Monday 17 September 2018

Exploring Oxford: Lincoln College & the Bodleian Library

Watching the first episode of A Discovery of Witches last week reminded me that it's been ages since I've blogged about a bit of Oxford!

One of the pleasures of visiting Oxford is recognising bits of it from your favourite books, films, and TV shows - it tends to feature less as a backdrop and more as a character in its own right, and (just like your favourite characters) it's very easy to fall in love with. Then once you've visited the city, you gleefully spot references to colleges you've visited or scenes set in rooms you've stood in and it makes you love the place even more (or is it just me who thinks "OOH, I'VE BEEN THERE!" when I spot places I've visited on my travels?).

With so many scenes in the first episode of A Discovery of Witches set in the Bodleian library, that had to be what I blogged about today. (If you're watching the show or have read the books, you may also enjoy my earlier post about All Souls - vampire Matthew's college).

The Bodleian (nicknamed "The Bod" by Oxford scholars) is named after Sir Thomas Bodley, who founded the library at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. (That fine fellow above sadly isn't Sir Thomas, but is in fact William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, a former Chancellor of the University).

I've not yet been on a full tour of the old library, but I love wandering through the quadrangles - looking up at the windows, and thinking about all the people who have walked through all the doors and archways over the centuries. 

The Bodleian does a very nice line in doors that something interesting and/or magical could be happening behind, though I expect what mostly happens behind these doors is a lot of reading of old books.

Even if you've never heard of the Bodleian, you'll probably recognise the neighbouring building: the Divinity School. This space, with its elaborate vaulted ceiling and 455 roof bosses, was originally built in the 1400s for lectures, exams and discussions on theology. A pretty fancy classroom, huh?

It's just as fabulous on the outside...

... and Convocation House next door is not too shabby, either! This room was built in the 17th century as the meeting place for the ruling body of the University.

Just over the road from the Bodleian is Lincoln College. Founded by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1427, the full name of the college is "The College of the Blessed Mary and All Saints', Lincoln, in the University of Oxford"... which is a bit of a mouthful for everyday use!

Lincoln College is free to visit (click here for visiting times and more info) and has all the classic, charming features of an Oxford college: grand buildings, quiet quads, magnificent creepers, intruiging staircases, and little windows giving tantalising glimpses of the academic lives within.

Plus, of course, the kinds of quirky little architectural details that I love!

You can get a virtual tour of Lincoln College here (including lots of spaces that are off-limits to visitors), and see some lovely 360 degree views of the college here.

I'll share some more Oxford snaps soon!

Click here to read all my "Exploring Oxford" posts so far, or click here to browse my entire archive of travel posts.