Mary's trip to London, Oxford and Berlin travel blog

Oxford's School of Divinity

A grotesque depicting a 15th century individual

More grotesque heads at Oxford

More Oxford sculptures

Oxford architecture seen in such films as the Harry Potter series

The ornate lierne vaulted ceiling of Oxford's School of Divinity

The Radcliffe Camera houses the Science Library at Oxford University

Another 15th century portrait head at Oxford University

An ornate door at the Oxford School of Divinity added in the...

William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke at the Bodelian Library, Oxford

Sculptural niche at the Oxford School of Divinity


Today, we started out by catching a city bus into Oxford as our hotel is about 45 minutes outside of Oxford along the motorway. We arrived near the city center and were escorted to the courtyard of the Bodleian Library. We were divided into two groups as a tour of the library could only handle about ten people at a time. I was assigned to group two so a friend and I wandered up the street and checked out some souvenir shops stuffed with merchandise emblazoned with characters from the Harry Potter movies and the Inspector Morse BBC/PBS TV series.

My sister and I had a quick whirlwind tour of the library on a day trip from London in 2006 so I had seen most of that part of Oxford before. My friend and I found a little eatery and, since I wasn't very hungry I ordered just a bowl of brocolli and Stilthouse (a British cheese) soup. Remembering how wonderfully creamy British ice cream is I also requested a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

As we waited for our lunch we noticed that there was a television film crew working outside and we learned that the BBC was filming an episode of "Endeavor". After we finished our lunch we walked outside and sat down on a bench and watched the passing visitors for a while then my friend decided to go back to one of the souvenir shops to purchase a ticket for an "Inspector Morse" walking tour. I decided to stroll around and take a few pictures of the historical architecture and the grotesque heads that adorned some of the University's buildings.

It finally was time to report back to the library for our official tour and we began in the Divinity School constructed in 1488 to view its elaborate vaulted ceiling. The hall was as beautiful as I remembered it with it's intricate lierne style ribbing. We then moved on to the Convocation House. Paneled in dark English oak, this addition was built during the 17th century. During the reign of Charles II, the chamber served as home for the Royalist Members of the English Parliament while the English Civil War raged. Our tour guide also mentioned that it served as chambers for the Chancellor's Court. I was surprised to learn that village miscreants as well as college students could request a trial in the Chancellor's Court instead of normal civil court if they wished.

Then we climbed the winding stairs up to the oldest reading room in the Bodleian Library known as Duke Humfrey's Library. I didn't feel out of breath but as our tour guide explained that the contents of the books had now been replaced with facsimile copies I began to feel queasy and then quite nauseous. I tapped one of the tour leaders on the shoulder and told her I was going to be sick and asked for a student to take me to the ladies room. Once there I lost my lunch and wretched and wretched. I asked one of the docents if they could call me a cab. Instead she handed me a map to a taxi stand about 15 minute walk away. I started out for the taxi but made it only half way and got sick again in the University churchyard (I found some gravel so didn't deface anything historic!). I started out again and made it to the taxi and asked the cab driver if he took credit cards as I had only 10 pounds left in cash. He said no but pointed to an ATM machine across the plaza. I stumbled over there but the sun was shining directly on the screen and I couldn't see what it was asking me. I commandeered a student nearby and asked them to read the screen to me and finally was able to get some money. I staggered back to the taxi and he took me back to the hotel. I clamped my hand over my mouth so I wouldn't despoil his cab and made it back to my room before I got sick again. I finally stopped wretching and laid down hoping sleep was all I needed.

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