I jumped at the opportunity to visit Oxford and one of the best Universities in the World.
It was August, which meant the students had left the University for the summer holidays. It was great news as we were able to view the majority of them. This is the oldest University in Europe and teaching began around 872. This is not a big deal for us English, but it certainly knocks the socks off my American friends. It closed down in 1209, but lucky for us re-opened in 1214.
Other Universities are normally under one complex but Oxford is so interesting. It is a collection of colleges spread over an enormous area.
These are: All Souls, Balliol, Brasenose College, Christ Church, Corpus Christi, Exeter, Green College, Hertford College, Jesus, Keble, Kellogg College, Lady Margaret Hall, Linacre, Lincoln, Magdalen College, Harris Manchester College, Mansfield College, Merton, New College, Nuffield, Oriel College, Pembroke, The Queen’s, At Annes’s College, St. Antony’s College, St. Catherine’s, St. Cross, St Edmund Hall, St Hilda’s College, ST. Hugh’s, St John’s, St. Peter’s College, Somerville College, Templeton College, Trinity College, University College, Wadham, Wolfson and finally, Worcester College.
Every building is steeped in history. The architecture is just breathtaking. Radcliffe Square and the magnificent domed Camera was amazing, this is one of the major reading rooms in the Bodleian Library. It is situated between the numerous lanes and college quadrangles.
The outer walls of the Sheldonian Theatre lie to the north on Broad Street. Just beyond are Balliol, Trinity and Exeter. St John’s College is in St Giles just a short distance away. Tourists were bustling at the Thomas White quadrangle opened in 1975. One could quite easily spend the entire day checking these out.
However we decided to take a look at where the famous OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACE takes place each year. If you were British you would certainly have heard about it. The challenge is between the two Universities’ and everyone has his or her favorite. We would also have a bet on it. Even the bookies would give us odds on it. I loved it as a child. We would all put in a shilling (20 cents) and Dad would “divi up” the winnings after the race. Great memories. So, of course Oxford has a river. The River Cherwell. We stood by the picturesque Magdelen Bridge and watched the punters frolicking in their boats. It looked great but not enough time to do everything.
The University has a huge sports center, it was formally the Iffley Road Running Ground, where in 1954 Roger Bannister ran the four minute mile, setting a new world record. During term time you will see that the vast majority of students use bicycles for transportation.
If you are traveling in September you may be fortunate enough to go to the St. Gile’s Fair. It is a colorful reminder of the great medieval county fairs that prospered during the 19th century.
The Sheldonian Theatre is the earliest example of Renaissance Architecture in Oxford and the first example of Sir Christopher Wren’s work who was also the designer of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.
Oxford has a football (soccer) team. They play at Manor Ground. When I left almost 20 years ago, they were a pretty good team.
Next, onto something us girls love to do. Shop. Oxford has all the shops you expect in any English town or city. Departmental stores, Marks and Spencer, chain stores, and many designed for the tourists to spend their dollars.
Dining is no problem. As with most towns and cities they offer fast food chains as well as beautiful restaurants. There are also numerous pubs for inexpensive meals.
Hotels do not come cheap. The average would start around $150 for a single room and $200 for a double, with an en suite bathroom. However look out for bed and breakfast places or hostels. These are a much better deal.
Finally I really enjoy my time with the family. Living in America I appreciate the history and the amazing architecture that Britain and Europe have to offer.