United Kingdom Trips

Winchester, Hampshire

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

Main Attractions: High Street, Winchester Cathedral, Kingsgate, Winchester College, Wolvesey Palace, St. Cross Hospital, The Great Hall (Winchester Castle), The Gurkha Museum, Peninsula Square, The Westgate, The Guildhall, Abbey Gardens, Statue of Alfred the Great.

Distance: 15 km. Duration: One BUSY day. Weather: Avoid rainy days. There is a section of 2 km. along the Itchen river water meadows.

Introduction: I chose to base at Southampton. Winchester is approximately 100km (62 miles) south west of London, 30.6km (19 miles) south-west of Basingstoke and 22.5km (14 miles) north of Southampton, its closest city. It is  an easy, convenient 20-30 minutes ride with the train from Southampton Central station. The city’s location makes it a popular commuter destination, close to the M3 motorway and just one hour from London by train. At the heart of central Hampshire sits the medieval city of Winchester, England’s Ancient Capital. The city has a rich royal heritage and was once home to King Alfred the Great. His heritage is covered in this blog. Winchester is also famous for the legendary Arthurian Round Table. A striking sight, the table has been housed for over 700 years in The Great Hall - the only remaining part of Winchester Castle, once the centre of court and government life. At the centre of the city sits the impressive Winchester Cathedral, which has the longest nave of any Cathedral in Europe. It is here that author Jane Austen was laid to rest and next to her grave is a permanent exhibition dedicated to her memory. Winchester has a popular café culture which is evident around every corner. Food is a popular theme in the city and it hosts the country’s largest farmers’ market. Winchester is a pleasant, easy town to live in. even at night. In the evening visitors can discover the city’s nightlife. The streets come alive once the sun goes down.

1 day in Wincester itinerary:

We exit the Winchester Railway Station through the tunnel with our face eastward to the City Road.  After 75 m. we turn RIGHT (south) to the Jewry Street. Walk 320 m. and turn LEFT (east) to the pedestrianized High Street. The city’s medieval roots can be seen along the High Street and the pretty narrow, cobbled streets and historic buildings which adorn the busy High Street. Winchester’s pedestrian High Street is the hub of the city. It stretches from King Alfred’s statue (east end of High Street) up towards the Westgate. Almost immediately, as you enter the H/S, you see the famous clock  (the junction with St. Thomas Street, a few steps further on your right) :

The next road to the right (south) is Little Minster St. Here stands the Winchester Buttercross. This is also known as the City Cross. It is a type of market cross associated with English market towns and dating from medieval times. Its name originates from the fact that the Buttercrosses were located at the middle of the past market sites. The fresh produce was laid out and displayed on the circular stepped bases of the cross. The people from neighboring villages would gather to buy locally produced butter, milk and eggs around these monuments. You can find Buttercrosses in all the Cathedral cities in South England. Their design varies from place to place, but they are often covered by some type of roof to offer shelter, although the roofs were mostly added at a much later date than the original cross they cover. The City Cross (Butter Cross) dates back to the 15th century and is now a scheduled ancient monument. The four figures on the Cross are believed to be William of Wykeham, King Alfred, St John the Evangelist, and former mayor, Lawrence de Annehester:

Once the Romans' east to west route through the city, the pedestrianized Winchester High Street is home to a wealth of buildings and shops, many of them with delightful Regency and Elizabethan bow-fronted facades and windows. You can find here many well-known coffee shops and market stalls selling local produce and accompanied with live music. The High Street provides a lively thoroughfare - always been the commercial heart of the town.

Immediately to the right of the Buttercross is an archway and narrow passage leading to Great Minster Street and the famous Winchester Cathedral precincts. Winchester's major landmark is Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, with the distinction of having the longest nave and overall length of all Gothic cathedrals in Europe.  Once the most prominent royal church in Anglo-Saxon England, the Normans asserted themselves in their newly conquered Kingdom to rebuild it in their own style (the vaults of the Crypt are all that remains) before it underwent several changes to become the cathedral you see today. There are 300,000 visitors annually, including pilgrims, tourists, families and school groups.

The cathedral was founded in 642 and the building became known as the Old Minster. It became part of a monastic settlement in 971. Saint Swithun was buried nearby, and, later, in it, before being moved to the new Norman cathedral. THe mortuary chests, inside, said to contain the remains of Saxon kings such as King Eadwig of England, first buried in the Old Minster, and his wife Elfgifu, are in the present cathedral. The Old Minster was demolished in 1093, immediately after the consecration of its successor. The legend of St Swithun (a rather obscure Bishop of Winchester / Saint who performed but one recorded miracle in his lifetime during the 800's) originates in Winchester - according to the legend, the saint's remains were moved against his dying wishes from their final resting place in the grounds of the cathedral to the inner sanctum, whereupon it proceeded to rain for 40 days as a sign of his displeasure. Now, if it rains on the saint's day (15th July), it is said to herald another 39 days of rain !

Important events which took place at Winchester Cathedral include: Funeral of King Harthacanute (1042),
Funeral of King William II of England (1100),
Coronation of Henry the Young King and his queen, Marguerite (1172),
Second coronation of Richard I of England (1194),
Marriage of King Henry IV of England and Joanna of Navarre (1403),
Marriage of Queen Mary I of England and King Philip II of Spain (1554).

Visiting the vast Winchester Cathedral is like stepping back through fifteen centuries of ecclesiastical English history. A place of worship for over 900 years, Winchester's world-famous cathedral is as remarkable for its hidden treasures as it is for its spectacular architecture. Here, in the longest medieval nave in Europe, you will find outstanding works of art alongside the tombs of Jane Austen, Izaak Walton and the early English kings. The Winchester Bible is widely recognized as the finest of all the great 12th century bibles due to its size and illumination, while the equally impressive Sound II statue by Antony Gormley stands in the crypt.

Cathedral Guides offer tours of the Cathedral each hour from 10.00 – 15.00 and tours of the crypt at 10.30, 12.30 and 14.30 from Monday to Saturday. Evensong held at 17.30 Monday – Saturday and 15.30 Sunday. Occasionally the Cathedral may need to close for special services and events. All temporary closures are listed in the Cathedral website. Prices: Adult £7.95, Concession £5.95, Student £4.45, Free entry for children visiting with family. An admission fee has been charged for visitors to enter the cathedral since March 2006. Visitors may request an annual pass for the same price as a single admission. The Cathedral restaurant is an elegant place, beyond the Cathedral Shop and behind an ancient flint wall opposite the Cathedral. It has large terrace with partial Cathedral views and pretty walled garden. Open: APR – DEC: everyday 9.30 – 17.00, JAN – MAR: everyday 9.3 – 16.30. Not cheap.

Exterior: This cathedral is impressively large, the longest not only in England but in Europe as a whole. The exterior, apart from the modified windows, gives the impression of a massive Norman building and indeed, it is the longest medieval church in the world. However, the west front is now Perpendicular, with its huge window filled with fragments of medieval glass.

Northern facade. The brick paths trace the foundations of Old Minster built-in 634 and demolished in 1093:

Western facade. The Gothic window which was destroyed during the English Civil War was rebuilt in 1660 using the shattered glass from around the Cathedral:

From South-East:

The flying buttresses of the Cathedral are a Gothic characteristic of the building. Flying buttresses keep the walls of the nave from bowing outwards:

Interior: Immediately, as you step in towards the main nave - you see the Jane Austen tomb. The novelist Jane Austen died in Winchester on 18 July 1817 and is buried in the cathedral. Her gravestone can be seen on the flooring of the north side of the nave:

Also buried in Winchester Cathedral are the bones of many Saxon kings: King Eadwig of England, first buried in the Old Minster, and his wife Elfgifu, the remains of the Viking conqueror Canute and his wife, Emma, and the remains of William Rufus (William II), son of William the Conqueror. The Kings originally had their own tombs, but in the 1650s Cromwell's men, world class destroyers of churches, smashed them up and threw away the bony contents. Much later, in the late 1520s, bone fragments and other stuff collected by loyal citizens, were distributed amongst six mortuary chests, of which four originals remain (the other two are later replacements):

Mortuary chest on wall, labelled with Canute's name:

Tomb of Cardinal Beaufort:

Mortuary Chests in Lady Chapel:

The soaring Perpendicular Gothic nave of Winchester Cathedral, the longest in England, is the highlight of the building:

The font – the "most famous" of the Tournai fonts (type of baptismal font made from blue black limestone during the 12th and early 13th centuries in and around the town of Tournai in Belgium by local masons) in England is the only font in the cathedral, and you can find it on the north side of the nave. It illustrates scenes from the life of St Nicholas of Myra on two faces, with three roundels of birds on the third and a roundel of a quadreped with birds on either side on the fourth:

Winchester Cathedral is famous for its chantry chapels. A total of seven, all in different styles, were added between the 14th and 16th centuries. This is more than any other English cathedral, reflecting Winchester Cathedral's great power, wealth and royal connections. The two earliest are in the nave. That of William of Edington, Bishop of Winchester 1346-66. Edington served as both Treasurer and Chancellor of England, and was Bishop during the period when the Black Death ravaged England. Edington initiated the remodeling of the nave into its current Perpendicular form, and the triple porch that still fronts the building. His alabaster effigy is one of our finest medieval sculptures:

William of Wykeham's soaring monument was built at the same time as his reconstructed nave:

The remaining four chantry chapels stand in the retrochoir. Cardinal Henry Beaufort (1404-47) chose a site next to the final shrine of St Swithun:

A statue of Joan of Arc was erected when she was canonized as a saint by the Pope in 1923. The statue stands outside the Lady Chapel and faces the Chancery Chapel of Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, who condemned her to death by burning at the stake in Rouen in 1431:

On a corresponding position on the north side is the chantry chapel of William Waynflete (1447-86), who was founder of Magdalen College, Oxford:

The chapel of Richard Fox (1501-28) was built during his lifetime, on the south side of the platform behind the high altar. The aged, blind bishop is said to have spent much time here in prayer and meditation. His chapel is a marvelous example of the stone-carver's art. The small statues are modern; the original figures of saints were destroyed at the Reformation. The Bishop's 'cadaver' effigy facing the south aisle reminds the passer-by of the transient nature of life:

On the north side of the platform, Bishop Gardiner's Chantry Chapel is an amazing hybrid of English late Gothic and Continental Renaissance style deriving ultimately from Fontanebleau. Stephen Gardiner (1531-55) was the last important Roman Catholic bishop of Winchester, during the reign of Mary Tudor (Queen Mary I). He officiated at her marriage to Philip of Spain, which took place in Winchester Cathedral. Other, smaller memorials tell their own fascinating story.

Beneath the tower-arch of the north transept of Winchester Cathedral, sits the Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher. It dates from the 12th century:

The recently refurbished 'Fishermen's Chapel' in the south transept is the burial place of Izaak Walton, who died in 1683, and was the author of The "Compleat Angler":

Sir George Gilbert Scott's imposing 19th-century monument to Bishop Wilberforce (son of the social reformer) stands in the south transept:

the choir still has its fourteenth-century wooden choir stalls, with some delightful medieval carving in the paneling. Many of the choir stall seats are misericords - mercy seats - designed to offer support to monks who had to stand through long services. The Winchester collection of misericords is one of the largest in England. The open-work choir screen dates from 1875 and is by Sir George Gilbert Scott. Although Scott based his designs on earlier ones, his work here was criticized at the end of the period:

In the retrochoir, at the far end of the Cathedral, is a beautifully carved female figure known as Ecclesia. This large statue was unearthed in the cathedral grounds and despite the fact that it's head has been lost, it is considered one of the best 13th century carvings in the UK:

The main Victorian work in the cathedral was the restoration of the Great Screen, an ornately carved stone screen behind the high altar. It is a collaborative effort involving such big names as G. F. Bodley, who designed the crucifix; Thomas Nicholls (William Burges's trusted sculptor), who sculpted eight of the central statues, including the Virgin Mary; and the London firm of Farmer & Brindley, which executed the crucifix. Amongst the grand total of fifty-six statues is one of Queen Victoria herself. The Great Screen was finally dedicated in March 1899.  Don't miss the choir stalls featuring flowers and plants, owls and monkeys, dragons, knights and green men:

The pious Swithun, Bishop of Winchester in the mid 9th century was originally buried (862) in a humble grave in the open between the tower of St. Martin and the Cathedral Church of the Old Minster in Winchester. This original grave, along with the minster itself, was excavated by Martin Biddle in the 1960s. Today, a modern shrine stands in the usual spot reserved for a saint's relics behind the High Altar: sandwiched between the chantry chapels of Bishops Waynflete and (Cardinal) Beaufort. This was certainly the site of St. Swithun's Shrine at the time of its demolition in 1538:

Tower tour is possible only in very specific times: JAN - MAY, OCT - NOV: WED 14.15, SAT 11.30 and 14.15, JUN - SEP: MON, WED, FRI 14.15, SAT 11.30, 14.15. Duration: 1.5 hours Price: £6. Tickets available from the Entrance Desk. You climb 215 steps to the top of the tower to experience magnificent views across Winchester and the county around. You may access the nave roof with its huge wood beams and see the bell ringing room and the great Cathedral bells. The tour ending on the roof, with magnificent views of the town and surrounding countryside:

The Cathedral's crypt, was and, still is, frequently flooded., It houses a statue by Antony Gormley, called "Sound II", installed in 1986, and a modern shrine to Saint Swithun. The mysterious statue contemplates the water held in cupped hands. Guided tours: MON – SAT at 10.30, 12.30 and 14.30. Duration: 20 minutes Price: Included in admission. Tickets available from the Entrance Desk. During the wet winter months the crypt can flood and, frequently, guided tours are canceled:

The crypt of Winchester Cathedral:

In 1905 a team of about 150 workmen set out to deal with the problematic Cathedral foundations once and for all. The current wooden foundations were rotting away beneath the Cathedral and part of the building was beginning to subside. William Walker, a deep-sea diver, toiled in darkness below the walls of the Cathedral for nearly six years in order to replace the foundations. Near the entrance to the crypt - there is also a bust of William Walker, the deep-sea diver who worked underwater in the crypt between 1906 and 1911 (King George V era), and was, actually saving the whole cathedral, underpinning the nave and shoring up the walls:

The Winchester Cathedral Bible is on show as part of a temporary exhibition in the north transept. It is not possible to see all four volumes of The Winchester Bible. Just one volume is presented to the public. The Winchester Bible is the largest and finest of all surviving 12th-century English bibles. A single scribe wrote out its text in Latin, while In contrast, the illuminations reflect the work of at least six different hands. Although many of the illuminations remain unfinished, the text itself is complete.

As we exit the Cathedral - we head to our next destination: the Pilgrims' School, 3 The Close, Winchester. From the western edge of the Cathedral complex there is an asphalted path - the Dome Alley which leads, for 180 m. south-west to the school, or, ask locals about the best path to. The school hall contains England's oldest surviving wood double hammer-beamed roof, which used to accommodate the pilgrims traveling to the cathedral. Its official date of establishment is unknown but historical records indicate that choristers of Winchester Cathedral's renowned choir have been educated in the Winchester Cathedral's Close as early the 7th century. The school moved to its present site in 1931. The main building, redesigned by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th Century, is on the site of a former Roman villa, and includes a medieval hall and barn. The Pilgrims' School also educates young choristers of the Winchester College Chapel Choir:

The Pilgrim's School is surrounded by pretty wooden houses. DO NOT MISS them:

From the formal (and closed) entrance to the Pilgrims' School - head west toward Dome Alley, 35 m. Turn left, still along, Dome Alley, 65 m. Continue onto St Swithun St and the Kingsgate is on the left. Kingsgate is one of two surviving medieval gates to the city of Winchester, England (the other is the Westgate - see below). The name was first recorded in 1148. The gate is on, or near, the site of one of the Roman gates to the city, and was the entrance to the royal palace before the Cathedral Close was enclosed in the 10th century. The present gate is probably 14th century, with 18th-century pedestrian walkways. This delightful area of Kingsgate is rich in heritage and charm and is one of the city's best kept secrets. Part of the fabric of the old city walls, the historic streets of this quiet corner of Winchester are best wandered lazily, giving time to browse the old book and print shops and much loved gift shop. We recommend to stop at the Wykeham Arms, an 18th Century coaching inn offering excellent food, log fires and local ales. It is immediately behind the gate, on your left (south):

St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate is a very small church atop the arch of Kingsgate. The interior is very plain, with whitewashed walls and an unadorned wooden ceiling:

Walking around the Cathedral, in the small alleys - residing south-west to south-east from the mighty building is a pure delight:

Opposite Wykeham Arms starts the College Street (from west to east). We take this road and walk along it with our face to the east. In College Street # 8 - Jane Austen died:

College Street, with its views of the medieval wall encircling the cathedral precincts, leads to Wolvesey Palace (see below). From there, tourists can see the remains of a bishop's palace (rebuilt by Wren), pass the ruins of the castle and enjoy the attractive Abbey Gardens, relics of a 9th century abbey founded by King Alfred's wife. It also leads to the King Alfred memorial in Broadway, and to the bridge over the River Itchen:

Continuing walking along this pleasant road and you see, on your right, the complex of Winchester College buildings. Regularly, the college is closed to the public. But, guided tours can be arranged in very specific times, depending on the period of your visit through the year. Please look at their web site: http://www.winchestercollege.org/guided-tours or Tel : +44(0) 1962 621209 or Email : Enterprises@wincoll.ac.uk. The guided tours are quite limited in their scope but include brilliant explanations on a magnificent buildings and grounds. The College is the oldest in the country still on it's original site. Winchester College was founded in 1382 and has a close association with New College in Oxford. Opened in 1394, two of the college's original houses, Flint Court and Chamber Court, have been perfectly preserved, as has Seventh Chamber, the oldest schoolroom in the country. The guided tour includes the chapel (!), dining room & a common room used by the boarders. A new museum was opened in Sept 2016. Do your best to reserve a guided tour and do not miss the college's chapel:

In the end of College street there is a wide pitch with Pilgrim's School children playing there:

In the end of the street we turn left (north), on the further entrance. A tarmac path is leading to the ruins of Wolvesey Palace - the home of Bishop Henry. Wolvesey Castle (Old Bishops' Palace) is an English Heritage property that includes the ruins of what was once a fortified palace and the chief residence of the Bishops of Winchester. In 1554 Queen Mary and Philip II of Spain held their wedding breakfast in the East Hall:

With our BACK to the ruined palace we cross the College Street, continue walk along College Walk, turn right and immediately left and continue walking SOUTHWARD (direct) along the east side of water meadows and river Itchen. It is a 2 km. pleasant walk to St. Cross Hospital. There  are signs pointing to the hospital. On our way we cross a road and follow a path leading to Clarendon Way. From this point of St. Cross and St. Faith Meadows (there is a sign) - we have still 800 m. more to the ancient hospital. On your left is the Catharine Hill with its 3rd century fortress overlooking the Winchester town:

Quite probably that you'll feel unsafe in this solitary path. But it is definitely safe. The path along the river is recommended by locals and is the best way to connect the northern parts of Winchester, for pedestrians, with the southern ones. Good chance that you'll meet cyclists or young walkers on your way along the water meadows. At the end of the path there are kissing gates. Turn left to the the ancient St. Cross Hospital.

