The residence hall provided an opportunity to travel to Oxford for the day for a mere £10. Let’s just say I leapt at the opportunity.
Our little group met up in the lobby at 8:15 and headed out to Euston. We caught the Victoria Line down to Victoria Station and caught a coach out of the city. We arrived at Oxford around 11am.
The first thing you need to know is that Oxford is the name of the town. The second thing you need to know is that there are 38 different colleges that make up the University of Oxford. There is not, in fact, a single University of Oxford entity. If you matriculate from any one of the 38 schools, your degree will say University of Oxford on it.
As we got off the bus, we were told we had roughly an hour before our tour of the city started, so a small chunk of us split off to visit the Ashmolean, Britain’s first museum.
From there, we wandered to the meeting point where they just so happened to have a Saturday market. Mmmm…coffeee!
At this point, our free walking tour (Footprints Tours) started with our lovely guide, Luke. We started at the first of the 38 schools that make up Oxford.
From there we crossed the street to view the Sheldonian Theater. This is the official ceremonial hall of the University of Oxford. (Front and back views.)
This building was the first major design of Sir Christopher Wren. The original roof design was a masterpiece of architectural design. It is made up of a series of timber trusses and complicated cross beams supported by braces and screws without any columns. – Taken from the website.
From there, we turned around and right behind us was my very first on-set Harry Potter experience. The Divinity School is where they filmed Madam Pomfrey’s Hospital Wing. Additionally, upstairs in the same building is the Hogwarts Library.
We wandered east a bit and came to the Bridge of Sighs, modeled after the Ponte Rialto in Venice.
Across the street from the Bridge of Sighs was the Bodleian Library, which had visually stunning architecture and an interesting story.
If you look really closely…each layer has a different type of column (doric, ionic, corinthian, etc.) Also…The angel is Gabriel, King James is in the middle, and the personification of Oxford is on the right.
We headed through an archway and came out at Radcliffe Square (named after John Radcliffe…not Daniel Radcliffe.) As Luke explained, this is the library that one goes to when they want to look like they’re studying without actually studying.
To the library’s left, All Saints College. This is the one college that doesn’t accept any new students (which also makes it the most prestigious.) This is the College only for fellows; that is, people who have already finished their education. Apparently Lawrence of Arabia attended All Saints and when he died, the only thing (aside from his name) that his mother wanted on his tombstone was All Saints Fellow…that’s how prestigious it is. They allow, at most, two new fellows each year.
From here, we crossed through Radcliffe Square and were walking through an alley when the tour guide stopped at a door.
By the way, have I mentioned I found Narnia? Because I found Narnia…
…Pretty tree break!
At this point, we wandered through a Rugby field behind another one of the Universities before we came to this beautiful sight.
This field is where Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was followed around incessantly by the Dean’s youngest daughter Alice. When she wouldn’t leave him alone, he started making up stories about a fictional Alice who liked to visit a world underground. Eventually, he was convinced to publish under the pen name Lewis Carroll. The rest, as they say, is history.
The school that Dodgson attended was Christ Church College which was yet another filming sight for the Harry Potter films. However, I wasn’t willing to drop £7 to get in, so I took some exterior shots and admired the creeping ivy a bit.
At this point, the two hour walking tour ended and we were left on our own for two hours until we had to catch our bus back. Naturally, I (and two others) set out to find more Harry Potter sets.
We then wandered back to a famous student pub that Luke had mentioned in passing on the tour. We couldn’t find seating, but the signage was choice.
From here, it started to get dark, so we set off to find some indoor entertainment.
We wandered to the Museum of the History of Science which contained the blackboard on which Albert Einstein taught his lecture on the Theory of Relativity. According to our guide, this was written in Einstein’s own hand and preserved.
Across the street was the newly renovated Weston Library where they had a special section of “Treasures”. Included are pictures and the descriptions, for your reading leisure!
At that point we had roughly an hour left to get back to the bus, so we went off in search of food and found an international outdoor market wherein I had dinner from Japan, Poland, and Vietnam.
On the way home, we got stuck in Hyde Park traffic (Winter Wonderland, yo…so many cars…) so I hopped off the bus early and made my own way home. It was a long day. This weekend I intend to do Cambridge, just to balance out the Force a bit.