Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 27 - A Broken Bed, A Carpenter and Re-visiting Oxford

So, today was another cleaning day since we had to prepare for the owner to visit with a carpenter to assess our broken bed.  None of us expected him to be able to fix the broken center rail on the spot, but he managed to do it and only charged 50 GBP.  Success, to a certain extent.  We did have a nice visit with Jacqueline Frasier and her partner.  Both were charming and gave us several recommendations as to some good restaurants to try.

Hertford Bridge (Bridge of Sighs)
In any case, I thought I'd give a little more information about our Cotswolds trip.  In Oxford, one of the pictures we took was of the Hertford Bridge, popularly known as the Bridge of Sighs.  The skyway joins two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane, and its distinctive design makes it a city landmark.

The picture above is taken from Catte Street.  However, if the picture had been taken looking toward Catte Street, the viewer would see another landmark, The Sheldonian Theatre.

The Sheldonian Theatre
Designed by Christopher Wren, the Sheldonian Theatre was commissioned by Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury and the project's main financial backer.  It is used for music concerts, lectures and for various ceremonies held by the University (such as graduation and matriculation). Handel conducted the first performance of his third oratorio Athalia here in 1733. However, unlike its name, it is not a theatre for drama.

Summer performances are provided by the Oxford Theatre Guild in the Trinity College Gardens.

The back lawns of Trinity College
Another building of note in Oxford is the Radcliffe Camera.  Designed by James Gibbs, and built in the English Palladian style between the years 1737–1749, the building was intended to house the Radcliffe Science Library. The Library's construction and maintenance was funded from the estate of John Radcliffe, a notable doctor, who left £40,000 upon his death in 1714. According to the terms of Radcliffe's will, construction began in 1737.  However, the exterior wasn't completed until 1747, and the interior was finished in 1748, although the Library's opening was delayed until 13 April 1749.

Radcliffe Camera
The Oxford Natural History Museum is noted for its 1860 debate on evolution.  The debate took place on 30 June 1860, seven months after the publication of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species." Several prominent British scientists and philosophers participated, including Thomas Henry Huxley, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, Benjamin Brodie, Joseph Dalton Hooker and Robert FitzRoy. The debate is best remembered today for a heated exchange in which Wilberforce supposedly asked Huxley whether it was through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey.  A bit cheeky of him, I think.

Oxford Natural History Museum
The last set of buildings I'll mention today is the Bodleian Library in Oxford.  The Bodleian Library, which is the main research library of the university, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library with over 11 million items.  It is not one building, however, nor is the collection all stored above ground.  Included in the library system are the Radcliffe Camera and the Clarendon Building.

Entrance to the Bodelian Library
Between 1909 and 1912, an underground bookstack was constructed beneath the Radcliffe Camera and Radcliffe Square. In 1914, the total number of books in the library’s collections breached the 1 million mark. By the 1920s, the Library needed further expansion space, and in 1937 building work began on the New Bodleian building, opposite the Clarendon Building on the north-east corner of Broad Street.

Clarendon Building
The New Bodleian was designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Construction was completed in 1940. The building was of an innovative ziggurat design, with 60% of the bookstack below ground level. A tunnel under Broad Street connects the Old and New Bodleian buildings, and contains a pedestrian walkway, a mechanical book conveyor and a pneumatic Lamson tube system, which was used for book orders until an electronic automated stack request system was introduced in 2002.

That's it for tonight.  Tomorrow we intend to go shopping on Oxford Street.  So, I'll see you all tomorrow.


  1. Little things go wrong, but it looks like the bed was relatively easy to fix. I love your travelogue. The Bodleian library sounds fabulous Did you go inside and catch a glimpse of any first editions?

  2. No, the college is strict about admittance into any of the buildings while the students are there. The Bodleian is open to Oxford students and faculty only, though I suspect a serious scholar could get special dispensation to enter if they wrote ahead and asked permission. At least Dan Brown had his characters visiting in The DaVinci Code. When we toured the university all the gates were closed since I assume it would or could be distracting to have tourists walking about when you're trying to study.