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Step into Oxford May Walk

Recently the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, Mr. James Macnamara, Stepped into Oxford to join a group of Oxfordshire residents on a tour of Magdalen College.

Step into Oxford is a venture started by a previous High Sheriff, Amanda Ponsonby, who was keen to find events suitable for older people as some were experiencing increased isolation and loneliness due to the Covid pandemic. The Oxford Guild of Tour Guides were introduced to Age UK, and Step into Oxford was born, offering short, fun walks around Oxford to provide intellectual stimulus and meet new friends.

The walks have endured beyond Covid as they have now become a much-anticipated event with guests thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Our current Sheriff, Mr James Macnamara, is an alumnus of New College Oxford, so enjoyed some of the amusing stories of the ancient rivalry between Magdalen College and his own.

Oxford Green Badge Guide, Alistair Lack, took us all the way back to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, when New College and Magdalen College were in the final of the rowing competition. Magdalen won, but they took an easier route, despite having lost the coin toss and been offered the choice of routes, thanks only to gentlemanly tradition. They were not supposed to accept the offer then choose the easier lane! The King of Sweden at the time, King Gustav V, was so disheartened at the behaviour of Magdalen he presented, as consolation, the colours of the Swedish coat of arms to the New College Boat Club: purple and gold.

Magdalen College more than made up for things in our eyes, as many of the group stayed on and had tea and a chat in the college café. James presented the Guild with a certificate of thanks for their work on this project.


The Oxford Guild of Tour Guides congratulates James on taking up this ancient post and wishes him a successful year!

We have all heard of the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham but what is the role of the High Sheriff?
It is to be the King’s representative on upholding the law and matters of taxation. Apart from the role of monarch it is the oldest office in the land. The word ‘sheriff’ derives from ‘shire’ (as in Oxfordshire) and ‘reeve’, the name of an official position which began in Saxon times.

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