St. Cross Church (Chapel) (its back side) from the water meadows path:

Formally, called: Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty and situated 2 km. south of Winchester's city center, England's oldest almshouse was founded in 1132 by Henry of Blois, grandson of William the Conqueror, for 13 "poor and pious men". It is the oldest charitable institution in the UK. It is described as "England's oldest and most perfect almshouse. It is also the largest medieval almshouse in Britain. Now, it is a living community of 25 brothers. Brothers must be single, widowed or divorced, and over 60 years of age. Preference is given to those in most need. They belong to either of two charitable foundations: those belonging to the Foundation of the Hospital of St Cross (founded in about 1132) wear black robes with a silver cross and square academic caps; those belonging to the Order of Noble Poverty (founded in 1445) wear red/magenta robes and trencher hats. They are sometimes called the "Black Brothers" and the "Red Brothers". Their homes are grouped around an inner courtyard, entered through a gatehouse. The 15th century Hall of the Brothers and the kitchen, dating from a later period, should be visited, as should the chapel. Upon exiting, visitors can request the traditional Wayfarers' Dole (knocking at the door of the Porters Lodge, and requesting the Dole): this is a horn of beer and a morsel of bread given to any visitor who requests it. You could consider this site a retirement home, perhaps, more than a hospital in the modern sense. In the outer quad there is a Tea Room in the Hundred Men’s Hall. In medieval times up to a hundred poor men from the surrounding area were given food here each day. In fine weather visitors can also take tea and coffee at tables on the lawn. In the spirit of the charity, the tea room is staffed by volunteers, continuing a long tradition of local good will towards the Hospital. Prices: adult - £4.50, concessions - £4:

The site of St Cross Hospital consists of multiple buildings centered around a smaller, outer quadrangle and a larger, inner quadrangle. You enter through the outer gate (which is from the 16th century) and enter the smaller quadrangle. On the south side you’ll see the 100 Man Brewhouse (14th century); to the north is the kitchen and guest wing (15th century). Directly ahead you’ll see the Beaufort Tower, which stands 3-storeys and dates from 1450; the Beaufort Tower used to the quarters for the master of the almshouse. Once you pass under the Beaufort Tower, you have to pay your entrance fee at the Porter’s Lodge. This is also where the Wayfarer’s Dole is given out. Entering the inner quadrangle, you’ll first see the door to the beautiful gardens on your immediate left:

St. Cross Chapel/Church:

Along the north side of the square are the private residences of the brothers in residence. That area is closed off for privacy. The flats for the brethren are quite orderly, and are recognizable by their tall chimneys:

Looking back at the Beaufort Tower and entrance. The door to the kitchens is just to the left of the main portal:

Opposite the private area, and running between the courtyard and gardens, is a timber-frame long gallery. It was only for use by the almhouse master, and is raised on a cloister that was, in the past, open to the courtyard:

The Brethren’s Hall is a decent sized hall with a high ceiling and a wooden beamed roof. It looks like it had for centuries:

The Norman Chapel was started in the 1160´s. It is an amazing example of Norman architecture as it dates from the 12th and 13th centuries. It retains much of its late Norman purity, despite being somewhat altered in the 14th and early 15th centuries:

The cloister, built in the 16th century lead through to some lovely gardens:

St. Cross Almhouse Gardens:

Exiting the St.Cross premises - we head back to Winchester centre. We turn right (north) to St Cross Rd. Immediately, on our left, stands the Bell Inn Pub. A very good solution for our lunch. BUT, it closes at 14.00. No hot meals behind this hour ! Continue to follow St Cross Rd for 2.2 km. and turn right onto High St. This long section of our daily route can be easily replaced with a bus ride. It is boring, noisy and may be walkable only by addicted walkers. Most of the 2.2. km walk is shady. Otherwise - take bus #69 or Bluestar #1 or #1from the Bell Inn to the High Street.Most of the buses stop at the St. Thomas Church (St. Cross Road) and from there it is a 10 minutes walk to the Great Hall.

At the High Street turn LEFT (north) and at the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Romsey Rd. Turn left onto Queens Ct and, again, left (opposite Westgate Pub) onto Peninsula Square. The Great Hall (actually, at Castle Avenue) will be on your left. Winchester Castle is a medieval building which was founded in 1067. Henry III (who was born at Winchester Castle) added the Great Hall between 1222–1235. In 1873 the roof of the Great Hall was completely replaced.  Since 1889 Winchester Castle has been the seat of Hampshire County Council whose offices neighbor the Great Hall. Nearby, the excavated remains of the round tower in the medieval city wall can also be seen:

Only the Great Hall had been remained from this castle. It houses a museum of the history of Winchester. The Arthurian Round Table hangs in the Great Hall. The table was originally constructed in the 13th century, and repainted in its present form for Henry VIII. King Henry is depicted as King Arthur and the Tudor rose in the center. Around the edge of the table are the names of King Arthur's knights. According to legend, this is the table around which King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table met, and it has been famous for centuries as a legend. The Great Hall is one of the largest in England, and is certainly the finest of that period to have survived today. Its many features include stained-glass windows, a judges’ gallery and wrought steel gates that were installed in 1983 to commemorate the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.

Normal opening hours are 10.00 to 17.00. FREE. The Great hall is frequently closed due to municipal or other formal events.

Bronze statue of Queen Victoria sculpted by Alfred Gilbert to commemorate queen's jubilee in 1887:

Winchester Castle Museum - King Arthur picture:

Winchester Castle Museum - King William I picture:

Do not miss the Queen Eleanor Gardens - a recreation of 13th century garden:

Rear of the Great Hall and Queen Eleanor's Garden:

At the edge of the garden there are stairs leading to the exit of the castle. You Head west on Peninsula Square toward Queens Ct and you face the Military Museums area. THe most interesting museum is the Gurkha Museum. Astonishing museum. The Gurkha Museum at Winchester tells the unique story of Gurkha service to the British Crown for 200 years. Gurkha soldiers died in nearly every country in which Britain has fought – silent testament to Gurkha loyalty and courage. This museum is a wonderful tribute to the bravest, the toughest, the most generous, fascinating and kind people on earth. I admire the Nepalese people. It is once-in-life experience. Open: MON - SAT: 10:00 - 17.00. Prices: Adults - £4.00, Concessions - £2.50. Allow, at least - one hour:

The Gurkha Museum and the other military museums are spread around the Peninsula Square. A breathtaking square. The fine buildings surrounding Peninsula Square are now mainly used as residential accommodation, but were military barracks until 1994. The present day gardens were then the parade ground:

You can visit another (FREE) museum like the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum. Open: 10.00 - 17.00. June, July, August & first two weeks in September: 7 days a week. April, May & first two weeks in June:
MON-SAT. January, February & March: TUE -SAT:

Walking along Romsey Road from west to east - we arrive, again, to the High Street and face another section of Winchester walls. The Westgate is one of two surviving fortified gateways in Winchester (the other is Kingsgate - see above). The gate was rebuilt in the 12th century and modified in the 13th and late 14th centuries. The gate was in use until 1959 when the High Street was routed around it. It was a debtors' prison for 150 years. You can still see the prisoners' graffiti on the walls. There is also a Tudor painted ceiling. There are great views of the city from the Westgate roof. Open: APR - OCT: SAT 10.00 - 17.00, SUN 12.00 - 17.00.
February half term - MAR: SAT 10.00 - 16.00, SUN 12.00 - 16.00. Closed November to February half term:

Our last section of the Winchester day is walking 800 m. along High Street from west to east till The Broadway. The Most eastern end of High Street is the Brooks Shopping Centre:

The High Street continues east as The Broadway. On our right (south) are the Guildhall and the Tourist Information office (closed on Sundays !). The magnificent Victorian building of Winchester Guildhall is one of the largest in Hampshire. Note the imposing double flight of stairs at the front. The building houses the Tourist Information Office, a cafe and meeting/conference rooms for the council and other organizations. There's an up-market pub on its corner.

DO NOT miss the charming Abbey Gardens behind the Guildhall (its back side,  more to the south). The Abbey Gardens and Mill are part of the site of St Mary’s Abbey, once one of the largest religious houses in England. In November 1539 the Abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and most of the monastic buildings were demolished. The site was subsequently gifted to the City by Queen Mary Tudor to celebrate her marriage to Philip of Spain in the Cathedral in July 1554. The land was later divided into two, the eastern part was occupied by a fine town house and formal gardens that survive today as the Mayor of Winchester official residence and public gardens. The western part of the site was cleared for the City's Guildhall in 1873. Remains of St Mary’s Abbey can be seen at the back of the Guildhall. Now, you can find here Now has formal flower beds, a rose garden, a scented garden and an enclosed children's play area:

Look out from the Abbey Gardens for the bronze statue of Alfred the Great, the most famous King of Wessex, standing proudly in the centre of Winchester, which he had made his capital during his reign:

Return to  High St. Walk back 480 m. to the west and turn right onto Jewry St., 320 m. Turn left onto City Rd, 160 m. Slight left and continue onto Station Hill to face the Winchester Railway Station.

Southampton Town Walls

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

Central Southampton:

Main Attractions: The Cenothaph, Monument to the Engineers of the Titanic, Guildhall, SeaCity Museum, The Bargate, Arundel Tower, Juniper Berry Pub, Western Esplanade, West Hythe Quay and Biddle’s Gate, The Arcades, Blue Anchor Lane, Tudor House, St. Michael's Church, Town Quay, God's House Tower, Holyrood Church.

Duartion: 1/2 - 3/4 day. Weather: Any weather. I did this route during a windy and rainy day. I must admit that the Southampton harbor and bay look totally different (far more gorgeous and attractive) on sunny days ! Distance: 7 km.

Start: The Cenotaph. End: The Bargate (Above Bar Road).

Introduction: I chose Southampton as my base for 8 nights. It is the optimal site for exploring Hampshire, the Cathedral cities, Stonehenge. Southampton, is fairly good base, even, for visiting Bath - due, to the horrible accommodation prices in Bath. The train lines from/to Southampton - are really punctual, convenient, reasonably-priced and efficient. Keep in mind just one rule: find accommodation near the train station. My lodging, for 8 nights, was Rivendell Guest House - 19, Languard Road, Southampton - 10 minutes walk from the Southampton Central station. A wonderful and brilliant choice (see Tip below).

Medieval Southampton was completely enclosed by fortified town walls, large parts of which survive today. For a brief period Jane Austen was at school in Southampton, then a small port at the head of Southampton Water, and although she nearly died of typhus there, this did not deter her from returning more than two decades later. From late 1806 to early 1809 the Austens lived in a house in Castle Square,

We start our route in the Cenothaph. It is the junction of the Commercial Road (west) and the Above Bar Road. We start walking down along the Above Bar Road, with our back to the north, our face to the south, the West Park on our right and the East Park on our left. On our right, in the  green space (West Park or Watts Park) is the bulky stone masonry Cenotaph, by Edward Lutyens.  The monument was planned to be abstract and graceful, with a perception of a soldier having fallen in a "peaceful"  death. This Cenotaph precedes Lutyens', far more famous, monument in Whitehall, London. It was originally dedicated to the casualties of the WW1. But, weather damages to the memorial stone monument led to a glass wall being built alongside it in year 2011, incorporating the names of Southampton citizens who died in subsequent wars and conflicts. The glass panels list 3,298 names of people killed serving in the two world wars and subsequent conflicts:

Nearby, across Above Bar Road, the park continues on your left (it is called East Park), with at the corner the excellent Monument to the Engineers of the Titanic (15 April 1912): a granite construction with bronze panels to left and right of a ship's prow, showing two engineer crew members on deck. Central and above, a large bronze angel with wings, wreaths and exceptional drapery and figure. Joseph Bell was the Chief Engineer Officer on the RMS Titanic. His staff consisted of 24 engineers, 6 electrical engineers, two boilermakers, a plumber and a clerk. None survived the sinking. In total 1,523 people died on the Titanic in this ill-fated voyage. The memorial was designed by Whitehead and Son. The granite memorial monument was originally unveiled on 22 April 1914. The event was attended by an estimated 100,000 Southampton residents. The impact of the disaster was felt all around the world, but nowhere more so than in Southampton:

 

150 m. down the Above Bar Road, on our right starts the Cultural Quarter. An area alive with arts, heritage, entertainment, events, music, colour and dramatic architecture. Notable sites include the Guildhall Square,Southampton City Art Gallery, The Guildhall, Mayflower Theatre, City Library and Archives, BBC South Broadcasting House, and the historic city centre parks.

First, we see the Southampton Solent University Conference Centre, 157-187 Above Bar Street - Southampton main site setting for conferences and exhibitions:

Next, a bit further southward, is the Cultural Quarter or Civic Centre. It hosts the SeaCity Museum, council offices, the Guildhall venue, the well-endowed city art gallery, and the city library.

The Central Library:

Southampton City Art Gallery: FREE to enter and conveniently located right next to SeaCity Museum, the venue caters for families. You can enjoy gallery trails through the exhibitions, monthly art clubs and a fantastic range of activities for all ages. Open: MON - FRI: 10.00 - 15.00, SAT: 10.00 - 17.00.

Lady Darling, circa 1882 by John Collier (1850–1934):

The Captain's Daughter (The Last Evening) by James Tissot (1836–1902):

The Second Visit by Howard Hodgkin (b.1932):

From the Above Bar Road we see the east wing of the Guildhall. Work on the Guildhall (the east wing) began in March 1934. The Guildhall was intended as a social location for municipal functions. The Guildhall was opened on 13 February 1937.

The Guildhall (east wing), with colonnaded façade:

The west wing, originally courts, now hosting SeaCity Museum, and the monumental clock tower also holding many council offices:

The south wing of the civic centre, containing mostly council offices:

The city’s new maritime attraction, SeaCity Museum, tells the story of the people of the city, their fascinating lives and historic connections with Titanic and the sea.It continues to attract hoards of visitors to the city. Featuring a number of exhibitions including a major Titanic exhibition, the museum will be a lasting legacy to the fateful Titanic ship. As the port from which the 1912 White Star liner Titanic set sail, Southampton is at the very heart of the Titanic story. Many lives and families were affected by the tragedy. You can see the 1:25 scale interactive model of the ship, experience the ‘Disaster Room’, and immerse yourself in the 1930s court room which depicts the Inquiry held in London after the disaster. It is the Titanic story which makes a visit particularly worthwhile. The museum was opened on the centenary of the Titanic in April 2012. Open: daily, 10.00 – 17.00. Prices: Adults: £8.50, Concessions: £6.00. You can enjoy the museum café without needing to pay for admission to the rest of the building. The café is  located on the ground floor:

The impressive Guildhall Place, a pedestrianized walkway that links Guildhall Square to East Park and Above Bar Road has been just reopened in 2016:

On our way down (south) along Above Bar Road - we can dine in various restaurants, cafe's or eateries. The Art House, 178 Above Bar Street, Southampton - an Art Cafe' is a very good option: tasty, very special place, atmospheric, organic veggie food, fantastic cakes, excellent coffee, cultural clientele.  For the Sunday dinner - you must order a place well in advance. Jacket potato with small salad: £4.  No gluten menu (Falafel Salad: £8). Open: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 22.00, SUN: 12.00 - 17.00. Closed: Mondays. Another reasonably-priced and filling option, a bit further south, on your left, is Nando's, at WestQuay Shopping Centre, Food Terrace (2nd floor), West Quay Shopping Centre.

Our way from north to south along Above Bar Road is dotted with many parks on our right and left. We start with the East Park (Andrews Park) and West Park which are particularly attractive.

We continue with the Houndwell Park and Palmerston Park. So plenty of green spaces here ! The parks date back to the Middle Ages and beyond when they were outside the walls of the city and were used for strip farming. Palmerston park, on your left (east) is absolutely beautiful with all its flowers and plants and at night it has gorgeous rope lights illuminating it. It is full with camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias. Hydrangeas and various summer flowering bulbs extend the flowering season into the summer. You can find, here, the statue of former Prime Minster the 3rd Viscount Palmerston. It was unveiled on 2 June 1869, four years after Palmerston’s death in 1865:

Houndwell Theme Park lies to the south of Palmerston Park and is separated by Pound Tree Road:

We continue southward when the Marlands Shopping Centre is on our right (and, later, the West Quay Shopping Centre) and the Palmerston Park is , still, on our left. At last, in the end of Above Bar Road, in the centre of the street, is one of Southampton's medieval constructions, the Bargate, associated with the city's defensive walls, much of which survive. Although Southampton was ruthlessly bombed during the last war, some ancient relics survived, including the famous Bargate, which once served as the main gateway to the city at the northern end. The gate was once the site of town council meetings, the local court, and road toll collectors. Constructed in Norman times as part of the Southampton town walls, the Bargate was the main gateway to the city. Two lions rampant in lead, with inscription on base dated 1892 noting replacement of 1743 pedestals. The two lead lions are said to protect the city and the original Norman arch dates back to about 1175, with the tower being added a century later. The far side of the gate has carved heads in poor condition adorning the sides of the windows, and centrally placed, a statue of George III in Roman costume of Hadrian (modelled after the British Museum statue and emplaced after 1809). To the left (looking back at the statue) a city wall walk begins, but we shall see it later. Looking over the parapet is a nicely posed modern bronze statue John le Fleming (1991) by Anthony Griffiths. The northern side of the gate is under massive constructions:

Here, starts the old town, surrounded by walls,  which has over 90 listed buildings and more than 30 ancient monuments,Georgian houses and hotels. Southampton still retains England's second-longest stretch of surviving Medieval wall (the longest is in York). These huge stone walls were first built to defend the town from attack by land, and then extended to protect it from sea-borne enemies, following the devastating
French raid of 1338. Although earlier Roman and Anglo-Saxon settlements around Southampton had been fortified with walls or ditches, the later walls originate with the move of the town to the current site in the 10th century. GuIded Walks: Southampton Tourist Guides Association offer guided walks on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year, starting from the Bargate at 11.00, £3, under 16s free.

With our face southward, we turn right (west) to Bargate Street. On our left the old town walls and Arundel Tower. On our right the West Quay mall. It was originally known as Corner Tower. In the 14th century it was renamed after Sir John Arundel, governor of Southampton Castle 1377-39. Arundel tower may be also named after hirondelle, the magical horse of sir Bevois, one of the mythical founders of Southampton. legend has it that hirondelle (‘swallow’ in French) was so named because he could out-fly swallows. When Sir Bevois died the horse flung himself from the tower in sorrow. Unfortunately access to the bridge is closed at the moment so you miss the interesting larger-than-life statue of early mayor Le Fleming peering over the wall:

Arriving to the end of Bargate Street - we turn LEFT (south) to Castle Way. On our right signpost indicating the location of the past Castle Gate. Rising high above the town walls stood Southampton castle. Built after the Norman conquest of 1066, the king and his court would stay here on their way to France. After gradually falling into disrepair the castle
was rebuilt in 1805, but demolished 10 years later. Walk 160 m. south along Castle Way and turn right in the 2nd turn, Castle Lane. Turn left onto Castle Square and you see a gorgeous Tudor wooden house, the Juniper Berry Pub (and lodging) on your right. Following her father George's death in January 1805, Jane Austen, her mother and sister Cassandra eventually settled in Southampton, where they stayed until mid-1809. In March 1807 they took a house in Castle Square, on the site of the present Juniper Berry Pub. This pub is stunning on the outside but a typical English pub on the inside:

We walk along Castle Lane until its western end. With the Juniper Berry on our left, We descend the stairs in the end of the path and we turn LEFT (south) to the Western Esplanade. Walking southward along the Western Esplanade, we cross, on our left, the splendid Simnel Street with many, charming red-bricked houses. In the mid 1700s, doctors prescribed salt water bathing as a cure for many illnesses, and Southampton became a fashionable place to visit. This area was home to
Mr Martin’s Baths and the assembly rooms:

Immediately, behind the Simnel Street - we see, on our left the most beautiful section of Southampton walls: West Hythe Quay and Biddle’s Gate and, Later, the Arcades. in medieval times, this was a bustling waterfront lined with the houses of wealthy merchants. After the French raid in 1338, the merchants were forced to move and the walls of their houses were blocked up to create the town walls. You can still see the outlines of the medieval doorways and windows.

