Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Dreaming Spires Part 2

I'm finally back to do the second post about my day in Oxford. The last ten days or so has been rather hectic, my husband has finally had his surgery and we are told that it has been successful which is a relief. We also are celebrating the arrival of another little grandson who was born in the early hours of Saturday morning. Gabriel now has a little brother called Elisha George and I shall be going down to Suffolk to see them on Thursday. I'm staying a few days so that I can do some exploring, I love Suffolk and it is full of beautiful villages and quiet country lanes. However back to Oxford - the view above is taken through the entrance gates of Corpus Christi College, it shows the stone flagged Front Quad and the tall column is a sundial.

I wish I could have got closer to photograph this amazing sundial properly but the College was closed. It dates back to 1581 and the main column has the principal south facing sundial on it (not visible in this photo) and a perpetual calendar which shows the University terms. The pelican on the top, which is pecking blood from its breast to feed its young, represents 'Corpus Christi' (the Body of Christ). Apart from the main sundial on the column there are at least eight more, four below the coats of arms and then four more on the next level up. Click to enlarge the photo and you will see it better.

This wonderful carved stone panel was crafted around 1420 and stands over the gatehouse of Merton College. The images depict St John the Baptist in the wilderness with various animals including a lovely unicorn. I was able to go in and look round here, Merton was founded in 1264 and claims to be the oldest college in Oxford. J.R.Tolkien was Professor of English here between 1945 and 1959 when he was writing his 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

Front Quad with the old Warden's Lodgings on the far left.

Mob Quad is the earliest quadrangle in Oxford and it houses the library of Merton College which dates from 1373 and is the oldest continuously used library for academics in the world.

The archway that leads into Fellows Quad has the twelve signs of the zodiac carved into the roof bosses. It was built by Warden Fitzjames as part of his new lodgings in 1497 and he actually had a horoscope cast for his new house.

A close-up of my particular sign - Virgo.

This is probably my favourite of the Colleges I visited - these are the gardens of New College which are enclosed by the old city walls of Oxford.

One of the bastions which allows a better defensive position than a straight wall does. Oxford was the headquarters of Charles I during the English Civil War and it was along these walls that the Royalists made their final stand before the city surrendered to the Roundheads in June 1646. Hiss, boo at this point - I have always been a staunch Royalist!

The cloisters of New College which are beautifully quiet and peaceful and they enclose a small garden.

Looking into the garden through one of the cloister windows.

The name New College is rather misleading, it is actually one of the oldest colleges in Oxford being founded in 1379 by William Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester.
This stone staircase leads up into the dining hall where there is a portrait of William Wykeham and also of Canon William Spooner who was given to transposing the beginnings of words and whose name gave rise to 'spoonerisms'. Among them is one that really makes me laugh - 'The Lord is a shoving leopard'. I'm sure you can all work out what he actually intended to say!

On New College Lane stands this white house where the astronomer Edmund Halley lived and had his observatory. He discovered that comets move in an orbit round the sun and Halley's Comet was named after him.

The plaque on the wall of the house. You will need to cick on it to read what it says.

The Sheldonian Theatre was one of the earliest architectural designs by Sir Christopher Wren who is most famous for his design for St Paul's Cathedral in London.
When he designed the Sheldonian he was a Professor of Astronomy at New College, Oxford and still plain Christopher Wren - the knighthood came later.

Radcliffe Camera was originally built in the mid 18th century to house the Radcliffe Science Library, it is now a part of the famous Bodleian Library and is used as a reading room for students. There was so much more to see in Oxford and I shall definitely go again to see all that I didn't have time for on this visit.

Finally the lovely old 16th century farmhouse where I stayed for the two nights I was in Oxfordshire.


Janet said...

OMG! These photos are simply wonderful. I doubt I'll ever see England in person but through your trips and all your photos I feel as if I've been there. You do the best blogland tours!

I owe you an email and I promise you'll be getting it soon.

Pondside said...

What a beautiful blog site! I've come by way of Ragged Roses - intrigued by your name.
Your photos of Oxfordshire are lovely and have caused me to add yet another line to my getting-ever-longer list of things-to-do when I finally get across the pond to England.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

I love good news! Glad to hear that your DH's operation went well. It must be such a relief for you all.
Congratulations on the safe arrival of Elisha George. I bet you can't wait to get down there!
Finally, another splendid post about Oxford. History around every corner, marvellous! Looking forward to your posts when you get back.

Tina said...

Thanks for sharing these nice pics. The house you stayed in is extremely beautiful! I enjoyed strolling around with you!

Rosie said...

Wonderful photos, Rowan, especially the ones in the cloisters at New College. My last visit to Oxford must be at least 20 years ago to visit the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers museums as part of my diploma studies, so it was wonderful to see many of the things I didn't have the time to see then. I love the Rad Cam building and the B&B looks lovely. So glad to hear the good news about your husband and new grandchild - enjoy your visit to Suffolk. My sign is Virgo too :) I wonder if we share a birthday?

Thimbleanna said...

Thanks once again for sharing your fabulous pictures Rowan. I feel like I was there -- which is wonderful now, as the poor performance of the dollar lately has me wondering how long I will have to wait to return to your beautiful country.

Heather said...

absolutely beautiful! Just takes the breath away...

RunninL8 said...

What an amazing place! I especially love the gardens of New College. i see fairies there!
I would love to stay in such an old farmhouse-looks enchanting!
thanks so much for sharing your piece of the world with this Alaskan!

smilnsigh said...

I am so happy to learn that your husband had his surgery and it is a success. !!!!!!!!!!! Wonderful news. All the best, to him.

Oh how beautiful are your photos! This tour was worth waiting for.

Mmmm, but did you happen to take any photos inside that lovely 16th century farmhouse, where you stayed? Oh sigh, I'd so love to see more of it also. :-)


Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Terrific images! I came here on the recommendation of Smilnsigh, and I am very glad that I did. Thank you so much for this virtual travel tour...

Ragged Roses said...

Oh I need to visit Oxford again very soon - your photos have reminded me of just how beautiful a city it is, thank you. congrats on your new grandson and I am so pleased that all is well with your husband. Enjoy your trip to Suffolk

lila said...

What a wonderful tour! I love the peaceful enclosed garden and most of all the "farm cottage" you stayed in!

Mary said...

The news of your dh's sucessful surgery is uplifting Rowan - I wish him a speedy recovery. Congrats. on your new grandson - know you will have a great time in Suffolk.

Great Oxford pics here - but that farmhouse took my breath away - I want to stay there!!!

Have a safe trip.

Anonymous said...

Those pictures are so very beautiful !!! I love old buildings and I love England, period !!!!!
Just wanted to tell you that I'm so glad you ahred the visit you made to the plague village in Derbyshere some time ago. I read the book Year of Wonders by Gerladine Brooks and I loved it and I loved the fact that I had seen your pictures, so I could make images in my mind while reading the book. Thank you again !!!
Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new grandbaby... I love their names as well. My three are Zachariah, Elijah and Gabriel... they are 14, 11, and 7 at this point.

I am glad your husbands surgery was a success... and thanks again for sharing such wonderful pictures and commentary!

DayPhoto said...

Hoo Ray, Hoo Ray! I am so glad the operation went well.


Jenny said...

I truly enjoy your posts as they take me to places I won't be able to see for myself for years to come. While I enjoyed visiting Oxford, I was thrilled to read of your husband's successful surgery at last and your new grandson- congratulations!