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Published: January 25th 2017
The Divinity Room
Where the infirmary scenes where filmed
Today, Tuesday 24th January, is my last day in England. Ben is back at work and Florence is in nursery school, so Petra and I are packing up Sam and heading to Oxford for the day.
Ben dropped us at the Bristol Railway Station on his way to work for our 90 minute trip. Thankfully, it was a bright, sunny, but very cold day. We had no real plans except for a two hour walking tour of Oxford University, starting at 2.00pm.
Oxford, one of the world's best known university cities, is called 'The City of Dreaming Spires'. It's home to 38 colleges and the prestigious Oxford University, all of which are positioned around the medieval town centre. It has been home to royalty and scholars for the past 800 years, though people have been known to have lived in the area for thousands of years. Nowadays, Oxford is a bustling cosmopolitian city. My first impressions were sandstone buildings, double decker buses and streets full of students.
We walked the inner city area, snapping photos and browsing in a couple of shops. At Petra's recommendation, we enjoyed lunch at Wagamama, delicious Katsu Curry washed down with a Buddha
Christ Church College's Great Hall
Inspiration for Hogwarts dining room
Beer for me. When we've got Sam with us we need to have extra coffee breaks so he can be fed and nappy changed, so we seem to spend a lot of time in coffee shops as well!
Even though I'm not a Harry Potter fan, I was interested in visiting some of the rooms, cloisters and halls where the series was filmed, and this will be part of our walking tour this afternoon. Our guide was an Oxford graduate, so he had lots of inside information about campus life.
We didn't only visit Oxford University but also Christ Church College's Great Hall, where film producers got their inspiration for the dining hall at Hogwarts. New College cloister and the huge oak tree in the grounds were also part of our tour. They featured in 'Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire'.
The Bodleian Library is the main research library of Oxford University, and is the second oldest in Europe after the British Library. It holds over 12 million items and operates principally as a reference library so documents can't be taken from the reading rooms.
I was particularly interested in visiting the Divinity Room, the
university's oldest purpose built lecture hall, dating from the 1500s, and part of The Bodleian Libraries. This room was used for filming in 'The Philosopher's Stone' as the location of The Infirmary at Hogwarts, and again with the ballroom dancing class in 'The Goblet of Fire'. A particularly beautiful room, the ceiling features 455 carved bosses, commemorating benefactors who donated money for the room's construction.
Also included in the tour was a visit to The Weston Library where we were able to browse the Bodleian Treasures exhibition. This small exhibition featured documents and books dating back centuries, including the Magna Carta and a water colour by J R Tolkein, painted for the first American edition of 'The Hobbit'.
We snapped photos of The Radcliffe Camera, but didn't visit inside. It's the first circular library ever built, constructed between 1737 and 1749, and today functions as the main reading room of the Bodleian. 600,000 reference books are stored here, most of them in five storeys of underground rooms below Radcliffe Square.
One of the last places we visited was The Bridge of Sighs, real name being Hertford Bridge. It's a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over
New College Lane and it's distinctive design makes it a city landmark.
We cut our tour short as it was running over time and we had to get home, another 90 minute train ride away. We walked to the station and caught our train with time to spare, but our connecting train from Didcot Parkway to Bristol was cancelled, leaving us with a fretful Sam and a 40 minute wait for the next train. We changed again in Bristol and finally got home 12 hours after we left. Ben and Florence were also late, due to a car accident in Bristol, which caused peak hour traffic chaos and lots of delayed commuters.
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