The Arcades form part of the surviving west walls and are a unique feature in England; their closest architectural equivalent are in Rouen, France.[31] The West Gate still stands three storeys high and was originally defended by two portcullises; the windows on the west side of the gate are the original medieval designs. Along the south side of the walls one of the twin towers protecting the South Gate still stands, largely intact. The Arcades form part of the surviving west walls and are a unique feature in England; their closest architectural equivalent are in Rouen, France. The West Gate still stands three storeys high and was originally defended by two portcullises; the windows on the west side of the gate are the original medieval designs:

Several steps further south and we cross, on our left, the Blue Anchor Lane.  Blue Anchor Lane led from the medieval quayside into the town and the market in St. Michael’s Square. the stone arch forms part of the town walls. The portcullis slot is still visible. The Blue Anchor Lane slides it’s way down a steep incline alongside the Tudor House towards the quayside, that in Medieval times, would have been just outside the city walls. The Blue Anchor Lane ran from the market square outside St. Michael’s church to the waterfront via the Postern Gate, one of Southampton’s original seven gates. It was used to carry goods from the quayside up to the market square. The carters would have piled onto their carts all manner of imported goods and worked hard against the gradient to deliver them to the market place in front of St Michael's church. In the late medieval period the lane was called Lord’s Lane.
It was renamed in the 18th C after the Blue Anchor Inn which was located in the lane:

We shall climb up east along the Blue Anchor Lane and end up with the Tudor House and St. Michael's Square on our right and St. Michael's Church in front of us.

St. Michael’s Square is dominated by the iconic Tudor House. This square was once the location of Westgate Hall. Wool was stored upstairs, and a fish market was held beneath. In 1634 the hall was dismantled and
rebuilt next to Westgate. Paving slabs show where it once stood. The Tudor House, a timber-framed building facing St Michael’s Square was built in the late 15th Century, with King John’s Palace, an adjacent Norman house accessible from Tudor House Garden, dating back a further 300 years. Tudor House gives a unique and atmospheric insight into the lives and times of both its residents through the years, and of Southampton itself. the existing Tudor House and Garden that is seen today traces its roots back to around 1495 AD, when Sir John Dawtry, an important local official, had the building constructed from those houses which previously stood here. Open: TUE - FRI 10.00 - 15.00, SAT - SUN 10.00 - 17.00. Closed Mondays. Prices: Adult: £5.00, Child 5 and over: £4.00, Child under 5: free, Concessions: over 60s and students: £4.00. Tudor House and Garden & SeaCity Museum: Adult: £12.00, Concession: £9.00:

The St. Michael's Church occupies the east side of St. Michael's Square off Bugle Street. St. Michael's Church is the oldest building still in use in the city of Southampton, England, having been founded in 1070, and is the only church still active of the five originally in the medieval walled town.  Worth a visit, a lovely and welcome place: fine stained glass and a good modern wood carving.  It is frequently closed and opening times clarification on line is hard to find:

We end our visit in the Blue Anchor lane and return west (left) to the Western Esplanade, continuing walking southward. After 75 m. of walk we see on our left, the Westgate - another medieval gate to the city (nowadays - Westgate Hall). On our right are the Grand Harbour and Holiday Inn hotels. The Westgate  includes the relocated timber framed Medieval Cloth Hall which was relocated to this site:

Near the Pig in the Wall Pub (and small hotel), we pop into the walls and return walking southward along the Western Esplanade:

After 200 m. in the Western Esplanade we arrive towards the Town Quay and the docks. Here,  we turn northward to the High Street. Here, stands the Town Quay. During the 1400s, wool was the single largest export from the town. The wool house was built to store wool right on the quayside. The town mayor, Thomas Middleton, built a large crane next to it for moving heavy cargo. Houses along the esplanade and the quay are very special looking (note the Ennio's restaurant/hotel building). This section of our route offers lovely views to the sea, and cruise liners, passing ferries and container ships with tugs:

In the intersection of Town Quay and High Street - we enter, with our face to the east, onto Winkle Street to see, on our left the wall and the God's House. God's House Tower is a late 13th century gatehouse into the old town of Southampton. It stands at the south-east corner of the town walls and. The complex was named after nearby God's House Hospital, although it has many alternative names including the South Castle. In the past, it permitted access to the town from the Platform and Town Quay. An original simple gatehouse was built in the late 13th century and in the early 14th century it was extended to its current dimensions. At the same time a large room, possibly a guard room, was built above the gateway. The great tower at the eastern end of the building and the adjoining gun platform were built in the 15th century to strengthen the gate's flank defences. The tower was also called Mill Tower (or Mill House) from the tidal mill installed at its east extremity and worked by the waters of the town moat. It housed the city Museum of Archaeology (opened to the public in 1961 and then closed in September 2011). Tower House, which adjoins the gateway to the west, was built in the 19th century, replacing an earlier building. In 2012, it was occupied by "a space arts", providing studio space for "emerging" artists. Opposite the gateway, in Winkle Street, is the only other remaining substantial part of the original hospital, the Church of St. Julien. Just outside the gate is the Old Bowling Green, the oldest bowling green in the world which dates back to at least 1299.

Try to walk as east as possible in Winkle Street and find the way to turn LEFT (north) in  the Lower Canal Walk (the extensive, a bit hidden, Queen's Park is on your right).  In the end of this road, slightly turn left, again to Briton Rd. to see another section of the walls - opposite Friary House (former Franciscan priory). We continue walking west (left) aling Briton Street until it meets the High Street. Here, we turn right (north) and walk along High Street. After 160 m. - we see on our right (east) the northerern wall of the destroyed Holyrood Church. Several churches were within walking distance of Castle Square, including the Holyrood Church in the High Street, right at the centre of the medieval town. Built in 1320, the church was destroyed by the Nazi bombing during the blitz in November 1940. In 1957 the shell of the church was dedicated as a memorial to the sailors of the Merchant Navy. Southampton lost seven churches during the blitz, as well as the nearby Audit House, the Ordnance Survey offices and many shops, factories and homes. During the night of 30 November 1940, when the church was destroyed, 214 people were killed in Southampton and nearly 500 properties were totally destroyed. The only parts of the church still standing are the tower at the south-western corner and the chancel at the eastern end, together with large parts of the north walls. The wooden spire was lost as was the great west window, whilst the central area of the church was completely destroyed. Among the memorials inside the ruin is one to the crew of the Titanic, most of whom came from Southampton. Inside the church, under the tower is a memorial fountain, erected in 1912–13 for those who lost their lives in the sinking of the Titanic ship. The fountain is supported on four stone columns, with a curved pediment on each side with carvings depicting the "Titanic", surmounted by a four-columned cupola. The artist metal worker, Charles Normandale created a series of wrought iron metal screens, gates and railings for the Chancel and Titanic Memorial Fountain. The chancel, now with a glass roof, and nave are used for temporary exhibitions and musical events. The whole edifice is dedicated to the men of the Merchant Navy and hosts the annual Merchant Navy Day memorial service. In the corner of the former nave is an anchor (bearing the name of Cunard shipping company, behind which is a plaque bearing the legend:

"The church of Holyrood erected on this site in 1320 was damaged by enemy action on 30 Nov 1940. Known for centuries as the church of the sailors the ruins have been preserved by the people of Southampton as a memorial and garden of rest, dedicated to those who served in the Merchant Navy and lost their lives at sea".

Walking further northward along High Street - brings you to the Above Bar Road and to the Bargate. It is 1 mile (1.6 km.) walking to our start point - the Cenotaph.

Oxford - Day 3 - Green areas in the heart of the town

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

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:

Tyrannosaurus rex:

Dinosaurs:

Giant Tortoise:

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:

Beetles:

Butterflies:

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:

Holywell Quad:

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.

Central Quadrangle:

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:

Dining Hall:

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.

Oxford - Day 2 - Part 2 - High Street: from St. Mary Church to Magdalen Bridge

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

Continuation of "Oxford - Day 2 - Part 1" blog.

Part 2 - High Street: from St. Mary Church to Magdalen Bridge.

Main Attractions: High street, Queen's College, St. Edmund Hall, Magdalen College, Magdalen Bridge and Boathouse, University of Oxford Botanic Garden.

Start: High Street, St. Edmund Hall End: High Street, the Botanic garden. Duration: 4-5 hours.

With our back to the Radcliffe Camera and our face to the St. Mary Church we walk southward from Radcliffe Square - heading to the High Street. There, we turn LEFT (EAST) and the rest of our second day in Oxford is devoted to the High Street section between St. Mary Church and Magdalen Bridge. Our direction of walk is from west to east. A small section of 700 m. of High Street - but full with colleges, green areas, water and... history. The real retreat for hungry stomachs lie in the eastern end of High Street - where it diverges into St. Clement Street and Cowley Road: full with budget and quality restaurants and cafe's. In part 1 we recommended on 2 restaurants: Greyhound and Nando's - located, respectively, in these two roads. Geographically, this area of eateries lies in THE END of our route. Another good option: dine at the Queen's Lane Coffe House. They have Grills Menu, traditional British hot portions.

Leaving Radcliffe Square and walking EASTWARD along High Street. The first road to our left is the Queen's Lane and the first college on our left (north side of High Street) is the Queen's College. Its entrance is from Queen's Lane:

Usually, closed to the public. You can appoint a visit through the local tourist information office. FREE. The College Chapel holds a number of public services, and during term there are frequent public concerts and recitals - these are your opportunities to sample this wonderful classic-style college. They have regular recitals on Wednesdays during term time. There's an excellent college choir as well. Choral Evensong at 18.15 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.  This college is unique: unlike its Gothic-style neighbours, Queen's is a stunning example of classical architecture. The Chapel is magnificent and has one of the finest organs in Oxford.

The Upper Library at Queens College:

Dining Hall - Queen's College:

The Chapel:

Opposite, at the east side of Queen's Lane is the entrance to St.Edmund Hall:

St Edmund Hall (commonly referred to as of "Teddy Hall"). Its estimated date of founding is year 1236. The college claims to be "the oldest academical society for the education of undergraduates in any university". The college has a reputation for being a informal, young, vibrant, friendly college with a wide range of extra-curricular strengths in areas such as creative writing, drama, sport and music. The main building of "Teddy Hall" is the only medieval academic Hall to still be called such (instead of 'college'). Teddy Hall got college status in 1957.
Open: Daily, 10.00 - 16.00. FREE. Wheelchair friendly:

We return back south to High Street. In the corner of Queen's Lane and High Street - stands the Queen's Lane Coffee House. It changed its name to QL several years ago. Try their Custard Tarts, waffles and their teas. Good portion sizes for good value for money. Claims to be the oldest coffee house in world. Established at 1654. 362 years of history.... Avoid during the busy hours:

300 m. further east, still on the north side of High Street stands the Magdalen College (pronounced "Maudlin"). The college is absolutely stunning. Opposite the college entrance, on the south side, is the Botanical Garden - our last destination of this route (see below).Please allow 2-3 hours for visiting the Magdalen College. A very big place. You cannot imagine the size from outside. The principal areas of the College that are normally open are the Hall, Chapel and Old Kitchen Bar. In addition the gardens, grounds and parkland, including the water walks beside the River Cherwell are open. The Deer Park can be viewed from the path. Open: January to late June: 13.00 to dusk or 18.00, Late June to the end of September: 12.00 - 19.00, October to December: 13.00  to dusk or 18.00. Prices: Adults £5.00; Over 60s, children, students £4.00; Family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children aged 7 or over) £14.00. Children under 7 years of age are free of charge.

Entrance to the college is through an inconspicuous porter's lodge on the High Street, which leads into the irregularly-shaped St. John's Quadrangle.

High Street, entrance to Magdalen College:

Founded in 1448, Magdalen College has some of the most beautiful buildings in Oxford, many of which are adorned with an array of interesting stone-carved characters. Beautifully located just off the river, the college is set in extensive grounds (most of which can be accessed by the public) and has a variety of buildings in different architectural styles. The college is situated amid superbly maintained woodlands, riverside walks, gardens and amazing Deer Park. BE PREPARED TO STAY, HERE, AT LEAST TWO HOURS. History meets natural beauty and it really just has to be seen to be believed! After enjoying the amazing architecture take a walk along the Cherwell river and its surroundings. Be ready to walk through long paths and around huge meadows. So close to city centre and you feel like being in the countryside in the middle of nowhere! So, better, dine beforehand !

Magdalen College was founded in 1458 by William Waynflete, a high-ranking churchman who went on to become Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England. Construction began only in 1467, when the charter was confirmed by King Edward IV. Magdalen was at the forefront of the revival of Classical learning from its early days and in the early 17th century it was strongly Puritan for a time. Nevertheless, it supported Charles I and the Royalists.

Most of the College's quadrangles are full of quirky statues. On the right/east is the great west window of the chapel (1480); on the left/west is a gate leading to St. Swithun's Quadrangle (by Bodley and Garner 1881-85) and the early 17th-century Grammar Hall.

The High Street side of St. Swithun's Quad:

Old Grammar Hall:

View of the Great Quad (1474-80), looking west to the Founder's Tower:

Straight ahead (north) is the attractive, neo-Tudor President's Lodgings (1881-85). In the southeast corner of St. John's Quad is an outdoor pulpit, from which a university sermon is preached on the Sunday nearest St. John the Baptist's Day (June 24). The small Chaplain's Quad runs from here past the chapel and hall to the Great Tower:

sculpture of St Mary Magdalene on the gate leading into St John's Quad:

A passage in the north side of the Great Quad leads across a wide lawn to the New Building (1733), which resembles a country house. The New Building (1733), intended to be part of a vast Classical quadrangle that was never completed. It was originally intended to be part of a vast Classical quadrangle. Three windows near the center mark the rooms where C.S. Lewis lived and taught for many years. Unfortunately they are now occupied by others and not open to viewing. :

Magdalen's Perpendicular Gothic Great Tower (1492) is perhaps the most beautiful in Oxford. Magdalen's bell tower, the tallest medieval tower in Oxford, was constructed in 1492, six years after Waynflete's death. The resulting ensemble was as impressive then as it is today; King James I (r.1603-25) pronounced Magdalen College "the most absolute building in Oxford.". Bring binoculars or a zoom lens to see the amusing stone characters that decorate the top of the tower. All are modern and many are clearly caricatures of real persons:

Amusing modern sculptures on the medieval bell tower (1492-1505):

The beautiful chapel (1474-80) has the traditional Oxford T-plan, with just a chancel (or choir) and an ante-chapel. It has been much changed since it was first built; the present interior mainly reflects the restoration by L.N. Cottingham in 1830-35:

Hanging over the entrance, DO NOT MISS the near contemporary copy of Leonardo de Vinci's 'The Last Supper' (c.1510-14), on loan from the Royal Academy. Its rich coloring provides a good sense of what the faded masterpiece in Milan originally looked like:

The chapel's chancel has five bays with projecting buttresses surmounted by pinnacles and a finely carved parapet string. The stained glass is Victorian, placed here at the expense of the Earl of Selborne, once a Fellow and later Lord Chancellor. As throughout much of England, the original glass was destroyed during the Reformation and the Civil War. The grisaille glass in the ante-chapel is by Richard Greenbury (1632) and the west window is filled with a lovely 18th-century painted glass version of Michelangelo's Last Judgment, in gentle sepia tones.

18th Century painted window that shows the "LAST JUDGEMENT":

The College Choir gives worship performance every day of the week in Full Term (except Mondays) at 18.00, and every Sunday morning in Term at 11.00. On Saturdays, the men of the Choir are joined by female undergraduates from a number of Oxford colleges. Magdalen College Choir Hall. DO NOT MISS Evensong at Magdalen College: beautiful choral music in a beautiful setting, perfect acoustics.

In 1982 N P Mander Ltd were commissioned by the College to design and install a new organ, better suited to the high musical standards of the College's Chapel Choir and the architectural character of the historic building. The organ screen and choir stalls are by Cottingham (1830-35); the organ itself is by Noel Mander and the case by Julian Bicknell (1986). The sculptures on the altar screen (reredos) are all from 1864 by Earp. The altar painting of Christ Carrying the Cross is by the 17th-century Spanish artist Valdes Leal. The organ was completed in 1986 and is frequently used for BBC broadcasts:

A broad flight of stairs in the southeast corner of the Great Quad leads to the amazing Great Hall (not usually accessible to visitors), where a portrait of William Waynflete stares down upon the tables at which famous students - such as Cardinal Wolsey, Chancellor of England under King Henry VIII, the notorious Irish play writer and aesthete Oscar Wilde, and the Physicist Erwin Schrodinger - all tucked into their bacon and eggs. The Hall has early 16th-century linen fold paneling and a set of ornate early Renaissance carvings, five of which depict the life of Mary Magdalene:

The Old Library (no admittance to visitors), in the west range of the Great Quad is NOT open to visitors.

in 1474 work began on the Cloisters, with their Chapel, Hall and Library. These were largely finished by 1480. The lovely cloister of the Great Quad (1474-80) with its stone creatures is one of the best in the UK:

Now, another wonderful bonus is waiting for us: go for a nice walk around the meadow behind the college. Magdalen's famous Deer Park, also known as Magdalen Grove. Magdalen's extensive grounds include one of the best walks in Oxford, Addison's Walk. It is named after the great essayist Joseph Addison, who was a Fellow of Magdalen for 22 years, and takes about 30 minutes to walk its mile-long circuit. Very enjoyable wander around these beautiful surroundings. The path passes along the River Cherwell, meets huge old trees, and follows the edge of a great meadow. The meadows are wonderful, during the spring, when the Fritillarias are in bloom. You will see, along the path, rowers taking their first go on the Cherwell river from the adjoining hire point. This walk was a favorite of C.S. Lewis when he was a professor here. About halfway around the meadow is a plaque inscribed with a poem written by Lewis. In the end of the circular path waits, for you, the College bar, open to the public, serving decent food at a very good price, if you want to grab a drink or something to eat. It is a lovely spot to sit outside by the river on a sunny day.

Exiting Magdalen College entrance - we turn LEFT (again, east) along High Street. Several steps and we cross the Magdalen Bridge and Boathouse. Open: daily, from the 1st of February to the 30th of November, between 9.30 – 21.00 (or 1 hour before sunset). Prices: punts ( up to 5 people)  £22.00 per hour. You do not have to book in advance, but on a busy weekend day it is advisable. You can hire a traditional Oxford punt, rowing boat or pedalo and enjoy cruising along Oxford's stunning River Cherwell. You can hire also  a Chauffeured boat. You can hire a boat at the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse for just an hour or if you want to make a day of it, take a picnic and stay out on the river as long as you like, simply returning the punt to the boathouse at least half an hour before sunset. From my and others' experience: it is far more difficult than it looks. Not easy in keeping the boat straight rowing... tricky to get the hang...better: take a pro shipmate with you for 30 min. ride, £30 (you must put a deposit down too, which is refunded). You do not have to book in advance, but on a busy weekend day it is advisable.... Lovely scenery of Magdalen and Christ Church Colleges and river Cherwell with very peaceful meadows around. In the high season, especially in the weekends' afternoons - you may queue up for more than half an hour:

Our last stop in this route - is the botanic garden which lies opposite to the Magdalen College and Bridge on the southern side of High Street. Surprisingly, the University of Oxford Botanic Garden is quite small. The oldest botanic garden in Britain started in 1621. The garden is far of being one of the best in the UK. Parts of the garden are a bit neglected and the glasshouses are a bit shabby. An important pro: every plant has a name tag. Open: Daily. November - February:  9.00 - 16.00, March - April: 9.00 - 17.00, May - August: 9.00 -  18.00, September - October: 9.00 - 17.00. Prices (per day): Adult £5.00, Concessionary £3.50 with ID, Children 16 and under accompanied by an adult family member Free.

