Part 2 of our Oxford trip is definitely the more interesting part because we visited a couple of the famous colleges. In particular, we visited the Christ Church College and the Bodlelian Library. They were fantastic. We can see why these sights are the top things to visit in Oxford.
Christ Church College
Christ Church College is magnificent. Dripping with almost as much detail as King’s College in Cambridge, the stone work and architecture is stunning.
The corridors and courtyards all the way through are beautiful, and so so old! Considering the time they were built in, its just all so amazing.
And there are more little faces!
Like the colleges in Cambridge, Christ Church College has a great square. Presumably you can’t walk on the grass like the Cambridge colleges too, though we didn’t test our theory.
The *other* key reason to visit Christ Church College was because of Harry Potter! But that will be the next Harry Potter post. This magnificent stairwell was used as the entryway to Hogwarts and up to the Great Hall. I love the amazing vaulted ceiling!
The Dining Hall at the college was used as the inspiration for the Great Hall in Hogwarts. I thought it was neat that it was an active dining hall with the cutlery all set and everything. There was a queue of people slowly filing into the hall and out again. So many tourists, and many of them american too.
It certainly looks different to the movies, but I suppose it was mostly used for the close shots of the students at the tables and inspiration. The portraits on the walls were very grand and some of the artworks at the head of the dining hall were very recognizable. King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. I assume they’re originals! They looked magnificent.
Christ Church College was very impressive and it’s easy to see why it’s the top of the ‘To see’ list in Oxford.
The other college we visited was called the Bodleian Library. It has a stunning room with a magnificent ceiling in the Divinity School. This room used to be used by the Divinity school for oral exams. The focus of classes was discussing different issues and topics. Likewise, an exam consisted of being able to explain and support an argument on some issue or another (i.e. How many angels are in heaven?).
The ceiling has 455 bosses (knobs of stone) in which religious synbolism appears alongside monograms and shields commemorating benefactors and people associated with the building.
Apparently during the reformation in the 16th century, various religious characters in the designs were beheaded or removed, such as below where a figure of St Peter was chipped away.
The other fantastic thing at the Bodleian Library is the Duke Humphries Library. It contains some hopelessly old books, which used to be chained to the bookshelves so people couldn’t steal them. We unfortunately couldn’t take our cameras up to the library, but it was pretty amazing. Here’s some pictures, but also visit the official Duke Humfrey’s Library website for more information.
The library was pretty amazing. The library smelt of paper and was so so old. They don’t *actually* chain the books anymore, but they’re still stored in cardboard and rubber band reinforcements since the bindings and covers of the books are so brittle. Wonderful stuff.
This Duke Humfrey’s library is only where they keep a few hundred or thousand of the original books. The Bodleian Library, however, gets a copy of every book ever printed. So, by now, they have millions of books in a 7 storey building across the street. Completely phenomenal. Thankfully they’re starting the slow process of scanning and digitising all the books in the library, but the very old books can’t be opened more than 45 degrees wide which makes it challenging and awkward to scan them. Will be pretty amazing when they’re accessible though.
Oxford was stunning, and the colleges were inspiring and packed to the brim with history. Makes me want to explore some of Cambridge’s colleges more.
But there’s one more part of this trip to Oxford that I haven’t spoken too much about. All the Harry Potter sights and such in Oxford. We went through and visited as many sights as we could find and took a picture at each. A whole blog post full. It was so much fun!
Til next time,