Main Attractions: Lamb & Flag Pub, Museum of Natural History & Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford University Parks, Wadham College, New College, Covered Market, Exeter College.
Start and End: Ashmolean Museum - City Centre. Circular Route discovering several green areas ans sites connected with nature. Distance: 3-4 km. Duration: 1 day. Weather: ideal route for days with rain in the 1st half of the day. Distance: 4 km.
Leave the museum by the main entrance. Head east on Beaumont St. toward St Giles. At the traffic lights you need to go straight
across to the opposite side of St Giles. Use the pedestrian crossings and take care. Once on the opposite side, turn left up (north) St. Giles. Outside the main entrance to St John’s College there is a raised area under several plane trees. The St John's college – is named after St. John the Baptist. The plane trees line this wide road (claimed to be the widest in the UK). The plane tree is very tolerant of urban pollution which is why it is found throughout central London and other cities in temperate regions.
Walk 160 m. north and turn right to the Lamb & Flag Passage. On your right is the Lamb & Flag Pub. The lamb (in the pub's name) represents the lambs which were highly-valued possessions in ancient, Biblical Judaism and were sacrificed to God in order to request forgiveness
of sins. The lamb and flag had therefore become the symbol of St John the Baptist. The Lamb and Flag was also the symbol of one of the orders of knights or crusaders - the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. This order of knights was formed after the capture of Jerusalem in 1099. The order
provided hospitals and shelter for pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land, took care of knights who had been injured or were suffering from diseases and had military units who fought in almost every battle of the Crusades. St John's College took over the management of this pub in 1997, and now uses all pub profits to fund scholarships for graduate students. It is believed that Thomas Hardy wrote much of his novel Jude the Obscure in this pub. The pub also featured in the British TV detective drama series 'Inspector Morse'. Note the chestnut tree - immediately behind the pub, along Lamb & Flag Passage. The pub is recommended for its Beers:
Lamb & Flag Passage continues as the Museum Road. Cross the Parks Road (at the crosswalk), turn left - and on your right is the entrance to the Museum of Natural History & Pitt-Rivers Museum. These are two different museums in one visit. The entrance to the Pitt Rivers Museum is through the Oxford University Museum Natural History (OUMNH) on Parks Road. Visitors need to walk across the ground floor of the OUMNH to reach Pitt Rivers displays. Open: OUMNH - daily, 10.00 - 17.00, FREE. Pitt Rivers Museum: MON 12.00 (!!!) - 16.3, TUE-SUN 10.00 - 16.30 (annoyingly closings 30 minutes before the Natural History Museum), FREE. The two museums are located in an elongated Victorian Gothic building. The building itself is a gem. The Museum of Natural History houses the Oxford University's zoology, entomology, palaeontology, and mineral collections. It is a great learning experience for children and adults alike! The OUMNH is recommend especially if you have children with lots of activities provided to keep them interested. The exhibitions are well laid out and provide great opportunity to see and touch sciences.
The Pitt Rivers Museum, its counterpart next door, holds one of the world’s finest collections of anthropology and archaeology from all the continents and from throughout human history. Both of the museums are fully wheelchair accessible and child friendly. Make sure that you have plenty of time (at least 3 hours) to see the contents of both of the museums. Loads to see for both adults and children - but, I am afraid, children might be bored with the Pitt Rivers Museum. Both museums are ideal for wet days.
In front of the OUMNH stands a memorial stone column commemorating the 'Great Debate', in Oxford, on 30 June 1860, seven months after the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, between the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, and the biologist, Thomas Huxley. They debated Darwin’s idea of evolution and natural selection in front of a vocal crowd of 500 people. Darwin’s idea of evolution went against the commonly-held view that God was in control of creation. Even today, 156 years later the debate between evolution and creation continues. You can also find a statue of Darwin inside the museum:
The main atrium of OUMNH is spectacular. Its main attraction are several dinosaur skeletons in the centre and is surrounded by cabinets full of curious artifacts (fossils, minerals, insects and animals) and packed with information. There is a balcony all around the central atrium that has more items of interest and also a small cafe. Note: It can get a bit hot inside during sunny days, due to the glass roof.
Edmontosaurus annectens, Dinosaur, S. Dakota:
Granite - 2,700,00,000 years old:
Humpback Whale Skull:
OUMNH 2nd floor. The Museum's striking glass and iron roof, soaring above the specimens, is a source of fascination to visitors:
Wandering Albatross - a legendary bird:
The remains of the Dodo at Oxford are one of the greatest treasures of the Museum:
Life cycle of Nezara Viridula:
Temporary exhibition: Upper East Gallery, from 18 March to 29 September 2016. Kurt Jackson: Bees (and the odd wasp) in my Bonnet. This exhibition brings together paintings, sculpture and Museum collections to explore the diverse and beautiful world of bees. Kurt Jackson's art is a celebration of the natural world. Recently he has been inspired by the bees he encounters at home in Cornwall and across the UK. Apis, Kurt Jackson, 2015:
Through the back of the hall is the Pitt Rivers Museum which is full of glass cabinets bursting and packed with curiosities from around the world that were, first, collected by the Lt. Pitt Rivers and extended after his donation of his private collection. OUMNH is nature, Pitt Rivers is Anthropological.