The Magdalen College Tower from the Botanic Garden:

North Oxford

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

North Oxford: Oxford Canal, Jericho, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter:

Main Attractions: Worcester College, The Blavatnik School of Government, Radcliffe Observatory building (now, Green Templeton College), The Mathematical Institute, Somerville College, The Radcliffe Humanities Building, The Jericho Health Centre, Freud Cafe', Jericho Tavern, Rutherway, Oxford Canal (the section between Walton Well Rd. and Aristotle Ln.), The Anchor pub.

Duration: 2-3 hours. Distance: 4 km. Weather: any weather.

Start: Carfax Tower. End: Jericho.


From Carfax Tower, Queen Street - we head west on Queen St toward New Inn Hall St, 120 m. We turn right onto New Inn Hall St., 250 m. Turn right onto George St, 30 m. Turn left onto Gloucester St., 70 m. Slight left onto Gloucester Green, 150 m. Turn right onto Worcester St. walk 45 m. and Worcester College will be on your left. Worcester College is one of the most charming of Oxford colleges, with a blend of ancient and modern: from medieval cottages to modern students' accommodation completed in the last decade. Worcester College premises include award-winning gardens, wooded grounds, a lake and sports fields. Worcester College is, actually, in the centre of Oxford on the junction of Worcester Street, Walton Street and Beaumont.  It is just across the road from the main bus station, and is a 15 minute walk from the railway station and 5-7 minute walk from the main shopping areas of Oxford Centre. Open: every day from 14.00 - 17.00 (except some public holidays and during the College's Christmas closure period). Free of charge. All visitors are asked to report to the Porters' Lodge, on the right just inside the main entrance. Occasionally the College may be closed for private functions. The college was founded in 1714 (young - compared to other Oxford colleges) by the benefaction of Sir Thomas Cookes, a Worcestershire baronet, with the college gaining its name from the county of Worcestershire. Its predecessor, Gloucester College, had been an institution of learning, college for Benedictine monks, founded in 1283 that had been dissolved (dissolution of the British monasteries) in 1539 by King Henry VIII. The buildings served as palace and then entered 150 years of decline. An endowment came to their rescue in 1714. Sir Thomas Cookes, a Worcestershire baronet, left the money for the founding of a college.

Looking down into the main quadrangle from the entrance through the main building, to the right is an imposing eighteenth century building in the neo-classical style:

To the left a row of medieval buildings known as "the cottages", which are among the oldest residential buildings in Oxford. These cottages are the most substantial surviving part of the former Gloucester College:

Presently, Worcester College is near the centre of Oxford. But, it was on the edge of the city in the eighteenth century. This has proved a benefit in the long run, since it has allowed the college to retain very extensive gardens and sport/playing fields (including a lake). The gardens have won numerous awards, including the Oxford in Bloom college award every time they have been entered for the competition. Worcester College has more applicants per place than any other Oxford college !

A walking path out the back takes you along a waterway and there is a lake. The extensive gardens are open to the public - all free:

The 18th century main building. Above the arcade is the Old Library; behind the arcade are the main entrance to the College (centre) and the entrances to the Chapel (left) and the Hall (right):

The Worcester College chapel holds regular services during term, many of which are sung by the home chapel choirs. Do not miss the dome and the mosaic floor of this fabulous chapel. Try to  attended a stirring Evensong program there one late afternoon on weekdays:

We leave the college and head north, to the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter. Exit the college  on Worcester St toward Beaumont St. Continue onto Walton St and walk northward for 500 m. The Blavatnik School of Government and the (former) Radcliffe Observatory are on your right.
The Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) is in central north Oxford and lies between the Woodstock Road and Walton Street, with Somerville College to the south and Green Templeton College (formerly, the Radcliffe Observatory) to the north.There is an ambitious long-run plan of Oxford University to regenerate and re-plan the whole site. The ROQ project and the new university area is named after the grade I listed Radcliffe Observatory to the north east of the site, now the centrepiece of Green Templeton College, which is intended to form the visual centrepiece of the project (see below). Five buildings comprise the new quarter: 1. The (former) Radcliffe Observatory and (now) the Templeton College, 2. The Somerville College, 3. The Oxford University Humanities Building, 4. The Oxford University Mathematical Institute and 5. Jericho Health Centre.

The Blavatnik School of Government in the south west corner of North Oxford, is standing opposite the slightly alarmingly Soviet-alike of the 1830 complex of Oxford University Press. It was opened in November 2015. Although the Blavatnik School of Government building is located in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) on Woodstock Road, however its main entrance is on Walton Street. The building has been designed by internationally renowned Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. These architects were responsible for the conversion of the Bankside power plant to Tate Modern in London (year 2000). The Blavatnik School of Government is part of Oxford University’ - an academic institute of public policy and government around the world. The building is taller than Carfax Tower in the centre of Oxford, thus it had sparked disputes and caused opposition to the scheme by local residents in the Jericho district and all around Oxford. But, near its completion, in 2015, the building was described as "the latest striking building nearing completion in Oxford". In June 2016, the building received a national Award of the British Association of Architecture (RIBA). In July 2016, the building was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize for excellence in architecture.

The interior recalls the spiral staircase of New York’s Guggenheim Museum. The interior, grandiose space bright, airy with a lot of glass all around. With vast sheets of glass plates - you feel being into the street, with no frame between you and the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter:

Opposite the Blavatnik School of Government (to the north-east) is the Radcliffe Observatory building - recently acquired by Green Templeton College. In 1772 building began on the Radcliffe Observatory, which was the astronomical observatory of the University of Oxford from 1773 to 1934, and is now in the grounds of Green Templeton College. Because of the viewing conditions, weather, urban development and light pollution at Oxford, the observatory moved to South Africa in 1939. It seems that this building is an ever intriguing source of inspiration to artists and continues to provide a truly unique host for the development of both academic and artistic projects in the Jericho and ROQ quarters. Beneath the Tower itself are rooms at each of three levels: the ground floor is now the College dining room, the first floor, originally the library, is now used as the Common Room, and on the top floor is the magnificent octagonal observing room. On the first floor there are also the Fellows' Room and the William Gibson Room, a small private dining room for up to 14 people.

Statue of Atlas on top of the observatory:

Nowadays, Green Templeton is formally Oxford’s newest College, founded in 2008. This college (graduates-only) is, actually, a merger of Green College (specializing in medicine, health and the social sciences) and Templeton College (in business and management):

The Andrew Wiles Mathematical Institute building was formally opened on 3rd October 2013 and is located, immediately, south to the Green Templeton College. A striking building. Architectural masterpiece. One of the leading mathematics departments in the world:

Several steps further south is the Somerville College, Woodstock Road. It was created, in year 1879, for women when universities refused them entry (the college has admitted men since 1994,), and for people of diverse beliefs when the establishment religion was widely demanded - two policies previously unknown in Oxford colleges. Today, around 50% of students are male. The college was named after the eminent scientist and mathematician Mary Somerville (1780–1872). Presently, Somerville is home to around 400 undergraduates and 100 graduate students. The college and its main entrance, the Porters' Lodge, are located on Woodstock Road. The front of the college runs between St Aloysius Church and the Faculty of Philosophy. Somerville has buildings of various architectural styles, many of which bear the names of former principals of the college. The first buildings, in the ROQ regeneration project, to be completed were new student accommodation blocks for Somerville College which opened in September 2011. Past PM, Margaret Thatcher was a famous alumni member of this college:

Mary Somerville, 1780 – 1872, after whom the College is named:

The College Library:

Darbishire quad:

You continue walking further south, along Woodstock Road and on your right is the Radcliffe Humanities Building. The Radcliffe Humanities Building was formerly the Radcliffe Infirmary, which was Oxford's first hospital and was open from 1770 to 2007. The refurbished building opened in 2012 and is part of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) redevelopment, a major new inititiatve for the humanities. it is occupied by the University’s Humanities divisional office, the Faculty of Philosophy and both the Philosophy and Theology libraries:

From the Humanities Office - head north on St Giles toward Woodstock Road, 75 m. Turn left onto Little Clarendon St, 220 m. Turn right onto Walton St. for 300 m. and the Jericho Health Centre is on your right. The Jericho Health Centre relocated to Radcliffe Observatory Quarter on Walton Street in July 2012. This building provides the local community with modern, flexible space for three GP surgeries and their associated health care facilities. The offices above the Health Centre are used by Oxford University Press and the University’s Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. The building is owned by Oxford University and the ground floor is leased to the National Hospitals Service (NHS).

Opposite, to the north of the health centre is the  Freud café (opposite the junction of Great Clarendon Street and Walton Street, north to the Blavatnik School of Government). It is housed in the former St Paul's Church, a majestic building designed in 1836 by Henry Jones Underwood. The church construction was triggered by an outbreak of cholera in the area in 1831. The building has an imposing portico with Ionic columns. The architect Edward George Bruton added the apse in 1853 and Frederick Charles Eden remodeled the interior in 1908. In the 20th century, the building became a redundant church and was closed in the late 1960s. The building was bought by the Oxford Area Arts Council and used as a theatre and arts centre venue for more than 20 years. A café/bar was opened in 1988 by David Freud, who has an interest in buildings and their interaction with people. From time to time there are performances of live music such as jazz or blues. David Freud was one of the bitter opponents to the new building for the Blavatnik School of Government of Oxford University on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter in 2015. The interior setting is very unusual, strange and quirky with the huge pillars, high ceiling and  the holy drawings of the stained-glass windows.  Its main pro is the great expanse of the old, former church. A bit dark inside. Another plus might be the bohemian, respectful clientele. A different experience !

A bit further north is another pub the Jericho Tavern, 56 Walton Street.  Good and delicious food. Pleasant setting and seating. Good atmosphere and service. Spacious garden and patio. Above all - budget prices. Tasty chicken. Fresh Yorkshire Pudding on Sundays. Opening hours: 11.00 - 23.00 SUN - THU,  11.00 - 12.00  FRI - SAT. Recommended !

From The Jericho Tavern we head northwest on Walton St toward Cranham St, 220 m. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Walton Well Rd, 230 m. Slight right onto Rutherway, 150 m. The road slights northwest. In its beginning, on your LEFT (south) - raise your head and you'll see WONDERFUL porticoes and friezes on top of one of the long block houses. It is almost on the banks of Oxford Canal (RutherWay).

Noah and the Pigeon from the Old Testaments:

Jacob's Dream from the Old Testaments:

From Rutherway we find the stairs leading down to the Oxford Canal. In this route - we only SAMPLE the canal and walk along a small section of it from south to north: from Walton Well Rd to Aristotle Lane - short (15 minutes walk), beautiful, quaint and inspiring. We devote a special blog to the Oxford Canal.  We stress the point that you can walk ONLY along the western bank of the canal - in this section.  it is a beautiful part of oxford away from all the historical building and worth either a boat ride or a walk by the river. Very relaxing. On your left (west) is the Aristotle Recreation Ground and on your right: houses, gardens, mooring boats, wild flowers, water meadows and wildlife.  Breath, look, listen, smell and admire the nature in its beauty.  Walking along the western towpath - be careful of cyclists. You can carry your trolly luggage while walking along this section. It is whole asphalted and very convenient for canal-side walking. Very pleasant in the right weather !

You can finish the canal-side walk in Aristotle Lane (there are stairs leading to this pretty lane). After climbing the stairs - turn RIGHT (east) to Aristotle Lane and enter The Anchor pub in the junction with Hayfield Road. Excellently prepared, presented and served food. Very reasonable prices although the menu is quite limited. Two dining halls. The first is a standard bar and the other one is more elegant and demanding to impress. They have a seating outside for fine days. Staff is polite, efficient and friendly. Might be very busy (even noisy) in the weekends. Open: MON - FRI: 9.00 - 23.00, SAT - SUN: 10.00 - 23.00:

From here - it is a 20-25 min. walk back to the city centre, or - take bus no. 6 back from Woodstock Road to the centre.  Another option: continue walking east along Aristotle Lane and catch bus S3/S2 to George Street/Carfax Tower in the city centre.

Oxford - Ashmolean Museum - Part 2

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

Continued from the "Oxford - Day 1 - The Ashmolean Museum - "The world belongs to those who know how to wait" Arthur Evans (1894)" blog.

Main Attractions: Asmolean Museum - level 3M, St. Balliol College, John College.

Level 3M: EUROPEAN ART, 1800–PRESENT DAY:
Room/gallery 62 - Modern Art: Photography NOT allowed.

Howard Hodjkin - Tea Party in America:

Room/gallery 63 - Contemporaries:

Robert Polhill Bevan (1865 - 1925) - Showing at Tattersalls:

Robert Polhill Bevan (1865 - 1925) - The Chestnut Tree:

Robert Polhill Bevan (1865 - 1925) - In the Downs near Lewes:

Room/gallery 65 - Camille Pissarro (1830 - 1903):

Camille Pissarro - Bouquet of pink Peonies, 1873:

Camille Pissarro - Jeanne Holding a Fan, c.1874:

Camille Pissarro - Farm at Montfoucault, Snow Effect, 1874-1876:

Camille Pissarro - Gathering Grass, 1883:

Camille Pissarro - View from my Window, Éragny-sur-Epte, 1888. The painting shows a view from the Pissarro's house at Éragny, looking towards the village of Bazincourt. The painting, which the artist referred to as 'modern primitive', was begun in 1886 but not completed until two years later, in the 'Pointillist' technique Pissarro used for several years:

Camille PIssarro - Tuilleries Gardens, Rainy Weather, 1899:

Edward Manet - Mme. Claus, 1868-1869. The subject is Fanny Claus, a famous violinist who was a close friend of the artist’s wife. From the late 1860s onwards when Manet began to focus his attention on his family and close friends. A concert violinist and member of the first all-women string quartet, Fanny was one of Manet’s favourite sitters and a member of a close-knit group of friends who also provided the artist with models. She married the artist Pierre Prins (1838–1913), another friend of Manet’s, in 1869, but died of tuberculosis just eight years later at the age of 30:

Toulouse-Lautrec - La Toilette, 1891:

Room/Gallery 66, European Art 19th century:

Frederic Lord Leighton - Acme and Septimus, 1868:

James Jaques Joseph Tissot (1836 - 1902), Quarreling:

William Turner of Oxford - High Street, Oxford. William Turner (1775 - 1851) was an English painter who specialized in water-colour landscapes. He is different from the more famous artist J. M. W. Turner. He is often known as William Turner of Oxford or just Turner of Oxford to distinguish him from his better known William Turner. Many of Turner's paintings depicted the countryside around Oxford. In 1898 the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford held a retrospective exhibition of his work. Some of his paintings are still on permanent display at this museum:

William Turner of Oxford - Ehrenbreitstein (The Bright Stone of Honour) and Tomb of Marceau (from Lord Byron’s ‘Childe Harold’) , near Laurley, Coblenz, Germany, 1817:

William Turner of Oxford - The Devil's Bridge, St. Gotthard Pass, 1804:

Edward Lear, Sunrise from the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, 1865:

William Dyce, Jacob and Rachel, 1857:

The new Cascading Staircase and Zvi and Ofra Meitar Attrium form the central core of the new design of the museum:

Rooftop terrace and restaurant of the museum:

We leave the Ashmolean Museum. With our back to Beaumont Street and on our right is Magdalen Street and on our left is the St. Giles' Street - we see two colleges on these two roads: On our right (south - Magdalen Street) is Balliol College

and on our left, north - along its continuation St. Giles' Street) is the St John's College:

Balliol College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. Among the college's alumni are three former prime ministers: H.  Asquith, Harold Macmillan, and Edward Heath. Political economist Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations, who is perhaps the best known alumnus of the college. Balliol College was founded in about 1263 by John I de Balliol with the help and supervision of the Bishop of Durham. The oldest parts of the college are the north and west ranges of the front quadrangle, dated to 1431, respectively the medieval hall, west side, now the "new library" and the "old library" first floor north side. For many years, there has been a traditional and fierce rivalry shown between the students of Balliol and those of its immediate adjacent college to the east - Trinity College. Open: everyday 10.00- 17.00 (or dusk, whichever is sooner). Price: £2 per adult, £1 concessions and students. From time to time - you may find the college closed due to academic events. You can also telephone on the day to check openings: 01865 277777. Cafeteria: The Buttery in the Garden Quad serves light refreshments and is open to the public when the College is open to visitors. Opening times are: Term time: MON - FRI 12.30 to 21.00, SAT 11.00 - 17.00. Out of term: MON - FRI 11.00 - 18.00, SAT 11.00 – 17.00.

DO NOT MISS THE MAGNIFICENT DINING HALL of Balliol College !!!:

Balliol College Chapel:

St John's College, part of the the University of Oxford was founded in 1555, on the site of the old Cistercian College, by the merchant Sir Thomas White (lately Lord Mayor of London). It was built to provide a source of educated Roman Catholic clerics to support the Counter-Reformation under Queen Mary. St John's initially had a strong focus on the creation of a proficient and educated priesthood. St John's is the wealthiest college in Oxford - largely due to nineteenth century suburban development of land in the city of Oxford, of which it is the ground landlord. The college occupies a central location on St Giles' and has a student body of approximately 390 undergraduates and 250 postgraduates, as well as over 100 academic staff members. The Front Quadrangle mainly consists of buildings built for the Cistercian St Bernard's College. Construction started in 1437. The turret clock, made by John Knibb, dates from 1690. OPen: daily - 13.00 - 17.00.

Canterbury Quad -  The entrance to the Great Lawn and Groves:

St John’s College Chapel:

The nearby Lamb and Flag Pub and Restaurant  is owned and operated by the college.

Oxford - Day 1 - The Ashmolean Museum - "The world belongs to those who know how to wait" Arthur Evans (1894)

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

Oxford Ashmolean Museum:

Main Attractions: Levels: Ground, 1, 2. For Level 3m (see: Ashmolean Museum Part 2).

Duration: 1/2 day. You can, easily, combine this 1/2 day visit with another route of 1/2 day - as described in our "Oxford Centre - Day 1" blog. Please allow, at least 3-4 hours for the Ashmolean Museum. I recommend at least half a day to fully enjoy it.

Weather: The best solution in Oxford for a rainy half-a-day.

Dining: There is a restaurant on the rooftop (third floor). NOT recommended. Pricey and small, innovative (but, not filling) portions. Nice views and excellent setting. DO NOT BELIEVE THE TRIPADVISOR REVIEWS ! Crayfish salad, Fennel, orange, white cabbage, chervil: £14.90. Pricey, nice to look at, not filling, cooked and served very nicely with a twist. I' had waited 20 minutes for my portion - though I was the only diner there (quite late at 15.30).

General: A fantastic museum with incredible collections and exceptional, temporary exhibitions. A wonderful way to spend a few hour. No charge to enter (but donations expected). A busy place with vastness of space - so, you'll never feel packed or noisy. Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean is Britain’s first public museum. The collections range from archaeology to the fine and decorative arts. Bears the comparison with the British Museum, but has the advantage of being less crowded: that makes the visit more pleasant.

Location: The Ashmolean Museum is located in the centre of Oxford. It is easily accessible by public transport. The bus station is approximately 5 minutes walk from the Museum. The train station is approximately 10 minutes walk from the Museum.

Access: There is disabled access throughout the Museum, with ramps into the building, lifts to all floors and wheelchairs are available.

Open: 10.00 – 17.00, TUE – SUN. FREE.

Photography: Allowed. No flash. Several displayed items are with restricted permission.

Toilets: There are public toilets (including wheelchair accessible) throughout the Museum.

Warning: Museum's staff members don't like you carrying rucksacks on your back. You have to carry them by your side or on your front. Better to use the cloakroom.

The Ashmolean Museum entrance - sculptures of Henry Moore. Three Piece Reclining Figure (1963) which is on temporary loan from the Henry Moore Foundation. The entrance is on Beaumont Street:

Reclining Figure by Henry Moore:

Ground Level - list of rooms/galleries: Aegean World - 20, Ancient Cyprus - 18, Ancient Egypt and Nubia - 22–27, Ancient Near East - 19, Cast Gallery - 14, China to AD 800 - 10, Chinese Paintings - 11, European Prehistory - 17, Greek and Roman Sculpture - 21, The Greek World - 16, Italy before Rome - 15, Rome - 13, India 2500 BC – AD 600 - Gallery 12.

