On our way to Oxford, we visited Warwick Castle and Shakespeare’s birth place, Stratford upon Avon.
At Warwick Castle, we toured various living areas which inhabitants of the castle would have occupied many years ago. We also took part in a dungeon tour during which we learned about treatment of prisoners in Medieval times and the ‘Black Death’ pandemic. This left many of us terrified and the rest of us in fits of laughter. Shakespeare’s birth place was also very interesting – we saw the house where his family lived and worked, including the room where he was actually born.
Once we arrived in Oxford, we toured the city in a hop-on hop-off bus. We immediately noticed that Oxford was larger and busier than Cambridge, and some of the buildings older. However, the city was similar to Cambridge in that around 30 University Colleges were interspersed amongst shops and restaurants. It was clear from the walking tour we undertook the following morning that almost all of the town’s history and buildings are centred around Oxford University.
That afternoon, we visited Blackwell’s book store – the largest in the United Kingdom, with approximately five miles of shelving. Afterwards, we visited a filming site of the Harry Potter films, a hall which was used as the hospital wing in the earliest films and as the Yule Ball rehearsal room in the Goblet of Fire. The site was previously a study hall for philosophy students of Oxford University. One of its most fascinating aspects was the intricate ceiling, carved with the initials of benefactors of the university. We then made our way to the Ashmoleon Museum – much to Ms Rees’ delight! The museum is the world’s first university museum and we saw many famous artworks and more historical artefacts.
Before dinner and taking advantage of the glorious weather, we climbed 127 steps up the tower of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. The lookout at the top enabled us to breathtaking views of the whole city and university colleges.
We are very sad to be leaving tomorrow as this visit to Oxford was short by very sweet.
Next stop… Bath!