Onwards to Oxford (4)

Having visited Sir Winston Churchill’s grave I now had to decided whether to carry on to Oxford or return to Evesham. The 11.11 train arrived at Hanborough as I did so I decided to keep on going!  Unfortunately the train was also packed and I ended up having to stand for the 10 minute journey but that was really a minor inconvenience.  My goal on this day was to try to get into the Cathedral, and have a look at a part of the prison that I had missed before. I had 2,5 hours to kill so let’s get on with it.

Coming out of the station I noticed a large statue of an ox. There was no immediate information as to the context so I photographed it anyway because you never really know. 

It turns out that the bronze bull was commissioned to celebrate the opening of the Saïd Business School and was sculpted by Olivia Musgrave.  Suitably photographed I headed towards Oxford Castle and Prison where I wanted to find the original cells that we had been told about on the tour last time I was in town. I spotted an old lag and he directed me to the entrance of the Malmaison Hotel and I was able to see inside the converted cellblock.

Hotel entrance
Converted cellblock

I struggled to find the cells though but eventually found them in the furthermost corner. This wing of the prison was built in the 1850’s and contained cells similar to the image below. Incidentally, the hotel staff members that I bumped into on my exploration here were very friendly and helpful. 

To convert the wing into a hotel 3 cells were used. Two being joined to form a bedroom and another for the en suite bathroom. The cells were 10ft by 6ft and were originally single cells but by the 1970’s were occupied by 3 men. There were no toilets in the cells.

Having done my time I headed towards the cathedral, hopefully it would be open so that I could put it beneath my belt on this day. The route is very familiar now and it gets very crowded as you get closer. 

At last I reached St Aldates Str and headed towards the very prominent Tom Tower and hopefully a better pic of the cathedral spire across the Tom Quad. 

The cathedral spire from the Tom Gate

Then a short walk to the Meadow Building where the entrance to the cathedral was and found that the cathedral was open for visiting (so had a large amount of other people). The cathedral is a very popular tourist destination. 

The Meadow Building

To really understand the context of the cathedral you need to orientate yourself with the image below.

Following the direction signs I came to a staircase that I assumed led to the cathedral. It had a magnificent fan vault ceiling but there were people everywhere.  This area is known as the Hall Stairs.

The hall stairs led into what is known as The Great Hall and is where meals are taken and it is a breathtaking space. 

It is estimated that 200 000 meals are served here every year, and the senior members of staff and their guests sit at the “High Table” which is the furthermost from the door. Paintings of former deans and important people look down on those stuffing their faces with their morning porridge. The place was really too crowded to be able to take a close look at anything and I turned around and headed back to the stairs and downwards, finally emerging at the Tom Quad where the entrance to the cathedral is. The Tom Gate is where I photographed the spire from, and the 6 ton Tom Bell hangs from this tower which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and it was in place in 1682. 

I am not covering the interior of the cathedral in this post but have a separate post for that. Suffice to say I will leave a teaser here instead and continue after it.

The cathedral is magnificent and it was definitely worth seeing it.  However, you really need to view the cathedral as an integral part of the college.

Exiting the cathedral at the Tom Quad again I was able to get a nice wide angle shot of the space. 

(1500 x 680)

Following the crowd we emerged at what is known as The Peckwater Quad. It is a surrounded by a three sided building and they were completed in 1713. Unfortunately I was unable to photograph the library that forms the 4th side of the quad as the quad was roped off because exams were taking place. As it is I could only photograph 2 sides of Peckwater Quad.

It appeared as if our tour was completed as we exited through the ornate Canterbury Gate, and I ended up once again in Magpie Lane which I knew came out close in the High Street, close to the Radcliffe Camera which was more or less where I wanted to be. While reading my book about Oxford I discovered that there were a few images that I wanted to reshoot in this area. The first is the twin towers of All Souls College.  

and the second was the tower above the entrance to the Bodleian Library, this one was a challenge because I needed to be in the centre of the courtyard but ended having to take the image from a corner as the crowd at that point did not dissipate. 

The frieze near the top looked impressive so I zoomed into it and was suitably impressed. It is just a pity that we miss so much above our heads because we are always looking to the ground.

Realistically I had accomplished all that I wanted to and was starting to tire. I had roughly an hour to kill before my train so I headed back towards High Street, intent on finding food or a drink as it was quite a stinker of a day. The covered market was around where I wanted to be so I decided to look it up too.

The covered market was quite quirky, and I wandered around it looking at the goodies and some of the exorbitant prices. 

