Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oxford, England (info from 1996)

Though this is from 1996, some of it is still valid. My main question is on the bus routes and the prices. I've added some more recent information (or clarification or correction) in square brackets.

Planning your visit to Oxford
As usual there’s more to do than you’ll have time for. You may want to make an extra visit to Oxford on your own (it’s easy and relatively cheap--take the "Oxford Tube," a bus that will pick you up on Bayswater Road practically across the street from Palace Court [--also various other spots in London]). I especially recommend that fans of C. S. Lewis make a special trip to see sites associated with him.

General sites to see (number of asterisks indicates how interesting or important I think a site is):

Carfax Tower (corner of High St. and Cornmarket St.--gives a nice view of the city)

*The Painted Room (#3 Cornmarket, associated with Shakespeare; I’ll see if I can get those who are interested in [it's one floor up, I think; a social services organization uses the space; they might show you if you just drop by, but they prefer having you arrange a visit])

**The Ashmolean Museum (there are a number of other museums in the city as well)

**Bodleian Library: one of the great libraries of the world; in the part known as the Divinity School (architecturally splendid) you may be able to see some of the library’s treasures, including Tottel’s Miscellany, Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, and original manuscripts by Donne, Shelley, Kenneth Grahame, T. E. Lawrence, and Joyce Cary.

**Radcliffe Camera, Sheldonian Theatre (architecturally important)

*St. Mary the Virgin Church (John Henry Newman preached hear before becoming a Catholic; he was part of the Oxford or Tractarian movement trying to make the Church of England more "Catholic"--i.e., more emphasis on tradition and authority; lots of other history)

*Martyr’s Memorial (memorial to Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, Protestant clergy who were interrogated in St. Mary’s and burned in Oxford, near the spot marked by the memorial [the actual spot of the burning is marked with an X in the pavement on Broad St., I believe; same street Blackwell's is on, but opposite end--i.e., to the west], during the reign of the Catholic queen Mary I; the memorial was erected partly in reaction to the Tractarian movement)

**Blackwell's [an amazing bookstore]

Saxon Tower of St. Michael (at Northgate; one of Oxford’s most ancient buildings)

**The various colleges (especially Christ Church [see more below], University [statue of Shelley], Magdalen [see under C. S. Lewis sites]; also noted historically, artistically, or architecturally are New College, All Souls, St. John’s, and Keble [has Holman Hunt’s painting The Light of the World in its chapel])

**Christ Church College (an outstanding college associated with various figures including Charles Dodgson, the author of the Alice books; see the chapel, which is also Oxford’s cathedral; the Great Hall, which has a window devoted to Alice; and other sites at the college; also see Alice’s Shop, with Alice in Wonderland memorabilia, across the street from the college) [this is also the college where parts of Harry Potter were filmed]

"The Oxford Story," 6 Broad St., open 10am-4pm (a multimedia creation from the same people who brought you the Jorvik Center; I haven’t seen the Oxford Story, but I might try it out)

Golden Cross Inn on Cornmarket St. (One of Oxford’s oldest; plays by Shakespeare are said to have been performed in the yard)

Merton St.: 13th century cobbled street

The site of William Morris’s original workshop (corner of Holywell and Longwall St.)

A bit of the city wall (corner of Longwall and High St.)

Note that walking tours of the city are given by official guides (for £4) and by students (varies: about £2), usually starting either from Carfax or from the Oxford Information Centre, Gloucester Green. The guides gives lots of interesting information as they take you to various colleges.

[note also that there are several walking tours that start from Blackwell's, including an "Inklings" tour around 11 or so on Wednesdays]

