Boswells Blog

27th February 2018

Top Ideas for Planning the Perfect Mother's Day

Top Ideas for Planning the Perfect Mother's Day

Our mums are amazing people, well deserving of a special day where we recognise all the incredible things they’ve done for us. Finding the perfect way to thank the person that brought you into the world, and has run around tirelessly (or in many cases, tiredly) after you ever since, is not the easiest task. Where to even begin?

Mother’s Day is all about Mum, so the most important thing to consider here is what her interests are—what would she like to do? What does she enjoy? Once you’ve figured out this part, the rest should be much, much easier. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few suggestions to help get you on your way to making Mother’s Day really special.

Take in a Little Culture

If your mum is really into music, history or the arts, why not treat her to a day filled with cultural delights? One of the truly great things about Oxford is that it has no shortage of amazing things to see and do, even if you know the city well.

Make a trip to one of the city’s fantastic, free museums and take in the paintings at the Ashmolean, the dinosaurs at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, or the shrunken heads at the Pitt Rivers Museum. Or maybe check out a little local history at the Museum of Oxford or Oxford Town Hall. If you both already know these places well, then why not try one of the latest exhibitions? There are tonnes to choose from, many of which won’t even cost you a penny!

Ashmolean Museum

Here are a few that are on Sunday 11th March

  • Archaeological Finds on the Berkshire DownsAshmolean Museum 10am-5pm (free)

If your mum loves a little music, why not check out the live jazz and swing trio on the 11th March at The Isis Farmhouse? For some beautiful choral music, Exeter College Chapel has Vox Chamber Choir that same evening. The ever-wonderful Holywell Music Room also has the Marman String Quartet playing Beethoven and Schubert over a little coffee the morning of the 11th, followed by Kitty McFarlane singing folk that evening. It all sounds extraordinary to us!

And, finally, taking in a little culture can be as straight forward as treating your mum to a trip to the cinema…her choice of film, of course! Just sit back, and let the silver screen take you away somewhere incredible.

Try Something New

Guitar ImagePerhaps your mum is active and adventurous, or maybe just yearning to learn a new skill. There are absolutely tonnes of lessons and activities available to try in and around Oxford, which could be a great way to treat your mum to something a bit different.

There are classes and workshops aplenty in this fair city, so there’s probably one out there to suit. This Mothering Sunday, for example, Oxford Playhouse are hosting their popular 40+ Acting Company. Or perhaps Mum longs to learn a language, or a musical instrument, so why not get her enrolled on that course she’s always wanted to take?

For those with a mum who’s shown an interest in yoga, for instance, you could take her along to her first session, and give her the courage she needs to try something new! There are tonnes of yoga classes out there to choose from, so there’s likely to be one near you.

Hot Air Balloon Image

If your mum has always wanted to take a hot air balloon trip, go rock climbing or learn how to ride a horse (or something else wonderfully exciting), but has never had the opportunity, this could be just the thing to make her day. Find out what sort of activities are on offer near you, and an adventurous, adrenaline fuelled Mother’s Day may well be on the cards!

Take a Trip

Blenheim Palace Image

There’s tons of amazing places within easy reach of Oxford, and so there’s bound to be one that would make a great day trip for you and your mum! Just remember to think about what Mum is interested in, and tailor your choices to that!

If you’d prefer not to have to go too far away, luckily Oxfordshire is full of great places to head off to for a day out. This leafy county boasts a wide variety of attractions, from Blenheim Palace in Woodstock to Crocodiles of the World in Brize Norton. For animal lovers there’s Cotswolds Wildlife Park and Millets Farm Falconry Centre, and Bicester Village is pure shopping heaven for the fashionable mum. Or if your mum has a very specific interest or hobby, perhaps something like a trip to Didcot Railway Centre, or a tour of Hook Norton’s historic brewery, would be just the thing to make her smile?

If you’d prefer to venture further afield, though, there are tons of exciting places to choose from within a relative stones throw, such as London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick, Winchester and Bath.

Spoil Mum Rotten

Pampering ImageIf your mum loves to be pampered, make this a day for her to put her feet up and just relax while you take care of everything. There are lots of ways to go about doing this, so make sure you plan ahead!

Start Mum’s day with breakfast in bed. Cook up a storm with something she loves, like a full English or a continental breakfast, and surprise her. Or, if she prefers her breakfasts to be unsurprising, how about a tea party or a picnic later in the day? And don’t worry, there’s no need to let the chilly Winter weather ruin your plans, improvising a picnic on the living room floor could be kinda fun!

Afternoon Tea Image

If you really want to help out, and let her relax for the day, find out if your mum has any chores or tasks that need completing on Mother's Day, and then take them off her hands by doing them for her…yes, all of them!

Alternatively, you could take Mum out for a special treat such as a trip to a spa, or for a special Mother’s Day lunch. Afternoon tea can be a fantastic way to make your mum feel appreciated…and also full of cake.

Pop into our 1738 Tea Room to try our Traditional Afternoon Tea for Two, or if you’re feeling especially extravagant, we definitely recommend a Sparkling Wine Afternoon Tea for Two. Be sure to book ahead on 01865 255531 to make sure we have space for everyone!

And that’s really all there is to it! Figure out how Mum would like to spend her day, and then make it one she’s bound to remember!

15th February 2018

How to Make a Travel Itinerary

How to Make a Travel Itinerary

A travel itinerary is like a small database which outlines all of the elements of your trip, from hotel stops to destinations. Even though it can feel overwhelming and time consuming, it's quite easy to make one.

The advantages of having a travel itinerary for you trip are that it actually saves you money and time, as well as avoiding a lot of stress. Just imagine not finding any connecting flights to your dream destination, or no available accommodation once you get there… An itinerary can help prevent problems like these from spoiling your trip.

 Hiking Image


It’s important for you to decide how you’d like to spend your time from the outset. Are you an outdoor person? Will you want to visit museums and other cultural attractions? What will you want to do for nights out, and for food?

Take all of these factors into account and then create a list of everything you want to see and do on your trip. The internet will be your best friend when making a travel itinerary, so start using it now to research your destination. Check out things such as tourist attractions and activities, local holidays, events and markets. Don’t forget to also look for hidden gems, which don’t always make it into the tourist guides!

Based on how much money and time you have, now you can figure out where you’ll be staying and how to get there. You can either choose to stay in a 5-star hotel, or, if you’re feeling more adventurous and frugal, go couch surfing and backpacking! Setting a budget from the start will help you to figure out where you want to stay.

