Sunday, July 28, 2013

On to Oxford

The Oxford college education system is a bit confusing - at least to this America.  
The University of Oxford has 38 colleges.  The college are houses of residence, and also have the main responsibility for teaching the students. One on one interaction between student and tutor - called a tutorial - is one of the main methods of teaching in Oxford.  Tutorials and classes are the responsibility of colleges, while lectures, examinations, laboratories and the central library are run by the university. Most colleges take both graduates and undergraduates, but several are for graduates only. 

Our day in Oxford began with a look at the Christ Church War Memorial Garden.

There are lots of pretty gardens in the many colleges of Oxford.  Most of them though are hidden away in quads behinds large closed wooden doors.

This gentleman with the bowler is called a Bulldog.  Once upon a time the Bulldogs acted as the police enforcement for the colleges.  Now it is a more honorary role.

So many pretty buildings in Oxford - many of them hundreds and hundreds of years old.

A college generally consists of a room for dining, a chapel, a library, a college bar, senior, middle (postgraduate) and junior common rooms.  There are typically rooms for 200-400 undergraduates as well as lodgings for the head of the college and other dons. College buildings range from the medieval to very modern buildings, but most are made up of interlinked quadrangles (courtyards), with a lodge (a very large door) controlling entry from the outside. This is a typical college street scene in Oxford.  Lots of bicycles.  And the college's street façade - all the action taking place out of sight. 

Here's the beautiful Sheldonian Theatre - one of the earliest of Christopher Wren's buildings.

Interesting people walk down the street in Oxford.

And with 38 different colleges there are emblems and shields everywhere.

Here's the famous Bodleian Library.

The Bodleian Library provided inspiration for the Hogwart's Library in the Harry Potter books. 

King James visited and as this statue shows, he generously gifted the library with two, yes two books!

There are charming architectural details everywhere.  Most of the small brown faces and critters in the collage above are quite new - I thought they were each so wonderfully carved and intrinsically unique.

These Easter egg colored houses were once the homes of Oxford merchants.  Now they are student housing.

This is a typical entrance to a college.  A huge wooden door, with a smaller door inset on the left or right.  This door is quite plain, many had colorful shields and emblems.  Most though, were closed against the outside world. 

We did get to visit Lincoln College.

Here's the dining room with the Great Table at the head for the tutors and dons.  Once again it is clear where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for Hogwart's dining hall.

As is common Lincoln has its own chapel.  it acknowledges one of its famous students, John Wesley.

We were lucky enough to be in Oxford during the graduation ceremony of one of the colleges.

All the robes with white ermine (rabbit now I'd expect) and the different colored hoods.  What a sense of continuity a ceremony that stretches back to the middle ages. 

Oxford also had a small vibrant street market on Saturday.

But this lovely vista - this is what I think of when I think of Oxford!
Though as Mary noted, some people instantly think of Colin Dexter's fictional character, Inspector Endeavour Morse when the city of Oxford comes to mind. Do you?


Chris said...

Such a lovely place. The market looks like it was wonderful. Amazing architecture!

Ann at Beadlework. said...

I've never actually been in Oxford and yet I've been to Oxfordshire many time. It looks very much worth a visit though.

Giovanna said...

Lovely pictures of this beautiful town - thanks for sharing!

Margaret said...

So cool!!! I love seeing everything! The new gargoyles are so neat too. Oxford is just so cool. I find it fascinating!

Barb said...

What a lovely place. Those buildings do remind me of Harry Potter!

Annette-California said...

I am speechless. I was in awe looking at the campus photos. So remarkable. I only hear of Oxford on TV. Never have known anyone to attend or visit. I loved your tour for us on Oxford. I am a fan of Harry Potter - need I say more:)
WOW great post Beth and Thank you again. love Annette

Vickie said...

Really neat. But I have to admit, really confusing to me too.

Anna van Schurman said...

The dude went to Oxford (St. Anne's) (not one of the most picturesque) and the river is what I think of too. Sure, he's taken me around the colleges, but my favorite stories are from when he and a friend of his (Lincoln College) rented out punts. They were not the most industrious of workers, and there's lots of great stories.

Melissa said...

What a lovely visit to Oxford! I would love to be there one day.

Melanie said...

Very very neat! And Hogwarts-ish. :)

geeky Heather said...

Beth, I'm so enjoying your posts about your trip! I'm still very behind, though. We will be staying in Oxford in a couple weeks...I'm even more excited now after seeing your pictures!