Holywell Cemetery

Holywell Cemetery is the first cemetery that I visited in Oxford and is one of two that are within what I call “walking distance” of the town centre. There was no real compelling reason to visit it either, but from a curiosity standpoint it was certainly a drawcard. It is situated at Google Earth co-ordinates 51.755681°,  -1.247123° and entrance is through a gate set back from St Cross Road.

There is not a lot to say about it though, so this post is really more of a photo essay than a long winded exploration of the place. The pics speak for themselves. 

It really is a jungle in there and it is done deliberately to encourage small wild and bird life in it. I am always in two minds about leaving a cemetery wild like this, but there is a certain beauty about it that is breathtaking. There is a small information board in the cemetery, although there we no leaflets available. I have split off the key and map from the board so as to see them easier. 

The only name that I recognise is that of James Blish, a Science Fiction author. I did not hunt down the grave though, the cemetery is way too overgrown to find anything in. 

The Friends of Holywell Cemetery was founded in 1987 to raise funds for the maintenance of the cemetery on land that was gifted by Merton College in 1847. The lodge was erected in 1850 and to be honest I really thought the building was derelict but there is somebody living in it. It is however very hemmed in by foliage and getting a complete image of it was almost impossible.

University dons dominate the burials here , and  last count there were 160 of them, including 32 Heads of Houses, but there is no barrier here between town and gown. Shopkeepers and tradespeople abound, with names which will be recognised by many Oxonians. 

I am not sure whether it is still in use, or when the last burial did take place but there were a quite a few newish headstones to be seen. Unfortunately some were buried amongst the undergrowth so I could not really investigate them too closely.

Next to the cemetery is is the St Cross church and it has quite a nice churchyard too. What is interesting about it is how high the churchyard is compared to the actual church building, indicating that the churchyard is very full. I did not photograph the church though, as it was in a very awkward  position.

The churchyard is not as overgrown as the cemetery, although that could be because it is situated on the street whereas the cemetery is not street facing. Which came first? I think the churchyard was here long before the cemetery.  

That more or less sums up Holywell. I did not spend too much time there but enjoyed it immensely. Its not too often that you encounter a beaut like this one, and without the mad rush of looking for specific graves it is easy to just enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this small haven away from the frenetic rush of the city.

Random Images

DRW © 2019. Created 01/07/20101

Onwards to Oxford (3)

After returning from Oxford in May I was well aware of how much I had missed seeing in those brief hours that I had spent in the city.  That’s the problem with a day trip, you usually end up with a list that requires a whole week to complete. The weather has not been too conducive to day trips either until today….

Bright eyed and bushy tailed I headed off to Evesham to catch the train. Well aware that the temperatures were expected to reach the 30 degree mark in some places. Beggars however cannot be choosers, and I have to make use of an opportunity wherever I can.

There is the train now, better grab it before it leaves without us.  

My plans were as follows: 

I wanted to take in the Cathedral, Castle/Prison, Radcliffe Camera, Bridge of Sighs, Holywell Cemetery and everything in between. It was not too strenuous assuming that all went well and I did not end up diverting from the route. I also took more or less the same route as last time because I knew my way around the town by now. The major diversion was Holywell Cemetery, and checking it out really was dependent on timing. I had planned for a later train which did leave me with an extra 2 hours to get lost in. 

Oxford Castle mound was first on my list. I was really keen on climbing the mound but it had been incorporated into the Castle and Prison tour, so I decided to waste some time there. I covered the tour in a separate post as there are quite a lot of images. However, the area looks like this:

It is quite an impressive building, and historically it goes back very far and has been in use for a long time. It is also a very popular tourist destination and there were queues to get onto the tour. I was fortunate enough to get an early tour but by the time I left it was reaching jam packed proportions. An hour later I was on my way to my next destination which was Christ Church Cathedral. Last time around I had not even gone close to where the entrance was, and I was hoping to get it done and dusted this time around. 

You need to turn right at the bus that is stuck in the intersection to get into St Aldates Str which is where a million buses seem to stop and which is more or less the main thoroughfare used to get to the Cathedral, although the entrance to the building is in a different place. You start getting a sense of the building though as you walk towards the path leading to it.

It gets more impressive when you reach the building that houses the entrance

And yet again my luck was out as the Cathedral was closed to the public due to an event being held there. The closest I saw was:

This meant my timing changed because I was looking at an hour at the Cathedral, but now had an hour to kill, which made the cemetery much more feasible. I did not return via St Aldate Str, but had decided to continue along a path that intercepted Merton Str and and then onwards to Magpie Lane. On one side of the path was a cricket pitch with a typical English Summer scene, although typically nothing was actually happening. I bet somewhere there was a punt on the river….

(1500 x 529)

The strange thing about Magpie Lane is that it is access controlled by means of a single person at a time gate affair. It took ages to get through because there were queues on either side of it to pass through.

Magpie Lane

The lane led out into High Street and that was where I wanted to be to see the Radcliffe Camera.  and it is a very beautiful building and it originally housed the Radcliffe Library. The 16-sided room on the ground floor is now a reading room for the Bodleian Library. There were a lot of people milling around all over and a TV crew filming some gesticulating  disaffected person. I did not stick around to see what that was about. 

Close by is the famous Bodleian Library, and i spent some time in the courtyard trying to make sense of a place that I had heard mentioned many times. A copy of every book published in Britain is deposited here, including some two million volumes and 40,000 manuscripts. Its not easy to even consider how to describe it, suffice to say that in terms of accumulated history and knowledge this place wins hands down.

There is however a real sense of the ages looking down on you. I am not too sure who this chap is, but he does seem quite popular. Some reading revealed that this is a statue of the Earl of Pembroke. It was erected in 1723. Actually I thought it was a statue of Shakespeare 🙂 

Next on my list was the very beautiful “Bridge of Sighs”  that joins two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane.

At this point I need to make a decision. Time was on my side for the cemetery trip so I decided to at least go have a look and if necessary return on another day. To reach the cemetery I needed to follow Holywell Street until it reached Longwall Street and then look for the entrance. By now I was getting hot under the collar too, as it was a real scorcher. Everywhere people seemed to be moving house too as there were trucks of furniture and people with wheelie bags all over the place. 

Holywell Str

On the intersection of Holywell and Longwall Streets there is a reminder that often things became violent back in the old days, especially when it came to religion. 

Surprisingly enough I found the cemetery entrance, and if I had not been aware that it existed I would probably have walked past it. 

The cemetery is a jungle, but very pretty, and I would hate to have to go grave hunting in it because finding anything in there would be a major mission. The only “famous grave” that I could find in the list was that of James Blish, but I did not hunt the grave down. 

It was an amazing cemetery to walk through and I did a separate blogpost about it.

It was time to consider going to the station. I had 45 minutes to get there and turned my bows towards Broad Street, although I had one more puzzle to hunt down. I paused at the Museum of The History of Science for a quick look around but it just did not work for me and I headed out there after a quick walk around. 

In my navigation of Oxford  I had battled to find the main war memorial in the city, and by the looks of it the closest I would get was a memorial that was sighted on the intersection of Banbury and Woodstock Roads. That was fed by Magdalen Str, and was “on my way” so I decided to try find it while I still had time.  The area around the Sheldonian Theatre was fascinating though, and there were some really lovely buildings in that part of Broad Street.

Back of the Sheldonian Theatre

Balliol College

Magadalen Street was where I found that nice overgrown churchyard last time and it has a much better kept continuation to it, although I did not photograph it. In the distance I could see the memorial I was after, it was just a case of running it down. 

It is really a  generic memorial as opposed to a specific one. 

Inscription

Then I finally turned my bows towards George Street en route for the station. I shot pics as I walked, although did not investigate this structure below. However, I have since found out that it is known as the Martyr’s Memorial and it commemorates the Bishop of Worcester Hugh Latimer and Bishop of London Nicholas Ridley, who were burned nearby on October 16, 1555 after having been convicted for heresy because of their Protestant beliefs after a quick trial. It also commemorates the former Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, who was similarly executed

The station is not too far away and I waited 10 minutes for my train. There was still a queue at the tourist information desk so I was still unable to buy the book I wanted there. It was hard going against the crowds though, everybody was out and about and I think I will always remember Oxford for the hordes of people in it. Its a very frenetic place. 

Oxford was sort of in the bag, I still needed to see the cathedral and I wanted to check out the structure above as well as have a closer look at some of the other buildings in it, but rationally it is only the cathedral that I am after now, and I can do it and Churchill’s grave on one trip. When that will be is anybody’s guess though. It always depends on weather and energy levels.  So, watch this space for part 4 forwardbut

Random Images

 DRW © 2019. Created 29/06/2019