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Visit Oxford’s Iconic Buildings- Oxford Union

It is difficult to find a place in Oxford that is not steeped in history and culture. The area around our boutique hotel in Oxford is no different.

Origins of the Oxford Union

Our hotel in Oxford city centre is situated just over the road from the Oxford Union Building, which is the largest society at the University of Oxford and has a history stretching back to 1823. The Oxford Union was founded as a debating society and to this day debating is at the core of what the union does. It is the worlds most prestigious debating society and promotes discussion the world over.

When the union was formed the concept of free exchange of ideas was a notion the restrictive authorities at the university were not accustomed to and the Union soon became the only place where students could discuss politics whilst attending the University of Oxford.  From its early day's members have gone on to become nationally and internationally prominent figures- some even went on to become Prime Minister.

Unlike other student unions, the Oxford Union does not hold political views but is a forum to debate political and often controversial ideas.   

Oxford’s famous debates

Debates take place on Thursday evenings and often attract media attention from across the globe.  Past debates include the 1960s speech by Malcolm X demanding black empowerment, the 1970s speech by the former President of the United States, Richard Nixon admitting he “screwed up” following Watergate and in 1996 O. J. Simpson made his only speech in the UK following the “not guilty” verdict at his trial. More recently Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage, Angela Davis and Mehdi Hassan have all debated within the Union walls. The Oxford Union believes in “freedom of speech: nothing more and nothing less.”

Oxford shaping history

Outside of Westminster, the Union is the most prominent debating platform in the country and many believe that the outcome of debates here have shaped the history of the UK. In 1933 the motion ‘This house will under no circumstances fight for King and Country’ sparked national outcry and some say the result prompted Hitler to invade Europe. In 1975 the motion ‘This House would say Yes to Europe’ arguably influenced the result of the referendum for joining the EEC.

Why not take a visit to the Oxford Union during your stay at our Oxford hotel and discover even more of this historical building's fascinating history?

Our Oxford hotel even has a suit named after and over-looking the Union building. Simply draw back the curtains and watch the world of Oxford go by!

Vanbrugh House Hotel, a boutique hotel in Oxford city centre is ideally located close to Oxford’s most iconic and historical buildings.   

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