Oxford; a Bookworm's Dream
Whenever I travel, anyone who isn't British always asks me if I'm from London, and when I say no, the next place people ask me about is Oxford. I always have to disappoint people because I am from Dorset.
Oxford is the oldest university town in the UK. There are 39 colleges making up the university that the city is so famed for. The oldest of which dates back 750 years! Their elegant buildings wrap around the winding cobbled streets. Christ Church college is the largest and most magnificent, though still a working college. Whilst there are tours, they stop around midday through until 2pm. The tour takes you through a 15th century cloiser, the Great Hall, and the largest quad in Oxford, the Tom Quad. You also get to see the smallest cathedral in the UK, the Christ Church Cathedral.
The first of two buildings I am dying to visit is The Bodleian Library. It is one of the oldest public library's in the world. It holds over 11 million items.The Bodleian's present state is due to Thomas Bodley, who came to the agreement that the library would receive a copy of every book published in the UK- and that stands true to this day.
The second is the Radcliffe Camera. It is a sort of library, sort of reading room and is incredibly circular. The room is filled with natural light and is one of the most photographed buildings in Oxford. The only way in is on an extended tour of the New Bodleian Library.
As you may have noticed in my Norway post, I really love books. So Oxford is a dream destination with connections to members of the Inklings, they were famous for encouraging narrative in fiction and fantasy writing and included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Not just that, you can walk around the city, starting at the aforementioned Christ Church College, where the story of Alice in Wonderland was based.
You can even follow one of the great's around the city, taking the steps of J.R.R. Tolkien. You can visit Pembroke College, it has the most beautiful chapel in Oxford. Head from there to 49 St. Giles Street, AKA The Bird (or the Bird and Baby), a pub actually named the Eagle and Child. It is known for Tolkien and C.S. Lewis hanging out, and having a few drinks and their meetings of the Inklings. You can even visit the last resting place of Tolkien and his wife, Edith, at Wolvercote Cemetery.
Not only can you follow in the steps of Tolkien, you can follow in the steps of C.S. Lewis, too. Pass by the University Church of St Mary the Virgin where the heavy, carved wooden door is said to be the "Narnia Door". The central carving is that of a wise old lion, and this was what the wardrobe door was based on in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. As well as that C.S. Lewis took inspiration from the college he taught at, Magdalen College. The cloisters there have the most remarkable pillars with animal carvings that look ready for Aslan himself to come and breathe life into them.
More recently Oxford held host to Philip Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials. Whilst Lyra's Jordan College doesn't exist in our realm, the Botanical Garden's of Magdalen College do. There at the back of the garden's is a bench with "Lyra + Will" scratched into it, as it was said that when the gateway closed between their world's they would come back and feel each other's presence every mid-summer's day at noon. As well as hosting Will & Lyra, it was a favourite haunt of Tolkien with him favouring an Austrian pine. He based the walking talking tree's in his Lord of the Rings on this tree.
Have you been to Oxford? Have you been on any bookish tours?