I’ve been remiss in posting updates, because I’ve gotten up every morning, had a cup of coffee, and gone off to read at some part of the Bodleian. There are seventeen Bodleian libraries, and after you apply for a reader’s card (none of the buildings are open to visitors), you have to do a computer search for the books you want, request them from the stacks (most of the Bodleian collection isn’t on open shelves), specify what reading room you want them delivered to (not all libraries deliver to all reading rooms), and then show up to collect them from the desk. You then can’t take them out of that particular reading room. So I’ve been lugging my laptop around from the Radcliffe Camera to the Old Bodleian Upper Reading Room to the New Bodleian Oriental Reading Room to the Oriental Institute…and in between stopping for cups of tea.

However, as this is my last day here, I chronicled my morning walk. (I was waiting for a sunny morning, which, as this is November in England, was hard to come by. But here we go. As always, click on any picture for a larger version.)

I started off from my hotel, the Old Parsonage, which is my favorite place to stay in Oxford; it has wonderful beds with huge plump soft pillows and duvets, and rooms that look out onto a central courtyard, and a VERY good restaurant (which does a spectacular tea–the goat cheese and cucumber sandwiches were particularly good yesterday).

I walked towards the University Parks, past Keble, which has the distinction of being the ugliest college in Oxford,

through the University Parks,

towards the Cherwell, which runs through Oxford.

I had to stop and take a picture of the sun on the Cherwell at dawn, another uncommon November sight.

Then I headed down the path,

past the cows (there are cows RIGHT outside the town on most sides of Oxford)

out of the park, and around to the High Street through North Oxford. Coming up on the High Street, you cross back over into the university part of town by Magdalen Bridge (here’s Magdalen Tower, on the right just over the bridge)

and then turn right on Catte Street to walk towards the Radcliffe Camera.

I’ve probably spent more time here than anywhere else, as the open-stack history books are mostly in the Upper Reading Room (which you’re not allowed to photograph). I do duck out for tea at the Vaults, a little half-underground restaurant right next to the Camera, where you can eat scones (if you’re British) or brownies with nuts (if you’re American) for staying power.

Just past the Camera is the entrance to the Old Bodleian, just off Brasenose Lane.

To get back to the hotel, I turned left onto Brasenose,

right onto Turl Street,

and right again onto Broad, where many of the college shops are.

That’s the Sheldonian up ahead on the right, as well as the Clarendon Building, and over on the left is the center of the Oxonian universe:

Past Blackwells I turned onto Parks Road (that’s Wadham College on the right),

cut through Lamb & Flag Passage, which goes past an ancient pub and comes out on Banbury Road,

walk past St. Giles, the church to which the Old Parsonage once belonged,

and come back to the Parsonage garden.

After that I drank a LOT of morning coffee. And now I’m heading off to finish up reading about ethnogenesis, which will sound MUCH more interesting in the final draft of Volume 2. I promise.

Showing 13 comments
  • Heather in WI

    Thank you so much for sharing pictures of Oxford!

    I studied abroad in London the summer between my freshman year and my sophomore year of college and my trip to Oxford is something I will cherish forever! Thanks for stirring up great memories. 🙂

  • Jeannette

    I like Keble. It reminds me of Philadelphia. 🙂

  • Lori

    Wow! How far of a walk is all of that? And here I am exhausted from raking leaves for a couple of days!

  • JFS in IL

    Gosh, now I am having “Gaudy Night” moments in my head…did you perchance pass Harriet Vane on your walk? 🙂

  • e

    Were the brownies real brownies, or the European knock-off? But scones and tea must be the prefered nosh…

  • Heather

    Were the punts chained up under the bridges on the Cherwell? It has been so long since I’ve been to Oxford, my pictures are in a shoebox somewhere.

  • Kate

    These are wonderful pictures. What a lovely area! It makes me think of the walks many a British heroine took in the novels I love so much.

    The various library rules must make it interesting to find just what you are looking for. How do you know what that is? How does one research to find the right title to request?

    Thanks for sharing!


  • Mom2Three

    Fabulous! I got my M.Phil. in Medieval Literature at Oxford 10 years ago and the “lending” system in the library was exactly the same. It will probably be the same 100 years from now. Thanks for posting your lovely photos.

  • Kelli

    It is a Top 10 Dream of mine to visit here someday – thanks for sharing your photos. If you need a travel assistant to go next time, let me know!

  • Philip

    Keble College ugly? In comparison to some of its students it’s positively beautiful.

  • Sandy Burr

    Susan, Clearly you haven’t glimped St. Katherine’s. It’s utterly dreadful, a vomit-stained yellow 1950s-era monstrosity hunched on the outskirts of the city. None of the locals can even recall it (when questioned, that is), and the locals who talked to me advised me quite seriously to take the tour bus in order to find out where the dickens it was! It’s out past the enormous natural history museum and the Radcliffe Science Library. I spent a week in week in Oxford in July sweating furiously next to a microfilm reader in the Modern Papers Room across from the registration building (which has a far more elegant name than that, but I can’t remember it now). Previous to said sweating, I endured a so-so American literature conference at St. Katherine’s. Say, William and Mary’s Professor Scholnick was there, which felt quite weird, I must say. He had no memory of what my dissertation had been about, even though he was a (cough, cough) reader.

  • Anna

    I so enjoyed seeing your site and looking at your pics.

    My husband and our three kids are in the ministry in London. We are ministering among South Asians in a predominantly Muslim and Hindu area of the city. That is about all the detail I can give due to safety reasons.

    Our youngest daughter (who is now 13) was once a pupil of Mrs. Rountree. Isnt that a small world? I have tromped in the areas that you wrote about in your blog…from Calais to Oxford. It was nice to remember my trip there. We just decided to bring all three of our kids to homeschool them after being less than enthused with the British school system here. I was so glad to see your additions to The Story of the World series. When my daughter did it she was in 3rd grade at Veritas in Richmond Va. I am looking forward to doing them with my sons who are 7 and 8. We already placed our order!

    Again, nice blog! And check out mine…



  • Bonnie

    I met you and heard you speak for the first time at a home school conference in Houston a few years ago. Since then I have joined your fan club. 🙂 It has always been my dream to visit Oxford someday. Thank you for sharing your stunning walk through Oxford for those of us big on dreams and a bit short on cash.

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