C. S. Lewis sites:
The Lewis sites come mainly in 3 groups--
(1) Pubs on St. Giles St.: The Eagle and the Child (familiarly known as the "Bird and the Baby"), where Lewis met regularly with his friends, including J. R. R. Tolkien, to talk, etc. (the group was known as "the Inklings"); during certain periods they also met at the Lamb and the Flag, a pub across the street. In the Eagle and the Child (which is now a bit grungy) you can see the room where the group met; there are pictures and plaques on the wall.
(2) Colleges associated with Lewis: University College, where he was an undergraduate; and especially Magdalen College, where he taught for many years. Magdalen College is interesting in its own right. You can see the quadrangles, cloisters, and chapel. Lewis had rooms where he taught students and met with his friends in what are called the New Buildings ("new" means 1733). From the New Buildings you can go through a blue iron gate to "Addison’s Walk," a nice walk that is important for Lewis because it was while walking here late at night with J. R. R. Tolkien and another friend that Lewis came to more fully accept Christianity and understand its importance.
(3) About 3 miles from the center of Oxford (in an area called "Headington Quarry") is Lewis’s home ("the Kilns" on a street now called Lewis Close), a nature preserve behind his home (once part of his property; it’s a magic place--I think of it as a part of Narnia, or maybe the Wood between the Worlds), and Holy Trinity Church (Lewis attended church there; if you can get the vicar to open the church you can sit in Lewis’s pew and see the Narnia window next to it; you can also see Lewis’s grave in the churchyard).
You can pretty easily see the sites listed under (1) and (2) during our group daytrip to Oxford. To see the sites under (3) you’ll probably have to come another time. For those who are interested (either for this trip or later), I can provide a map and some suggested itineraries, including bus #’s and other information for getting to the Lewis sites.

Literary figures associated with the Colleges
Some of these are mentioned on Rachel and Rebecca’s handout. This is a supplementary listing that will help you to know which literary figures were students at (or were otherwise associated with) particular Oxford colleges. (But note that this is only a very small selection.)
All Soul’s: William Camden, Jeremy Taylor, Edward Young, T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia").
Balliol: John Wycliffe, Adam Smith, Robert Southey (visited by Coleridge), Matthew Arnold, Algernon Swinburne, Andrew Lang, Gerard Manley Hopkins, A. C. Bradley, Hilaire Belloc, Aldous Huxley, Arnold Toynbee.
Brasenose: Robert Burton, Thomas Traherne, Walter Pater.
Christ Church: Thomas More, Philip Sidney, Robert Burton, John Locke, John Ruskin, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dodgson ("Lewis Carroll"), W. H. Auden.
Corpus Christi: Robert Bridges.
Exeter: John Ford, William Morris (there’s a Morris tapestry in the chapel), J. R. R. Tolkien.
Hertford: Samuel Daniel, John Donne, Evelyn Waugh.
Jesus: Henry Vaughan.
Lincoln: William D’Avenant.
Magdalen (pronounced "Mawdlin"): John Foxe, John Lyly, Joseph Addison, Edward Gibbon, Oscar Wilde, C. S. Lewis (as teacher).
Magdalen Hall: Thomas Hobbes; John Keats visited.
Merton: Philip Massinger, Thomas Carew, Richard Steele, Andrew Lang, Max Beerbohm, J. R. R. Tolkien (as teacher).
New College: John Galsworthy.
Oriel: Walter Ralegh, Gilbert White, John Henry Newman, Arthur Hugh Clough, Matthew Arnold (as teacher).
Pembroke: Francis Beaumont, Thomas Browne, Samuel Johnson (started but didn’t finish).
Queen’s: John Davies, Thomas Middleton, William Wycherley, Walter Pater (as student), T. H. White (author of The Once and Future King).
St. John’s: James Shirley, Abraham Cowley, A. E. Housman.
Somerville: Dorothy Sayers (devoted Christian and writer of detective stories, described in her student days as an "exuberant young female" who always seemed to be preparing for parties).
Trinity: Thomas Lodge, John Denham, John Henry Newman, Joyce Cary; Johnson and Boswell visited when Johnson received an honorary degree.
University: Percy Bysshe Shelley (see other handout on his being kicked out and now having a monument), C. S. Lewis (as student).
Worcester: Richard Lovelace, Thomas de Quincey.

[be skeptical of the accuracy of prices and bus route numbers]

Bruce Young: Possible ways to spend a day in Oxford (including C. S. Lewis sites)
Since you won’t have time to see everything, I’m presenting two itineraries based on seeing only the C. S. Lewis sites near the center of Oxford and two itineraries that include Lewis sites both near the center and on the outskirst of Oxford.

Itinerary #1: Pay an official city guide (Oxford Information Centre, Gloucester Green) or a student guide (Carfax--corner of High St. and Cornmarket St.) to take you on a walking tour. Some tours will differ from others, but most guides will take you to a variety of colleges, giving you interesting information about them. Some guides will know about C. S. Lewis; others will not. Your tour may or may not take you to significant Lewis sites.

