After my lovely trip to Cambridge, I was promptly informed that “Oxford is better.” The person who uttered these words has a reason to be biased; a friend from my Canterbury days, Ashley went to Oxford for graduate school (smarty pants) and, determined to prove herself right (or actually just because she’s really nice), kindly offered to show me around town, and I could not have asked for a better tour guide!
We started at Pembroke College, where Ashley was a student. It was a treat to get to go beyond the doors and actually see the inside of a college, especially one so pretty!
Founded by King James I, the College is known for having a strong Boat Club and was where J.R.R. Tolkein wrote The Hobbit and the first two Lord of the Rings books while he was a Fellow. Fun fact: the founder of Washington’s Smithsonian Institute, James Smithson, was a student at Pembroke
My fabulous tour guide, Ashley
After getting an insider’s look at life as an Oxford student, I made my way through town to the Bodleian Library for their Reading Rooms tour, taking a few pictures along the way (naturally).
Usually closed to the public, Duke Humfrey’s Library with its rare books and the Radcliffe Camera Reading Room were stunning, and well worth the trip! Sadly, photography is not permitted in the Library, but I was able to take photographs in the Divinity School, where the tour began. If it looks familiar to you, then you are a Harry Potter fan! This is where they filmed the infirmary scenes from the first film.
After the tour I met Ashely at the coziest pub I could imagine, the Turf Tavern, for a proper Sunday Roast.
Then it was time to wander over to Hogwarts, I mean Christ Church College. Many thanks to Ashley for her patience as I continued to snap away.
Christ Church Hall was the model for the fictional Hogwart’s Great Hall (sadly, no enchanted ceiling or sorting hats in the real one, but incredible nonetheless). The college is also the setting for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as Lewis Carroll studied and taught at Christ Church.
After a walk along the river and a visit to the boat houses, we enjoyed a pint at the Eagle and Child, a favorite of Tolkein and his friend C.S. Lewis and their literary club, The Inklings.
All in all it was a wonderful day with an old friend, I am so glad that Ashley and I have gotten reacquainted during my time in London.
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