My walk through Oxford University confirmed the dictum “knowledge is power.” Well, maybe I didn’t feel powerful like a superhero, but the energy from the colleges inspired me. I left with more than memories.
My journey began one morning years ago in San Francisco when my friend called me to discuss our afternoon plans. He started with, “I just received an acceptance letter to Oxford.” Plans changed.
I offered a huge, hearty congratulations and the nearby hike changed to a trip to the wineries of Napa. We needed to toast with a bottle of bubbly. His life changed. He moved to England. And in a much smaller way so did mine; I planned to visit him at Oxford.
A Tour of Oxford
Many visitors walk the streets at Oxford but luckily I had my friend, Brian, with a student ID to take me around. The ID translated into access, “discounts,” and knowledge. He was the perfect tour guide.
He enlightened me that the “politics” college is Balliol College, but it is Christ Church College that has produced the most British Prime Ministers – 13. Actually it is the same number of the sum of all the other 45 Oxford colleges combined. Brian continued and told me the smartest 1 percent(ish) attend Merton and that the impressive Rotunda is the Radcliff Camera. It is a library designed by James Gibbs.
I also learned the largest land owner in the UK and the wealthiest college at Oxford is St. Johns. Plus, our leisurely tour allowed for time in Bodleian Library where I purchased a special journal for my African Adventure. A journal highlighted in my story about the Oxford Sunset.
Christ Church College
Christ Church was the one must see. And after our tour I agree. It is one of the older Oxford colleges (1546) and visitors really get to see the grounds, enjoy a fantastic art museum and see its impressive chapel. Not all the college chapels are open to the public, but many actually offer access during daily services, so definitely look it up when you go.
Also, Christ Church College was one of the settings for the first Harry Potter film.
No trip to Oxford is complete without a peek into the world of magic. Yes, even Harry Potter came to Oxford. A few scenes from the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, were filmed on site. And any walk through the colleges (in my opinion) must include a look at the movie set for the series of books that captured the imagination of the world like no other.
Visitors can find the Infirmary at the Divinity school, the dining hall and stairs at Christ Church and the Bridge of Sighs at Hertford College.
The Eagle and Child
After any walking tour, one must be ready to sit down and discuss the adventure over a pint. And one of the joys of any writer visiting Oxford is take that pint along with some pub grub at the Eagle and Child.
Here C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien among others gathered here to discuss their work, offer critique (or advice) and opine on the current events of the world.
I ordered a full English Breakfast and just took it all in. Delicious. And yes, the food did taste better after the impressive tour.
I also pondered… was I smarter? Did the walk about the colleges and / or having a friend who attends Oxford and is now working on his PhD raise my IQ a few points? Not sure, although having a friend here probably raises my stock in the eyes of others (thanks Bri). And although I can’t prove to you I am smarter today after my visit, I can tell it was a smart decision to come and visit Oxford.
Stay adventurous, Craig
this post is part of the European Series.