When planning out your holiday, it’s also a good idea to remember to check what to expect from the weather in advance. Will you need gloves, umbrellas, or swimming shorts? If it's likely to be very hot you may want to read up on the best ways to cope with the heat first. Keep your budget in mind at all times too, as you don’t want to plan activities for a whole week just to find out you’re out of money by day 3 once you’re there!

 Travelling Image


Once you have all these ideas written into a list, a great next step is to put them in order of location and priority. It’s much easier, and faster, to visit places in the same area then move on to the next one, rather than going back and forth randomly.

Make sure you allocate enough time for each activity. For example, it might take a whole day to explore a big museum. Consulting online forums and reviews from other travellers is also a good idea when deciding what to see and do.

If you want to get really organised and be prepared, spend time researching your options and always have a plan B. In terms of transport, keep in mind that planes save you the most time, however they can be expensive. To stay within your budget, you can look into trains, boats and rental cars. These can be more time consuming, but also way more adventurous, and a great way to see more of where you’re visiting.

A travel insurance policy can cover you against things such as bad weather, trip delays, lost or stolen luggage, emergency transportation, evacuation and medical problems, so it’s always a good idea to travel with an insurance plan in place. The level of cover needed for your trip will depend entirely on your needs, where you’re going and what activities you’ll be doing while you’re away.

 Notebook Planning Image

Store Your Itinerary

There’s a variety of mobile apps you can download to help you with your travel itinerary and stay organised. It’s very important that you have a hard copy of your itinerary first, rather than relying only on your phone. For this reason we would recommend drafting your itinerary on paper before adding it to an app.

These websites and apps make it much easier to store, sort and share your lists. Some of them even go the extra mile by automatically including weather and flight updates, maps, directions, activity suggestions and many more useful features. Some of the top apps of this kind are,, and Google’s My Maps app. Again, make sure you have a plan B – your hard copy itinerary written in a notebook or journal!

Finally, what you need to do is add essential travel information to your itinerary: hotel reservations, rental car confirmations, important information for tours, trains and buses, and last but not least: information that you don’t want to have to use. This includes your home address, emergency contact details, addresses and phone numbers of your home country’s embassies, consulates etc. Read our blog on travel security for a bit more information on how to plan for a safe trip.

 Train Image


All in all, flexible itineraries tend to be the best ones. Don’t try to micromanage every hour of your holiday, and it’s often good to leave an extra day for the unexpected. It’s very likely that you’ll discover some hidden attraction on the way, plus your trip will be very rewarding if you’re more laid back about it!

Some would argue that creating a travel itinerary is the most important step of a journey. Even though it’s not the easiest thing to do, planning doesn’t have to be a painstaking process either. You can learn to have fun while you plan, and now that you’ve learned how to make an itinerary, you can use the same template for all your future adventures. Happy packing!

12th February 2018

February Half Term Activities in Oxfordshire

February Half Term Activities in Oxfordshire

We know how difficult it can be keeping the kids entertained during the holidays, so we’ve put together a list of our favourite Oxford activities that both kids and adults will love.

Crocodiles of the World

Here in Oxfordshire we’re very lucky to have the United Kingdom’s only Crocodile zoo. Just a short drive outside of the city is your chance to get up close with 14 different species of crocodiles, alligators and caimans from around the world.

Crocodiles of the World not only gives you the chance to view crocodiles swimming underwater, but there are also opportunities to feed and handle some of the worlds most feared predators. This is sure to be an amazing day out for the whole family, and not one that will be forgotten any time soon.

The Ashmolean MuseumAshmolean Museum

One of our favourite Oxford museums, the Ashmolean has an extensive range of collections from across the ages, exploring art and archaeology. You can learn about ancient Egypt in one room, and then have a look at Renaissance Italian art in another.

On the 14th and 15th February the Ashmolean are hosting a Chinese New Year Party between 1-4pm, which is not to be missed. Apart from being the oldest museum in the World, one of the amazing things about the Ashmolean is that it’s free to visit (excluding some exhibitions).

(Image Credit)

The Story Museum

The Story Museum is always a fun place to visit, with loads to see and do for the whole family, as well as having a great little shop and café. The Story Museum gets even more exciting during the school holidays.

This half term, along with all the usual fun and educational activities that are going on, there are loads of extras including The Science of Magic and a book signing with author Lauren Child.

The Pitt Rivers Museum

Another firm Oxford favourite, the Pitt Rivers museum is just as well known for its shrunken heads as it is for its amazing educational programme of events. From learning about the freezing Siberian regions to seeing 17th century masks worn by actors in Japanese Noh dramas, there is always something exciting to see and do at the Pitt Rivers Museum.

There are all sorts of family trails that you can download or pick up when you visit to guide you and your family around the museum collections. There's also object handling sessions on Saturdays between 11am and 1pm, to get a little closer to some of the fascinating items on display.

Cotswold Wildlife Park

Cotswold Wildlife Park

Rhinos, giraffes, meerkats and penguins might not be what you would usually expect to find in the Oxfordshire countryside, but just outside Burford you will find all of these exotic animals, and many more, at the Cotswold Wildlife Park. With a huge range of animals spread out in the beautiful Cotswold gardens, this is the perfect place to spend the day for both young and old.

With restaurants and cafes on site as well as a great adventure playground, you really can spend the whole day exploring the Cotswold Wildlife Park.

(Image Credits)

Oxford Castle Unlocked

The Oxford Castle is a must for anyone visiting Oxford; you can explore the history in the Castle and Crypt, you can climb the mound or you can simply relax in one of the many restaurants. The Oxford Castle Unlocked experience is a great way to learn, have fun and meet some interesting characters this half term.

Didcot Railway Centre

Didcot Railway Centre ImageThe Didcot Railway Centre is a great place for visitors of a wide range of ages, after all you're never too young or too old to enjoy a ride on a steam engine. Located right by Didcot station, the Railway Centre is easy to get to, and easy to find. The Centre will be running their usual weekend Steam Days this half term, with two different lines open to take a trip along, and an impressive collection of locomotives and coaches to take a peek at. There should be plenty to keep the family occupied here, and you could also pick up a quiz and puzzle sheet for the kids.

During half term they're open on Wednesday 14th Feb for an extra Steam Day, so there's no need to miss out if your half term weekends are starting to look a little busy with all of the other exciting activities taking place.

