We were recently invited to visit Oxford Castle And Prison to take part in their Knight School and have a tour. I had never been before despite living just a few miles outside of Oxford. There is no parking directly on the site but there are plenty of car parks within a short walking distance. We parked at the Westgate Shopping Centre. The castle is also easily accessed via bus or train.
On arrival at Oxford Castle and Prison we booked in at the reception desk for our tour. You can’t just wander round the castle and prison, you need to be booked on a guided tour. Once the tour is finished you are then free to walk around the prison at your own leisure and take photos. While we waited 15 minutes for our tour to start we had a walk up the mound. From the top you can see views across Oxford.
The bell rang to signal the start of our tour and we went to meet our guide. The guides are in costume which adds to the fun. First we were taken up the St George’s tower. It’s a long way up and not for the faint hearted. The stairs are quite difficult and I wouldn’t recommend it for people with mobility issues. Small children under 5 are not permitted up the tower. You can wait at the bottom of the steps for the group to come back down and continue the tour. There is an interactive screen there to tell you about the tower while you wait. On the way up the tower we stopped at various points to hear stories about the different rooms.
When we made it to the summit we were a lot higher than I realised! There are lovely views from up there and a great opportunity to take photos. The guide gave us plenty of time to have a good look around and take lots of photos. I loved not being rushed from one place to the next.
After descending the tower we went underground into the 900 year old crypt. This is the only surviving remains of St George’s chapel. Its fascinating to see. This is also where Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote the Legends of King Arthur.
From the crypt we went in to the prison wing where we stepped inside the prison cells. We heard lots of stories of inmates and how the conditions would have been in the past. It was amazing to find that the prison only closed in 1996!
In the prison wing you can have your photo taken against the mug shot wall. These can be purchased as prints or keyrings at the reception desk. We thought it was great so purchased a print for £7.50. There are other souvenirs available in the gift shop too.
Further on in the prison is some fascinating history and more stories of the various inmates. Some were as young as 13 and imprisoned for things such as stealing a loaf of bread. Lois and Cody’s favourite part was the dressing up area. They tried out being the prisoner and the police warden. It was great fun!
The history here at Oxford Castle & Prison is really fascinating. The staff were brilliant with the kids and got them involved in the tour. We loved exploring and hearing all the stories. It’s definitely somewhere I would recommend visiting with children aged 5+. There are lots of special events too including murder mystery nights, ghost trails and more.
- Toilets / Disabled Toilet Yes
- Pushchair / Wheelchair Friendly Most areas yes but not the tower, mound and some prison cells with narrow doorways.
- Disabled Access There is a lift to access the Prison Wing. Braille controls and audible lift announcements. Information about the castle and prison is available in various formats.
- Dog Friendly No dogs allowed except assistance dogs
- Refreshments available
- Car Park None. Park in local car parks (we used the Westgate Shopping Centre multi-story which is just round the corner) or use public transport
- Gift Shop Yes
- Baby facilities Baby changing in toilets. No under 5s allowed up the tower.
Address: 44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford, OX1 1AY
Price Band: ££
Disclaimer: We were kindly gifted tickets to tour Oxford Castle and Prison, however all words, photos and opinions in this post are that of my own.