Kicking off a much-needed May mini break, Mr Hope and I landed in Oxford last week for just under 24 hours worth of culture, students and glorious sunshine. Below are my top five Oxford architectural highlights.
1. The Radcliffe Camera – Opened in April 1749, the Radcliffe Library as it was then known, was bequeathed to the city by physician Dr John Radcliffe. Designed by James Gibbs (who is also responsible for St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London’s Trafalgar Square) the Palladian architecture and domed roof make the Radcliffe Camera one of the most recognisable buildings in the city. According to Bodleian libraries website ‘In 1860, the Radcliffe Library was taken over by the Bodleian and renamed the Radcliffe Camera (the word camera means room in Latin). The upper-floor library became a reading room, primarily used by undergraduates, and the ground floor was turned into a book-stack which was later converted into a second reading room in 1941.’ Below: The beautiful Radcliffe Square and Brasenose College.
2. The Bodleian Libraries – Possibly the best looking collection of libraries in the country – all those straight lines and spires! – it is easy to see why the Bodleian Libraries have been used in so many films, including X-Men 4, The Golden Compass and the Harry Potters. Even more impressive is the collection itself – more than 12 million printed items and over 80,000 e-journals. According to the Bodleian Libraries website ‘Every second someone interacts with our electronic collections. Every 14 seconds someone visits one of our libraries. Every 21 seconds someone borrows one of our books.’ For more information visit the Bodleian Libraries website.
Remembering to look up in any city is well worth the effort but especially so in Oxford. I love the trumpeter on the Divinity School roof and the shadows cast by the spires.
3. Bridge of Sighs – Officially called Hertford Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs spans New College Lane, joining two parts of Hertford College. Completed in 1914 and designed by Sir Thomas Jackson, the bridge features prominently in many an Inspector Morse episode, which makes it OK with me.
4.The Ashmolean Museum – Beautiful inside and out The Ashmolean Museum was created in 1908 when two Oxford institutions (the University Art Collection and the original Ashmolean Museum) combined. The galleries were refubished in 2009 with award-winning architect Rick Mather designing the new wing and incredbile atrium. For more information about The Ashmolean Museum, visit their website.
I love the way the galleries in the new wing look onto this central stair case.
5. Not strictly architecture but I like to think of the hundreds of students bumbling round Oxford as adding texture to the city… Bicycles, bread pudding and boaters.