(Image Credits)

Millets Farm Centre

Located just a short drive out of Oxford, Millets Farm Centre is another family favourite. At its falconry centre, for example, you get a great chance to see over 80 different kinds of birds of prey and they have some wonderful flying demonstrations and hands on experiences that are sure to make this a fun day out for all. At the Millets Farm Zoo you can go say hello to farmyard favourites such as cows, pigs, sheep and horses, not to mention they have some rather special alpacas too! While you're there why not also check out the Meerkat Experience and the farm shop and garden centre. 

This half term there are plenty of great activities going on at Millets Farm Centre for the kids get stuck into, such as the Children's Jewellery Making Workshop and a magic show.

Oxford PlayhouseOxford Playhouse

Currently showing at the Oxford Playhouse is The Little Match Girl (and other happier tales), which is inspired by the tales of Hans Christian Anderson.

Hurry though, performances end on 17th February, and tickets are selling very fast!

(Image Credit) 

If you can think of any more great Oxford activities that we've missed, let us know!

10th January 2018

5 Ways To Add Value To Your Home

5 Ways To Add Value To Your Home

With Christmas well and truly over, many of us will be looking to get the year ahead off to a great start - be it healthy New Year's resolutions or a spot of home improvement. If your intentions steer towards the latter, read on, as we share our top 5 tips for adding value and style to your home over the next 12 months.

From simple kitchen makeovers and clever bathroom updates to money-earning extensions, we’ve got 5 fantastic ways to achieve impactful updates that you’ll love - and better yet, they’ll up the value of your property in the process.

1. Kickstart your kitchen

As the heart of the home, kitchens are typically a great place to add value as they’re used daily and are often a big selling point for potential buyers, too. But you don’t need to go through the hassle and expense of a full refit to give your kitchen a new look this year - as simple updates and a little elbow grease can go a long way, whatever your budget.

From a fresh coat of paint and new worktops to swapping out old kitchen accessories and appliances, these small changes could make a big impact on your interior - giving your kitchen a new and striking look.Kitchen example

2. Create more living space

If you want to significantly increase your property value in the long run, consider creating more living space. You can make best use of existing space by de-cluttering or using cunning storage solutions, built in or free standing to keep floors and surfaces clear.

In terms of building work, one of the least disruptive ways to do this would be converting an existing loft - which offers the ideal space for more bedrooms. However, if you have the room and planning permission, a single-storey extension could add even more value - especially if you have an eye on sustainability. Opting for the latest innovations in modular construction - with room modules built offsite - will ensure your extension boasts excellent energy efficiency. More than that, it provides additional appeal for potential buyers in the future and means your property will stand out from the crowd when it goes onto the market.

3. Add a bathroom

As with living space, adding a second bathroom or en-suite could be a great money-earning update for you home. Whether you reconfigure existing wall positioning, convert unused storage space or go for a completely new extension, adding a new bathroom will positively impact on your property price. Again, new construction innovations allow you to do this with relative ease, with modular bathroom pods now making additions easier than ever. If your budget is tight, even adding a small downstairs toilet or wetroom can make a huge difference. Below is an example of a bathroom pod and even we can't tell the difference between one built on site!

According to Nationwide Building Society, although converting an unused attic into an en-suite bathroom can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks to complete, it has the potential to add approximately 21% to your property’s value – making this a highly worthwhile investment. Similarly, a second bathroom can up its value by a welcome 5%, as long as it isn’t in place of a double bedroom.Elements Europe Bathroom Pod example

4. Brilliant bathrooms

If installing a second bathroom is out of your reach, don’t fret. Providing your bathroom suite is in good condition, you can still add value to your home without spending big or starting from scratch. You can create the appearance of a completely new bathroom using new tiles or decorative features on the walls. It’s the perfect opportunity to embrace the latest interior trends to achieve an enviable aesthetic - leaving your bathroom looking good as new and guests impressed with your on-trend decor.

An even simpler, more budget-friendly option is to update this space with bathroom accessories. From creating a stylish new colour scheme with bath linens and accessories to improving storage solutions to organise and declutter, even the small details can make a big difference to the overall look and feel of a bathroom.

5. Spruce up the outside

While a lot of the focus for adding value lies within your home, it’s still important not to forget the outside areas, too. As the first thing visitors see when they arrive, sprucing up the exterior is undoubtedly beneficial - increasing both kerb appeal and value. From keeping plants and lawns well-trimmed to adding decorative ornaments and stylish garden furniture, you can use this area to make an instant style statement with your home.

However, valuing the benefit of regular outdoor maintenance - such as painting external walls, repairing guttering and ensuring roofs are fully weather-proofed - will also ensure you don’t lose value by allowing them to fall into disrepair.

Whether you’re planning to sell your house soon or you’re just looking to make some value-adding updates, follow the tips in today’s post for the essential insights on adding value and style to your home - ready for whenever the time comes to sell.

Example Garden

19th December 2017

7 Tips for Travelling With Children

7 Tips for Travelling With Children

With Christmas creeping ever closer, for many of us, our minds are turning towards winding down for the festive period and getting excited about all that the holiday season has to offer. For parents and guardians of small children, Christmas can be a truly magical time of year - but this busy period is not without its challenges.

From sourcing must-have Christmas gifts to stocking up on ingredients for the most important meal of the year, it’s not unlikely you’ll have a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Today, we’re helping you tick one of the most important items off your list, as we offer some top tips on travelling with children in winter.

Involve Them In Travel Plans

Whether you’re spending Christmas abroad or just away from the family home, you can get your children excited about the holidays by informing them of your travel plans. From trains and aeroplanes to road trips by car, your young ones will love the prospect of trying something new and will be keen to get involved. Dig out old maps or use images on your smartphone to show them where they’ll be going - and, depending on their age and whether you’re visiting a different country, you could even try teaching them some local lingo.

Pack Travel Distractions

Travel ScrabbleFollowing on from getting your children involved in your plans, if they’re old enough, try giving them small tasks to ‘help’ with the journey. For example, if you’re travelling by car, have them look out for fuel and service stations. This will give them something to focus on and help them feel as though they’re contributing to the journey. On top of this, you can pack their favourite toys and comfort items. From travel sticker books to travel sized games and activity sets, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of entertainment options to cover the journey - as you don’t need us to tell you that little ones become restless very easily!

Keep Essentials On Hand

In the furor of travel, the last thing you want is to misplace your passport, car keys or any other essential items. With this in mind, you’ll want to keep a travel wallet or bag handy and make sure you know where everything is and that you’re able to access any crucial documents or travel information with ease. This will save you from rummaging around and getting distracted in busy airports and train stations, which is when you’ll want to keep your focus on your children. It’s also a great idea to keep wet wipes to hand, as well as a change of clothes for any children you’re travelling with.

