Thursday, 1 August 2013

Class 3: Off to Oxford (03/07/2013)

Today, our class travelled to Oxford. A city known worldwide, it was great to be able to explore all around and learn what was offered here. 

Entrance to the Courtyard
Just beyond is the Bodleian
Starting the day off, our class went to the Bodleian Library, 
Walking into the School of Divinity
( Split into two groups, my group was led by Matthew. Sitting in the first room, The School of Divinity,I couldn’t help but to think that it looked quite familiar. It wasn’t long into the tour before Matthew mentioned that this room was used as the infirmary in Harry Potter (second filming location in two days, amazing!!) and that explained it. After this bit of excitement, we then were told all about the history of the college and how it was originally built to prepare men for the clergy. It was only in the 1400s that the idea of academics becoming diversified came into play and learning wasn’t centered around just religious ideas. There was a major shift of oral traditions, traditionally used in church learnings, to the written word, book learning.

Why does this door look familiar?
It was used in a Harry Potter film. 

In 1448, the first library was opened at Oxford. A huge portion of books were donated by Prince Humpfrey. Still in place, to this day, are the original rafters and beams that were constructed to build the room. Originally the library was seen as prestigious but it wasn’t functional, it acted more as a museum than anything else. It wasn’t until 1598 when Thomas Bodleian, give you one guess where the library’s name came from, asked to restore the library and designed it from scratch. From the shelving to the tables, Bodleian brought new ideas to the space. The most interesting fact Matthew told us was about the book shelves. Prior to this time, libraries weren’t built in an upwards direction, Bodleian built his shelves floor to ceiling, which was a relatively new innovation. After the space was built, Bodleian had a significant say in the types of works that were acquired. Also after the space was opened, he also set rules into place. There was to be no lighting, candles, gas lights, etc., in the library to ensure no fires would happen. It wasn’t until 1929 that the first electric lighting was installed. He also decreed this place to be a reference library only. To this day the Bodleian Library still honors his ideas and stipulations. What also deserves mentioning is this room in the library was also used in the filming of Harry Potter, I may have a slight problem but I accept it. In the scene where he is studying there is a candle lit in front of him. This candle was digitally added in later on in respect to the rules of the library. Pretty cool!! 

For the rest of the tour, we learned all about the collection in the library. With 12 to 13 million items, and growing by a 1/4 million each year, the amount of materials that can be found is massive. We walked inside the Racliff Camera and into the different reading rooms.Coming full circle, our group ended the tour in the School of Divinity. We walked into the a room where hearings took place and then saw an old courtroom that used to be used for students back in the day. Just walking around this library, you can feel the centuries of history it holds. 

Later on in the day, our class took a tour of Christ College. Famous for being where Carroll Lewis studied and came up with the idea to write Alice in Wonderland, this was beautiful college to walk the grounds off. Aside from seeing all the influences Lewis pulled from, the dining hall of Christ College was also a familiar site. Once again, a Harry Potter tie in, this dining hall served as the inspiration for the Great Hall. So cool! More than one Potter reference in one day, I'm set. 

Sitting on the train ride home, I reflected on everything that we saw today. This is a town that is known for its history and has a reputation knwon worldwide. After spending a day on the streets, I now understand where all of that comes from. The Bodleian Library and Christ College were magical tours, and I’m not just saying that because of the Harry Potter sightings !! 

Welcome to Oxford 

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