Itinerary #2 (self-guided tour including a few Lewis sites):
(a) Go from the coach park (on Oxpens Road) to St. Aldates Street. (About 15 minutes)
(b) Stop at Christ Church College on St. Aldates: see the chapel (some pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows, etc.), the quad, the great hall (a window is devoted to Alice of Alice in Wonderland). (About 30 minutes)
(c) Go across the street to the Alice Shop. (About 15 minutes)
(d) Go north on St. Aldates to Carfax (the intersection with High Street) (About 10 minutes)
(e) If you’d like, pay to go to the top of Carfax Tower (nice view of the city) and/or go to “the Painted Room” (Shakespearean site) on the 2nd floor of #3 Cornmarket St. (About 15 minutes)
(f) Continue north on Cornmarket St., maybe look at the Golden Cross Inn, the Saxon Tower of St. Michael’s Church. (10-20 minutes)
(g) Continue north as Cornmarket St. becomes Magdalen St. and take a look at the “Martyr’s Memorial” (5-10 minutes)
(Note: The Ashmolean Museum is nearby, on Beaumont St., but this itinerary doesn’t allow time for it.)
(h) Continue north as Magdalen St. becomes St. Giles until you spot the Eagle and the Child pub (west side of St. Giles); go in and see the room where C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and their friends hung out; also look across the street at the Lamb and the Flag pub (10-15 minutes)
(i) Go back south down St. Giles/Magdalen St. and turn left on Broad St., continuing until you see the Sheldonian Theatre; look at it, go south past it to the Bodleian Library (go into the Divinity School, look at the ceiling and at any displays they have); continue south and look at the Radcliffe Camera; continue south and take a look at St. Mary’s Church (where John Henry Newman preached), maybe go in (About 20-30 minutes)
(j) Just to the south of St. Mary’s Church is High St.; go east on High St.; take a peek in University College if you’d like, see the statue of Shelley (About 10 minutes)
(k) Continue east on High St. to the intersection with Longwall St. (you’ll see bits of the old city wall); continue on a bit until you come (on the left) to the entrance to Magdalen College; pay to go in; see what you have time to see, including the New Buildings (where Lewis taught and met with friends) and Addison’s Walk (About 40-50 minutes)
(l) Leave Magdalen College the way you came in; go west on High St.; if you’d like take a left onto cobblestoned Merton St. when you get there and wind your way back to St. Aldates; head back to the coach park (About 20-30 minutes)

Itinerary #3 (self-guided tour including more Lewis sites--and fewer other sites):
(a) Go from the coach park (on Oxpens) past Carfax (intersection of Cornmarket and High St.); continue north a little ways on Cornmarket St. to the #7 bus stop in front of Boots (on the east side of Cornmarket St.); pay a small amount (I believe 70p) to take the bus. (About 20 minutes from Oxpens to the bus stop)
(b) Take the #7 bus (it will go up St. Clement’s, Headington Rd., and London Rd.) to the intersection of London Rd. And Gladstone Rd. (shortly before the bus reaches Green Road) (About 15 minutes)
(c) Walk to Trinity Road (see map) and find Holy Trinity Church; look at Lewis’s grave in the churchyard; if the church isn’t open and you’d like to see the inside, find the vicar (in a house you can reach down a lane from the west side of the churchyard); you can sit in the pew where Lewis sat and see the Narnia window (All this should take about 30-45 minutes)
(d) Walk from Trinity Church to Lewis Close (see map) and look at the Kilns (the house Lewis lived in--it probably won’t be open); at the end of Lewis Close look for a trail into a nature preserve that used to be part of Lewis’s property; maybe have a picnic? fantasize about Narnia? (About 30-60 minutes)
(e) Walk back to London Road and catch a bus (#7 or #2A) back to the center of Oxford (again about 70p); get off when it gets to High Street, near Magdalen College (About 15 minutes)
(f) Enter Magdalen College (you’ll probably have to pay); see what you have time to see, including the New Buildings (where Lewis taught and met with friends) and Addison’s Walk (About 40-50 minutes)
(g) Go out Magdalen College the way you came in; walk west on High St. (notice the old city wall); pop in University College if you have time (Lewis was an undergraduate here; there’s an intersting statue of Shelley); see other sites if you have time as you head toward St. Giles St. (see map); on the west side of St. Giles a couple of blocks north of the Ashmolean Museum, you’ll find the Eagle and the Child pub, where Lewis, Tolkien, and friends hung out (go in and see the room they used; also look across the street at the Lamb and the Flag, where they also sometimes met) (All of this: about 30-45 minutes)
(h) Walk south down St. Giles/Magdalen St./Cornmarket St., past Carfax as the street becomes St. Aldates, and find your way back to the coach park on Oxpens (About 20-30 minutes)

