Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oxford Day 4

Pictures of the gardens at Merton College

Today's lessons were 2 tours, the first to The Oxford University Press and the 2nd to the Merton College Library and Gardens. Most people are familair with the OUP from their printings of The Bible and the Oxford Dictionary but the publisher (no longer a printer) is also known for educational materials and children's books. We toured the historic building and museum and enjoyed tea in the staff cafeteria. The tour was very interesting and informative on the origins of printing and publishing in the UK.

After lunch we had a tour of Merton College, the libraries and the gardens which are absolutely breathtaking. The College which I think must be the most beautiful in Oxford has a library which is one of the oldest and dates back to the 14th century. Located up steep stairs to a gabled room the library is now more of a museum than a library although they sometimes allow books to be brought down to reading rooms to be studied. The L shaped room was incredible, dark dark wood floors, bookshelves and ceiling make for a very medieval setting. The books were just indescribable, totally priceless and truly an honor to be seen. While I am not a religious person, stepping into a library like the one at Merton was like stepping into a place of worship for me. We were not allowed to touch anything but were able to get as close as possible, close enough to smell the books which is almost as good as touching them.

The gardens at Merton are beautiful and wrap around the quadrangles to a large area of cricket fields (see Facebook for all my photos). As we walked through the College there were students playing croquet and cricket and some just laying in the grass studying. Today really was everything I thought Oxford would be. Tomorrow it's off to London and the British Library.

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