On Wednesday morning September 14th we ate breakfast out at The Breakfast Club on the upper level of Westgate Shopping Center. After breakfast we made our way to Christ Church College via Brewer Street right past the home where Dorothy Sayers was born. We’ve enjoyed many books by Sayers like her Lord Peter Wimsey series. She was a friend of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. She was baptized by her father in Christ Church Cathedral.
We walk past the front of the college where it’s famous Tom Tower looms onto the Oxford Spire skyline.
We crossed St. Aldates and continued on Broad Walk to the Christ Church Gift Shop to buy our tickets for our tour of Christ Church College.
Our tickets were discounted since the Cathedral was closed to visitors during the Mourning Period for the Queen. Christ Church College was the most commercialized tour and restricted of the colleges we visited. You had to wear a lanyard attached to an electronic tour guide and you got head phones for listening. All the paths were marked and restricted areas marked, too. Not my favorite way to tour but for many it’s a great way to get all the information you need as you walk through.
Christ Church is one of the most famous Oxford colleges for several reasons: its size, its wealth, its grandeur and, to the current generation Harry Potter. But this college’s history spans back over 500 years as Christ Church was founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII.
The tour visitor door is off of Broad Walk across from the Gift Shop. This was the only college to our knowledge that had a gift shop, too.
Christ Church was founded in 1546, and there had been a college here since 1525, but prior to the dissolution of the monasteries, the site was occupied by a priory dedicated to the memory of St Frideswide, the patron saint of both university and city.
Christ Church receives over half a million tourists each year
We’ll go that way in my second post about Christ Church. Today we’ll cover the outside and the small courtyard and beautiful cloisters.
As you approach the “Harry Potter steps” at Christ Church, which lead up to the dining hall, you will notice a curious form of graffiti on a door to the right.
On an old brown door, there is the word “Peel”, with each letter formed out of very small circles.
This is the oldest form of graffiti on record and the door was marked in protest against the Sir Robert Peel who was the British Prime Minister in the early nineteenth century.
The reason it looks like there are lots and lots of tiny circles making up the word is because the name “Peel” was marked onto the door with nails.
Past the ‘No Peel’ door we head out to Tom Quad but have to turn right to the Courtyard that will eventually lead us out of the college.
I was happy to be able to see Tom Quad even though we couldn’t walk around the Quad.
The plaque on the left reads Culham College, Founded by Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, to prepare school teachers to serve children within the Diocese of Oxford and well beyond its borders. 1852-1979
Samuel Wilberforce, FRS was an English bishop in the Church of England, and the third son of William Wilberforce. Known as “Soapy Sam”, Wilberforce was one of the greatest public speakers of his day. He is now best remembered for his opposition to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution at a debate in 1860.
The Cloisters here were used in filming of Harry Potter movies, too.
After touring the courtyard and cloisters around the courtyard we exited the college.
My second post from Christ Church College will cover the Harry Potter and Lewis Carroll connections.