Maintain Routine

One of the best ways to stay organised as a parent or guardian is to stick to a routine where possible - and while this might seem unnecessary when holidaying around Christmas, you’ll be thankful you saw it through. From eating habits to bedtime routines, it’s likely that your children are used to their days operating in a specific way, and any disruption to this routine can cause upset and unease for children of varying ages. Where possible, stick as closely as you can to your usual schedule. This way, whether you're staying in a villa in Lanzarote or a cottage in the countryside, you can help your young ones feel as at home as possible.

Alarm Clock - Maintain Routine

Stock Up On Snacks & Drinks

For children - and adults, for that matter - nothing works as a distraction technique quite like food. To keep hunger at bay and meltdowns at a minimum, stock up on your child’s favourite snacks and get these out at intervals throughout your journey. You might want to avoid foods like chocolate, which can melt, and anything too smelly - as this has the potential to make for an unpleasant trip. Keeping children and again adults hydrated, despite the need for loo breaks is also a good idea as de-hydration can lead to tiredness, headaches and irritability. Not good for anyone driving or for siblings prone to argue in the back of a car.

Have An ‘In Case Of Emergency’ Plan 

In the lead up to Christmas, the country gets steadily busier - and this can make travel particularly stressful. Whether you’re travelling alone with children or as part of a group, it’s a great idea to have backup plans should anything go wrong. From pre-agreed meeting points to making sure your young ones know their contact details or are at least carrying them, it’s a great idea to have measures in place to resolve any unforeseen situations that could occur at this manic time of year.

Plan In Pit Stops

Baby Sleeping

As a parent or guardian, you know that hours upon hours of time spent cooped up in a vehicle with irritable children is guaranteed to get your holiday off to a rocky start. If you’re travelling by car, it’s easy to schedule in regular pit stops to allow everyone to stretch their legs and get some much-needed fresh air. However, for those who are flying, you’ll be at the mercy of the flight length. Try walking to the bathroom or down the aisle with your young ones to keep them from sitting still for too long. The excitement will hopefully tire them out and they’ll sleep for at least a portion of the flight.

As a parent or guardian, you know that hours upon hours of time spent cooped up in a vehicle with irritable children is guaranteed to get your holiday off to a rocky start. If you’re travelling by car, it’s easy to schedule in regular pit stops to allow everyone to stretch their legs and get some much-needed fresh air. However, for those who are flying, you’ll be at the mercy of the flight length. Try walking to the bathroom or down the aisle with your young ones to keep them from sitting still for too long. The excitement will hopefully tire them out and they’ll sleep for at least a portion of the flight.

With the most magical time of year fast approaching, we hope these tips help you take some of the stress out of Christmas - allowing you to spend quality time with your friends and family this festive period. Merry Christmas from everyone at Boswells.

15th December 2017

Top things to do in Oxford for Christmas

Top things to do in Oxford for Christmas

Just because the weather makes you want to stay indoors and enjoy a cup of warm tea, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing else you can do in the holiday season.
Winter is the time for family days out and celebrations with friends, with a plethora of events and activities you can partake in and around Oxford. We picked some of the best things to do for Christmas in Oxford this year and compiled them in this list for you.

The good news is that many of these happen every year so if you miss one this year start planning for the next. Merry Christmas from Boswells.

In Oxford

Oxford Christmas Carol Concert Evenings

Christ Church Cathedral ChoirMany of the University Colleges have world renowned choirs and orchestras or ensembles who give concerts at Christmas. Isn't that a great opportunity.  You can see most events on The Daily Info we've created just the right link for concerts until christmas or Music at Oxford.  

The choir pictured is Christ Church cathedral Choir courtesy of Music at Oxford.


Oxford Christmas Market

Oxford Christmas MarketThe iconic Broad Street isn't just home to Boswells but to numerous markets and events throughout the year, with one of the most important ones being the Oxford Christmas Market.
It features beautifully decorated wooden stalls offering a great selection of Christmas gifts and seasonal treats, with over 50 different exhibitors to choose from!
Apart from this, local choirs and bands will also be present, performing Christmas carols up until the last day of the market, December the 17th.

Did you know the market has a website too

Christmas Ice Show

Oxford Ice RinkProduced by local skate couches who work at Oxford Ice rink along with skaters and their families, the Christmas Ice Show is an amazing celebration of both the festive season and of the popularity of ice skating in the city.

The theme for the 20172017 edition of the show is “Around the world in 80 minutes”, with the event taking place at Oxford Ice Rink.
Featuring international, national and local skating champions alongside over 150 local skaters, this show is an important member of the city’s Christmas events repertoire.

“The coaches, Ice rink team, skaters and families put a lot of work into making this show one of the premier Christmas events in the county and I would encourage everyone to come to the show and get in the Christmas spirit” said Vincent Harley, General Manager of the rink.

Further afield

Le Manoir At Christmas

Le Manoir Carol Concerts

Belmond le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons is a hotel established in 1984, situated on the outskirts of Oxford, in Great Milton.

Every year they throw some magical Christmas Carols concert evenings with various choirs and singers. These events will be hosted by a well-known personality and will combine a feast of musical enchantment with all the delights of Raymond Blanc’s cuisine.

Each evening includes a Champagne Laurent-Perrier reception, a concert at nearby St Mary’s Church, plus a four-course dinner with accompanying wines, coffee and petits fours.

Read all about it on their website.

The glorious photo of Le Manoir to the left is by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd

Blenheim Lights FestivalChristmas at Blenheim

Blenheim Palace, the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill, is hosting a wonderful lights festival once again, after its success last year.

Its 2000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscape and Formal Gardens will be crossed by a wonderful light trail, winding through the landscape and allowing visitors to discover and interact with various festive scenes and seasonal experiences, while highlighting the palace’s rich history.

The festival is onto January 1st so perhaps a trip out between Christmas and the New Year is in order?

You can read all about it on their website. 

Santa’s Grotto at Frosts Garden Centre

Santa and ChildTake part in a grotto adventure at the Frosts Garden Centre of Millets Farm!
Lasting for around 45 minutes, key activities include singing with the elves, making reindeer food ready to sprinkle on Christmas Eve and listening to a story read by Santa himself in his own cosy living room. Children love a good Santa's grotto and this is a great one.

With lots of other surprises included, this is a marvellous way to spend the 24th of December with your family outside of the house. You can read all about it on their website.