The Ashmolean’s collection from ancient Egypt is among the most extensive in Britain, with objects from the Nile Valley from prehistory to the 7th century AD. Six galleries comprise the ancient Egyptian culture exhibition: 22 - Egypt at its Origins, 23 - Dynastic Egypt and Nubia, 24 -
Life After Death in Ancient Egypt, 25 - The Amarna Revolution, 26 - Egypt in the Age of Empires, 27 - Egypt Meets Greece and Rome.

Ancient Egypt - a limestone statue of King Khasekhem (2nd Dynasty, about 2700–2686 BC):

East wall of Shrine of King Taharqa (a Pharaoh of ancient Egypt of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty (between 712 and 770 BC) and king of the Kingdom of Kush), Kawa, Sudan, Late Period/Napatan, 25th Dynasty (about 690–664 BC):

This statue of Sobek was found at Amenemhat III's mortuary temple ( connected to this king's pyramid at Hawara in Faiyum), symbolizing this king's devotion to Sobek, which was an ancient Egyptian deity associated with Pharaonic power, fertility, and military prowess. Sobek is associated also with the Nile crocodile and is either represented in its form or as a human with a crocodile head. Sobek also served, additionally, as a protective deity against the dangers presented by the Nile river:

Granite statue of Amun in the form of a ram protecting King Taharqa,  from the western wall of shrine of King Tharaqa. Several temples dedicated to Amun (a major Egyptian deity and Berber deity), including the one at Karnak were adorned with ram or ram-headed sphinx statues. The ram was one of the animals sacred to Amun:

Coffin of the 25th dynasty Theban Priest Djeddjehutyiuefankh, Deir el-Bahri, Western Thebes, 25 th Dynasty, 770-712 BC:

The Ashmolean’s collection of ancient Cyprus is among the most significant Cypriot collections worldwide outside Cyprus - a cultural crossroad between Orient and Occident. There are artifacts,  displayed, from the earliest settlements of the island in about 10.000 BC until the Roman period, from the villages of the first farming communities of the Neolithic period to post-Medieval times. The vast majority of the objects are from about. 2000 – 300 BC. The Ashmolean's collection of ancient Greek pottery vessels is one of the finest in the world. In its range, size and scholarly importance it ranks in the United Kingdom behind only that of the British Museum. Ancient Cyprus is in Gallery 18. List of galleries of Ancient Greece: Gallery 6: Reading and Writing, Gallery 7: Money, Gallery 14: Cast gallery, Gallery 16 - The Greek World, Gallery 20: Aegean World, Gallery 21: Greek and Roman Sculpture.

Head of Man, Salamis:

Grave monument of deceased Archippus accompanied by two servants. This is probably from Smyrna from the 3rd to 2nd century BC:

The Ashmolean’s cast gallery is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved collections of casts of Greek and Roman sculpture in the UK. It contains some 900 plaster casts of statues, reliefs, and architectural sculptures.

Plaster cast slab of tomb enclosure showing detail of siege from  Trysta, Lycia, 370 BC. It is decorated with friezes showing a wide variety of Greek myth. It is characteristic of Lycian architectural sculpture that, beside the myth, included scenes of near-contemporary military action (city-sieges) and of the monarch in his court (type of subject not seen in Greece proper):

Marble head of Homer, 1-100 AD, Gallery 16. Homer is thought to have been a travelling poet, following a long tradition of storytelling. All portraits of Homer were created long after his death. Artists typically
portray him as blind, so his opened eyes are quite unusual in this sculpture:

Head of Demostenes, 250 - 150 BC, Gallery 16. Found at Eski-Shehir, East Turkey (Anatolia):

In the second half of the nineteenth century, archaeologists began to focus on understanding prehistoric Greece and its extraordinary flowering during the Greek Bronze Age (about 3000–1050 B.C.). Heinrich Schliemann's discovery of wealthy tombs at Mycenae in 1876 brought to life the Heroic Age immortalized in the epic poetry of Homer, in which King Agamemnon’s palace was described as "rich in gold." Twenty-four years after Schliemann's find, the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans began excavations at Knossos, on the island of Crete, that would yield a vast complex of buildings belonging to a sophisticated prehistoric culture, which he dubbed Minoan after the legendary King Minos.

The Aegean prehistoric collections of the Ashmolean Museum are the largest outside Greece and come primarily from archaeological excavations. The Minoan collection,  brought to Oxford by Sir Arthur Evans from his excavations of the “Palace of Minos” at Knossos on Crete - are the biggest outside Crete. When Arthur Evans was appointed Keeper of the Ashmolean in 1884, the Museum had a handful of Aegean objects: only one gem, which was not yet recognized as coming from the Aegean Bronze Age and a few obsidian blades from Melos. Following Evans’s purchases, donations and gifts to the Museum from his travels and researches, including his 1941 bequest, the Ashmolean today houses the largest and finest Aegean collection outside Greece, comprising more than 10,000 objects. There are three main areas in Gallery no. 20: the Early Cyclades, Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece. Each area is color-coded in an attempt to facilitate the visitor’s orientation: light blue is used as the background in the Early Cyclades, red is used for Minoan Crete, orange for Mycenaean Greece. The personality that dominates the Aegean gallery is that of Arthur Evans. The story of Evans is broken down into three major periods. The first period focuses on his work at the Ashmolean (1884-1908) and the Chester seal: a gem on which Evans first identified signs of a pre-alphabetic writing system. The second section of the Evans display is appropriately dedicated to his travels and explorations on Crete (1894-1899). The third part of this tablecase focuses on his Knossos excavations (1900-1935).

The Minoan displays in the new Aegean World gallery at the Ashmolean:

The Mycenaean Greece section of the new Aegean World gallery at the Ashmolean (on the right the Schliemann story and at the back the Mycenaean pottery and figurines display):

Evans was also acquainted with the famous German archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, who excavated Hisarlik in modern Turkey, thought to be the site of the mythical Troy. Schliemann also excavated shaft graves at Mycenae, Greece in 1876. There he uncovered a gold death mask dubbed the Mask of Agamemnon. The original mask is exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. What you see in the Asmolean is a reproduction...

Death Mask of Agamemnon, Troy, 1400 -1090 BC, excavated by Heinrich Schlimann (1822 - 1890):

In 1900 Evans started excavating in Knossos. Within a few months they had uncovered a substantial portion of what he called the Palace of Minos. The term "palace" may be misleading; Knossos was an intricate collection of over 1000 interlocking rooms, some of which served as artisans' workrooms and food processing centres (e.g. wine presses). It served as a central storage point, and a religious and administrative centre. Evans found two palaces in fact, dated c.2000 and 1400BC. Each belonged to the Cretan Bronze Age which Evans called the Minoan style, after King Minos. Evans himself employed skilled artists who used their artistic imagination in recreating the vivid scenes (*). They were influenced by Evans' particular ideas concerning the symbolic significance of scenes and figures. Subsequent scholars have disputed these reconstructions and proposed quite different theories.

Relief figure "Priest-King", 1700 -1450 BC, most recognizable of Knossos frescoes, Palace of Minos at Knossos, excavated by Arthur Evans. Watercolour restoration probably by E. Gillieron (*). This fresco was located in the southern portion of the complex with the remains of the “procession” fresco. First, the “Priest-King” fresco (also called “Prince of the Lilies”) was interpreted by Evans as being a depiction of king Minos (Castleden 1990). Evans found this to be completely logical because it agreed with the ancient sources and his own preconceptions about the site (Castleden 1990). However, there are several problems with his conclusion.

Nimrud is the Aramaic name for the ancient Assyrian city originally known as Kalhu, located 30 kilometres south of the city of Mosul, and 5 kilometres south of the village of Selamiyah in the Nineveh plains in northern Mesopotamia. It was a major Assyrian city between approximately 1250 BC and 610 BC. The city is located in a strategic position 10 kilometres north of the point that the river Tigris meets its tributary the Great Zab. Archaeological excavations at the site began in 1845, and were conducted at intervals between then and 1879, and then from 1949 onwards. Many important pieces were discovered, with most being moved to museums in Iraq and abroad. Oxford's Ashmolean Museum has the second largest collection of Nimrud (Gallery 19), the Assyrian capital, objects in the UK, with roughly 330 artefacts. Among the collection are three relief panels from king Assurnasirpal II's Northwest Palace: an eagle-headed genie from Room B and a human-headed genie from Room I came to the museum in 1850 as a gift from Austen Henry Layard's excavation. A further fragment of a sacred tree from Room I was purchased in 1950 from Peterborough's City Museum and Art Gallery, which had acquired it from Lady Layard in 1900.

Assyrian relief, Nimrud, Iraq, Northwest Palace, 883-859 BC:

Assyrian winged genius from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal (883-859 BC) at Nimrud. Acquired through excavation by A.H. Layard in the early 19th Century. Now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford:

China 3000 BC-AD 800 - Room /gallery 10 :  Up to about 3000 years ago  objects found in graves were made mostly of hard stone and low-fired ceramic. For the next 1500 years the most important burial objects were made of bronze and later, of ceramics. The earliest examples of writing in China were recorded on animal bones and bronze vessels. Later, texts were written on stone, bamboo, silk and paper. Writing had become an art form.

Wine vessel with masks:

Chinese Painting - room/gallery 11:

Qi Baishi, Landscape with Blue Mountain (1953). Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper:

India to 600 AD - room/gallery 12:

Nandi, the bull of Shiva; basalt, Deccan or South India, 1500-1700:

Level 1: Asian Crossroads - 28, Eastern Art Paintings - 29, India from AD 600 - 32, Islamic Middle East - 31, Medieval Cyprus - 34, Mediterranean World - 30, Mughal India - 33.

India from AD 600 - room/gallery  32: Many of Hindu, Buddhist or Jain images in this gallery were once installed in temple or household shrines as objects of daily pray and meditation. They convey the serenity, compassion and supreme power or insight of deities and enlightened beings. Images like these remain in worship today throughout India. From AD 600 the form of the temple was developing, within India and beyond. Spectacular towers and giant walls teem are decorated with images of gods, men, animals and plants. Very diverse regional styles of sculpture soon developed throughout the Indian subcontinent. As in earlier times, professional artisans worked for landlords or rulers of different faiths, so that Hindu, Buddhist or Jain images may share a similar regional style.


Southeast Asia: As Indian merchants settled in many parts of southeast Asia, they brought with them the Buddhism and Hinduism. Local ruling dynasties both adopted these religions and their styles of temple architecture and sculpture. Astonishing temple complexes such as Borobudur in Java (AD 800) and Angkor in Cambodia (1150) were established.

Lintel with Kala face, Central Java, 800 - 900 AD:

From AD 600 onwards, many regional dynastie flourished across north and central India. They were patrons temples, gardens, estates and sculptural creations. The dominated religions were Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. This period of creativity lasted until around 1200 when Muslim invaders from Central Asia began to occupy northern India.

Vishnu Head - Khajurau, 950-1050 AD:

Ceiling boss with 8 flying warriors, South Rajastan, 750-850 AD:

Vishnu with 4 arms, Sagar Island, WEst Bengal, 1050 AD:

Portable shrine of Vishnu as Venkateshwara, painted and lacquered wood, Tirupati, Tamil-Nadu, 1800 AD:

Shiva and Parvati, Madya Pradesh, 1000-1050 AD:

Hanuman bearing Rama (in blue) and Lakshmana on his shoulder, Bombay, early 1900s:

Angada delievers Rama's to Ravana, Bombay, early 1900s. Note that Hanuman extended his tail - thus, seating higher than the king...:

Hinduism and Buddhism became established in Nepal from 300-850 AD. The Newar artists of the Kathmandu Valley showed outstanding skills in stone and bronze sculpture, reinterpreting Indian models in new styles which also influenced the art of Tibet.

Stone slab with yaksha, or nature spirit, in relief, Nepal, 700-800 AD:

Buddhism first reached Tibet, isolated by its high mountain ranges, around AD 650. In later periods it transformed Tibetan society, with large sections of the population living in monasteries. After 1200 AD, the art and teachings of Indian Buddhism were preserved and further developed in the monasteries of Tibet. This unbroken cultural tradition survived intact until and beyond the the 1950s - when Chinese rule was imposed on this famous, isolated region.

Photo of Martine Franck (wife of Henri Cartier-Bresson), 1996, Tibetan Geh and his tutor Tulku Tenzin Tosam Rinpoche, Dratsang Monastery, Karnataka, India:

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India is the holiest of Buddhist destinations and a World Heritage site. It is the most revered of all Buddhist sacred sites. It was here, under a pipal tree, that Siddhartha Gotama arrived there around 531 BC and attained enlightenment and became the Buddha. A simple shrine was built by the emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC) to mark the spot, later enclosed by a stone railing (1st century BC), part of which still remains. This shrine was replaced in the Kushan period (2nd cent. AD) by the present Mahabodhi temple, which was refurbished in the Pala-Sena period (750-1200 AD), heavily restored by Sir Alexander Cunningham in the second half of the 19th century, and finally restored by Myanmar (Burmese) Buddhists in 1882. The Bodhi tree behind the temple is believed to be a descendant of the original. At Bodhgaya, seated in deepest meditation ben

eath a fig tree, Buddha reached final Enlightenment or Buddhahood. Attaining perfect insight into the causes of universal suffering and rebirth, he conceived the way by which all beings may attain Nirvana or peace.

Votive Stupa, Bodhgaya, Bihar, 1000-1200 AD:

Buddha beneath the Bodhi tree, Bodhgaya, Bihar, 850-950 AD:

Islamic Middle East, Room/Gallery 31:

Part of Tile, Iran, 1800 - 1900, the story of Yusuf and Zulaikha. Based on the twelfth sura (chapter) of the Qur’an. In the Qur’anic version, Yusuf is a handsome slave in the service of an Egyptian man. His master’s wife, named Zulaikha in later literature, attempts to seduce him unsuccessfully. It, originally, derives from the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in the Old Testament. The left tile depicts Yusuf appearing before the women of Memphis. Overcome by his beauty, the women are faint or cut themselves with the knives they hold in their hands. Both pieces are from Iran, 1850-1900 and are Fritware, moulded, with under-glaze painting:

Tile with Qur'anic inscription:

The Byzantine Church, room/gallery 30:

Icon: Embrace of the Apostles Peter and Paul, painted by Angelos Akotantos of Crete (active: 1436 - 1450), oil on wood. Icon-painter and hagiographer who lived and worked at Heraklion, Crete, then part of the Republic of Venice. He was the first hagiographer to sign his name on his icons by writing in Greek: "Χειρ Αγγέλου" which, translated in English, means "By hand of Angelos":

The Mogul India, room/gallery 33: breath-taking Lady Impey’s Indian Bird Paintings ! This outstanding collection of paintings formed part of a great collection of natural history studies commissioned at Calcutta by Mary, Lady Impey, wife of the Chief Justice Sir Elijah Impey, between 1777 and 1782. The Impeys assembled an extensive aviary and menagerie at their Calcutta home. Lady Impey commissioned meticulous, life-sized pictures of Indian birds and animals from three Mughal-trained artists: Shaikh Zain ud-Din, Bhawani Das, and Ram Das. By the time the Impeys left India in 1783, these artists had produced over two hundred works on large sheets of imported English paper, mainly of birds though also of animals, fish and reptiles. The most prolific of these painters was Shaikh Zain ud-Din, and all but one of the works shown here are by him. The local Indian artists emulate, on a greatly enlarged scale, the refinement of 17th century Mughal natural history paintings. DO NOT MISS THIS COLLECTION OF MASTERPIECES !!!

Male Nukta or Comb Duck, Shaikh Zain-ud-Din, Calcuta, 1779, Gouache on paper:

Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) on a custard apple branch, Shaikh Zain-ud-Din, Calcuta, 1777, Gouache on paper:

Black-necked Stork, Shaikh Zain-ud-Din:

A lady seeks shelter from the rains, India, Punjab Hills, C. 1820, Gouache on paper:

Krsna in the guise of Indra, advises Raja Mandhatr (from the Mahabharata), 1598, By Sadiq and manohar - Mughal, North India:

Krsna and Radha in two pavilions, India, 19th century:

Elegant Brass ewer with Dragon heads, 16th or 17th century, height 51 cm. A refined product of the Indo-Islamic style, with the spiral fluting of its body and its tall, tapering neck. It is also known as the Butler ewer. It was previously in the collection of Dr A.J. Butler, Bursar of Brasenose College:

Planetary deities, painted on soapatone (alabaster), Jaipur, Rajashan, 1880-1885. Maharaja of Jaipur craftsmen produced brightly painted soapstone (alabaster) images of Hindu and Jain deities in great numbers in the late nineteenth century:

China from 800 AD, room/gallery 38:

Visiting Stonehenge, Fang Zhaoling (1914–2006), Ink and Color on paper, 1994, a female painter with expressive calligraphic strokes. She lived and travelled in Europe and America, and attended both Hong Kong and Oxford Universities:

Seated Bodhisattva, fig tree wood, 1200-1300:

Ming and Qing Porcelain, figures from the novel Shuihu Zhuan (The Water margin), 1680-1720. During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) China began to engage in world trade. This included exporting porcelain to Portugal and Spain in exchange for silver. As the dynasty neared its end, imperial patronage of porcelain production ceased and Japan and The Netherlands were the biggest overseas markets, but after 1700 England became the greatest importer:

Blue-and-white porcelain tile with a landscape, Jingdezhen kilns, c. 1690:

Suit of Armour of a Samurai, 1700s, Gift of Prince Chichibu to Magdalen College in Oxford:

Bodhisattva Jizo, protector of children, travelers and women. Jizō is a Bodhisattva – enlightened being who devote his life to freeing others from suffering. Bodhisattvas are not worshipped, but inspire others to reach enlightenment. Jizō is shown as a monk with a shaven head and pilgrim’s robes. Jizō also carries the bright jewel of Buddhist truth, a symbol of the endless power of Buddhism. He has a third eye on his forehead and elongated ears, both symbols of enlightenment:

Vase with winter landscape, around 1910:

Second Level :

Room/gallery 35, West meets East:

Two Chairs, Japan, 1600s. Made for the Dutch settlement in Nagushki harbor:

Ottoman embroidered hanging, Turkey, 1550-1650, Cotton + silk. Tulips, pomegranates and elongated, serrated leaves are part of the Ottoman decorative repertoire and are found in ceramics as well as works on paper. Ottoman interiors were comfortably furnished with carpets and cushions. Woven and embroidered textiles of different kinds were used for bedding, fireplace covers, cushion covers and wall hangings. This large embroidered textile is made of three panels of white cotton embroidered with coloured silk threads. Embroidery enabled the craftsmen to create complex, multi-coloured patterns without having to weave them into the fabric:

Oxford - Ashmolean Museum - Second Floor - room/gallery 35 - Tapestry, The Battle of the Animals, 1723, France, Sold to Emperor Chien Lung, 1769, looted and returned to Europe in 1861:

Room/gallery 40 - European Ceramics:

Ornamental tile William de Morgan (1839-1917), most known pottery maker in England:

Room/gallery 41 - England 400-1600 AD.:

Statue of Henry VIII:

The Cuddesdon Bowl - of brilliant blue glass with fine trailed decoration, the bowl is probably Kentish, and was made about 600 AD. The bowl came to light during the building of a palace for the Bishop of Oxford, then William Wilberforce; it passed into his possession and was eventually sold with the contents of his house and lost from view. It was  recognized by Miss Jocelyn Morris, curator at the Warwick Museum:

Room/gallery 39 - Music and Tapestry:

Violins and Violas, 16th and 17th centuries:

Violin, Antonio Stradivari (1644–1737), Cremona, Italy, with the original label 'Antonius Stradivarius Cremoensis/Faciebat Anno 1716'. Known as the Messiah, this is one of the most famous violins in the world.

