Today has proven to be the proverbial "sun before the clouds," literally. This part of England is supposed to get rain all day tomorrow as I begin my exploration of the Cotswolds region. Not complaining since I've had outstanding weather for the most part.
All of my adventure today centered in Oxford, which is larger than I anticipated, but not huge. It has retained, at least in downtown, a nice flavor of its medieval past as you will see from some photos. Of course, the town is known for Oxford University, which, to my surprise, is made up of 40 colleges. Lord knows how the administration of all that works! The largest college, and one of the oldest, is Christ Church College. The cathedral of the same name is very pretty, and I'll only show one or two pictures because a lot of these cathedrals begin to look the same after a while. The history of the church was very similar to that of the country with respect to religion. Initially, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a Catholic prelate, founded the cathedral, but when the Protestant Reformation swept England, his contributions were largely ignored.
The college of the same name has some pretty unique aspects. For instance, the Tom Tower, one picture for you, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. I wonder is the first part of his first name had anything to do with him doing that for the college. In any case, each night the 7 ton bell rings 101 times. Funny thing is I heard it last night, but did not understand the significance. Why 101 times? Because all 101 original students had to be within its walls by the last bell toll. Of course, the college has about 9 times more students today.
On a more literary note, I included a picture of the Eagle & Child Pub. You may wonder what a pub has to do with literature, or I think you should wonder. Truth be told, two of its more famous "regulars" were J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis who taught at Christ Church College. Of course, they became more famous for writing The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (Tolkien) and The Chronicles of Narnia. I popped in for some Potted Crab and a drink late this afternoon. The crab was served cold, but it was good. I could not pass up an opportunity to temporarily eat and imbibe where two such literary stalwarts used to hang.
You will see some pictures of Christ Church College's Grand Staircase and Great Hall. Respectively, they appeared in Harry Potter movies as part of the wizardry school called Hogwarts. The Great Hall is still used today, in fact for some Rolls Royce meeting.
My next stop was Bodleian Library. For anyone who likes libraries, this is a must! Although I could not go into them, the Library has about 11 million books in around 100 miles of subterranean stacks. Imagine that kind of playground for a bibliophile? What I did see was the Lower Hall, featured as both the Infirmary and Dance Hall in Harry Potter, a former court and Parliamentary room where the College's hierarchy would meet and discuss running the place or conduct trials for varying offenses, such as Oscar Wilde's numerous debts. The tour does go into the stacks immediately above the Lower Hall, and it was way cool to see that area. There are books, san any binding (apparently the way they were made then) dating from the early 1700s. To avoid having books walk off, they were chained, but no longer with the advent of security tags. This part of the Library looked familiar to me, until the guide mentioned that it, too, served as the Hogwarts library.
I highly recommend visiting Oxford and at least Christ Church College. You won't regret the time investment.
Oh, the next contest has to do with the last picture of one Charles Dodgson. Who was he, or what did he write? This is a two part answer because of his pen name. Good luck.
Thanks for reading.