Britain's Most Historic Towns

Civil War Oxford

Series 2 - Episode 4 Civil War Oxford



Professor Alice Roberts looks understandably aghast when she’s told by a history expert that she looks like “the whore of Babylon”. But the boffin isn’t being gratuitously offensive -Roberts has dressed up like a Puritan woman in Cromwellian England, but has failed to remove her make-up.

Roberts is in Oxford, exploring the effects of the Civil War on the city Charles I made his temporary home after he fled from London. It was a good move on his part, though it was disastrous for residents – Oxford’s population was swollen by the monarch’s followers and illness, including typhus, and death followed hard in their wake. The Civil War was, she is told, the country’s “greatest human catastrophe” after the Black Death.


Alice Roberts explores the history of Oxford during the Civil War, when the city became a power base for the royalist forces and a rival capital for nine years of conflict. Aerial archaeologist Ben Robinson discovers why the city was such a good strategic position, while Alice takes up Charles I's favourite sport and learns to fire a 17th-century musket.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Professor Alice Roberts
Director Jenny MacLeod
Executive Producer Dominic Bowles
Producer Jenny MacLeod
Series Producer Liam McArdle