On Sunday morning we took a train from London to Oxford. Since the train left at 8:20, some of us were more awake than others. The ride was pleasant and passed through the greening countryside where we saw quite a few sheep and new lambs.
We took the hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Oxford. The tour was a little bit shorter than we anticipated, so we did it one-and-a-half times to get a good orientation to the city. The audio narrative was descriptive. We saw many of the colleges and important landmarks. When we got off the bus, we walked around in part of the shopping area and stopped in at a 4-storey bookstore where we looked around for a while.
We ate lunch at Brown’s Restaurant, a local institution and Patricia and I had traditional food: Guiness and steak pie and Fish & chips. Abby had bread. It was a good meal. There were many families there for a Sunday meal.
We picked up our Harry Potter walk tour guide (not literally) on Broad Street and before we took off, he gave some of the participants—not all children—scarves representing the 4 Hogwarts houses. Jaime, a former and current history student at Jesus College, was able to tie Harry Potter lore with Harry Potter filming locations at Oxford while at the same time giving us good background on Oxford.
We spent time in the Bodleian Library. It was used for a number of scenes in The Potter movies but was impressive without that connection. Of course, much of the building was off-limits to us. We saw many well-known sights in addition to the colleges including the Sheldonian (where ceremonies are held, designed by Christopher Wren) and the Radcliffe Camera (a reading room; the building is cylindrical, and has a dome), and many old stores that service the community.
As we were walking we heard singing from the Corpus Christi Chapel. We dipped in for a few minutes to watch a choir practice for a concert scheduled for that afternoon. I was reminded of the fictional Inspector Morse, whom we often saw at choir practice in a church in Oxford.
Christ Church, built by Cardinal Woolsey, and appropriated by Henry VIII, was also a filming location for Harry Potter. We learned that a lot of exterior shots were done for the early films, but then sets were used for the later films. Christ Church was built to be magnificent and to show off power. We walked through the Great Hall, which is used to serve meals. At first look, one would think that was where the Harry Potter dining scenes were filmed but we were told that while the Christ Church Great Hall was the model for the one in the films, no filming was done there. That’s because students are served three meals a day in that room and filming would have been very disruptive.
Abby says she liked the tour.
We walked from Christ Church to the train station and still got there quickly enough to catch an earlier train back. While the train from London had plenty of open seats, the train back was jam-packed with some people needing to stand for the entire trip.
At Abby’s suggestion, we had Baskin-Robbins for dinner. We had a nice evening in.
Abby’s contribution for the Oxford trip…
Oxford was amazing! We walked around a lot at first, so we ducked into a bookstore. It was awesome! It had a basement and four actual floors, and had a lot of books and sections. I didn’t get anything, but I would definitely go there again. After that, we went to lunch. I had nothing but sourdough, and it was really good. The tour was really fun too. It had a lot of stained glass, and I really really really love stained glass. I think I love cathedrals, with all the statues and things. They’re beautiful. I think Oxford was second only to the Westminster Abbey, and I would love to go back there again.
Added Oxford pictures to the pictures page.
Below is a map of our activities in Oxford. You may need to zoom in and move the map around to find Oxford.