Getting Involved

A Guide to East Oxford
We are sure you'll have a great time here at
To get you started, a few things about East Oxford:
Food: The closest supermarket is Tesco, which would
be on your left as you go out to Cowley Road (not the
entrance through an alleyway but the one leading to
the main street). When you leave Ablethorpe go left
and walk for about 15 minutes and you'll find it. If you
are living on Cowley Road then simply walk along
Cowley Road towards town for about 5 minutes and
Tesco will be on your right. There's also a cash machine
there. Tesco is open late, except on Sundays when it closes at 16:00. Do not be afraid to try the
Tesco ‘own brand’ products; they are very often much cheaper than name brands and offer good
value when cooking on a budget.
There are many other food shops on Cowley Road, including Moroccan, Polish, Greek, Pakistani,
French and Italian. Go up Cowley Road (same directions as going to Tesco) and explore!
There's also a food shop that serves as a post office opposite Tesco. It's open 24 hours a day.
Off the beaten path: there is a local, family-run butchers on Magdalen Road called Stewart’s which
sells sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, and possibly the best samosas in Oxford. It can be very crowded
on Saturday mornings but visiting then will give you a good sense of the ‘old neighbourhood’ feeling
of the area and a taste of multicultural East Oxford at its very best. The folks who run this shop are
fans of the local Oxford United football team.
Across the street from Stewart’s Butchers there is a vegetarian place called The Magic Cafe that is
reasonably priced and popular with locals. It has a bit of a hippy vibe to it and features live folk and
Celtic music on Saturdays until early afternoon. The notice board features adverts for various
alternative therapies, seminars and esoteric hobbies. The salads are excellent value and the
chocolate brownies are rather tasty. This is a good place to visit if you want to get away from the
usual chains.
East Oxford Farmers’ and Community Market: The
market is open every Saturday from 10am-1pm and
offers various locally grown and ethically sourced
products. There is also a cafe. See the website for
more details about what is on offer in a given week:
Pharmacy: The closest pharmacy is Boots, near Tesco.
Non-prescription medications can be purchased in
supermarkets too. If you plan to buy a lot of toiletries and cosmetics over the year then it may be
worthwhile to sign up for a free Boots loyalty card (if you haven’t one already).
Household Goods, Hardware:
Also on
Magdalen Road there is a family-run hardware
shop called Silvesters. It looks a bit daunting
from the outside and the inside of the store is
a bit of an Aladdin’s Cave with stacks of goods
bursting from every shelf, nook and cranny.
Yet once inside, you will receive a warm
welcome. The family who run Silvesters are
very friendly and prices compare favourably to
the ‘big chain’ places like B&Q. It is very much
an old-fashioned, neighbourhood shop and
worth a visit. Another good place to buy bits
and pieces is Fred’s, located on Cowley Road.
Bicycles: If you feel like doing the Oxford thing there are several shops on Cowley Road that could
help you. There is one near Ablethorpe and one higher up, next to the food shop/ post office.
Though Cycle King has low prices and a buy-back policy, some students have had problems with this
company in the past so we do not recommend them. The Oxford Cycle Workshop is a highly
recommended non-profit organisation located on Magdalen Road next to Stewart’s; they offer short
courses on cycling maintenance and cycling in the city which may be useful if you are a bit nervous
about taking to the roads in Oxford city centre.
Internet Cafes, Computer stores and repairs: There is an internet cafe across the road from
Ablethorpe on Cowley Road. They also do computer repairs. There is a computer store next to the
food shop/ post office across the road from Tesco.
Public Parks in the East Oxford area: South Park is located near St Clements on Morrell Avenue and
Headington Road and is a nice place to relax on a sunny day. The award-winning Florence Park can
be accessed from Cricket Road and is a 5-10 minute walk away from Cowley Road. Every autumn
they hold a popular flower and folk show which features live bands, lots of food, and various familyoriented entertainments; this is an excellent opportunity to get an insight into the diversity and
traditions of the East Oxford community and for those from other countries, it is a real taste of life in
England away from the tourist trail.
Also be sure to take a walk along the tow paths along the river
Isis. On the tow path just past Donnington Bridge and leading
towards Iffley Village you can find the Isis Pub which is
beautifully located on the river and is an excellent place to sit
and watch the swans, crew teams and narrow boats. If the
weather is nice, this is a good place to take visiting friends and
parents on a Sunday afternoon.
Also be sure to visit
Mansfield’s boat house.
