Intentions today consisted of being more of a tourist and taking in the sites of this university town. We set off early so as to beat the crowd but in the end we beat no one as nothing opened until 11.00am at the earliest. We decided to utilise the time by Fraser getting a hair cut and wandering around the covered market.
We then had a wander around the pedestrian area of the city which is new since we were last here. They deter people from driving in by charging exhorbitant prices for parking but do supply a park and ride system.
The first college we poked our head into was Lincoln College. This college did not admit women until 1979.
The University of Oxford has thirty-nine colleges, and six permanent private halls (PPHs) of religious foundation. Colleges and PPHs are autonomous self-governing corporations within the university. These colleges are not only houses of residence but have substantial responsibility for teaching undergraduate students.
We very much wanted to visit the Bodleain Library.
The library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library. Together, the Bodleian Libraries hold over 13 million printed items and first opened to scholars in 1602. Unfortunately, when we got there, we found out that you had to book a ticket online and it was booked out a month in advance. You just cannot wing things anymore.
We did manage to get into Merton College for the princely sum of six pound to have a look around. This was one of the not so good looking gargoyles on the chapel. The precise purpose of gargoyles was to act as a spout to convey water from the upper part of a building or roof gutter and away from the side of walls or foundations, thereby helping to prevent water from causing damage to masonry and mortar.
A door within a door. This is the front entrance into Merton College.
There were four quadrangles altogether and at no time is anyone allowed to step on any of the grass in them.
Most of the colleges are very small and at this time of year, they were of course all away on their summer holidays.
Merton College was founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton, Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Rochester. It has a claim to be the oldest college in Oxford, a claim which is disputed between Merton College, Balliol College and University College.
We were pretty much gobsmacked by the size of the chapel considering the size of the college.
Since the introduction of an official Norrington Table (is an annual ranking of the colleges in Oxford) published by the university in 2004, Merton occupied one of the top three positions every year (often coming in 1st), until 2012 when it dropped to 14th. In 2014, it regained the first position, preserving its status as one of the most academically successful colleges of the last twenty years. In 2021, Merton was ranked Oxford’s top college in the Norrington Table, with a score of 82.9.
Former students of note are TS Eliot, Kris Kristofferson, Naruhito (Emperor of Japan), Elizabeth Truss (potiential new Prime Minister for UK), Roger Bannister, Lord Randolph Churchill (Winston’s dad) etc
We were thinking of doing an Inspector Morse tour but it started at 1.30pm and went for an hour and a half with a lot of outside walking. Considering it was hitting 31c by midday, we opted to wimp out.
Found this really cool cheese shop. It was cool in more ways than one. We reckon it was about 15c and we were going to try to loiter without being noticed until we struck up a conversation with the girl behind the counter who came from Edmonton. She was in Oxford finishing her PhD in a very obscure forensic degree in relationship to digging up graves of children – hmm, it was hard to find questions of interest on that topic. Once we were well chilled we headed out again seeking out more air-conditioning.
We stumbled across the town hall where this weird second hand clothing sale by weight was going on. To finish off our wanderings we decided to go to a movie. Di had seen some shorts of Bullet Train and thought it looked entertaining. We lasted 20 minutes before we walked out. It was just gratuitous violence.
So that was our day in Oxford. Do we feel “learned” – nope, just knackered.