Oxford University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and the list of people who went to Oxford reads like a whose who of important historical people. They came from every possible disciplines such as politics (Indira Ghandi, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, William Gladstone), economics (John Locke, Thomas Hobbes) and literature (JRR Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde). The names continue: John Wesley, Sir Walter Raleigh, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Stephen Hawking, C.S. Lewis, Adam Smith.
And now me. Yep, most people don’t know it, but I went to Oxford. I walked those same hallowed streets as some of the world’s best and brightest. I strode through the same gateways; pushed on the same doors. Heck, I even have a coffee mug that has the coat of arms of every college associated with Oxford.
Okay, so I wasn’t exactly a student there, unless you count reading all the historical markers around town and a brief walk through the Oxford University bookstore. I guess you could probably list my official Oxford classification as…tourist. I would like to study there and it has always been a desire to at least visit Oxford. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was nearly too much. Come to think of it, it was sensory overload caused by historical and architectural gluttony. I devoured the reality of 700-year-old buildings constructed from the cut stone of the Cotswolds and shaped to classic perfection, only to turn and face another as old and as historic.
And if these buildings could talk they’d bear witness to so many significant events. Think what Oxford Castle would say of its nearly 1,000 years of life and how it was established to remind the conquered Saxons of their resounding defeat at the hands of Normans. Or how about something much more “contemporary” as the 1555 martyrdom of Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, two English reformers burned on Oxford’s Broad Street by order of Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) for their refusal to renounce their Protestant beliefs.
Oxford is so much more than punting (and as my experience dictates I’m glad it is!), and as I’ve scanned through the pictures I took I think it will take some time to digest the magnitude of such a place. Pictures aren’t worth a 1,000 words because some need that many words of explanation, but I’ve posted a couple here and you can find more at my Flickr photo page. They still don’t do Oxford justice so if you want a better experience you just have to go to Oxford.