In the morning we took the tube to Paddington Station where we caught a train heading out to Oxford. I absolutely loved Oxford! First we went for a tour of the Bodlien Library, or as the young Oxford coeds call it, “the Bod.” The first room we walked into for the tour was used for the infirmary in the Harry Potter movies, so I was in heaven! It is beautiful, and carved from soft sandstone with a chisel. It took 60 years to build that one room, and it is 525 years old now. There was a door added later by Wren because he designed a building next door and added the door so it would lead to his building. It’s now called “the Wren door.” There are still podiums in this room where students studying divinity would have their oral disputations. They were debates that served as their final exams, and they would stand at the podiums for hours!
The library is about 700 years old, and contains over 11 million items and treasures. It also appeared in the Harry Potter series as the restricted section of the library. The Bodlien is not a lending library, so you have to read there. They claim to have one copy of every book.
The library had no light or heat until 1927. They didn’t want any fire around the books. Until 1602, they had slope lecterns along the windows that fit 4 people standing up. The books were chained so you had to stand and read there. Later they added chairs and shelves, but the books were still chained. Also, the books had to be put on the shelf backward because of the way they were chained. But because of this, no one could see the spine of the book, and they had to be numbered. There was a list that matched the numbers with the titles and authors of the books, so this was the beginning of cataloging. Charles I and James I read at the Bodlien. There are 2 reading rooms with screens that were only for “privileged readers,” which actually only meant kings and queens.
Next to the Bodlien is the Radcliffe Camera. It is a popular reading area with a beautiful dome ceiling. It had light before the Bodlien, so students would go there after the Bodlien closed. In 1909, they tunneled out 2 floors of space for book stacks and storage. They have been, and are still in the process of making this space more user friendly.
After our tour, we had some time to shop and eat. I loved the shops in Oxford. We ate lunch at The Eagle and Child Pub, which is where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to meet and chat. After lunch we went to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Shop. They had really cute stuff in there. Then we took a tour of Christ Church. It was amazing. We got to hear all about Lewis Carroll and Alice and her cat, and we got to see the dining hall that was replicated for the great hall in Harry Potter.
Hurry up, house elves!! I'm hungry!