Whether you will spend Christmas alone, together with friends or accompanied by your family, we hope you make the most out of these handpicked Oxford holiday activities. Just remember to bring some warm gloves!


15th December 2017

How to decorate your Christmas tree

How to decorate your Christmas tree

Have you ever noticed how wonderful it looks when you pass a house with a majestic tree in the living room window, glowing in the night, waiting for gifts to be laid under its ornaments? For some of us, decorating a Christmas tree is one of our favourite things to do during the holiday season to create that lovely impression. For others it is a bit of an onerous task that they dread. Which is a shame so if you are not sure how to decorate your Christmas tree or where to start, then read on!

Setting up

There are many possibilities when it comes to decorating your tree and you can easily get creative in the process!

Do you get a real tree, or an artificial one? Getting a real tree means that your house will really smell like Christmas, making it easier for Santa to find your house. However, this also means that you will have to get a new tree every year and spend extra time to find the right one.

On the other hand, an artificial tree can come with built in lights and can be reused a few years in a row, even if it’s not ‘the real deal’. There's no right or wrong answer just what's right for you.

It’s a good idea to set up a budget beforehand, take into account the time it will take for the whole decorating process and ensure that everything is safe during and after you decorate it. Also, look around your house and decide where it’s best to set up your Christmas tree. Don't forget to leave room not just for presents but think about where you'll be giving them out if that's part of your Christmas day tradition.

A good tip is to set up the tree the day before the decorating day, no matter what type of tree you go for. You will give the branches time to settle and be able to observe whether the tree’s structure is sound and if the stand supports it. You should also make sure all the lights are working before you stringing them all up!


The most important stage in a project is planning, and this is no different when it comes to decorating the Christmas tree. Try and visualize the way you want the tree to look in the end. Spend some time to narrow down your choices and pick an overall colour scheme that you like. It will help you maintain a consistent design for the tree and throughout the house and ensures you won’t end up buying things you don’t even need or like.

Toy Soldier OrnamentsFor a traditional look, go for Christmassy colours, such as red, gold and green. If you’re feeling more minimalistic and contemporary, try going for a maximum of 2 or 3 colours, for example white and silver. Of course, you can take artistic freedom and mix whichever colours you like! Brown, blue, purple and orange are a few other popular choices.

Whatever you choose obviously impacts your hanging decorations choices. You could have a very specific them like our Nutcracker ballet soldier ornaments or just generally want to choose plain baubles for a clean contemporary look or ones with imagery for a traditional or victorian theme.



Do this first! Once you have your lights up on the tree, it makes it much easier to hang the rest of the decorations, compared to doing it the other way around. It’s also a good idea to wind them while they are lit up, so you can see what they look like as you go.

LED Star Tree TopperUsually, tree lights come in two wire strands colours: white and green. Choose the one that matches your tree, in order for it to be less visible. There’s also a variety of colours to go for, such as cool white lights, warm white and multi-coloured ones. Choose the ones that match your theme and also don’t be afraid to mix them! You can even add a lit up tree topper like this stylish star design.

Many people have their own techniques when it comes to stringing the lights. Our best suggestion is to start from the bottom of the tree, winding them around the inside of it working your way up. After reaching the top, wind the lights around the outer branches while going down. Voila!

Garland and Tinsel

These come in many forms, from plain to fancy and from monochrome to multi-coloured and if you watched last years BBC Inside the Factory program you'll know that much of the tinsel sold in the UK comes from a single factory in Wales.

TinselIt’s good practice to add them from the top to the bottom, to avoid branches bulging between tightly secured strands. Thin, beaded garlands look best hung from branch to branch; thicker paper, ribbon, or foil garlands look best wrapped loosely around the entire tree. Ribbon, beaded, or metallic garland all look great. Pick the one that goes best with your theme.

Some people prefer the easy way and just cascade them over the top of the tree, rather than wrapping them around and around looking for that even and balanced look. If done right, this can come outlooking pretty and it saves a lot of time. However, keep in mind that it best works with simple beaded garlands.


The next step in decorating a Christmas tree is to hang your Christmas ornaments. Place your favourites first, in key positions across the tree in order to showcase them. In order to give it depth, hang the bigger ones closer to the centre of the tree and the smaller ones towards the outside. Ornaments positioned towards the centre of the tree add a feeling of depth and give a more interesting display.

BaublesMake sure you space your ornaments evenly around the tree, taking into account weight distribution and going for a balanced look. Be sure to balance ornaments by size too, not just colour. You don’t want one side of your tree to end up with all large or small ornaments. Don't hang ornaments on the tips of branches as it makes them droop which breaks youe even look and in a worst case scenario they will fall off.

It’s all fairly straightforward when you follow this simple rule: add lights first, then garlands and tinsel and, finally, your tree decorations. Just remember to take a step back every once in a while, so you can get a better perspective and see your progress. And now your Christmas tree is almost done: all there is left to do is to decorate the tip with a Christmas tree topper and the base with Santa’s gifts! Have fun!

17th November 2017

The Top Toys to Look out for This Christmas

The Top Toys to Look out for This Christmas

The world of toys is often changing, meaning that there are always new and exciting things for you and your children to discover, but sometimes it can be tough to keep track of everything that’s out there. With that in mind, and with Christmas now hard on our heels, we’ve put together a few of our recommendations for toys that we think are going to be big this year and, more importantly, that we think would make some fantastic gifts for some special people.

Who Doesn't Love a Bit of LEGO®?

LEGO City Police Station

For budding builders, architects and creators, there’s nothing quite like a bit of LEGO® for Christmas, right? With that in mind, here’s a few of the LEGO sets that we think are worth keeping an eye out this year.

If you know of someone whose LEGO collection has become rife with crime, the LEGO City Police Station may just do the trick to help keep those troublesome minifigures at bay. This cool set features 894 pieces to get your head around, including 7 minifigures, a police helicopter, crook’s truck, pursuit car and a dog, as well as the station itself. This comprehensive set is sure to keep all that LEGO crime at bay, and give them something exciting to build.

LEGO BB-8 Image

Meanwhile, for a break from the chilly weather, LEGO Friends has you covered, with the Sunshine Catamaran set. If you know someone who's longing for a little snow over the Christmas period, though, look no further than the LEGO Friends Snow Resort Ice Rink. As with all LEGO, there’s tons of fun to be had building these great sets, and then loads more when they finally get to play with what they’ve built!

We're all very excited about the LEGO Star Wars BB-8, which comes with a wheel activate rotating head! The set comes with more than 1,100 pieces, and so is ideal for any Star Wars fans  who are looking for a good LEGO challenge to get stuck into!

