Saturday, 4 May 2013

Oxford roofs & spires

"That sweet city with her dreaming spires"
Matthew Arnold - Professor of Poetry at Oxford
Brasenose College
All Souls College
Exeter college chapel
The Bodleian library
In the distance it is possible to just make out the Thames meandering through the trees on the right
It is fortunate that we live close enough to see our granddaughter whilst she is at Oxford. We took her out for a slightly belated birthday lunch followed by a steep climb to the top of St. Mary the Virgin tower before she had to leave for an afternoon tutorial. This week the marquees are going up in the college grounds ready for their May Balls.
The grass is mown at Trinity College in preparation for the arrival of the marquee men.
Hertford Bridge links the old and new quadrangles of Hertford College - often referred to as the Bridge of Sighs although it actually has a stronger resemblance to the Rialto Bridge

Delicious lunch at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin from the restaurant within its Vaults, but it was warm enough for us to eat at a table in their garden overlooked by the Bodleian Library.
Sunlight filtering through the chancel windows - St. Mary the Virgin
If you find yourself in Oxford this tower is the one to climb as it affords a complete 360° view over the whole of the city.
A stroll around the University Botanic Gardens 
fronds of the Matteuccia fern
Lysichiton - Skunk Cabbage
Tried unsuccessfully to grow this - our ponds margins were too dry.
Magdalen College tower opposite the Botanical gardens
On 1st May the day starts early at 6 am with Magdalen College choir singing the hymn 'Hymnus Eucharisticus' from the top of this tower, a 500 year old tradition. Large crowds gather to watch and this year our granddaughter rose early to be present. There is a party atmosphere and general revelry, Morris dancing and impromptu music. Many are still formally attired following all night balls.
via
May morning by William Holman Hunt depicting the event on top of Magdalen tower - Lady Lever Gallery 

58 comments:

  1. Such beautiful photos of my beloved Oxford, Rosemary. Thank you so much. You had marvellous weather for your visit (it was gorgeous here too) which must have made the climb up the tower even more worthwhile. Our daughter was at Hertford, so I've been across the Bridge of Sighs more than once. :-)

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    1. I have never visited Hertford but it must be a lovely walk way from each quad. I noticed that many of the colleges are now charging quite heavily to visit them. I wanted to visit the meadows behind Magdelan to see the wild fritillaries but was reluctant to pay the entrance fee for us all in case they were finished. However, Keble, granddaughters college, still permits visitors without any charge.

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    2. Dear Rosemary,
      I was in Oxford in August 2011, for a one day trip and I have visted most of the places that you have photographed and took pictures. It's really enlivened the whole trip when I saw your post. Thank you!

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    3. I am pleased that this post has reminded you of your own trip to Oxford - thank you for your comment and visit.

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  2. Hello Rosemary, Count on you to discover interesting flowers wherever you find yourself. I never knew that anyone planted skunk cabbage--I thought it was only a wild plant, one of the early harbingers of spring. The genus found in the Eastern U.S. woods, Symplocarpus, has a reddish, mottled spathe that looks quite prehistoric.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Hello Jim - for us, skunk cabbage is an exotic plant as it does not grow in the wild here. Of course many of the plants in our gardens are wild in other parts of the world. I have seen photos of Symplocarpus but never actually seen it growing myself.

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  3. Rosemary! Your posts are always top but this one crowns them all! Brilliant and atmospheric photos in such history-charged place! I met a Professor from Oxford in Scotland and was flabbergasted the way he spoke German! Definitely much, much better than I do... Happy weekend! Christa

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    1. Dear Christa - we too met a retired Oxford Professor whilst we were in Spain. He was actually originally from USA and came to Britain as a Fulbright scholar. He spoke several languages fluently, knew so much about everything, and to top it all he was very entertaining - we thought he was wonderful.
      Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  4. That Matteuccia shot is F.A.B Lady. You had the most glorious weather for your trip and have inspired me to visit Oxford again soon. It has been quite a while since we were last there.
    Have a wonderful bank holiday.
    Paul

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    1. Ferns are so photogenic - I especially love to see them emerging with their flourish of curls. Matteuccia are my favourites.
      Have fun this holiday weekend Paul.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing all this about Oxford. It must be such a worthwhile city to visit with all the old tradition still present. I'll remember to climb that tower if I ever visit oxford!
    Have a lovely weekend,
    Marian

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    1. Thanks Marian - it was lovely weather for climbing the steeple, but it is extremely narrow in parts and gave us intimate moments when trying to pass other people coming up as we went down!!!