Musical Party, tapestry, Spain, 1650:

From here we continue to Level 3M (free) and Level 3 (Special Exhibitions - with separate fee) in the Ashmolean Museum - turn to the "Oxford - Ashmolean Museum - Part 2" blog.

Oxford - Day 2 - Part 1 - from Broad Street to Radcliffe Square

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

Part 1: From Broad Street to Radcliffe Square.

Main Attractions: Blackwell's Bookshop, Sheldonian Theatre, Bodleian Library, The Clarendon Building, Weston Library, The Bodleian Treasures Exhibition, Bridge of Sighs, Radcliffe Square, The Brasenose College, Radcliffe Camera, The University Church of St Mary the Virgin, All Souls College, High Street.

Part 2: Along High Street - from St. Mary Church to the Botanic Garden.

Start: Carfax Tower. End: Radcliffe Square (part 1), the Botanic Garden (Part 2). Duration: Part 1 - 1/2 - 3/4 day. Part 2 - 1/4 - 1/2 day.

From Carfax Tower, Queen Street we head northeast on Queen St toward Cornmarket St, 25 m. We turn left onto Cornmarket St, 250 m. Turn right onto Broad St, 120 m. After 120 m. walk along Broad (with our face to the east) - we see the Blackwell's Bookshop, 48-51 Broad St. on our left. It is rare that a bookstore becomes a tourist attraction. Blackwell UK, or the Blackwell Group, is a British academic book retailer  founded in 1879 by Benjamin Henry Blackwell, after whom the chain is named. Founded in Oxford on Broad Street, the firm now has a chain of 45 shops, as well as library supply service, employing around 1000 staff members across all the UK. Both the Oxford and London flagship shops have won Bookseller of the Year at the British Book Awards. It includes as part of its basement the Norrington Room, which gained a place in the Guinness Books of Records with the largest single display of books for sale in the world. The huge Norrington Room - actually extends under neighboring Trinity College Gardens. It contains endless shelves of books - when the lion's share of them are underground. The main store at 48-51 Broad Street is NOT the only store in Oxford. It is the largest, holding 250,000 volumes, but there are also specialized stores for Art, Music, rare books, paperbacks, maps and travel, medicine, children's books, and a University bookstore. The main store in Broad Street also has a large used books section as well (on the top floor). Blackwell's catered exclusively to the academic market, and gradually opened new stores in university towns around the UK.

Exactly opposite the bookstore is the Sheldonian Theatre. Located in Oxford’s medieval city centre, the Sheldonian Theatre is a unique, world-renowned and world-class architectural jewel of Oxford.

It's is surrounded by a stone wall railings with the heads of Roman Emperors circling the theatre courtyard. Christopher Wren commissioned 14 stone heads from William Byrd who was a mason and stonecutter working in nearby Holywell. The heads were made of good quality freestone, and were completed in 1669. Each is a head-and-shoulders sculpture of a male with a beard, placed on a tall square pillar. They have been variously called the Apostles or the Philosophers, but most commonly they are called the Emperors. Each head has a different beard and it has also been suggested they represent a history of beards. In the early 1700s, one of the heads had to be removed to make way for the Clarendon Building (see below). The remaining 13 lasted 200 years until they were replaced in 1868. Unfortunately, the replacements were made of poor quality stone and gradually eroded until they were called ‘the faceless Caesars’ and were taken down in 1970. The third and current set of heads is made of more durable stone and each head weighs one ton. They were commissioned from Oxford sculptor Michael Black. It took two years to complete the commission, and they were erected in October 1972:

Designed by Sir Christopher Wren between 1664 and 1669. It is said to be one of the first bulidings designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It is the University’s ceremonial hall. Price: £3.50, Concessions: £2.50. I would recommend attend a musical performance in this theatre instead of paying special fee for just visiting this charming site. Bear in mind that the more convenient and expensive chairs cost £40-£60/person. The fee includes excellent guide with lots of great information. Occasional Guided tours: £8.00 adult, £6.00 concessions. Open: 10.00 - 16.00. Occasionally affected by ceremonial and other events. The Sheldonian does not have its own box office but tickets can be bought for concerts via the Oxford playhouse (Tel: 01865 305305) or from concert promoters.

Have a look around the main hall and do not miss its amazing ceiling. Gaze up at the magnificent ceiling fresco painted by Robert Streater, the court painter of King Charles II. The majestic hall hosts many musical performances (bring cushion - seats are not modern ones with hard boards and too  thin cushions) with excellent acoustics, with superb clarity of the sound, for small and larger musical groups. This building is also used by the Oxford University for their graduation ceremonies (able to seat 1500 people). Experience the atmosphere of this historical theatre space with its gilded organ and wooden interior.

Then walk up the shattering stairs (about 100 steps) to the top where there is a small exhibition of the theatre history.

Marian Cook photo: Aung San Suu Kyi, 2011:

The last few wooden steps are a bit challenging (more because of the circular nature and uneven floor) and lead to the coupola - where the 360 degree panoramic views of Oxford were worth it and are one of the best of this magnificent town. The views of Oxford from the top of the theatre are worth the entry fee alone.

South-West Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:

West Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:

North-West Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:

East Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:

South-East Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:

Behind (south) to the Shelodonian Theatre stands the Bodleian Library. Founded in 1602 and regarded as a masterpiece of English Gothic architecture, the Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. It is holding the second most number of books in the UK. it receives and holds a copy of every book and periodical ever written and published in the UK. There are many sensational facts about the Bodleian Libraries and many rare books are hosted here.You don't get to see all these, but just smelling and viewing from distance the historic portions is enough to understand how important this magical site is. Open: MON-FRI: 9.00 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 16.30, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00.

You can visit the libraries only through (45 - 60 min.) guided tours in fixed times. You have to register (and pay) in advance. Children under 11 yrs are not admitted. NO photos are allowed in most parts of the library - especially, in the upper floor with its medieval library. The tour guide gives you earphones to listen to his/her quiet whisper - while visiting the upper floor.

Mini guided-tour: The mini tour allows you to view the most beautiful parts of the Bodleian Library in just 30 minutes. Included: 15th-century Divinity School and Duke Humfrey's medieval library. Length: 30 minutes. Price: £6.

Standard guided-tour: This tour shows you the interior of the buildings that form the historic heart of the University. Included: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court and Duke Humfrey's medieval library. Length: 60 minutes. Price: £8.

Extended tour - Upstairs, downstairs. This tour offers the opportunity to visit both the Bodleian Library's wonderful historic rooms and the modern underground reading room. Included: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court, Duke Humfrey's medieval library, Radcliffe Camera and Gladstone Link. Length: 90 minutes
Price: £14. Times: Wednesday and Saturday: 9.15 only.

Extended tour - Explore the reading rooms. This tour adds exploration of the Bodleian Library's wonderful reading rooms where scholars have studied for centuries. Included: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court, Duke Humfrey's medieval library, Upper Reading Room and Radcliffe Camera. Length: 90 minutes. Price: £14
Times: Sunday: 11.15, 13.15 only. The general public cannot enter the reading rooms; that right is reserved for members.

Radcliffe Camera Lower Reading Room:

The Bodleian is so much more than a library; it is a piece of history. Oxford's Bodleian Library opened in 1602 with a collection of 2,000 books assembled by Thomas Bodley of Merton College. The new library replaced one that had been donated to the Divinity School by Duke Humphrey of Gloucester (brother of Henry V of England), but had dispersed in the 16th century. It was originally "Bodley's Library" and has been known informally to centuries of Oxford scholars as "the Bod". In 1610, Bodley made an agreement with the Stationers' Company in London to put a copy of every book registered with them in the library. The Bodleian collection grew so fast that the first expansion of the building was required in 1610–1612, and another in 1634–1637. When John Selden died in 1654, he left the Bodleian his large collection of books and manuscripts. In 1911 the United Kingdom Copyright Act continued the Stationers' Company agreement by making the Bodleian one of the five "copyright libraries" in the United Kingdom, where a copy of each book copyrighted in the country must be deposited. The New Bodleian building, was built in the 1930s. Each year, the collection grows by more than 100,000 books and nearly 200,000 periodicals; these volumes expand the shelving requirements by about 2 miles (3.3km) annually. A tunnel under Broad Street connects the Old and New Bodleians (mainly, Weston Building - see below), and contains a pedestrian walkway, a mechanical book conveyor and a pneumatic tube system for book orders. The Oxford Digital Library (ODL) provides online access to the paper collections. The Oxford Digital Library started operationally in July 2001 and has a rich collection of digital archives. In 2004, Oxford made an agreement allowing Google to digitize 1 million books owned by the Bodleian Library. The Bodleian is unique in that it is not a lending library - no books can be borrowed, only read on the premises. The Bodleian takes this restriction seriously; in two famous cases, King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell was refused permission to borrow a book... A strict policy of the libraries was that no fire may be brought into the library buildings. For this reason, the library was completely unheated until 1845, when Victorian engineers installed channels in the floor to carry hot water into the building after being heated in boilers outside. The library also lacked artificial lighting until 1929. Reliance on the sun for light and heat kept the library’s hours of operation quite short—as little as five hours per day during the winter.

The Bodleian Library exterior:

The Old Schools Quadrangle:

The main "Old Bodleian" building contains upper and lower reading rooms, the gift shop, and the Divinity School. As we said before, visitors are not allowed into the reading rooms except gazing from the distance on guided tours only, which usually occur daily, every hour. To be granted access to the Bodleian Library, one must submit a formal application. Visitors are asked to leave all bags, including ladies handbags, in secure lockers for the duration of all Bodleian Library tours.

The guided visit starts with the Divinity School at the 1st floor. The building is physically attached to the Bodleian Library (with Duke Humfrey's Library on the first floor above it in the Bodleian Library). The Divinity School Hall has beautiful Gothic windows. The ceiling consists of very elaborate vaulting. This splendid medieval room is the oldest teaching hall and earliest examination hall of the University. You can pay just £1 and see this hall for 10 minutes. Open: MON-SAT: 09. 00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. Purchase entry ticket on the day at the Great Gate ticket office.

Convocation House was built in years 1634–7. The Convocation House is the lower floor of the westward addition to the Bodleian Library and Divinity School. It adjoins the Divinity School, which pre-dates it by just over two hundred years, and the Sheldonian Theatre, to its immediate north:

Chancellor's Court sentencing students. Oxford University is the only university with Court. Oscar Wilde was sentenced here. It was formerly a meeting chamber for the House of Commons during the English Civil War and later in the 1660s and 1680s:

Second Floor: Duke Humfrey's Library is the oldest reading room in the Bodleian. It is composed of three major portions: the original medieval section (completed 1487, rededicated 1602), the Arts End (1612) to the east, and Selden End (1637) to the west. Until 2015, it functioned primarily as a reading room for maps, music, and pre-1641 rare books; following the opening of the new Weston Library, it is now an additional reading room for all users of the Bodleian, as the Weston Library operates reading room for special collections. It consists of the original medieval section (1487), the Arts End (1612), and the Selden End (1637). It houses collections of maps, music, Western manuscripts, and theology and ancient arts documents. The library is on the second floor and is attached at two corners to the Old Schools Quadrangle. The medieval section is above the Divinity School and Selden End (named after John Selden a benefactor of the library) is above the Convocation House. The books in the oldest part are accommodated in oak bookcases which are at right angles to the walls on either side with integral readers' desks. The ceiling consists of panels painted with the arms of the university:

Duke Humfrey's Library is named after Humphrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester, a younger son of Henry IV of England. He was a connoisseur of literature and commissioned translations of classical works from Greek into Latin. When he died in 1447, he donated his collection of 281 manuscripts to the University of Oxford. Oxford built Duke Humfrey's Library as a second story to the Divinity School in order to house his collection in 1450-80. Today, only three of Humfrey's original books remain in the library. In 1550 the King's Commissioners despoiled it of books and in 1556 the furniture was removed by the university. It was refitted and restored from 1598 by Sir Thomas Bodley and in 1610-12 added the east wing (now Arts End). The west wing (now Selden End) followed 20 years later. The medieval library is familiar to Harry Potter fans. You won't disappoint. The beautiful painted ceiling, wonderful wood paneling and ancient books are, all, once-in-life experience. The books and the interior of the library is breathtaking beautiful. You can gaze at the ancient books, which is cool and inspiring - but you are not allowed to touch or wander inside or around. Our guide, David, was very knowledgeable and inviting:

Today, the Bodleian includes several off-site storage areas as well as nine other libraries in Oxford, including the Bodleian Japanese Library, the Bodleian Law Library, and the Radcliffe Science Library. Altogether, the sites now contain 9 million items on 176 km of shelving, and have seats for 2,500 readers. The Bodleian Library's religious interest lies in its impressive collection of biblical and religious manuscripts. Unfortunately, these are generally not accessible to visitors.

The Clarendon Building ,Broad Street, is NORTH to the Sheldonian Library and the Bodleian Library. It is an early 18th-century neoclassical building of the University of Oxford. It was built between 1711 and 1715 and is now a Grade I listed building:

Cross Broad Street from south to north to face the Weston Library (the whole complex is, actually, on the corner of Broad Street and Parks Road). Weston Library is the main home for the Bodleian Libraries' Special Collections. It was renamed the Weston Library in honour of a £25m donation given in March 2008 by the Garfield Weston Foundation. The facade facing Broad Street is with a low podium wall and a row of small ground floor windows. The interiors are entirely modern - except a 15th-century portal from the Ascot Park estate used as an entrance to the readers’ admissions room. FREE. Open: Blackwell Hall - MON-FRI: 8.30 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. Exhibition galleries: MON-FRI: 10.00 - 17.00, SAT:  10.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11:00-17:00. Bodleian Café - MON-FRI: 8.30 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. The Zvi Meitar Bodleian Libraries Shop - MON-FRI: 10.00 - 17.30 , SAT: 10.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. The Weston Library began its life as the New Bodleian Library, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and constructed in the 1930s. In 1925, Sir Arthur Ernest Cowley (then Bodley's Librarian) informed the University that the Library would run out of space in ten years' time. In 1926, the Rockefeller Foundation agreed to provide three-fifths of the cost of a new library. The building was planned to be connected to the Old Bodleian building via an underground conveyor belt and a pneumatic tube system. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was appointed as architect in June 1934, and building work commenced in December 1936. The building was finished by 1940, but, its formal opening was delayed - since it was used for military projects during WW2. During the war it hosted valuable collections from the Old Library and special collections store, the Old Ashmolean, the Sheldonian, Duke Humfrey and the University Archives. The New Library also hosted priceless collections from libraries and institutions around the UK, including the King's Library (British Museum) and the herbarium collection of the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew. Treasures from fifteen Oxford colleges were also received – from Christ Church pictures to Merton's manuscripts. The building was finally opened by King George VI on 24 October, 1946. Since that time the only major alteration to the building has been the addition of the Indian Institute as a south-facing roof extension in 1966-69 by architect Robert Potter. The New Bodleian remained relatively unchanged:

The entrance collonade:

First, you enter the Blackwell Hall public space on the ground floor. It is lit with natural light from new skylights, or from the building’s original long slit-windows:



There is, also, brand new roof-level reading room with views of the Oxford city's famed spires:

The Shakespeare's Dead Exhibition (the left entrance from the main Blackwell Hall) in the Weston Library (22 April 2016 — 18 September 2016) celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The interesting exhibition displays and confronts the theme of death in Shakespeare's works. It shows how Shakespeare used the anticipation of death, the moment of death and mourning the dead in context to bring characters to life. The word "Death" repeatedly reflects times when death had a deeply religious context. The exhibition will feature tragic characters from Shakespeare's works including Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet and, even, Falstaff. Death is eternal in Shakespeare: from Desdemona’s deathbed to a tomb of books. The main historical event is the Bubonic Plague 1591-1603. Shakespeare's Dead also looks at last words spoken, funerals and mourning as well as life after death, including ghosts and characters who come back to life. These themes are explored using key items from the Bodleian's famous literary collections that include Shakespeare's First Folio and the first Shakespeare playbook (Romeo & Juliet), a number of early editions and an extensive collection of plays and poetry by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

A page from A dialogue against the fever pestilence, a book by English physician and cleric William Bullein (published 1564):

First copy of Venus & Adonis of  Shakespeare, 1593:

Knight fights the Death - Dance of Death Panel:

Merchant of Venice, 1600:

The title page of a 1612 edition of Richard III with annotations by Edmond Malone (circa 1741-1812):

First Folio - the collection of 36 plays written by Shakespeare in 1623, including Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra – emerged in the library of Mount Stuart, a 19th century Scottish mansion:

We turn to the Bodleian Treasures Exhibition (the right entrance from the main Blackwell Hall) in the Weston Library. It displays RARE DOCUMENTS in pairs: famous document vs. less familiar one:

The Magna Carta, 1217. The Charter’s clauses on freedom and the rule of law are enshrined in English law and the American Constitution. This is the original of the 1217 issue of the Great Charter, sent by King John and his son, Henry III to Oxford. Henry III, who was ten years old and too young to put his own seal to it, reissued the 1215 charter of his father King John:

Biblica Latina, 1455. The ‘Gutenberg Bible’ reflects the great advances made in printing technology in the 15th century. It is the first substantial book to be printed from individual pieces of metal type. The book was the work of Johann Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468), a goldsmith from Mainz. Printing probably began in 1454, and was completed by March 1455. Fewer than fifty copies survive today, and the Bodleian’s copy is one of only seven complete examples in the UK:

Peter Apian - Astronomicum Caesareum, 1540:

Codex Mendoza, c. 1541, an Aztec artist. This manuscript was commissioned by Antonio de Mendoza, first Viceroy of Mexico 1535-1550, for presentation to the Emperor Charles V of Spain.
It contains:
a copy of a lost chronicle of the Aztec lords of Tenochtitlan; secondly,
a copy of the ancient Tribute Roll, listing 400 towns paying annual dues to the last (murdered by the Spaniards) Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma II,
an account of Aztec daily life.
The drawings were annotated in Spanish by a Nahuatl-speaking Spanish priest who questioned native speakers as to their meaning. The photo below is a depiction of an Aztec wedding:

London Red Poppey, 1777, William Curtis. One of the finest illustrations of British plants ever published:

Shaikh Zain-ud-Din, Sarus Crane, 1780 (see our blog "The Ashmolean Museum - Part 2"):

Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) - Through the Looking Glass, London 1872:

Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis, 1912. it was the author’s wish that all his documents and manuscripts be burned. His friend, Max Brod saved this document. Thanks to Kafka’s friend Max Brod that the existing manuscripts survive at all. Kafka’s Metamorphosis opens with a man waking to find himself turned into a monstrous insect. This is the original manuscript of one of the few works that appeared in print in Kafka’s lifetime (first edition, 1915). The majority of the author’s manuscripts are now in the Bodleian Library:

Paint of Kenneth Graham - author of The Wind in the Willows, 1912:

Two concepts of liberty: Isaiah Berlin introduced his famous distinction between negative and positive liberty at this inaugural Oxford lecture as Professor of Social and Political Theory. After fleeing from Riga and witnessing the Russian Revolution in St. Petersburg, he and his Jewish family had sought refuge in England in 1921. He studied and taught at several Oxford colleges:

Tolkien - Bilbo comes to the huts of the raft-elves, 1937. Water-color paint he made for the American edition of the "Hobbit". Tolkien imagined his fantasy world in words and pictures, producing numerous illustrations of the landscapes and creatures:

Tolkien fans, scholars and members of the public will have a unique opportunity to view a recently-discovered map of Middle-earth as the Bodleian Libraries puts this rare piece of Tolkien Narnia on display on 23 June 2016:

