JUN 17,2016 - JUN 17,2016 (1 DAYS)
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.
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.