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  6. What a wonderful assortment of beautiful photographs. Loved the majestic architecture ...although my favorite was the old bicycle being used as a sign..Thanks

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    1. Strangely there is something rather becoming about a rusty old bicycle clad in flowers and signs.

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  7. Oxford is a wonderful place to visit. When I go I will remember to look up the roofs to see those grand spires. I would enjoy exploring the colleges, the gardens and those little cafes for some scones, cakes and teas. Happy weekend Rosemary.

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    1. Dear Pamela - I think that Oxford would probably be the kind of place that you would enjoy - hope that you do visit sometime in future.

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  8. Dear Rosemary, Your birdseye views are spectacular. And so is the rest of the post and it's photography.
    Friends of ours will be at Oxford this coming weekend. I have sent your post to them. Thank you. ox, Gina

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    1. Dear Gina - do hope that your friends have a lovely time in Oxford and that the weather stays fine for them whilst visiting.
      Glad you enjoyed the birdseye views - the steeple is very narrow during some of the climb which can make for funny moments when meeting others coming up whilst you are going down!!!

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  9. It is such a beautiful place, and you have captured it beautifully.J.

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    1. Thank you Janice - everything was on my side with a lovely blue sky day. You must be off soon - hope you have a wonderful trip.

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  10. Dear Rosemary, Thanks for the Oxford scenic and architectural tour! I would love to visit there someday; I know that I would be "inspired" in so many ways. I have to add that while the spires are so picturesque, I've always been just as taken by the grand old English chimney pots!

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    1. Dear Mark - the chimney pots have become very collectible, especially the ornate Victorian ones, which people like to plant up and put in the garden.

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  11. "If you find yourself in Oxford ...." Ah, Rosemary, I would love to find myself in Oxford. The Great Dane laughs at me, but years of reading and then watching the Inspector Morse series and now Inspector Lewis, have left me with a longing to see what you have so beautifully photographed. Are members of the public permitted to enter the Bodleian? Now that would be a dream!

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    1. Yes, the Bodleian is open 7 days a week for visits and even allows children from the age of 11 years. You can also visit the colleges and see their quadrangles and chapels. Some of them allow you to view their libraries and dinning halls too - some you have to pay to enter others are free.
      Hope you do have the opportunity to visit at some time in the future.

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  12. Hello Rosemary! Thanks for showing us those pictures, I was there 20 years ago when my sister in law was living in Middle Wallop very close Stockbridge, I loved it and I would like to come back some day.

    Hugs

    Marina

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    1. Dear Marina - I am pleased that this post reminded you of your visit 20 years ago. It would be lovely if you could return sometime in the future.

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  13. I would love to find myself in Oxford just once. I can imagine how happy your granddaughter was to see you.

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    1. .............and we were so happy to see her too. May be one day you will have the chance to visit Oxford.

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  14. The photos are lovely. At least the green hills can be seen to add to the interest.

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    1. Oxford is completely surrounded by countryside.

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  15. These are wonderful photos Rosemary! I am often in the Oxford area as my office is based there (although I work from home) - I don't often get to see the magnificent architecture of the university though...

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    1. Dear Nat - do try and extend your visit so that you can see some of the colleges and other buildings. My granddaughters college, Keble, is free to visitors, there you can see in an anti chamber off the most glorious chapel an original Holman Hunt painting of The Light of the World.

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  16. Super and great city. Love your shots Rosemary.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. Being high up was a big advantage for getting some interesting shots of the city. Glad you liked them.

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  17. Hi, Rosemary!
    I'm here first time, I liked your post about Oxford.
    I've been there once but remember well The Bodleian library and the Bridge of Sighs. It was wonderful time spent in Oxford!
    Interestingly the choir singing at 6 am on 1st of May, what's a good tradition!
    Nadezda
    http://northern-garden.blogspot.com/

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    1. Hello Nadezda - thank you for your visit - I am pleased that the post on Oxford reminded you of your own trip there.
      The Bodleian library is a wonderful building both inside and out - look forward to seeing you here again.

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    2. Wonderful pictures Rosemary!Oxford is such a beautiful place!!I would love to have an afternoon tea and fresh scones on that beautiful cafe!Thank you for sharing your amazing photos!Have a lovely week!
      Dimi..