And for those who truly love to just come up with their own designs, you really can’t go wrong with a LEGO Creative Builder Box. Each box includes 502 pieces in a rainbow of colours, including pieces for windows and doors—just add imagination!

Great Games

Toilet TroubleNothing beats a good game at Christmas time; they bring people together and give us something silly to laugh about, so here are a few games to keep an eye out for.

For those who are feeling bold, this year’s big, hit game is tipped to be Toilet Trouble: a laugh out loud, suspense-filled game that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Simply spin the toilet roll, flush the handle, and cross your fingers that the toilet doesn’t spray you with water! This game is bound to give you a few giggles, some fun memories, and hopefully not leave you feeling too flushed (sorry, we couldn’t resist).

Pie Face Sky High Image

If splatting whipped cream in the faces of your nearest and dearest is something you discovered that you enjoyed doing when Pie Face was released a couple of years ago, then you’ll be pleased to hear about the brand new Pie Face Sky High game. This ingenious game combines all the fun of Pie Face with a cool fairground style “test your strength” element. Are you strong enough to pie your opponent in the face? Finding out certainly sounds like a good use of Christmas Day to us!

Some other games worth looking out for this festive season include Giggle Wiggle and Beat the Parents. We also think that Laser X is sure to be a hit with the whole family, as this game of laser tag has a range of up to 60m, and really does beat dozing off in an armchair after Christmas dinner!

Fun with Craft and Science

Cra-Z-Slimy Creations KitFor those with enquiring minds, a creative streak, and those that simply have a healthy appreciation for slime, nothing quite beats a good craft or science toy. In fact toys in this range are often among our best-selling, and it’s easy to see why!

This year slime really is all the rage, with gooey, slimy toys of all varieties oozing out of the woodwork. If your child is a fan of this latest craze, then we have a couple of great suggestions to make their Christmas just that bit extra special, and maybe just a little messy too. The Cra-Z-Slimy Creations kit allows kids to make their own slime, which is bound to go down well. For even more adventures in the creative-science of slime, we suggest the Galt Slime Lab, which includes 7 fun experiments, including making bouncing putty and noise putty, as well as creating your own glow in the dark alien!

You may have also heard of Oonies this year, but are still mystified as to what exactly these are. The Oonies Balloon Inflation Station Starter Pack comes with everything your child needs to start creating just about anything they can imagine out of Oonies. Simply inflate these amazing little plastic balloons, and then watch as they stick together to form animals, flowers, and anything else your child would like to craft! This fun and colourful toy offers something just a little bit different, so it’s little wonder that they’ve become something of an instant hit!

Magformers WOW Image

If you’re looking for something creative that’s suitable for children as young as 3, we highly recommend the Magformers WOW Set. This fun set includes 16 magnetic shapes, along with wheel bases, which can be fitted together to construct a colourful mini vehicle. Magformers WOW encourages developing minds to think about the shapes that will fit together, to be creative, and rewards with a fantastic little vehicle at the end, which can be built and re-built time and time again.

Playing with Imagination

Playhouse Panda ImageIf your child is a fan of Enchantimals, the TV show, then we think you probably can’t go far wrong with the Enchantimals Panda Playhouse Set, which comes with a Prue Panda doll, and Nari Panda friend. This is a fantastic set for fostering imagination and for your child to create stories around their favourite Enchantimals dolls as they play in the Panda Playhouse. Prue Panda’s many friends are currently also hanging out in our Toys Department, in case you’re worried about her getting lonely in her Playhouse.

The PJ Masks Head Quarters is another fantastic playset that offers your child a whole host of imaginative possibilities to recreate favourite scenes from the PJ Masks show, and invent new and daring stories altogether. It’s also spectacularly fun to push Cat Boy’s little car down the HQ slide again and again!

Paw Patrol Weebles Image

As far as toys from popular TV shows goes, the Paw Patrol Weebles take some beating. Children can enjoy watching their favourite pups sway to and fro, always popping back up for more fun. These wobbly little friends have been tumbling off our shelves at an amazing rate already. Sadly, while his friends have been easily finding their new homes, poor Marshall is still very much looking for a loving home this Christmas. If you happen to know someone that particularly loves rescue pups, we think Marshall would make a lovely, wobbly companion for them.

Stretch Armstrong Image

Other fun, imaginative toys that are set to be very popular with kids this Christmas include the Nerf Nitro Longshot Smash Car Blasting Playset, which launches small foam cars, and is perfect for creating your own miniature stunts! And the Playmobil Forest Ranger’s House set looks like tons of fun, with lots of little animal figures that come with the house, too.

We’re also very pleased to see the return of Stretch Armstrong (and his other stretchy friends), who is primed and ready to be pulled and stretched in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways. We can only imagine it’s taken Stretch Armstrong 30+ years to recover from all that previous stretching, but he’s finally ready for another outing. Brave guy indeed!

Keel Toys Reindeer With Scarf

If cute and fluffy is more your child's thing then take a look at our soft (or plush as they are known in the trade) toys. Both Keel Toys and TY UK produce huggable, safe and great quality soft toys with great ranges of animals real and imagined to choose from. Our number one bestseller are the collectible Keel Mini Motsu range at only £4.99 each and there are some adorable winter themed toys this year too like reindeer and penguins.

This Year's "Must-Have" Toys

LOL Surprise Fizz Charm ImageThis time last year the newly released Hatchimals were taking Christmas by storm, and sure enough a new must-have Christmas hit has emerged for 2017. Chances are your child has been asking Father Christmas for L.O.L. Surprise by now, and if you’re still not entirely sure what on Earth that is, we’re here to help!

There are a few different types of L.O.L. Surprise to get your head around, starting with the Charm Fizz Surprise. This fun treat features a dissolvable ball which reveals a charm inside – simply drop it into some water and watch it fizz! These charms make fantastic little accessories to go with the L.O.L. Surprise Dolls too.

Each L.O.L. Surprise Doll pack, and the slightly smaller L.O.L. Surprise Lil’ Sisters and Pets packs, feature multiple layers to unwrap, each containing an accessory or sticker to go with the mini-doll that’s patiently waiting to be discovered at the centre of the pack (it’s a bit like pass the parcel, but your child gets to keep all the goodies inside).

LOL Surprise Lil' Sisters ImageThere’s tonnes here for kids to collect, and lots of great surprises to uncover, so it’s little wonder that L.O.L. Surprise is such a hit! So much of a hit, in fact, that these cute surprise toys have been selling out extremely quickly, nationwide. We're expecting plenty more stock in the New Year, but we're sure an I.O.U. from Father Christmas will still brighten your child's day.