'Human Form in Art' Gallery. PRM dedicates an extensive gallery to Figurative Art. For thousands of years, the form and meaning of body decoration has been an expression of a particular culture – for aesthetic reasons, to identify kinship groups, for performance or for ceremony. Note: the lighting is a bit dim, even dark sometimes, but once you become used to it, it does rather add to the mysterious atmosphere. A bit tough to walk through and around the huge glass cabinets and observe in the darkness. The fact that the Pitt Rivers Museum is still laid out in its original Victorian pattern makes the museum an exhibit in itself and adds to its charm. The various collections are arranged by function or theme (food, clothes, toys, weaponry, medicine, religion) rather than geographically.
Hindu deity: Janrath (right), his Sister, Sibhadra (centre), his brother Balabhadra (left), Orissa, India:
Dance Mask - Papua New Guinea:
Plaited raffia mat with Lizard design, Cameroon:
11 metres Haida Gwii Totem Pole, Canada, Queen Charlotte Islands:
The shrunken heads:
A bottle with a witch:
Exiting the couple of the museums - we turn right (north) and walk 200 m. along Parks Rd. On our left (west) is Keble College (under massive constructions). Keble is one of the larger colleges of the University of Oxford. Keble College was established in 1870, having been built as a monument to John Keble - an English churchman and poet, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement (a movement, which argued for the reinstatement of some older Christian traditions of faith and their inclusion into Anglican theology). The main building of Keble College is the distinctive brick complex in Parks Rd. - designed by Butterfield:
After 200 m. we turn right and enter the Oxford University Parks. The University Parks are bordered in the east by River Cherwell, in the nort side by Norham Gardens, by the north-east with a small plot of land (Mesopotamia) sitting between the upper and lower levels of the river. Parks Road to the west and with the Science Area on South Parks Road to the south. The quite extensive space was originally owned by Merton College, was purchased by the University in the 1850s and was first laid out as a Park for sports and recreational purposes in 1864 - first, for university members and, later, for the public. The park is open to the public almost every day of the year from 07.45 until dusk (the only exception being Christmas Eve) and boasts a choice of walks, a large collection of trees and plants and space for sports and picnics:
Clifford Circus was stationed in the western entrance during June 2016:
Since, we entered the parks from the Parks Rd. - we start with the West Walk section of the parks. The west, north and Lucas sections contain, mainly, flowering perennial shrubs and distinctive, impressive trees. Diverse specimens of trees display gorgeous golden, purple, grey and green colours of foliage. There are also many many brightly coloured flowers. A must visit place for nature lovers. An absolute pastoral heaven. Note: you are not allowed to enter with a bike !! No cycling !! ALLOW, at least, TWO HOURS FOR WALKING AROUND THE PARKS: West Walk, North Walk, Riverside Walk, Lucas Walk and South Walk. Note: after completing the riverside (eastern side) walk - you arrive to a T junction. Take the RIGHT leg - leading to Lucas Walk and the southern section of the walk.
West and North Walks:
Cedars in the West Walk :
You find the Giant Sequoias (Wellingtonias) (which were very fashionable in the Victorian period) in the meeting point of the West and North Walks:
The North Walk is characterized with numerous types of local and overseas trees: Aleppo Pine, American Smoke Tree, HimaItalian Maple, Oriental Plane, Serbian Spruce, Turkish hazel, Valonia Oak,
North Lodge of the University Parks:
The North Walk is characterized with numerous types of local and
Pond with Ducks:
Most of the Parks area is along (east to) the Cherwell river. South to the cement bridge - there is a grassland area which lies between two branches of the Cherwell river. It is known as 'Mesopotamia' after the area between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers - the cradle of human civilization.
Riverside Walk (along river Cherwell:
Leave the Parks at South Lodge and turn right and walk WEST along South Park Rd crossing: St. Cross Rd., Sherard Rd.,(on your left the Plants Science buildings with green windows and, later, on your left the Chemistry buildings), Mansfield Rd. On your left also the Rhodes Building - a green-domed building. Built in memory of Cecil Rhodes, an alumnus of the university and founder of De Beers diamond Company in South Africa. In 1931, Albert Einstein delivered a series of three lectures at Rhodes House:
Arriving to the cross-lights - turn LEFT (south) to Parks Rd. After 70 m. walk in Parks Rd. yous see, on your left, the Wadham College. In term time the Wadham College is open to visitors from 13.00 to 16.15. Out of term the college is open from 10.30 to 11.45 and 13.00 to 16.15. FREE. Only the Front Quad, Fellows' Garden and the Chapel are open to the public. Wadham College was founded in 1610 by Dorothy Wadham, according to the will of her late husband Nicholas Wadham, a member of an ancient Somerset family.