Marian Cook - Aung San Suu Kyi, 2011:

We leave the Weston Library and walk (left) eastward along Broad street. Turn RIGHT (south) to Catte Street. In the junction of Catte St and New College Lane - stands the Bridge of Sighs or Hertford Bridge. It is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane and Its distinctive design makes it a city landmark. Just iconic gem or photo-stop of Oxford, nothing special architecturally.  The bridge is often referred to as the Bridge of Sighs because of its supposed similarity to the famous Bridge of Sighs in Venice. However, Hertford Bridge is more similar to the Rialto Bridge in Venice. The bridge links together north and south parts of Hertford College. It was designed by Sir Thomas Jackson. It was completed in 1914, despite its construction being opposed by New College. The building on the southern side of the bridge houses the College's administrative offices, whereas the northern building is mostly student accommodation. The bridge is always open to members of the Hertford College:

Unfortunately the Hertford college is CLOSED to public visitors. We continue southward along Catte Street and arrive to the striking Radcliffe Square. The stunning square is surrounded, on the four sides, by the facades of the famous: Bodleian Library, Brasenose College, All Souls College and the University (St. Mary) Church. The square is pedestrians- only and laid with cobble stones. Radcliffe Square is widely regarded as the most beautiful in Oxford. It is a quiet oasis in the centre of the city, completely surrounded by ancient University and college buildings, yet just a few paces away from the bustling High Street. The square is named after John Radcliffe, a student of University College and doctor to the King, who in 1714 bequeathed £40,000 to build a science library known today as the Radcliffe Camera:

The Brasenose College is in the western side of Radcliffe Square. Open (Guided tours ONLY): MON - FRI: 10.00 - 11.30, 14.00 - 16.30 (17.00 - during the summer), SAT - SUN: 09.30 - 10.30 (term time), 10.00 - 11.30 (non-term time). Entrance fee: £2.00. Brasenose College was founded in 1509 by Sir Richard Sutton, a Lawyer and William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln. Both were from the north west and the College has retained strong links with Cheshire and Lancashire throughout its history. A Royal Charter, dated 1512, established the College to be called 'The King's Hall and College of Brasenose'. The College library and current chapel added in the mid-seventeenth century. The College's New Quadrangle was completed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with additional residence areas completed in the 1960s and 1970s. Brasenose is famed as one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world, Brasenose College Boat Club. The College's unusual name refers to a twelfth century 'brazen' (brass or bronze) door knocker in the shape of a nose. Noses have been used as symbols for Brasenose College throughout its history. Brasenose College enjoys the best location of any Oxford University College with the entrance to the Old Quad on Radcliffe Square next to the Bodleian Library:

The Old Quadrangle:

The sundial on the north side of Old Quad is dated to 1719:

The New Quadrangle dated from late 19th century:

The College's hall is situated on the south side of the Old Quadrangle, which was constructed in the 16th century:

The Radcliffe Camera building in the centre of the square - is AMAZING. It stands between Brasenose College to the west and All Souls College to the east. Camera, here, meaning "room" in Latin. Tourists are not allowed to go inside - except visitors who join the most expensive tour of the Bodleian Library (14 GBP). Then, you can visit the top terrace and a few reading rooms and/or the library there. Just walk around this marvelous structure and admire its exteriors from its various sides. The round structure is surrounded by a fence dotted with paper notes with popular sayings. The building hosts one of the Oxford University libraries and is architecturally very impressive. I found the Radcliffe square and Camera - to be one of the most beautiful sights in the UK. It was built in 1739 to 1749 and designed by James Gibbs (who also designed St. Martin's in the Field Church at Trafalgar Square in London). The building is open to students only. The Radcliffe Camera has an underground tunnel which leads to the Old and New Bodleian Libraries. This allows students to take books into the Radcliffe without technically leaving the building. Originally the library in the Radcliffe Camera held both scientific and general books, but those collections were gradually moved to other University libraries, so that today the Camera functions as the main reading room of the Bodleian Library. The finished building holds some 600,000 books in underground rooms beneath Radcliffe Square. This spectacular piece of architecture is referred, by locals, as "Rad Cam":

Next, we go up to St. Mary's Church to have the best view, from its entrance gates, over the magnificent Radcliffe Square and Radcliffe Camera building. Entrances are on High Street and Radcliffe Square.

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is in the southern end of the square and is the largest of Oxford's parish churches and the centre from which the University of Oxford grew. Its front facade is facing High Street. Radcliffe Square lies to the north and to the east is Catte Street, It is surrounded by university and college buildings.

St. Mary Church from High Street:

The Tower: St Mary's has one of the most beautiful spires in England and an eccentric Baroque porch, designed by Nicholas Stone. The tower commands some of the finest views of Oxford's famous skyline - especially Radcliffe Square, the Radcliffe Camera, Brasenose College and All Souls College. The 13th century (around 1270) tower is open to the public for a fee. It is worth the climb of 124 steps (the stairs are a bit narrow but well worth the effort) to make it to the top to enjoy fine uninterrupted views in all directions across Oxford and the surrounding countryside. On a clear day you can see all of Oxfordshire. The Church Guide Book indicates the major buildings to be seen. Note: a bit of a tight squeeze towards the roof-top and not too many passing/standing places on the round terrace. When you're at the top the path is narrow around the tower so there will be lots of squeezing around other people if there are several people up there at the same time. Price: adults £4, children (under 16) £3, Family ticket (2 adults and up to 2 children), £11. Open daily : 9.00 - 17.00 (6.00 - 18.00 in July & August). Sundays the Tower opens at 12.15 OCT - MAY, 11.15 JUN - SEP. Access to the church is free. You will probably have to queue up at busy times. The cafe in the east side of the entrance court is very good. Delicious food among the vaults. You can sit in the church garden on a sunny day.

All Souls College from St. Mary Church roof-top:

Carved stone figure on the tower:

While altered by the Victorians, the interior of St. Mary’s church retains many of its original elements. The interior space has six-bay arcades with shafted piers.

There are remnants of 15th century stained glass in the tracery lights of the east window, and 17th century shields in the de Brome Chapel. The east window and second from east in the south aisle were designed by Augustus Pugin. The west window in the nave is from 1891 and was designed by C.E. Kempe, the memorial window to John Keble is by Clayton and Bell in 1866:

The church has a classical, amazing pipe organ built by the Swiss firm of Metzler Orgelbau in 1986, one of only two by this esteemed maker in Great Britain.

In the eastern side of Radcliffe Sqaure - we see the extensive premises of All Souls College. The entrance to this college is ,however, from the north side of High Street. With our face to the Sty. Mary Church and our back to the Radcliffe Camera - the street BEHIND the St. Mary Church (south to the church) is the High Street. We walk southward and turn LEFT (east). Immewdiately, on our left is the entrance to the All Souls College. The college is located on the north side of the High Street adjoining Radcliffe Square to the west. More to the east is The Queen's College with Hertford College to the North. All Souls is one of the wealthiest colleges in Oxford. The College was founded by King Henry VI of England in 1438. Today the College is primarily a graduate research institution and has no undergraduate students.

All Souls College Walls and Spires from Radcliffe Camera:

All Souls College Entrance in High Street:

Much of the college facade dates from the 1440s and, unlike at other older colleges, the smaller Front Quad is largely unchanged in five centuries. All Souls College Inner Court:

All Souls College from the tower of St Mary's Church:

Christopher Codrington sculpture inside the famous Codrington Library of All Souls College:

All Souls College chapel:

With our back to the Radcliffe Camera and our face to the St. Mary Church we continue straight on, to the south to the High Street. Here you can find various cafe's and restaurants - mainly, for light meals. Better options are restaurants along St. Clement Street - further east along the High Street. I recommend eating at the Angel & Greyhound, 30 Saint Clement's Street 800 m. east to the St. Mary Church or at Nando's,
80 Cowley Road - 1 km. east to the St. Mary. Both roads are direct continuation of (diverge from ) High Street to the east. Part 2 of this blog continues exactly where we stop here: the spot where we face the St. Mary Church in High Street.

Oxford Centre - Day 1

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

Oxford Centre - Part 1- circular route around Carfax Square.

Main Attractions: Carfax Square, Carfax Tower, Town Hall, Blue Boar Street, Christ Church College, Christ Church Meadow, War Memorial Gardens, Broad Walk, Poplar Walk, Thames river bank, Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, Martyrs' Memorial, Macdonald Randolph Hotel.

Duration: 1/2 day. The other half of the day can be devoted to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford Centre. This 1/2 day route ends, exactly, in the Ashmolean Museum gates (see our blog "Oxford - Day 1 - The Ashmolean Museum".

Start and Finish: Carfax Square. Weather: This route is suitable for any type of weather. Distance: 3-4 km.

Accommodation: I stayed in a private apartment (through AirBnb) in the north of Oxford - a few metres from the Oxford Canal. Walking along the canal is beautiful and peaceful. The place is surrounded by the green and the enchanting song of the birds. Not too many people, but just enough to make you feel safe, plus lovely boats anchored alongside and a view of nature. The lovely river is framed by the very old houses and some boats which bring an atmosphere of simplicity and joy. It took 10-15 minutes walking to the town centre. To catch the bus to the Blenheim Palace Blenheim Castle) - it is a 5 minutes walk to the Woodstock Road - where you catch the S3 bus line, direct to the palace gates. It's just wonderful to be walking outside along the canal and countryside. The paths along the canal (you can walk only along one side of the canal) are asphalted or are tramac ones. No mud and no problem to carry your trolley as well with you...)

Introduction: Oxford was a center for learning as early as the 12th century. Today, its namesake university is a centralized collective of 38 self-governing and financially independent colleges.


We start at the Carfax Square. It is the ancient heart of the City, where the four roads from the north, south, east and west gates met: St Aldate's (south), Cornmarket Street (north), Queen Street (west) and the High Street (east). It is considered to be the centre of the city. The name "Carfax" derives from the French "carrefour", or "crossroads".

Carfax Square (south-west corner) - St. Aldate's x Queen Streets:

Carfax Square (south-west corner) - Cornmarket x Queen Streets:

Carfax Square (east corner)- High Street:

Dominating the Carfax square scene is Carfax Tower. Carfax Tower is located at the north-west corner of Carfax. It is all that remains of the 12th-century St. Martin's Church. It is now owned by the Oxford City Council. It was the official City Church of Oxford. In  1896 the main part of the church was demolished to make more room for road traffic.  You will notice the impressive clock and quarterboys (the 16th century originals are in the Museum of Oxford, adjacent to the Town Hall on St Aldate’s). The tower still has a ring of six bells. There is also a clock that chimes the quarter hours:

You can climb to the top of the tower for a view of the Oxford skyline. The tower is open:  Daily. APR - OCT 10.00 - 17.30 (16.30 in October). NOV-MAR 10.00 - 15.00 (16.00 in March). Adults, Seniors, Students: £2.20,  Children £1.10. You only need a few minutes at the top of the tower, but the view is worth the climb. Keep in mind that the climb is restricted to very few visitors. There is no much place on top of the tower and it takes several minutes to stay there. There are, approx., 100 narrow, tight winding stairs to climb up. You have to be patient and polite and allow people to pass you either going up or coming down. Worthwhile. Alternatively, climb the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, to get a panoramic view of Oxford roofs (see our "Oxford - Day 2" blog).

Cross the road at the lights to the Cashmere Wool Shop at the top of St Aldate’s (nothing interesting to see there) and proceed down to St Aldate’s Town Hall (on your left) (there are accessible toilets in the Town Hall). It is a centre of local government in the city and also houses the municipal Museum of Oxford. Oxford's Town Hall or Guildhall was built on this site in 1292. It was replaced by the first Town Hall in 1752. The  building was demolished in 1893 and the current building was completed in 1897. The new building originally housed the public library and police station as well as the city council. During the First World War, the building was converted into an hospital. From 1916, it specialized in treating soldiers suffering from malaria. In 1936 Oxford City Police moved to a new police station further down St Aldate's. The central public library is now in the Westgate Centre in Queen Street. Not much to see inside, but it is worth to take some 10-15 minutes there...:

Its door is surmounted by the City’s coat of arms. ; enter by the level entrance at the top of St Aldate's). If time allows the Town Hall is mostly accessible and there is a computer terminal in reception where you can take a look at virtual tours of the views from the top of Carfax Tower, parts of the Town Hall and the Museum of Oxford:

The Assembly Rooms, Oxford Town Hall with its ornate stone fireplace decorated with William Morris tiles and oak-paneled walls. This room, the Main Hall and a number of other areas in the Town Hall became hospital wards which contained a total of 205 beds. In the Town Hall today, there is a certificate recording the appreciation of the Army Council for the use of the building as a military hospital 1914-19:

I recommend of visiting the small gallery inside the town hall ground floor (free entrance) with exhibits of local Oxford artists like Yvone Mebs Francis:

Immediately, beyond the Town Hall, on your left (along St. Aldate stree) - turn left to the Blue Boar Street. In the corner is the Museum of Oxford. Open: MON-SAT 10.00 - 17.00, SUN 11.00 - 15.00. It tells the history of Oxford, and show the results of recent excavations (Oxford was a walled town...). Very small. Two rooms only. Free:

Continue along the Blue Boar Street until it meets the Alfred Street. It is one of the oldest pubs in Oxford, England, dating back to 1242. Do not miss the Bear Inn with its fascinating collection of ancient ties. There are over 4,500 snippets of club ties placed in glass showcases that cover the walls and the ceiling. The collection started in 1952 by the landlord, Alan Course, who has worked as cartoonist at the Oxford Mail. Tie ends were clipped with a pair of scissors in exchange for half a pint of beer. The ties mostly indicate membership of clubs, sports teams, schools and colleges, etc'. THe pub is closed in the mornings and the place is humming with conversation (more of the upper class...) from the early evenings:

Return to St. Aldate Street and continue down to the main entrance of Christ Church College. Impressive but expensive and busy. The space for tourists to walk around is very limited. Open: MON-SAT: 10.00 - 17.00, SUN: 14.00 - 17.00. Last entry: 16.15. The Hall is frequently closed between 12.00 and 14.00 (students (in term) or resident guests (in vacation periods) have lunch). Last entry into the Hall or Cathedral will be 15-30 minutes prior to the closure time detailed above. Note: July and August (particularly ,weekends) are very busy. Expect queuing up for entry into Christ Church. Tickets sold either in the online shop www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com or in the Oxford Visitor Information Centre. Prices (standard Rates, (Hall and Cathedral Open): 1 April - 30 June: adult - £8, concessions - £7. 1 July - 31 August: adult - £9, concessions - £8. 1 September - 31 December: June: adult - £7, concessions - £6. The self-guided tour takes you through the Cathedral and through the Dining Hall. Many other parts are closed to most of the visitors. No need for maps. You easily flow with herds of visitors along well-signed route along two floors of the main complex building. The entrance is quite expensive, but, nevertheless, both the Grand Dining Hall (the inspiration for Hogwarts) and the Cathedral are sights to behold. Staff was always polite, friendly and efficient.

Christ Church is Oxford’s grandest and largest historic college. It's easily the most visited college in Oxford. It is formally, called 'Christ Church' only, or informally, ‘The House’. No other college has produced more British prime ministers than Christ College. 13 PMs had emerged from this college ! It is considered to be the most aristocratic college of the University of Oxford in England. It is the second wealthiest Oxford college by financial means. The college got, recently, worldwide reputation for being the main site for filming of the movies of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. With fans of the teenage wizard flocking to see film locations, visitor numbers at the CCC Cathedral have risen to 350,000 a year. The Christ Church's high-ceiling Dining Hall was a model for the one scene throughout the films (with the weightless candles and flaming braziers)...but the actual filming happened on a set at the Leavesden studios. The city of Christchurch in New Zealand is named after Christ Church College in Oxford. Lewis Carroll, author of the Alice in Wonderland books. He wrote "Alice" for Alice Liddell, daughter of the Dean of Christ Church. His real name was Charles Dodgson, and he, was also a student and then a lecturer at Christ College. Although he is most famous as a novelist, he was also an exceptional mathematician. Dodgson was a student in Mathematics at Christ Church for 48 years. The New Library of Christ Church houses the best collection of Lewis Carroll's work anywhere in the world.

The Meadow Building (main building entrance):

No entry from Tom Gate:

Main entrance:

Christ Church College Meadows - opposite the main entrance:

The famous ‘Tom Tower’, over the entrance to the college, was designed by the architect and ex-student of the college, Sir Christopher Wren in 1681. Wren completed the structure, dubbed Tom Tower, in 1682. It is now one of the most famous of Oxford's "dreaming spires". The 7 ton bell in the tower is known as ‘Great Tom’, and it chimes 101 times every evening at 21.05, once for each of the original 101 students of Christ Church. This is nine o’clock Oxford time, the City being five minutes west of Greenwich. People in wheelchairs are permitted to enter the college here, passing under Tom Tower:

Take a turn around Tom Quad, the largest quadrangle in Oxford, at the centre of which is a pond, originally created partly as a reservoir for the college. The present statue of Mercury replaces an earlier one, damaged in 1817. The inner court is, most of the time, closed. Please DO NOT interrupt the silence of the students and other dwellers:

Inside a inner courtyard of Christ Church:

It is the only college in the world which is also a cathedral. The Cathedral can be entered by a ramp built with the entrance lobby. It is the smallest cathedral in England and contains the Shrine of St Frideswide. The Cathedral was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, before the college was founded, and has Romanesque and Gothic architecture. This shrine was built in 1289, and it houses the relics of the 8th century nun, Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford. The college was founded in 1525 by the powerful Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and was originally called ‘Cardinal College’. Wolsey was himself a former member of Magdalen College. He became Master of Magdalen in 1500, but that was merely a brief stopover on his meteoric rise to power as chief advisor and chaplain to Henry VIII. In 1525 Wolsey, also founder of Hampton Court Palace near London, acquired the Augustinian priory on the site of St. Frideswide's abbey. Wolsey had the site cleared, and began construction of a grandiose complex of buildings around a green quadrangle (now known as Tom Quad - see below). However, Wolsey lost favor with King Henry VIII, because he refused to support the King’s plan to marry his second wife, Anne Boleyn. By the time of Wolsey's death in 1529 the college was still incomplete - not surprising considering the scope of Wolsey's project. King Henry VIII re-founded the college in 1532 as ‘King Henry VIII’s College’ and then renamed it ‘Christ Church’ in 1546. This was after he had separated from the Church of Rome and created the Church of England. The royal connection with Christ Church continued during the English Civil War (1642-1646). King Charles chose Christ Church as his residence (his army kept their cattle in the Great Quad and kept hay for the cattle in the Cathedral), while his wife, Henrietta Maria, with her court or household lived in the nearby Merton College. Charles I court sat in the Deanery, and the royalist "Parliament" convened in the Great Hall. The king attended service in the church daily, sitting in the Vice-Chancellor's stall:

Nave of Christ Church Cathedral looking to the altar:

Choir and organ of Christ Church Cathedral. The organ is a 43-rank, four-manual and pedal instrument built in 1979 by Austrian firm Rieger Orgelbau:

Stained-glass windows inside the Cathedral. The St. Frideswide Window - St. Frideswide Shrine (the most ancient chapel in the Cathedral):

A large rose window of the ten-part:

The Nowers Monument - statue of giant knight, 2m. height from the 14th century:

The finest surviving section of Christ Church original foundation is The Hall (the Dining Hall). It is this Renaissance splendor of the Grand Hall that attracted the makers of the Harry Potter films to build a replica of the Hall in their London studios. Actual scenes from the movies were filmed here, and on the grand stairs leading to the Hall. The dining halls at the University of Chicago and Cornell University are both reproductions of the splendid dining hall at Christ Church. It shows the Renaissance magnificence of the original Cardinal College, and suggests the scale it might have reached had it not been for Wolsey’s fall. Until the 1870s this was the largest Hall in Oxford, but then the newly-founded Keble College ensured that their hall was slightly larger (legend has it by only a single metre). Built in the mid-1500s, the hall itself was not used during Harry Potter filming.

