Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The Dreaming Spires Part 1
Last weekend I went to Oxfordshire for a few days. The real object of the journey was to join a private tour of a couple of houses and I could have got there and back in one day with an early start and a late finish but I decided to stay over for a couple of nights and take the opportunity to visit Oxford - the City of Dreaming Spires. As ever clicking on the photos will make the details clearer.
This is Christ Church College which was founded by King Henry VIII in 1546, it is built on the site of the Priory of St Frideswide and the priory church became both the College chapel and one of England's smallest cathedrals. In the 19th Century the maths tutor at Christ Church was called Charles Dodgson, he is better known now as Lewis Carroll the author of 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking Glass'. The Alice of the stories was one of the children of Henry Liddell the Dean of Christ Church.
This lovely 12th century cloister is also part of the original Priory.
All Harry Potter fans will be familiar with this scene, the Great Hall of Christ Church College was the model for Hogwarts Hall in the films and this is where the Sorting Hat decided which House the new first year pupils would be assigned to. The photograph is taken looking down the Great Hall towards the entrance. During the English Civil War (1642-1651) King Charles I lived in Oxford and held his Parliament in the Great Hall of Christ Church.
This is High Table where the Fellows of Christ Church College dine. The large portrait in the centre is of Henry VIII the College's founder.
The steps leading up to the Great Hall - Professor McGonnagall stood at the top of here to welcome all the new First Year pupils to Hogwarts.
This exquisite fan vaulted ceiling is above the staircase and dates from 1640.
The interior of the chapel which dates back to the 12th century, the wonderful vaulted ceiling was added around 1500.
The Saint Catherine window is one of five stained glass windows designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, the Pre-Raphaelite artist, for Christ Church chapel. The face of Saint Catherine, the central figure, is modelled on that of Edith Liddell, the sister of Alice Liddell.
More of Edward Burne Jones' work, this is the Vyner Memorial window.
This is the shrine of St Frideswide, patron saint of the city of Oxford. She came to Oxford in the 7th century fleeing from King Algar of Mercia who wanted to marry her. The king was blinded but Frideswide saved his sight on condition that he would no longer pursue her. She founded a religious house and died there in 735AD. Her bones were eventually brought to the priory church of St Frideswide in 1180. On the right you can just see the watching chamber which has a stone base and a wooden upper section and dates from about 1500, from here the monks could keep an eye on the shrine and(possibly more importantly!) all the rich treasures which surrrounded it.
This brilliantly coloured and intricate window is behind the shrine, it is by Edward Burne Jones and tells the story of St Frideswide in pictures. Do enlarge it and look on the right at the very back of the bottom righthand panel. You will see the very incongruous sight of a pink toilet!! Heaven only knows why Burne Jones included this!
A detail from the window showing St Frideswide being carried to heaven on a 'ship of souls'.
The Becket window is the oldest stained glass window in the chapel and it dates from 1320. It portrays the murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. You will definitely need to click on this to see it.
Detail from the Becket window.
The Great Quadrangle with Sir Christopher Wren's Tom Tower over the gatehouse which is the main entrance to Christ Church. Great Tom is the 7 ton bell which hangs in the tower. Every night Great Tom strikes 101 times at 9.05pm - one strike for each of the original 101 students of the college.
Lewis Carroll must have been familiar with this sundial, it is close to the Library where he worked and often looked out of the window and saw Alice Liddell's cat Dinah sitting in a chestnut tree - Dinah became The Cheshire Cat. Like me Lewis Carroll was born in the county of Cheshire.
More of Oxford in the next post - anyone who has got this far must be all historied out by now!