Itinerary #4 (similar to #3 but going on your own to Oxford another day):
(a) Catch the “Oxford Tube” (a bus) going to Oxford. You get the Oxford Tube on the other side (south side) of Bayswater Road across the street from the junction of Palace Court and Bayswater Road (and a little to the right). The cost is £6 return for students; buses come about every 10 minutes through most of the day and take about 1 ½ hours to Oxford.
(b) You can get off the bus in Oxford either (1) at the Green Road Roundabout, (2) at Queens Lane (the junction of High St. and Queens Lane), or (3) at Gloucester Green. If you get off at #2 or #3 you’ll be in the heart of Oxford and can proceed according to one of the itineraries above. If you get off at the Green Road Roundabout, you’ll be close the the C. S. Lewis sites in Headington Quarry: Trinity Church, the Kilns, and the nature preserve.
(c) After seeing the sites in Oxford (see the itineraries above) you can catch the Oxford Tube to get back to London (you’ll need to save your return ticket to show when you get on). You can catch it either at Gloucester Green, Queens Lane (on High St.), the Headington Post Office, or the Green Road Roundabout.

[[from a fellow named Will Vaus:]
Date sent: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 09:37:03 -0400
From: William J Vaus
Subject: Re: Places to visit in Oxford
To Oxford travelers,
Here are some places you may wish to visit in and around Oxford, directly
related to Lewis:
Bodleian Library - the Duke Humphries Library where Lewis often studied
as an undergraduate. This is one of two main repositories of Lewis'
letters and manuscripts. The other being Wheaton College in Illinois.
Lewis' original map of Narnia is on display in the Divinity School here.
Eagle & Child Pub where Lewis met every Tuesday with the Inklings. They
moved to the Lamb and Flag, across the street, in 1962.
The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin is where Lewis preached
"The Weight of Glory" in June 1941.
University College on the High Street where Lewis was an undergraduate
Merton College where Tolkien was a professor. See Tolkien's grave in the
cemetary at Wolvercote, to the northwest of Oxford, best approached on
foot across Port Meadow.
Charles Williams' grave may be seen in the cemetary behind the church of
St. Cross, Holywell.
Magdalen College. See New Buildings where Lewis had his rooms during his
30 years at Oxford as a fellow and tutor. Lewis' rooms overlooked the
Deer Park & Addison's Walk, which you will want to take a stroll around.
This is where Lewis walked with Tolkien and Hugo Dyson and discussed
Christianity on that very important night in 1931. He became a Christian
a few days later on a trip to Whipsnade Zoo outside of London. Be sure
to see the College Chapel where Lewis attended Matins during term.
Examination Schools where Lewis and Tolkien frequently lectured.
Eastgate Hotel where Lewis often met guests, like Sheldon Vanauken, for
Joy Davidman's former home at 10 Old High Street in Headington
The Kilns in Headington Quarry. Be sure to walk in the woods and view
the lake in which Shelley sailed paper boats, and more recently Lewis,
Davidman, Tolkien, Lancelyn-Green and George Sayer would stroll, deep in
thought or alive with conversation.
Holy Trinity Church and Lewis' grave -- Headington Quarry. Be sure to
see the Narnia Window inside.
Six Bells Pub in Headington -- frequented by the Lewises it now has some
Lewis memorabilia on one wall.
Oxford Crematorium where Joy Davidman's ashes are interred
Trout Inn in Godstow - a favorite pub of the Lewises
Studley Priory Hotel - where Jack and Joy often went for Sunday lunch.
Studley Priory was built in the 16th century as a Nunnery. During Lewis'
lifetime it was run as a sort of country club where Jack and many of his
friends were members. Subsequently the place was sold and made into a
hotel. Jack and Joy would go there often for lunch, afternoon tea, and
sometimes for dinner. The "Mary Tudor Parlour" has been used as a dining
room for about 400 years!
Under the Mercy,
Will Vaus]

1 comment:

WILL VAUS, said...

Hi Bruce,

Every description of a visit to Oxford, or suggestion of what to see, makes me wish I was there right now or, better yet, makes me feel like I just had a brief visit there.


P. S. I wish you would add some of your own photos of Oxford to this blog.