Statues of the founders (Dorothy and Nicholas Wadham) above the main entrance to the College:
The Main Hall:
The gorgeous Wadham College Chapel:
Back Quad with its cute buildings around:
Continuing south along parks Road - you arrive to the junction of: Parks Rd., Holywell Street, Broad Street and Catte Street. Here you face the peculiar Indian Institute with the animals carvings on the walls. Some animals (elephants, monkeys, tigers) are important in the Hindu religion. The Indian Institute was established in year 1875 in purpose to promote Indian studies at the Oxford University - when India was the crown jewel in the British empire:
Continue south along Catte Street and passing through the Bridge of Sighs (See: "Oxford - Day 2 - Part 1" blog). Immediately, turn LEFT (east) to New College Lane. On your left take the St. Helen's Passgge (with 40 cm. width...). St. Helen's Passage continues as Bath Pl. Here I met graduates of one of the local colleges, celebrating completion of their exams and year of study, half-drunk and full with confetti:
Turn right onto and continue along Holywell St. and after 150 m. the entrance to the New College will be on your right. Open: From mid- March to mid-October 2016: from 11.00 to 17.00, price: £4 adult; £3 concessions. Admission includes free map and guide. Other dates: !4.00 -16.00, daily, FREE.
It is called New College from the time of its completion in 1379. This gives an indication of how old and how much history there is in Oxford.
Inner Quadrangle. This cloistered quad has remained unchanged for six hundred years:
The Cloisters are also very interesting with statues of a variety of Saints and plaques dedicated to former patrons and alumni of the New College:
St. Edward the Confessor:
Opposite the entrance gate, in the other side of the Main Quad - there stairs leading to the Main Hall. The dining hall is full of history and with many pictures of Bishophs and Alumni:
picture of Bishoph of Winchester:
The college has beautiful gardens and chapel. The Chapel is just superb. Such wonderful craftsmanship, all done by hand. A few windows, in the chapel, were designed by Joshua Reynolds. The gardens, dominated by the old city walls, are beautiful and would be a peaceful place to sit and read or walk around:
New College Canopies:
New College Chapel:
Several scenes of Harry Potter films took place here: inside the cloisters and around the giant oak tree.
It is time to eat. So, we head to the Covered Market, 650 m. from the New College. Head west on Holywell St toward Mansfield Rd, 160 m., turn left onto Catte Street, 10 m., turn right onto Broad Street, 70 m., slight left to stay on Broad Street, 105 m. Turn left onto Turl Street, 110m. Turn right onto Market St, 80 m. the The Covered Market of Oxford is on your left.
The building dates back to the 1770’s. Most of the shops or the businesses are, here, for generations. Open: MON-SAT: 8.00 – 17.30, SUN: 10.00 – 16.00. Part of the stalls are closed on Sundays. Sassi Thai offers a range of delicious Thai dishes and Thai ingredients. Its a small, simple eatery, with limited, but enough choices. Dishes are available to eat in or takeaway. It costs just £5-6 for rice and a choice of one Thai dish, or for £1 more you get the choice of an additional dish. Very few seats and it's almost always busy. Very popular with locals:
Another well-famed option is Ben's Cookies. This is THE place to get a sweet snack in oxford. Always delightful, delicious, fresh and... sweet. You are attracted by and cannot stand the smell of baking.
We continue walking north-east in the Market Street. Walk 80 m. and turn left onto Turl Street. Turn right onto Brasenose Ln and after 50 m. the Exeter College will be on your left. The Exeter College is one of three in Turl Street running between Broad Street and the High Street. The College is typical of the smaller Oxford Colleges. It has beautiful architecture. The first courtyard you enter has the Hall to the right and the chapel to the left:
The Exeter College Quad was where the fictional Detective Morse character suffered a heart attack and collapsed in the final episode of the series, while Requiem being sung in the chapel:
It has a charming Fellow's Garden to the back with a Mound, situated at the end of the Garden, which offers unobstructed views over Radcliffe Square, including All Souls College and the Radcliffe Camera:
The chapel has a dramatic spire and the interior hall is very atmospheric and retains wonderful medieval feel:
Just inside it on the left is the bust of J.R. Tolkien. It is a little high up and easily missed:
This is one of the most famous tapestries produced by the influential William Morris workshop, depicting the Adoration of the Magi. The tapestry was commissioned in 1886 for the chapel of Exeter College, Oxford, and created to a design by Edward Burne-Jones. Morris and Burne-Jones were former students at Exeter College. The original tapestry was commissioned in 1886 by John Prideaux Lightfoot, rector of Exeter College, Oxford, for the Gothic revival chapel built for the college in the 1850s by George Gilbert Scott. The tapestry proved so popular that another nine versions were made, each with a different border design. The original tapestry still hangs in the college chapel:
Exeter College was originally founded in 1314 by Devon-born Walter de Stapledon, Bishop of Exeter, as a school to educate clergymen. associated with a number of notable Alumni people, including the writer J. R. R. Tolkien. The Fellows' Garden (see above) is reputed to be where Tolkien first saw the Hobbit.
From Exeter College and Turl Street we turn left onto Broad St, 130 m. We turn right onto Magdalen St., 125 m. We are already in Oxford very centre. Turn left onto Beaumont St., 75 m. and we face the main entrance of the Ashmolean Museum.