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    3. Glad that you enjoyed seeing the photos Dimi - I do hope that your Greek Easter Sunday has gone well, and that you have had a happy time with all your family and friends.

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  18. A most inspiring post . Showing such wonderful views of Oxford and the university.
    I have never been to oxford.
    Each time I read a post of yours about Oxford , I learn something.
    What a delight, that you live near enough to take your grandaughter out for tea now and again.
    It looks a magnificent place Rosemary.
    Its great to know traditions are upheld ..
    val

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    1. Dear Val - thank you for your lovely comment - I keep learning a little bit more myself during our visits. This is the first time that I have actually seen Oxford from above. I was surprised at all of the ornate finials which no one can see from down below. Our granddaughter had not been up the tower so we thought it would make her time with us a little bit more interesting. It was very steep and very narrow in parts but worth the views when we got to the top.

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  19. One of my very favourite places in the world, Rosemary, and you capture it so well. You must have climbed a lot of stairs to get those dreaming spires!

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    1. Dear Kate - I don't know whether you have ever climbed up this spire but it you haven't it is well worth seeing the aerial views over the city and to the countryside beyond - the weather needs to be good of course.

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  20. A lovely post Rosemary. We visited Oxford August last year and enjoyed it very much! There is so much history! We visited Kings College (Great Hall) and had a peek at the court yards of several other colleges. We enjoyed our stroll through town as well. I see you climbed the tower :-) I now regret not doing that! Great photo's!

    Happy new week!

    Madelief x

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    1. Dear Madelief - it sounds as if you managed to fit in quite a lot during your visit, and although I have visited Oxford fairly frequently this is my first time climbing up the tower. However, if the weather is fine it is really worth while doing, as long as you do not suffer from acrophobia.
      We have a long weekend in the UK this weekend as tomorrow is our May Day holiday, so hoping the hot sunny weather we had today continues.
      Hope your weekend was good.

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  21. I've never visited Oxford but now that I've seen your photos it will go on my must see list. Thanks for sharing. Love the fern photo.
    June

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    1. I am sure that you and your family would have a good day there. They have park and ride which is the best way of getting into the city. There are also some great museums there especially the Pitt Rivers which your daughter would probably like.

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  22. Absolutely beautiful photos Rosemary, and climbing the tower was well worth it for those aerial shots. I remember our little visit to Oxford so well, and all the exquisite architecture which you capture so well. The Bodleian Library has to be my absolute favourite. Great fern pic, and thank you for introducing a Holman Hunt painting I have never seen. It is so over-the-top atmospheric and so clearly his very distinctive style. Great fun!

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  23. Dear Patricia - there is also a Holman Hunt painting in the chapel of my granddaughters college (Keble) - The Light of the World which I am sure that you know. I am always amazed that it just hangs there in a little anti room off the chapel with no one guarding it and visitors/tourists wandering in and out all the time.
    I just happened to look inside the fern with its brand new fronds and it reminded me of a shuttlecock.

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    1. Dear Rosemary, How exciting your granddaughter is in Keble, a name I know well, simply because of The Light of the World! When we visited Oxford I actually spotted Keble and thought of it, although we did not attempt to go in. Amazing that there is noone guarding such a famous painting. Bless the English for their cool-mindedness!

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    2. I wish you had gone in Patricia - next time maybe?

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  24. Beautiful photos of a very interesting town, really would love to visit !

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    1. Thank you Jane - hope you have the opportunity to visit in the future.

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  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post, Rosemary. I visited Oxford many years ago and always though I'd return. An exceptionally beautiful city which almost takes your breath away, it seems so flush with history. So atmospheric. Breathtaking, really. My kind of place. :)

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    1. Thank you Yvette - delighted that you enjoyed the post - hopefully you may return there is so much to see.

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  26. I love Oxford too,but I have never been up that tower the views are amazing and as always your photographs are so lovely.
    Sarah x

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    1. Next time you go Sarah do try and go up the tower - if it is a clear sky it is well worth the views.

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  27. So beautiful pictures from Oxford City ! I have seen in many TV shows and I would like to visit someday ! Thank you for sharing this historical town !
    Have a nice week !

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    1. Dear Olympia - I think everyone has seen little glimpses of Oxford via our TV programmes, it seems to be a location often used from Inspector Morse to Harry Potter.

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