New Augmented Reality App Brings Oxford to Life Like Never Before

England Originals from England’s Historic Cities, has launched its very first app, bringing to life 16 historic destinations in England, including Oxford, using the power of augmented reality (AR).

Created by Hex Digital and aimed primarily at international millennials looking to explore England, the app combines emerging technology and powerful storytelling to provide a fun and exciting new way to explore the country’s historic cities.

The app makes use of the latest ARKit (iOS) and ARCore (Android) cutting edge AR technology, to provide an immersive experience for visitors. Tabletop tours enable users to explore the city prior to their arrival, while in-destination secret portals lead users into hidden rooms and amazing places.

England Originals has recently launched five multi-destination tours including the Thinkers and Writers Tour that visits Oxford, Worcester and Stratford Upon Avon; Time Travellers Tour that visits City of London, Greenwich, Canterbury and Cambridge; Treasure Trove Tour that visits Durham, York and Lincoln; Wall to Wall Tour that visits Chester, Lancaster and Carlisle; Western Wonders Tour that visits Truro, Bath and Salisbury. This new app brings this inspiring theme to life in Oxford.

Tabletop tours – how they work
Open the app, choose the Oxford and click ‘launch tabletop tour’. Turn up the volume and hover your phone over a flat surface in-front of you and watch the first city pop up in 3D.

In Oxford, the user will be able to explore the city and tap illustrated buildings to reveal a story uncovered and narrated by historian Jonathan Foyle. Nine stories are waiting to be discovered here including the origins of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll at Christ Church College, an annual tortoise race at Corpus Christ College and why The Bear pub is decorated with over 4,500 snippets of ties.


Discover portals
The app includes a locate portal feature, which will load a map of the city you’re exploring and the locations of hidden secret portals around the city. Once in range, the app will advise you to follow the instructions to place a virtual doorway in front of you. You walk through the doorway and use your phone to explore the new virtual area in front in full 360° view.

Oxford has three portals with options to step onto the Courtroom and cells in County Hall and the Dean’s Garden in Christ Church College.


Additional app features
Alongside the AR elements, the app also includes details about each of the tours, key sites to visit in each city, and fun introductory videos. Details on the best places to stay, eat and visit in each city is available via the directory feature, which links through to Whether its train travel, hotels or attractions, the website also offers a seamless customer booking experience. Businesses featured are those that responded to the project’s call for inclusion earlier this year.

England’s Originals is one of a number of projects to benefit from funding from the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund. The Fund is administered by VisitEngland and involves a programme of activity to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing global tourism industry, by offering world-class English tourism products to the right customers at the right time. The Fund is a central government funded programme of activity, supported by match funding by partners in the public and private sectors.

The England Originals app is available now to download free on Google Play and the App Store.

All tours are bookable on the website.


Notes to editors

About England’s Historic Cities
England’s Historic Cities is a partnership of destinations brought together by common product and interests. Its purpose is to exchange knowledge, find solutions to shared challenges, benchmark performance, raise the profile of England’s heritage product and facilitate joint activity, all with the intention of maximising the potential of the cities’ visitor economies.
Its geographical footprint spans the length and breadth of England and membership comprises 15 of the country’s premiere heritage locations: Bath, Cambridge, Canterbury, Carlisle, Chester, Durham, Greenwich, Lancaster, Lincoln, Oxford, Salisbury, Stratford, Truro, Worcester and York. They are joined in England Originals by the City of London.
Additional partners to England Originals are English Heritage, the Historic Houses Association and the National Trust, as well as long standing strategic partners to the consortium, UKinbound and London and Partners.

About the Discover England Fund
• In November 2015, the Government announced a £40 million Discover England Fund; an unprecedented opportunity for English tourism. The Fund aims to deliver world-class bookable tourism products joined up across geographies and/or themes; including integrated transport solutions to provide an end-to-end customer experience.
• The Fund supports the growth of one of England’s most successful export industries, inbound tourism. Tourism is an industry that delivers jobs and economic growth across the English regions – contributing some £106bn each year to the economy and supporting 2.6 million jobs.
• The Fund supported a number of pilot projects in year one (2016/17) that tested product development approaches. In years two and three, 2017-19, the fund will support:
o A number of large-scale collaborative projects to be delivered over the two-year period 2017-2019 that will create a step-change in bookable English tourism product for international consumers,
o A smaller funding pot for new one-year pilot projects (in year two), and
o Continuation funding for existing year one projects that demonstrated early learnings (in year two).

About VisitBritain/VisitEngland
• VisitBritain/VisitEngland is the national tourism agency – a non-departmental public body funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)
• Working with a wide range of partners in both the UK and overseas, our mission is to grow the volume and value of inbound tourism across the nations and regions of Britain and to develop world-class English tourism product to support our growth aspirations. For further information and to access the latest in-depth market intelligence and statistics visit or and for consumer information.