The bunny? he is one of the characters from Alice in Wonderland; Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) studied and taught at Christ Church College and the dean at the time was Henry Liddell. He had a daughter called Alice, and Carroll befriended her and created a story for her that eventually was published as Alice In Wonderland. There are quite a few Alice pointers in Oxford but I was not going to chase them up. 

The market done I found a Boots and bought some goodies before wandering down the street until I came across the City Church of Oxford and popped in for a quick look. 

It was cool and peaceful inside and I needed some of that. 

It was not a very big or ornate church but it is probably a very old one. 

My agenda was completed, all I really wanted to do now was captured the inscription on the Martyrs Memorial and investigate the area around it. I had not realised what the memorial was at the time so I could rectify that now. The memorial tends to draw crowds trying to get some rest and I expected that would be true today too. I was correct in my supposition and even ended up with heads in the bottom of my image. 

Actually I did find that it was very difficult to read the inscription even from close up so here is a  transcription:

To the Glory of God, and in grateful commemoration of His servants, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, Prelates of the Church of England, who near this spot yielded their bodies to be burned, bearing witness to the sacred truths which they had affirmed and maintained against the errors of the Church of Rome, and rejoicing that to them it was given not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake; this monument was erected by public subscription in the year of our Lord God, MDCCCXLI

While working on the 3rd page of my Oxford blogposts I bumped into a reference to Rhodes House and decided to try to find it as it was not too far away. I ended up walking down an alleyway called  “Lamb and Flag passage” which technically ended up close to where I wanted to be.

Lamb and Flag passage

However, when I emerged I spotted a nice looking building that I decided to investigate instead and it turns out that this is the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and I went inside to have a look.

Museum of Natural History

I had seen this museum mentioned in one of my books and while I am not really interested in this sort of stuff I had some time to kill. The interior of the building was breathtaking and nothing like what I expected. The almost skeletal structure just blends so well with the skeletons inside the space, and it is light and airy and as quirky as it gets. The Pitt Rivers Museum collection has an entrance from the back of the gallery but I peeked inside and it was dark and the opposite of this skeletal beauty.  I did a photo essay about the place because it was so awesome!

My watch however said it was time to leave for the station and I reluctantly turned my bows towards the exit. Rhodes House was not far from here but I will leave that for another day, and of course I will return to this museum for a 2nd look. I now had a blister to add to my woes and I was still 2 hours from home, so I wormed my way through the crowds and eventually got to the station. There I discovered that my water bottle was leaking and everything inside my backpack was wet. Bah Humbug! 

Oxford was in the bag for now. And I will not return to it readily unless I can find enough reasons to do so. It was quite an adventure though and the city is unforgettable. It was like nothing I expected and the weight of ages is enormous. So many scholars of note came from this city and it will continue educating them in the future. Unfortunately the disaffected PC mob are trying their best to turn the years of tradition upside down with scant regard to the history of the university. I know that I will never think of it in the same way again, and if people ask I am proud to say “I have been to Oxford”

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DRW © 2019. Created 25/09/2019

Onwards to Oxford (2)

Continuing where we left off….

In the previous post I had just arrived in the area of what I hoped was the Radcliffe Camera. That structure is “sited to the south of the Old Bodleian, north of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, and between Brasenose College to the west and All Souls College to the east”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radcliffe_Camera).

Oxford Martin School
Clarendon Building
The Sheldonian Theatre

However, when I looked on Google Earth I discovered that this was not the Radcliffe Camera but the Sheldonian Theatre! So I have yet another reason for a return trip to Oxford (add the Bridge of Sighs to the list too). The building behind the theatre is the Bodleian Library, and had I investigated that area further would have found what I was looking for! 

I was now in Broad Street and this was where it was possible to find a tour guide assuming you wanted a guided tour. I had forgotten all about it, but at least now I know where it was. The building on the right is Balliol College (I think)

I continued walking down the street because I really needed to confirm where I was in relation to where the station was. I was hoping to find one of those handy street maps but so far hadn’t seen one for awhile.  I really needed a cross street to orientate myself. 

And this one would do nicely.

This is the corner of Cornmarket/Magadalen streets running left to right with George Street between the 2 buildings. On the right hand corner (Magdalen Street) was a small surprise for me. 

This is the churchyard of St Mary Magdalen Church, and I would have liked to do a quick walk around in it but could not find a gate. Besides, the overgrown churchyard did look very peaceful amidst the hustle and bustle around me. 

