So. My plan today was simple. Drop off some laundry, take a tour of the Bodleian Library, get a look inside the Sheldonian Theatre, see the exhibit of Bodleian treasures at the Weston Library, grab some lunch, and spend the rest of the day wandering through the Ashmolean Museum before picking up my laundry and returning to the hotel.
This mostly worked out, with one minor hiccup I’ll get to.
I got the laundry dropped off and an assurance it would be ready this evening. That was a load off my mind, though it was also somewhat expensive. They know when they’ve got you over a barrel, don’t they? Still, I needed clean pants, so there ya go.
After that, I walked back to the Bodleian Library1 and bought a ticket for the hour-long tour.
While I waited for the tour to start, I grabbed a couple more pictures.
The tour was fascinating, but a little unsatisfying. Because the Bodleian is a working library, and exams are coming on, we had to be very quiet and careful to stay out of everyone’s way. Also, except for the School of Divinity, we weren’t allowed to take photographs.
The tour even took us inside the Radcliff Camera, that I’ve talked about previously. What I didn’t know was that, originally, the ground floor of the Camera was open to the air, with open arches, providing a small sheltered area that was used for public gatherings, small markets, etc. The arches were closed up in the 18th century, when the library started needing more room for storage.
The Weston Library, where I went next, is hosting an exhibit called Marks of Genius. They are displaying a number of books, documents, and artifacts from the Bodleian’s collection. These were all available for photography, and I might have gone a little nuts in there. Here’s is a limited selection of my pictures.
After that, I walked back across the street to the Sheldonian Theatre. This is another building shared by all the colleges, and it’s used mainly for matriculation and graduation ceremonies.
The cupola of the Sheldonian gives a nice panoramic view of the city. Unfortunately, the windows are about five feet off the ground, which limits the view somewhat.
I grabbed a sandwich and a drink, then, and walked down to the Ashmolean, where I sat on a bench and ate my lunch before going in.
Which is when I learned that the Ashmolean is closed on Mondays.
By this time, I was tired, and my knees were twinging, so I decided to take an afternoon off2 and rest up. Besides, I had The Imitation Game on my computer, and really wanted to see it after my tour of Bletchley Park yesterday. Quick review – fun movie, but the history of everything was… simplified. An interesting starting point for learning about Bletchley Park, but shouldn’t be the only source.
And then I went and picked up my laundry and some dinner.
Tomorrow, I’m off to York. Oxford was great, and I could spend another couple of days here, but I’m starting to think that’s going to be the same at each of my stops.
Guess I’ll have to come back.
- I should specify that this is the Old Bodleian Library. There was a New Bodleian Library, but it was renamed the Weston Library. People still refer to the old Bodleian Library as the Old Bodleian Library. I dunno. [↩]
- I say take an afternoon off, but this was like 3:00. So, take part of an afternoon off. [↩]