Most of my last weekend in London was actually spent outside of London. Saturday morning I met up with Adam, Ellen, and Adam’s friends from Houston, Texas and we jumped on a coach to Oxford – home of academia’s famed ivory towers. The university at Oxford is actually composed of a bunch of individual colleges (45 I think). They all have important sounding names – like All Souls, Corpus, Exeter, Lincoln, Magdalen, Christ, and Jesus. The colleges are spread throughout the town centre and most have fortress like walls surrounding them and discrete signs, so they’re difficult to find. What struck me about the colleges was how ornate they were and how they bore striking resemblance to churches. I guess that makes sense since they were started as religious institutions (which probably explains the names too).
Usually the colleges open there doors to visitors for a few hours a day. But we had horrible luck finding any that were open. Even Jesus wouldn’t let us in. Most seemed to be closed for the day – maybe it was too close to exam time. We did eventually get to tour the gardens at New College, which were stunning. New College is new by Oxford terms, but was still founded in 1379, 200 years after Oxford University started. Then we went and toured around Magdalen College were C.S. Lewis was a Fellow. The grounds of these colleges are crazy. At Magdalen they had a herd of deer between some of the buildings.
For dinner we ate at the Eagle and Child, a pub frequented by C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien (and the rest of the Inklings) when they were at Oxford. They called the pub the Bird and Baby. The found was ok (I had to go with my favourite British meal – fish, chips, and mushy peas) and they had some really neat paraphernalia from the Inklings on the wall.
See my Oxford pictures
Sunday the morning we again met up and took the train to St. Albans where Adam is now living. We went to a church service at Adam’s church and then were invited back to eat lunch at the house where he’s living. The couple who he’s housing with made us all lunch, and we had a great time chatting about politics, movies, and differences between American, Canadian, and British culture.
After a long, delightful lunch we walked down to the Abbey and listened to some organ music and toured around. By this point it was pitch black outside because that’s what happens at 4:00 here! But we wanted to see the ruins of the old Roman wall. We wandered down and since it was dark, we had no problem hopping the small fence around it and climbing all over it. We got a few really good pictures, and then headed home.
See my St. Albans pictures