Oxford Time and Old Tom

Before the railways, every town in England had its own local time calculated from the Greenwich Meridian.  With the introduction of the railways came Railway Time or Standard Time.  Oxford is 5 minutes and 2 seconds behind Greenwich Mean Time.  As far as I know it is only Old Tom who keeps to Oxford time (although just once a day) and that is because Old Tom is a bell.  At 9.05 every evening he rings out 101 times and then for the rest of the day keeps to Greenwich Mean Time.  Old Tom resides in a tower built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1681 within the college of Christ Church, part of Oxford University, itself founded in 1525.

Here is Tom Tower today: 

I got very excited when I found this next picture.  It had every appearance of being an original, signed print by Valerie Petts.  Valerie is a well known Oxford artist and member of the Oxford Art Society.  Not only does she have her own website: www.valeriepetts.co.uk but she has a Wikipedia page too.  Many of her prints are for sale at: http://www.templecrestart.com

Sadly, for me, when I took the print out of its frame I realised it was not an original print and the signature is printed as well.  Never mind, I have still learnt a lot about time, Old Tom and ofcourse Valerie Petts who is clearly a gifted artist.



“And that sweet city with her dreaming spires”

So wrote Matthew Arnold in his poem Thyrsis when describing the City of Oxford and this description is usually accompanied by the view from Boars Hill below.


Oxford is famous for its University which originated in the 12th century and is the oldest in the English speaking world. Situated about 60 miles from London at the confluence of the Rivers Thames and Cherwell it’s name means a ford suitable for oxen. It’s earliest mention is in the legend of St. Frideswide at the beginning of the 8th century. It was an important Saxon and then Norman town but the University soon dominated and does to this day.

This next print is entitled Moonlit Spires, Oxford. It is numbered 69/100 and is signed M. Rhys, 2000. I can’t find out anything about the artist but I do think this is a really beautiful little print.