Other historic building

828b – Bodleian Library

11 Nov , 2018  

Sunday 11th November is a lovely sunny day. After a good breakfast we walk into the centre via the river path; following the Thames then the Cherwell, we pass by the side of Christchurch meadow, the Broad walk (some lovely autumn colours), then a passage way between Merton and Corpus Christi colleges. We head to St Giles to see a bit of the Armistice day ceremony then to Broad Street to the Bodleian Library entrance.

I had booked the 90 minute extended tour of the library starting at 11.15am (£15 each). There are 13 of us in the group; we are given ear pieces so we can hear our guide in the reading room areas. It is a superb tour. From the proscholium (the vestibule area) we a re taken into the mesmerising Divinity school; underneath the library extension, it is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture with over 400 ceiling bosses and other intricate stonework carvings which give it is light, airy feel. The guide points out details such as a hidden comic jester, plus the history of its use (recently used for the Harry Potter movies). The next stop is the Convocation house (used by King Charles the First as his parliament), then the Small Court room, up to the Duke Humfrey library and the Arts end extension with books that used to be chained all the way up to the ceiling, a new idea for 17th century England. The wooden ceiling and beams are beautifully decorated. We continue through the main body of the library to the Selden end with beautiful stained glass windows. We are then taken into the quadrangle and out to the Radcliffe Camera building, now a reading room with a beautiful domed plaster ceiling by James Gibbs. There are students busy using it, so the ear pieces are useful so we can hear the whispering voice of our guide. We go across to the 1930s modern Weston library building afterwards.

We the head back (although the bus takes ages to arrive) to the parking setting off at 2.0pm for the hour journey home. Oxford is very busy as always, and Paul does get a bit impatient with aimless tourists, but we are lucky with the weather and enjoy very good food, the concert and places we visit are excellent.

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