford Castle and Prison while staying at YHA Oxford.
We booked onto their award-winning tour, and glad we did; it was excellent and we learnt much more than just wandering around by ourselves.
You also get to walk up the many steps of the oldest building in Oxford: the St. George's Tower. From the top you get a great panoramic view of the spires of Oxford.
After the tour, you can try out some of the 'hard labour' devices. These were introduced in the Victorian era of the prison and were deliberately pointless. For example, prisoners would work all day pushing a wheel to pump water up to tanks at the top of St. George's Tower, only for the water to be let out and flow back down again.
Outside, there's also the Castle Mound. This was originally built by the Normans and used to have a tower on top of it, which was destroyed after the English Civil War.
Your entrance ticket provides you access to climb the mound, which also provides great views of Oxford.
Considering the entrance prices of many attractions, we found this attraction quite reasonable.
Oxford Castle Cafe
There's a cafe too. When we visited, the tour entrance ticket gives you £1 off a hot drink. Something we didn't realise until after we bought our drinks! Doh!
Facilities DetailsCastle & Prison Tour. Cafe. Toilets. Shop.
Typical Family Range: £35 - £46
On The Map
AddressOxford Castle and Prison
Oxford Castle & Prison 44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford