Monday, May 18, 2009

Oxford Day 2

This morning was the first day of classes and tours and was full from beginning to end. Skipping breakfast, (8:00 am! no thank you) the first program was at 9:30 which was an overview of the program followed by a break for tea. Afterward a lecture on the history of the program as well as an excellent introduction to Oxford as seen through its history and buildings by Chris Day (Director of Academic and International Programmes at Oxford University's Department of Continuing Education).
Following lunch we we were given a private tour of The Bodleian Library and received our library cards for access. Seriously, that was cool, it's a privilege to have access to such an incredible place. There are over 100 libraries at Oxford including college, departmental, faculty and central (The Bodleian). We toured The Bodleian, the Radcliffe Camera (the world's first completely round library) and the incredible Duke Humfrey's Library which was built above The Divinity School and houses books from before 1430. This was the first library in England with wall shelves(from floor to ceiling) and it was incredible, old beautiful leather and vellum bound books as far as the eye could see. The books could not be removed from the shelves by students or visitors but can be accessed by staff.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the day was walking into The Divinity School (see picture above)which is familiar to many Harry Potter fans as a location used in the movies. The Divinity School is the oldest building built for the study of theology still standing in Oxford. For a great 360 degree view click here.

After dinner Mom and I decided to stroll through the streets and found the most charming area. Two of the main roads in Oxford, Woodstock Road and Banbury Road eventually meet to form St. Giles Street but where they split there is a small lane called Church Lane which connects the 2 streets. Walking down Church Lane, the very large church for St. Antony's is on your left and after you walk through the churchyard you enter a tiny lane, very narrow and only a few hundred yards long. The buildings are so close together that they have strung fairy lights across the lane and there are only a few buildings including pubs and restaurants, a hairdresser, garden shop and grocery. It's so charming it looks like a tiny village out of a fairy or folk tale. People were riding down the lane on their bikes, sitting in the window of the pubs and restaurants and just enjoying twilight and a respite from the rain. I'm planning on visiting again and drinking a pint in the famous Rose and Crown Public House pub. Tomorrow when there is more light I will try and take some pictures that capture the charm of this tiny haven.

Tomorrow are classes in the morning and then a free afternoon. Mom and I are going on a walking tour and then taking high tea.

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