We started our Tuesday afternoon tour with Tony on the 13th of September at 2pm sharp. Our guide pointed out the bronze statue of a man on top of Exeter college and pointed out the idea that the statue is looking down at the martyr’s cross set in a circle of cobbles on Broad Street where the three protestants, Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were burned at the stake. More about their history in a later post about these Martyrs. The Statue is by Anthony Gormley and installed in 2009. It is about 7feet tall.
We walked past the Sheldonian where on plinths between the railings are a series of Emperor heads, representing Roman emperors, or philosophers. Each one has a different beard. Christopher Wren is the architect of the Sheldonian and other buildings in Oxford. These heads were installed when the theater was built and then remodeled in 1868 and again in 1970’s. One of the heads has a wren chiseled in its hair in honor of Christopher Wren.
We walked to the back of the Sheldonian past the Bodlein and past the Bridge of Sighs and on to Radcliffe Camera and into University Church of St. Mary’s.
Some of the information and places we visited with our guide were already known to us but he had some other insider information that we gleaned from him.
After walking through the covered market we exited and went onto Turl Street back toward The High with the All Saint’s tower and steeple ahead of us. Once on High Street we continued on to St. Aldate’s to Christ Church College.
Tom Tower at Christ Church College is another architectural masterpiece by Christopher Wren. This school was founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525 with its entrance embellished through the addition of Tom Tower, designed by Wren, in 1680. Great Tom, the bell from Osney Abbey, strikes 101 times at 21:05 each evening: the number represents the 100 students of Henry VIII’s foundation plus an additional place funded later; 21:05 signals the student curfew according to Oxford time, which is five minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time.
We would take a tour of Christ Church College on the following day, Wednesday September 14th.
We walked along the Broad Walk through part of the school campus and on to Merton Grove.
We caught a glimpse of the Christ Church College Cathedral through the iron gate along Merton Grove. This is the only cathedral in Oxford and it’s the smallest cathedral in the U.K. Sadly, the cathedral was closed during the mourning period of the Queen and we were not able to go inside to see it.
Dear and Tony our guide ahead of me and to the right is the tower at Merton college.
We are on Merton Street now and this is the front of Merton College Chapel.
Merton college was founded in 1264 by William de Merton, Lord Chancellor to Henry III, the oldest college in Oxford.
Above, between the statues of Edward I and the founder is a relief of a book, the Lamb of God opposite de Merton kneeling in prayer, flanked by John the Baptist and a unicorn.
J.R.R. Tolkien was an alumni of this college. We tried to get into Merton and Exeter Colleges but both were closed on the days we tried, sadly.
We turned off Merton Street onto Logic Lane.
We were drawn to the Martlets on this crest since Dear’s family crest includes these birds.
A martlet in English heraldry is a mythical bird without feet that never roosts from the moment of its drop-birth until its death fall; martlets are proposed to be continuously on the wing.
Off Logic Lane we are back on the High. We cross the street to Queen’s Lane.
Our guide pointed out The Grand Cafe which we never made it to and another cafe across the street that both claim to be the site of the first coffee house in England.
Onto Queen’s Lane past Queen’s College we turn onto New College Lane.
We see the entrance to New College, one of the colleges we did get into on the following day, and continue on to the end of our tour where we are left off at the Bridge of Sighs at the passageway to The Turf Tavern.
By this time after our 2-1/2 hour tour we are ready to quench our thirst. We say goodbye to Tony and hello to the Turf Tavern. We packed a lot of walking and touring on our first full day in Oxford.
Congratulations if you made it through this long post.
Back to the present, a Happy Thanksgiving Day to our Canadian neighbors and Happy Columbus Day here in the USA.