Stairs leading to the 2nd floor, to the famous Dining Hall (on which Professor McGonagall welcomes the first-year students in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone):

Be sure to admire the ceiling of the Dining Hall, a wonderful example of sixteenth-century built by Humphrey Coke, Henry VIII’s chief carpenter. The walls are adorned with a number of portraits, each celebrating famous members of the college from Queen Elizabeth to W. H. Auden. At the far end, the founder of Christ Church, Henry VIII, is portrayed above a bust of the current queen, Elizabeth II. The table at the far end of the Hall is known as High Table and it is here that senior members of the college dine. Academic fellows or Deans of the college are known as Students, always with a capital S to distinguish them from undergraduate students:

On your immediate right upon entering the Hall, is a portrait of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll - famed author of Alice in Wonderland - see above). It was painted by Hubert von Herkomer, based on photographs. Upon exiting the Dining Hall, keep your eyes on this portrait - he'll surely be keeping his eyes on you:

Look for the large stained glass window, featuring characters from Alice above the fireplace as well as brass characters in the fireplace itself.

The Christ Church Picture Gallery contains a modest collection of Renaissance art, the most notable of which features the bibilical Judith holding the severed head of Holofernes. For visitors who wish to see the entire college, the entrance is at Meadow Gate. If you start from there, the Picture Gallery is located in the last quadrangle, known as Canterbury Quad, designed by the British architect James Wyatt (1746 - 1813). To visit the Picture Gallery without visiting the rest of the college, enter through Canterbury Gate off Oriel Square (from King Edward Street), only a couple of minutes walk from the High Street. The staff member(s) at the gate will direct you to the Picture Gallery. Open: JUL-SEP, daily, MON - SAT: 10.30 - 17.00, SUN: 14.00 - 17.00. OCT - MAY,  closed Tuesdays, MON, WED - SAT: 10.30 - 13.00, 14.00 - 16.30, SUN: 14.00 - 16.30, JUN, closed Tuesdays, MON, WED - SAT: 10.30 - 17.00, SUN: 14.00 - 17.00. Prices: Adults - £4.00 Concessions - £2.00. The Picture Gallery is independent of the admission charge to the rest of the Christ Church College. Visitors who have bought a ticket to visit Christ Church are entitled to a 50% reduction of the Gallery ticket. Every Monday at 14.30 visitors can join a tour through the Gallery with tour guides. The Picture Gallery is especially strong on Italian art from the 14th to 18th centuries. The collection includes paintings by Annibale Carracci (The Butcher's Shop), Duccio, Fra Angelico, Hugo van der Goes, Giovanni di Paolo, Filippino Lippi (The Wounded Centaur), Sano di Pietro, Frans Hals, Salvator Rosa, Tintoretto, Anthony van Dyck and Paolo Veronese, and drawings by Leonardo de's Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Albrecht Dürer and Peter Paul Rubens and a great range of other artists, especially Italians:

Filippino Lippi's - The Wounded Centaur:

The Butcher's Shop by Annibale Carracci, c. 1580-1590:

Leonardo da Vinci - Grotesque Head:

Generally spoken, I think the Christ Church College is a VERY beautiful site and immaculately kept. Lovely British History and a wonderful sense of going back in time and seeing how it was once used in the past. Excellent experience with much to see and enjoy plus many photo opportunities.

If you have time a visit to the grounds is pleasant and is possible to as far as the river on accessible paths. The landscaped areas, actually, The Meadow (at the south of the Central Building), the War Memorial garden (at the west of the Central Building) - are an experience in its own. The exceptional conservation area (Grade 1 registration) extends to the east bank of the Cherwell river. The only disabled access is from St Aldate's, through the war memorial garden. Christ Church Meadow is a rare open space at the heart of Oxford, open to the public all year round. Though seemingly tranquil, the meadow is highly used as a site for sport, entertainment and recreation. During the Civil War it proved invaluable as a defense against the Parliamentarian forces. It was the location for some of the earliest balloon flights in England: in 1784 James Sadler, ‘the first English aeronaut’ rose from Christ Church meadow, landing six miles away after a half-hour flight. In May 1785 Sadler again ascended from the meadow, this time with the statesman William Windham as a passenger. The meadow is enclosed by the rivers Cherwell and Thames. The Thames is known as the Isis whilst flowing through the city. The Isis is home to the college boathouses where rowing teams gather to train and compete. Every summer the major intercollegiate regatta takes place (better known as Summer VIIIs) as it has done since the competition’s inauguration in 1815. Crews from across the university descend annually on the Cherwell to compete in a four-day competition. Fittingly, Christ Church has been the most successful men’s crew, with 32 victories:

The War Memorial Gardens, in memory of members of Christ Church, Oxford, is located east off St Aldate's at the western end of Broad Walk, which leads along the northern edge of Christ Church Meadows.

We leave the CCC and continue walking along the tarmac, the Broad Walk path, which separates the Christ Church College from The Meadow. Broad Walk is wide walkway running east-west on the north side of Christ Church Meadow and south of Merton Field. The walkway starts at St Aldate's Street though the Christ Church War Memorial Garden at the western end of the College premises. The River Cherwell is to the east at the southern end of the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens (see below):

You'll pass, on your left - the entrance way to Merton College. The tower of Merton College Chapel dominates the view north from Broad Walk across Merton Field, beyond Dead Man's Walk and the old city wall which run parallel to Broad Walk, connected via Merton Walk. Along the Broad Walk - there are fantastic views of Christ Church and the Cathedral. You can follow the Broad Walk over toward Merton College and head up the Merton Walk up to Merton Street, or remain on the Broad Walk all the way to the Oxford Botanic Gardens (if the route is not blocked):

Your way to the east might be blocked (due to reconstruction works). So, we return to the Christ Church College main entrance and start walking southward along a tarmac path which leads from the CCC southern gate to the Thames river. Opposite to the main entrance, the tree-lined Poplar Walk, (or New Walk) laid out in 1872 by Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, leads down (south) to the River Thames. It is a very pleasant walk until we reach the Thames river:

The Poplar Walk is, approx. 5-10 minutes walk from the north to the south. The large path meets the Thames river near Folly Bridge to the south. At this point, the river is known as "The Isis" and is the location of the end of rowing races for Oxford University events such as Eights Week in the summer and Torpids in the spring. Now, there are boathouses a little further down (more to the west) the Thames river meets with the River Cherwell.

The Poplar (New) Walk ends in the Thames river:

With our back to the Poplar Walk and our face to the Thames River (south) - we turn RIGHT (west) and walk along a (muddy) path (Christ Church Meadow Walk), on the Thames river bank, leading, back east to St. Aldate Street. After 5 minutes walk west along the Thames  - we arrive to the Salters' family basin and boats' letting business and the 'Head of the River' pub and cafe':

From 'The Head of the River' pub - return to St. Aldate's Street and turn RIGHT, heading along the St. Aldate's back to the Carfax Square. You'll pass, on your right, the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments. Open: MON - FRI afternoons from 14.00 - 17.00 throughout the year. Closed: SAT-SUN and during the dates 19-31 AUG 2016. One of the largest collections of musical instruments in the world. The Bate has over 1000 instruments (mainly for Western classical music), on display, from the Renaissance, through the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and up to modern times. The collection is named after Philip Bate, who gave his collection of musical instruments to the University of Oxford in 1968 for teaching and academic uses only:

We continue walking northward, crossing the Carfax and continuing along the Cornmarket Street which starts as a pedestrians-only road. On our left the Mcdonald's restaurant. We cross the Broad Street (on our right) and George Street (on our left) and Cornmarket street continues as Magdalen Street with Hotel Randolph on our left. The Martyrs' Memorial, on our right, is a stone monument positioned at the intersection of St Giles', Magdalen Street and Beaumont Street, just outside Balliol College. It commemorates the 16th-century Oxford Martyrs - three Anglican bishops who were burned at the stake under Queen Mary in the 1550s: Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Hugh Latimer. The actual site of the execution is close by in Broad Street, just outside the line of the old city walls. The site is marked by a cross sunk in the road. Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the monument was completed in 1843. The inscription on the base of the Martyrs' Memorial reads: "To the Glory of God, and in grateful commemoration of His servants, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, Prelates of the Church of England, who near this spot yielded their bodies to be burned, bearing witness to the sacred truths which they had affirmed and maintained against the errors of the Church of Rome, and rejoicing that to them it was given not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake; this monument was erected by public subscription in the year of our Lord God, MDCCCXLI".

Behind the Memorial Monument is the Balliol College. Opposite, on our left is the Ashmolean Museum:

We turn left to Beaumont Street. We can visit the leading 5-star hotel in Oxford: the Macdonald Randolph Hotel. Hotel is full of old English charm.  It is a landmark building with elegance and charm. The hotel has played host to prime ministers and presidents, and its renowned Morse Bar (just inside the front door) is instantly recognizable as the watering hole of the famous detective, Inspector Morse:


Now, turn to the next route for the rest of day (at least 3-4 hours) - the "Oxford - Day 1 - The Ashmolean Museum" blog.



Blenheim Palace - Part 2

Ariel Shafir

United Kingdom

Blenheim Palace - Part 2 (outdoor and indoor attractions): the Formal and Pleasure Gardens, the 'Untold Story' Exhibition.

Main Attractions: The Water Terraces, Italian Garden, Secret Garden, Churchill Memorial Garden, the Rose Garden, the Cascades, Lakeside path (or: river side walk), Pleasure Gardens,  the 'Untold Story' Exhibition.

We start Part 2 of the Blenheim Place blog with the meticulous formal gardens. There is a daily tour (if weather permitting) that "covers" all five parts of the formal gardens: Water terraces, Italian Garden , Secret Garden, Rose garden and Churchill Memorial garden. It starts at 11.30 and lasts for approximately one hour. Book your place at the Visitor Centre (beyond the East Gate).

The 4th Duke of Marlborough brought Capability Brown and William Chambers to make major changes to Palace Park and Gardens. The 5th Duke of Marlborough who was an avid horticulturalist developed extensive gardens. These are all sadly lost except for the Rose Garden recently restored by the present (12th) Duke. Most of the formal gardens were added by the 9th Duke of Marlborough in the 1920s, with help of the French Landscape Architect Achille Duchêne.

Almost all formal gardens are recently restored: The Water Terraces,  , the Italian Garden, the Secret Garden, the Rose Garden and Grand Cascade.

It took five years, from 1925 to 1930 for the Water Terraces to be built and involved an immense amount of planning. The three terraces in the Water Terraces of Blenheim Palace are reminiscent, on a smaller scale, of the Versailles Gardens. Achille Duchene, the famous French designer built and restored over 6000 gardens, mostly in France. Blenheim was his only significant project in England. Built between 1925 and1930, the juxtaposition of the palace and the two levels of the Water Terraces opening up on to 'Capability' Brown’s lake landscape is a breathtakingly good piece of design. Duchene didn’t get it all his own way.The 9th Duke of Marlborough, his client, insisted that the number of fountains be substantially reduced and counterbalanced with pools of still water. This makes the transition to the Brown landscape more subdued than it might otherwise have been. On this very spot, in the Terrace Gardens, brief scenes were filmed for the 1995 movie Restoration, starring Robert Downey, Jr., Sam Neill, Meg Ryan, Ian McKellen, and Hugh Grant.

Upper Level:

Lower Level:

You can dine at the Water Terrace Cafe' and Champagne Bar (a bit expensive, the terraces outside are beautiful setting for your lunch):

The Italian Garden is the 10th Duke of Marlborough’s private garden. It can be seen by a public walkway. Clipped box and yew form the structure of this garden which is both formal and architectural.

Found in the Italian garden is the "Untitled" sculpture by German artist Georg Baselitz. It  is a contemporary response to Antonio Canova’s sculpture The Three Graces (1814-1817), reinventing the iconic mythological trio. Unlike Canova’s depiction, Baselitz’s maidens are monumental, rough-hewn and faceless, their bodies carved in a manner which recalls African sculpture, evoking the primitive line of early Modernists such as Picasso and Braque:

Blenheim Palace - a view from the Italian Garden:

The Secret Garden was originally the 10th Duke of Marlborough's private garden but was restored under the auspices of the 11th Duke as part of the Battle of Blenheim tercentenary celebrations in 2004. This newly renovated garden lies to the east of the South Lawn. In contrast to the formal gardens, because it has an informal style, and sweeping parkland. The garden has been designed to look interesting all year round with foliage (leaves) of different shapes, colors and size. The garden does not have many flowering plants.It also is a secluded area which leads you down paths over bridges and to the tranquil stream. There is a small cascade and several pools with water running continually between them. The best month for visiting this garden is March-April. There are 10,000 bulbs in the ground that flower in these months. There are several Blue Cedars in the garden:

The circular Rose Garden is equipped with arched hoops that support climbing roses. A central statue is surrounded by symmetrical beds of roses which form a delightfully-scented display of floral beauty:

Andalucian Stallion - sculpture of Hamish Mackie near the Rose Garden:


The Churchill Memorial Garden (designed by Kim Wilkie) has a 90-metre path dotted with milestones from the glorious biography of Sir Winston Churchill (1900 - MP, 1901 -= Edward VII Crowned, 1905 - Under Secretary of State, 1908 - Marries Clementine, 4th August 1914 - WWI begins, 1911 - Becomes First Lord of the Admiralty, 11th November 1918
WWI ends, ..... 1965 - Buried at Bladon), an Oscar Nemon bronze bust and very young (still not blooming) of selected flowers. Halfway along the granite path with these milestones - there is a bench, plinth and Churchill bust. In the words of Kim Wilkie: "Churchill was enormously fond of Blenheim Palace and it is an honour to design a memorial for the great man within the Palace grounds he loved so much":

Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965):

A tarmac path leads the visitors from the Rose Garden to the Cascades. The gardens aren't that packed, probably, because they are huge. It's impossible to get crowded. BUT, here, in the cascades - you have to queue for photos of the waterfalls though.

Grand Cascade and Pump House:

From the cascades - there is a VERY CLEAR SIGNAGE for the short walk (1/2 hour at most) along the river. You'll thoroughly enjoy your lazy walk westward by the river. It is so romantic and everything is so green and quiet. On your right (part of the path) - you'll notice interesting ironworks and Wisteria branches. The trail might be a bit slippery - if there is fine rain during your day of visit. Avoid it - if it is raining heavily !

Lakeside path. The Boathouse Best wildlife and fauna seen from here...:

Immediately, beyond the boathouse - you'll notice the palace silhouette on your right. We climb, again, to the palace through the water terraces.

The next OUTDOOR section - is more suitable for children. A miniature train, a great favourite with all ages, connects the Palace to the Pleasure Gardens. The railway operates daily from February until October at half-hour intervals and at weekends only between November and December. The diesel locomotive, pulls three canopied carriages and can reach a speed of 12 mph. One carriage is wheelchair accessible. The fee - 50 pence. Train Times: From the Palace: First train 11.00 and then on the hour and half hour, last train 17.10.

The Pleasure Gardens, where a range of fun activities for children, are located including the Marlborough Maze, the Butterfly House, the Lavender Garden, Adventure Playground and Blenheim Bygones exhibition. This area is more oriented for families. The maze is the world’s second largest symbolic hedge maze, designed to reflect the history and architecture of the Palace. The maze covers an area of just over an acre (0.4 hectare) and has two high wooden bridges which provide perfect vantage points. Within the maze area is a model of a Woodstock street, putting greens, as well as a giant chess and draughts set.

The Butterfly House is a temperature-controlled greenhouse containing butterflies and plants native to their environment. In the Butterfly House, exotic tropical butterflies can be seen in free flight. The special hatchery contains the pupae of many of the species, bred on site, so at Blenheim, it's possible to study the full life-cycle. More exotic butterflies can be seen, depending on the season:

The Adventure Play Area is a purpose built wooden play area including plank bridges to run across, ladders to climb, swings and slides to enjoy:

The whole property is well protected by its enclosing wall:

After exploring the formal and pleasure gardens - we return to the Blenheim Palace - to complete its (free) indoor attractions. You can lunch, at this point, for example in the Water Terrace Cafe' (Indian Room). It cost me £11.05 for baked salmon + potatoes and some vegs. Tasty and filling. Indian themed murals and views of the Water Terraces provide an elegant setting for your afternoon meal.

This section is much different. This part starts with the palace stables and continues with the second floor of the palace and the 'Untold Story' exhibition.

Many of Churchill’s decisions were influenced by his love of horses, a love that began when he was a very young child. He first learned to ride while visiting with his grandparents at Blenheim Palace. Later, in his book 'My Early Life', Churchill described the cavalry training he underwent as a Recruit Officer after leaving Sandhurst: disciplined, demanding drill in the Riding-School, at the Stables and on the Barrack Square.

The lion's share of the stables is devoted to the Churchills' Destiny exhibition. 'Churchills' Destiny' tells the story of two great war leaders and explores the story of two great war leaders' - highlighting the fascinating parallel lives of Sir Winston Churchill and his much admired ancestor John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Open: daily from 10.00 - 17.30. Free:

Churchill, Hero's  Funeral (24 JAN, 1965):

There is Indoor Cinema, located in the Stables Courtyard. The indoor cinema shows a variety of documentaries and films about Blenheim Palace, and offer an alternative experience to the 'Untold Story' (see below) for wheelchair and buggy users. Daily from 10.00 - 17.30. Free.

Stables Courtyard:

The Grand Court from the Stables Court:

The 'Untold Story' is an exhibition that takes part in the second floor (ask the staff members - how to climb to the 2nd floor. It is NOT straight-forward... Upstairs, you'll discover more than 300 years of captivating stories from the Palace’s past in this animated and interactive visitor experience. This exhibition is not accessible for wheelchairs.  The Blenheim Palace Trust wanted to create an alternative to the existing tour of the palace staterooms. They wanted to exhibit history in a more intimate way, often seen through the eyes of servants and staff. Outside a room with a video screen that gives you an introduction to the inhabitants and the story of the building of this monumental structure. Grace Ridley, ladies’ maid to the first Duchess of Marlborough, transcends time to lead visitors from 1705 to the present, introducing them to Dukes, Duchesses and servants in bedrooms, corridors, boudoirs, a theatre, a laboratory and Blenheim’s sumptuous Great Hall. 11 rooms are transformed into theatrical sets and exhibition spaces, to allow visitors to enjoy the 300 years of history Blenheim has witnessed. After the video, an automated door opens and you step through it into a room that looks like a movie set. The doors close behind you and animatronic figures come to life and enact sections of the early history of the palace. Each segment is about 5 minutes long, and at the end of each vignette, the doors on the opposite end of the room open and you move onward to the next room. Some rooms have museum exhibits that you can linger at, others have cross-overs between animatronic displays and videos. The entire attraction takes about 45 minutes. Note: you are trapped in a 40 minute controlled tour, which is tedious and quite sticky. It consists of period rooms and a "ghost' character guiding you along. No way for retreating back or forward...

18 JUN 1705 - Laying the Foundation Stone of Blenheim Palace:

Blenheim Palace Theatre - year 1789:

John Churchill - 1st Duke of Marlborough. Married with Sara Jenings in 1677-8. Formerly, he had love affair with Barbara Villiers (famous lover of King Charles II). He got the Dukedom from Queen Anne in year 1702:

To leave the palace - you have to pass through two gift shops to get out to the Grand Court. You have to return to the Inner Court, walk through the East Gate and walk 10-15 minutes to return to the Woodstock road to catch your Gold Stagecoach S3 bus back to Oxford.