And if your little one is still desperate to crack open their very own Hatchimal, we just so happen to have a few eagerly incubating in our Toy Department, along with the new Hatchimals Colleggtibles—there are worse things to have nesting in your Christmas tree, after all!

For the Young at Heart

Cards Against Humanity ImageAnd yes, we also have toys to keep the biggest kids among us amused over Christmas too. If you know someone who’s inner child is very much alive and well, we’d suggest having a look at the Science Museum Virtual Reality Goggles and the LED Heliball, which will no doubt keep them occupied on Christmas Day. We also have a fantastic selection of Christmas themed Gibsons and Ravensburger jigsaws (from 500-3000 pieces) to choose from, for those that love puzzling. And finally, for those looking for something just a little despicable to play, we have Cards Against Humanity—certainly not one for any children under 17, or for the faint of heart.

These are just a few of the fabulous goodies we have available in store, so if you’re looking for additional inspiration why not click here for a browse, or pop into our Toy Department for a little extra help finding that perfect toy to make someone’s Christmas wonderful. Happy hunting for that perfect gift, and a Merry Christmas from all of us at Boswells!

23rd October 2017

Celebrating Bonfire Night in and Around Oxford 2017

Celebrating Bonfire Night in and Around Oxford 2017

Gunpowder Plotters ImageRemember, remember the 5th of November, or so the saying traditionally goes. It was, of course, on this infamous date in 1605 that a group of 13 gunpowder plotters attempted to bring both King and parliament to an explosive end with 36 barrels of hidden gunpowder. Guy Fawkes, the most remembered of the plotters—not, in fact, the leader of the conspirators but rather the man caught holding the lantern in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament—will be burned in effigy up and down the country in the coming days to mark the anniversary of the thwarting of the plot, as has become the custom.

Those enjoying the current BBC series Gunpowder will understand that a with many of our traditions the reality was somewhat more gruesome and serious than our current celebrations which as well as bonfires aplenty include fireworks, hot dogs, burgers, and even funfairs to accompany the burning of "the Guy." So yep, 410 years on from Guy Fawkes’ arrest the act of remembering gunpowder, treason and plot is far from being “forgot,” and has grown into a full scale annual tradition. 

To mark this occasion, and to help you make the most of Guy Fawkes Night, we’ve gathered up a list of upcoming bonfire and firework events in and around Oxford, and since the 5th falls on a weekend this year there's lots of great weekend events to get out and enjoy!

Fireworks Image

3rd November

22nd Oxford Sea Scouts Firework Display—OX4 4BJ (Fundraising firework display, BBQ, 5pm).
Bonfire Night at the Plough, Wolvercote—OX2 8BD (Fireworks and BBQ, 3pm).
Botley School Fireworks, Oxford—OX2 9JZ (Fireworks and BBQ, 6pm).
Hanborough Musical Fireworks—The Pavillion, OX29 8JG (Fireworks to music, refreshments and funfair, 6pm).
Kidlington Fireworks Display—Stratfield Brake Recreation Ground, Kidlington (Fireworks and refreshments, 6pm).
Old Swan and Minster Mill Bonfire and Fun Weekend, Witney—(Bonfire, fireworks and hog roast, 6pm).

4th November

Barracks Lane Community Garden Bonfire Afternoon, Oxford—OX4 2AP (Music and bonfire, 12-4pm).

Bicester Round Table Firework Display and Bonfire—Pingle Field (Fireworks, fairground and refreshments and music, 6pm).

Marsh Baldon Green Fireworks Display—The Green, Marsh Baldon (Bonfire, fireworks and refreshments. 6:30pm).

Oxford Round Table Fireworks Display—South Park (50th annual charity fireworks display, live music, refreshments and funfair, gates open 4:30pm, fireworks 6:45 followed by bonfire). Using KimBolton fireworks the same company we sell in store.

Standlake Cokethorpe Sea Scouts Annual Firework Spectacular, Witney— Standlake Village Hall (Fireworks, bonfire, BBQ and music, 6pm).

5th November

Dorchester on Thames Village Firework Display—Recreation Ground, Dorchester on Thames (5:30pm).

Fireworks Night & Bonfire, St Michael’s Primary School—Marston, OX3 0EJ (Fireworks, bonfire and refreshments, 5:30pm).

Witney RFC Bonfire and Fireworks Spectacular—Witney Rugby Club (Fireworks, bonfire and refreshments, bonfire 6pm, fireworks 7pm).

Lantern Image

We also recommend taking a November trip to The Ashmolean Museum where, in the basement, you will find the lantern purported to be the very one Guy Fawkes had with him in the cellars of Parliament on November 5th 1605.

If you know of any other firework or bonfire events taking place nearby we’d love to hear from you. You can email us at or contact us via facebook or twitter.

Image copyright of Ben Sutherland.

We also sell a range of KimBolton fireworks in store—which are also available through the click and collect option on our website—so if you’re planning your own display, big or small, we can help you to make this bonfire night something a bit special. If you’re not sure what kind of fireworks you need you can always pop in to store to talk to one of the members of staff on our fireworks desk (near the Cornmarket entrance) who will be happy to help.

So wrap up warm, get to a display nice and early for the perfect view, and remember, remember the 5th of November in sparkly, spectacular style!

28th September 2017

Hurrah for the 10 Oldest Brands at Boswells!

Hurrah for the 10 Oldest Brands at Boswells!

For a company or a brand to survive for centuries is no easy task at all, and, we think, worthy of a little recognition. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the 10 oldest labels you can currently find here at Boswells, all of which are well over 150 years old (and yes, we did include ourselves!).

10. Deyongs 1846

Deyongs Duvet Set Image

The youngest entry on this list is a “sprightly” 171 years old. This long established company has a certain knack for coming up with exciting and modern designs, so it’s fair to say that Deyongs is looking pretty good for its age.

The company has been producing gorgeous looking textiles for home furnishings since 1846, and today they cater to everything from city to country, bed linens to bath towels. Rather impressively, Deyongs have spent their long history seeking out the best suppliers so that they can create fantastic products at very good prices. And, as luck would have it, the latest Deyongs lines have just arrived in our Linens Department!

9. Kilner 1842

Kilner Double Drink Dispenser ImgaeIn 1842, the year that income tax was first introduced and the word “dinosaur” was created, John Kilner began his glass bottle and jar company. 175 years later, income tax is still going strong, dinosaurs still fascinate us, and we still use Kilner bottles and jars.