By my reckoning, following George Street would take me to the station.

George’s Street

There was not a lot to see down here, so I turned left into Cornmarket, hoping to find somewhere that sold batteries. The tower belongs to St Michael’s at the North Gate. 

Ship Street, what an excellent name for a street. The time had now come to head back to George Street and the station so I turned my bows around and off I went. Not too much to see down the street though, apart from one of those handy maps which told me what I already knew. 

The building below is the University of Oxford History Facility,

and this is a portion of the Oxford Canal. I have not worked out how the canal connects to the city, although a lock should be around here somewhere.

And this was where I came in, albeit on the other side of the square and going in the opposite direction. The station was up ahead.

I had 25 minutes to wait for my train though so I decided to stop at the tourist office at the station and buy a map and guide book, but alas the service was appallingly slow, with 2 assistants seemingly never finishing up with the same 2 customers. I left after waiting over 5 minutes because I would have missed my train had I stayed any longer.  

Remember I said there were thousands of cyclists? this is where the bicycles have their nest.

The station is a modern one with 4 platforms and a section where there were was Chiltern Railways stock. 

I had not seen any Chiltern Railways equipment since Birmingham in 2015, so this made a nice change. GWR and Cross Country are all I seem to see nowadays.

And not too long afterwards my own train arrived and I was soon on my way back to Evesham and finally back home by bus. It had been a long day, but quite a fruitful one. Oxford had been fascinating, and I will do a return visit one day.

Oxford is mentioned 13 times in the Domesday Book, and I am only including one entry for it.  

  • HundredHeadington
  • CountyBerkshire / Buckinghamshire / Oxfordshire
  • Total population: 18 households (medium).
  • Total tax assessed: 4 exemption units (medium).
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 4 exemption units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £2. Value to lord in 1086 £2.
  • Households: 18 villagers.
  • Ploughland: 5 ploughlands (land for). 5 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 105 acres. Woodland 8 acres.
  • Lord in 1066: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.
  • Lord in 1086: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.

(Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

There is too much that I have not seen and I have subsequently discovered a cemetery and a memorial that I missed on top of the other odds and ends I have listed. It is probable I will find even more to see now that I know a bit about the place. Parts of the city are very beautiful, but I am not sure I would be able to afford to live there however  I too can boast that I have been to Oxford, but I won’t mention what it was for.

I returned to Oxford at the end of June and you can read about it here


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DRW  © 2019. Created 25/05/2019. (Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

Onwards to Oxford (1)

In years to come I will be able to boast that I went to Oxford, although not to be educated, but more to have a look around, I had the idea awhile ago, but the logistics were somewhat beyond me, however, once I started to explore Evesham it became obvious that there were other places within reach from the station there. It is an alternative way to get to London too, although the biggest downfall is that you can only travel by train after 9.00 am because the earliest bus only gets there at 8.35. You also have to make sure that you are on that last bus at 17.55 or you will end up spending the night! Like Tewkesbury the transport options are limiting factors for any day trip. The train originates in Hereford, passing through Worcester then onto Evesham so theoretically it is possible to get to Oxford from Worcester, but again getting to and from Worcester can be problematic. 

Anyway, I thought long and hard about this and with a long weekend in the offing and some semi decent weather I decided to do a day trip. I had 3 options: The tall ships at Gloucester, Evesham Vale Light Railway, or Oxford. I decided on Thursday evening to head to the last of the three and bought a ticket online and almost immediately started to chicken out! In order to get a bus back I really could expend roughly 3 hours in the city, which may not be enough considering how much there is to see there! Come Saturday morning and I was still not in the mood, but I had the tickets, the weather was reasonable, and it was now or never! Onwards to Oxford!

The limitations: 

Time was the most crucial, the weather ranged from overcast to semi cloudy to sunny. It changed all the time so image quality has suffered. Large buildings and no way to get far away enough from them. Vehicular and people traffic.

Evesham Station is 5 minutes walk from the bus stop, and is really quite an unimpressive station and I believe the passengers loads from here are falling. 

The line to London heads off to the left hand side and the train leaves from Platform 2. Talk of the devil and there it is now! The familiar HST’s  have been withdrawn from GWR service now and all we get are these smarmy class 800’s now. They are comfortable though, but they lack that “Made in England” originality  of the HST’s.

The route runs from Evesham, Honeybourne, Moreton-in-Marsh, Kingham, Shipton, Ascott-under-Wychwod, Charlbury, Finstock, Combe, Hanborough and finally Oxford and It takes just under an hour to get there.

