Britain Oxford, England 2000.06.03

Oxford and Christ Church College

I thought a visit to England must include the famous Oxford University. When approaching, I thought of my own university days. While attending, Penn celebrated its 250th anniversary. By US standards, Penn's an old school founded in 1740. So how old is Oxford? The answer: so old that nobody knows. The closest date of founding is "sometime in the 11th century".

Somehow, I expected Oxford to be like Harvard with lots of coffee shops and second hand book stores where students and faculty could freely interact and exchange esoteric ideas. Instead, the many colleges of Oxford were physically segregated with high stone walls. The town of Oxford offered few meeting areas. Students were scarce. It wasn't what I expected.

Only a few of the colleges were open to the public for an admission fee. Much of our time was spent at Christ Church College. Portraits of graduates hung in the student dining hall. Below their names were graduation dates- dates like 1619, 1712 - dates that precede all of American history. Among the graduates are Charles Dodgson (pen name Lewis Carroll, author of "Alice in Wonderland") and William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania). In addition, Christchurch, New Zealand was founded by former graduates of Christ Church College.

A manicured garden greets visitors approaching the main entrance to Christ Church College.
The main entrance to Christ Church College is one of the most impressive structures in Oxford. Students of the college are called "members". Non-members are charged a £3 entry fee and restricted to certain visitor areas.
After a day of exploring Oxford, our friend Tim showed us around Cotswolds, an area just north of Oxford. The many small picturesque towns in Cotswolds are frequented by wealthy London weekend vacationers.

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