Around 1900 the company released the first vacuum sealed jar, which introduced an innovative new means of preserving and pickling food. It was an invention so useful that you may very likely have one of these ingenious objects sitting in your kitchen right now.

Nowadays Kilner produce a great number of really useful, and suitably stylish, glass bottles and jars, many of which can be found in our Cookshop. We particularly love the Drink Dispenser and handled jar glasses!

8. Taylor’s Eye Witness 1838

Taylor's Eye Witness Cheese Knives ImageIn 1838 John Taylor founded Taylor’s Eye Witness as a designer and manufacturer of knives and scissors based in Sheffield…and they’re still there to this day.

As you might imagine, close to 200 years of Taylor’s Eye Witness perfecting their production technique and knowledge has led to an impressive level of craftmanship, and some truly sleek looking designs too.

Of course Taylor’s Eye Witness knives aren’t simply for show, as well as looking very stylish many of these utensils are extremely practical, featuring hardened blades with anti-bacterial coating too. Sounds like a win-win to us! 

7. Limes Farm 1826

Limes Farm Produce ImageA mere 25 miles from Boswells, Limes Farm has been cultivating organic produce using traditional methods for the last 191 years. The farm has remained in the same family for the whole of its lifespan, and as well as rearing livestock, the farm grows and makes its own range of produce. More recently, Limes Farm have opened their own farm shop and tea room, and supply us with some of their fantastic produce too!

With a keen interest in letting nature take the lead, Limes Farm focuses on producing high quality, natural harvests. And very tasty the results are too! A trip to our Tea Room will give you the opportunity to try some of Limes Farm's lovely chutney's and jams.

6. Colgate 1806

Colgate Mouthwash Image

This household name has been around for longer than you might think. Colgate had its beginnings in New York in the early 19th century, originally specialising in starch, soap and candles and is the only entry on this list not to have originated in the UK. In 1873 the company introduced its first toothpaste—which it sold in jars—and the rest, as they say, is history.

Colgate has become something of a giant, selling in more than 200 countries worldwide, with the brand being underpinned by over 2 centuries of accumulated expertise. And so, of course, you can find a selection of Colgate’s time-honoured dental care products to choose from in our Pharmacy!

5. Kent 1777

Kent Shaving Set ImageThe 5 oldest brands on this list all emerged from the 18th Century, that’s older than either electricity or the steam engine!

Number 5 on our list is Kent brushes, who have been around since the latter half of the 18th century. If that isn’t impressive enough on its own, the company have also been Royal Warrant holders for the last nine, consecutive, British monarchs! It’s fair to say, then, that Kent brushes have maintained a very high level of quality through the years, and remain fit for a king or queen.

Kent is still a family owned business, even after all of this time, and continues to manufacture it’s brushes right here in the UK. You can find a brilliant variety of Kent’s fantastic hair brushes and shaving brushes in our Cosmetics Department!

4. Woods of Windsor 1770

Woods of Windsor Image

Woods of Windsor began its life as an 18th century apothecary, Woods Pharmacy, catering to the people of Windsor, as well as to royalty.

The current Woods of Windsor ranges are based on recipes that date back to the original pharmacy, which has stood on the spot since 1770. This means that many of Woods of Windsor’s products bring traditional fragrances into the present day…it’s about as close to sniffing the past as you’re likely to get…

Woods of Windsor’s fabulous room scents and bath and body treats can be found enjoying pride of place in our Cosmetics Department, and lovely gifts they make too!

3. Spode 1767

Spode Morris & Co. Jug ImageSpode is the 3rd oldest brand on our list, celebrating its 250th birthday this year. Spode have been recognised as innovators in the pottery business since the company was first founded in Stoke on Trent 1767. The company is responsible for the invention of bone china, originally named Stoke china, which was first developed by William Spode II in the early 19th century. Around this time Spode also became potters to The Prince Regent.

Spode remained a family owned business until 1966, and is now part of the equally celebrated Portmerion group. Needless to say, Spode china is still beautifully designed, crafted and decorated, with many of their traditional designs still on the market today. In our Gift Department you may just find a rather special collection of Spode wares featuring Morris & Co. designs!

2. Boswell & Co. 1738

Boswells 1959 ImageAh yes, 1738, we remember it like it was yesterday… Ok, well maybe not quite, but we’d like to think that Francis Boswell would be proud to see his business still alive and well at the right old age of 279.

Francis Boswell opened his portmanteau and luggage shop at 50 Cornmarket Street, Oxford in 1738 (approximately where Clarks Shoes now stands), decades before Captain Cook's exploration of the Southern Hemisphere, and 17 years before Dr Johnson's dictionary was first published…we really have been around for a very long time indeed!

The company remained in the Boswell family until 1890, when it passed to Arthur Pearson, who owned the Oxford Drug Company at 31 Cornmarket Street (which is now the Cornmarket entrance to the store).

In 1929 Boswells moved to Broad Street, into brand new, purpose built premises, and there you’ll find us today!

Boswells remains an independent, family owned store to this day, and, according to Russell Ash’s Top 10 of Britain, we’re also the second oldest established department store in the UK! Yes, Boswells has had the very great pleasure of serving generations of Oxonians, and we certainly look forward to being here for many many more generations to come!

1. Twinings 1706

Twinings Tea Room Image

We’re very proud to present a company even older than Boswells in our top spot! In fact, Twinings first began selling tea on London’s famous Strand a year before England, Scotland and Wales joined to form Great Britain!

Although it seems difficult to now think of a time when tea was not a common drink, it was still fairly new to the country at that time, and Thomas Twining was something of a pioneer of his trade. Soon, Twinings became extremely popular and successful, gaining a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria herself in 1837.

Twinings continues to make excellent blends of tea, which are enjoyed the world over—you’ll even find them in our very own 1738 Tea Room. A word of caution though: you may find yourself struggling to decide between the Elderflower and Apple Darjeeling and the Nutty Chocolate Tea, or maybe even the Rosy Fig White Tea. Oh it’s just so hard to choose!

A wander around Boswells’ departments will also reveal plenty of other brands of 100 years vintage, or more, such as Steiff (1880), Widdop Bingham (1883) and Mason Pearson (1885). These fantastic brands give us something superb to share with our predecessors, and to pass onto the next generation—something wonderfully continuous. So hurrah for these long enduring brands, and all the ages of people that they’ve delighted! Long may they continue!

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