Entrance to station
City Map of Oxford (1009×599)

I had a rough idea of where I wanted to go, although plans were liable to change at any point. I wanted to do a rough lozenge shaped walk starting at Park End Rd into New Rd, High Street and turning into Queen Street and taking in the Radcliffe Camera, Bridge of Sighs and anything inbetween, then continuing down Broad Street into Hythe Bridge Street and back to the station. I had marked off where the war memorial was as well as Christ Church Cathedral as possible detours. 

At this time of the morning (roughly 10H40) the area I was in was reasonably quiet, but do not be fooled because chaos was coming.

My plans were to really follow this road to the spire in the distance and I think this is Frideswide Square (38 on the map). My next point of reference was Castlemill Stream that crosses under the road that changes its name to New Road. This stream is a branch of the Thames.

My next landmark was what is known as “Oxford Castle Mound” and it is part of the remains of the former Oxford Castle.  This would have been where the keep and motte were. Behind this was St George’s Tower and chapel as well as the Oxford Prison. This area is in my list for a return visit.

Next to the mound was another building which I assumed was part of the castle, but it is actually the former County Hall dating from 1841. 

Turning around the view behind me was as follows:

The tower above is part of Nuffield College,  and the top of the spire is 49m above ground, making it the second tallest tower in Oxford. It houses a research library with attached reading rooms above the college entrance.

Continuing my walk I came to the war memorial, and it was disappointing. However this is not the main war memorial in the town as this commemorates men of the 2nd Battalion of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry who lost their lives between 15/08/1897 and 04/11/1898. It is known as the Tirah Memorial and is the first war memorial ever erected in Oxford. 

Continuing onwards into the High Street area it was becoming increasingly more crowded and difficult to navigate through the growing throng.

The structure below on the left is known as the Carfax Tower, It is all that remains of the 12th-century St Martin’s Church. Carfax is at the junction of St Aldate’s (south), Cornmarket Street (north), Queen Street (west) and the High Street (east) and it is considered to be the centre of the city.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carfax,_Oxford) . 

At this point I made a detour as I was in the vicinity of Christ Church Cathedral and headed into that direction. Unfortunately photography was incredibly difficult as the street was a bus thoroughfare and the pavements were packed.  

Central Oxford (Carfax area with Cathedral in lower left corner) 1024×977

I will be honest though, I did not see the cathedral, this large building is not it, although is part of it and I could not see much beyond the gate (which was not open to the public) due to the selfie squad. 

All I was able to see was this small glimpse across the centre of the space and I believe it belongs to the cathedral. I will have to investigate this area in the future though, but not on this day.  I did manage to visit the cathedral on 24/08/2019 and the post may be found here)

In the image below I was standing at the Tom Tower looking across the Tom Quad. 

I turned around and headed back towards Carfax and High Street. 

Turning into High Street I continued walking and the view became increasing more elaborate and old, and I will be honest I probably cannot identify most of what I was seeing; neither could I fit most of it into my camera lens. The never ending stream of buses complicated matters considerably as they would stop and hordes of people would suddenly erupt out of them almost engulfing you. It was a major problem and I almost collided with a number of cellphone absorbed pedestrians on top of it. 

I believe the building above is Brasenose College. and in my original navigation I had intended turning left into Catte Street and onwards to the Radcliffe Camera, but ended up continuing past it. towards The Queens College. The spire below belongs to “The University Church of St Mary the Virgin University College” with All Soul’s College further along.


All Soul’s College
Magdalen College

I eventually made my left turn in Longwall Street, and it was literally a long wall on the right hand side of the street. There appears to be a deer park on the other side of the wall, but I could not see over it to check.  

This was quite a winding road too and I hoped there was a handy exit somewhere which would get me back on track. Time was marching and soon I would need to make a decision about my plans in the next 45 minutes.

This is Holywell Street and I headed down it. Fortunately no buses seemed to be allowed here so it was technically safe to walk in as long as you didn’t get run over by a cyclist (there are thousands of them in Oxford too).

For some reason or other I think this is part of “New College” but cannot confirm it as I did not photograph the sign. However, a helpful porter pointed me in the direction I needed to go in to get to the Radcliffe Camera and it was close by too.

At this point I am going to pause and start a new page as there is still quite a lot to see onwards and I need to add in some random images to this page. You can turn the page here.


Random Images.

DRW © 2019. Created 25/05/2019