Monday, April 12, 2010

More Sightseeing

Last Tuesday I hiked out to a little village (Binsey) church about 2 or 2.5 miles from here. 
This church was a real treat to visit as not many tourists go there.  I had the place to myself.  I have no idea how old this church is, but a grave on the floor of the church said the person had died in 1707, so I imagine the church has been around since at least 1700. I wondered if any young men from that church had given their lives on American soil during the Revolutionary War.  

Oxford University is made up of around 40 independently functioning colleges.  This past week I have visited some of those colleges.  Some of them are free; others have a fee to get in.  In all of them you can only walk around the quad and look at the outside of the buildings.  For the most part, the only building you can enter is their chapel and every college has a chapel.  At one college that charged admittance their dining hall was also open (more about that in a moment).

On Wednesday I visited the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin.
I didn't really like the church inside that much.  For one thing they were doing a lot of renovations inside and it wasn't very peaceful.  The way the church was laid out was strange, too.  So, I didn't spend much time in there.  One interesting note, though, is that both John and Charles Wesley preached in this church. 


Near this church is the Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian Library.  This is the well-known library that students of all colleges of the Oxford University can use.  John can use this library, but it is closed to the likes of people like me!  (See John's blog)

Next to the Bodleian and close to St. Mary the Virgin, is All Soul's College. This college had some interesting features such as the giant sundial designed by Sir Christopher Wren.  Over one of the buildings, the Radcliffe Camera could be seen.  I didn't care so much for the chapel here, either.


On Thursday I visited Balliol College, St. Michael's Church at the North Gate, and Exeter College.  Balliol College charges an entrance fee, but it was well worth it. 
Along with the entrance fee you got a nice booklet leading you on a self-guided tour and giving a short description of each building.  There were two main quads in Balliol as well as a fellows' private garden.  But best of all, the public is allowed into the dining hall at non-dining hours.  What a treat to see the tables (not all were set as most students are still on Easter break) set formally with linen napkins, bread plate and butter knife, two wine glasses, a water glass, and a tea cup.  The benches are worn down where students have slid across them over the years. 

From there I headed over to St. Michael's at the North Gate
Oxford was at one time a walled city and St. Michael's was at the North Gate.  I liked this church quite a bit.  And John Wesley also preached here.


My next stop was Exeter College. 
John and I love the Ste Chappelle church in Paris for its gorgeous stained windows and so I was excited to find out that Exeter College's chapel is fashioned after Ste. Chappelle.  This was definitely my favorite chapel of all that I have visited so far.


To end my day, I had a peek into Lincoln College
This picture was taken from the doorway as the public was not allowed to enter.

Friday didn't turn out quite like I had planned.  All the colleges I planned to visit were either closed to the public or I couldn't find them.  However, I did enjoy walking along Merton Street which apparently most of the tourists haven't discovered yet.  It's a step back in time with the cobbled streets and ancient buildings.  I also walked through Christ Church Meadow and saw a bit of the back side of Christ Church College, but I'll save pictures of that for another post as I hope to make a proper visit there this week.


Friday evening we had supper with Dan, a former teacher from Sahel Academy who had taught Maths to both Daniel and Suzanne.


Saturday we had planned to rent bikes and do some exploring that way, but it didn't turn out as we expected.  So we went to Port Meadow, which is just over the bridge, and had a nice simple picnic in the sunshine.


Sunday we walked a mile to church and then a mile back.  Then I went for a walk along the Thames River path, which turned out to be at least two miles out and two back! 
But it sure was worth it!  I saw sailboats on the river, cows along the path, and an abandoned nunnery (Godstow Nunnery) built in 1138 and where Rosamund Clifford, the lover of King Henry I was educated and later buried.  When I got home I made supper, then we walked to church and back again.  All in all I walked eight miles on Sunday!


The only negative thing about all my exploring is that I have to do it alone.  Since John is studying, I am taking you, my readers, along vicariously. 






4 comments:

Mommy Becoming said...

I love that you are taking us along on your adventures! I like to picture myself exploring with you. And I very much appreciate all of your pictures. They are lovely--you have a real knack with the camera!

podso said...

Thanks for taking us along, Photos are lovely, The collages great; it's a good way to share more photos!

Beka said...

love that we get to be in on your tours! i'm sure john will enjoy some of the highlights- you can preview for him for when he has time! :) i LOVE the daffodils in your first picture. my FAVORITE flower, one that always means spring to me! thanks for sharing! :)

Rachel said...

glad to hear that you're having such a good time and getting to see lots...