Another place worth visiting is Shotover Country Park; this is located 3 miles East of the city near
where C S Lewis used to live. Shotover is a lovely place to visit year around and features marked
trails, bridle paths and scenic views. It is highly recommended for runners or keen walkers.
Iffley Village: Iffley Village is a lovely little village that is best explored on foot via river towpath. Be
sure to visit St Mary’s Church, which was built in 1170 and is one of the finest examples of
Romanesque architecture in England. The website offers more information about its history and its
role in the local community in the twenty-firstst century:
Going Out: Cowley Road becomes a great place to hang out
when the sun sets! Just outside Ablethorpe there's Kaz Bar,
which is a Spanish/ Mediterranean bar and restaurant. If
you go towards city centre, down Cowley Road, there's Cafe
Coco which is a very nice coffee shop. At the end of Cowley
Road (known as "the Plain", which is also the bus stop you
should ask for if you're taking a bus to Ablethorpe) there's a
very nice pub called the Cape of Good Hope.
East Oxford features several very good venues for live music, including the O2 Carling Academy
(formerly known as The Zodiac, where bands like Radiohead and Supergrass have played) and the
Bullingdon Arms.
If you go up Cowley Road, there are many restaurants worth a visit offering different kinds of food
(Italian, Indian, Chinese, etc.) there's also a Nando’s . A great place to hang out in during the day or
night is G and D's cafe, which is famous for their homemade ice cream, but offers many other kinds
of food as well.
Do note that as in any place, East Oxford at night is not the same as it is in daylight, and take sensible
Places of Worship. There are many places of worship in East Oxford, reflecting the diversity of its
local population. The Thrangu House, Oxford’s only Tibetan Buddhist Centre, is located near
Stewart’s Butchers and across from the Magic Cafe on Magdalen Road. The Chabad House is a
popular meeting place for those interested in the Jewish faith and is located on Cowley Road. By
arrangement The Chabad House can offer Kosher meals (see also the Kosher Cafe in the town centre
on George Street). The Central Oxford Mosque, located on Manzil Way just off of Cowley Road,
offers Islamic services to local residents. There are many Christian churches in the East Oxford area
as well as a convent (All Saints Convent on Essex Street) and a friary (Capuchin Order at the Modern
Greyfriars church on Iffley Road). Other Christian churches include the SS Mary and John Church on
Cowley Road, Magdalen Road Church, Church of the Holy Family and James Street Church. The very
useful, Oxford-based website provides an extensive list of places of worship
in Oxford along with addresses and contact details. Of course, you might also want to visit
Mansfield’s own chapel as well!
Getting Involved:
East Oxford is a diverse community which is known for its ‘left of centre’
(some might say occasionally barmy and OTT) bohemian atmosphere.
These days many rather well-to-do families relocate to this area because
of its excellent range of local amenities and its close proximity to the City
Centre. Many local residents are very proud to identify themselves with this area, taking pride in its
own unique history, diversity and its down to earth atmosphere.
The East Oxford Community Centre is located on Princes Street
and is a venue for a variety of activities ranging from pottery,
ashtanga yoga, dance and martial arts to Reggae (Friday nights
from 8pm until late, called Foundation Friday) and open mike
(the Catweazle Club). A wide range of people use the
community centre; students, locals, academics and asylum
seekers all rub shoulders here while listening to music, learning
a martial art or cringing at a particularly dire poetry reading at
the Catweazle Club.
Rosenblatt Swimming Pool and Iffley Road Sports Complex.
A very good range of university sports facilities are located in
East Oxford on Jackdaw Lane, Iffley Road. The swimming
pool is 20x25m and features a filtration system that
minimises chlorine content. Facilities for a variety of racquet
sports are available, as well as a pulse gym, powerlifting
room, climbing wall and cafe. You may want to stretch your
legs on the running track that Roger Bannister made famous
when he ran the world’s first sub-4:00 mile. Membership fees for the swimming pool, pulse centre,
track and powerlifting gym are available free of charge to all Mansfield students. Reception: (01865) 240476.
There are also many volunteer opportunities in the East Oxford area if you are interested in meeting
people and getting involved in the local community. The Oxford Hub provides an excellent guide to
volunteering activities in the local community and beyond.
We hope you have a great stay here and would be glad to answer any questions you may have.
Dana Mills
Assistant Junior Dean
Amanda Ward
Accommodation Manager
Carolyn Morningstar
Director, Visiting Student Programme