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ENGLAND: Day 5-Oxford

Ah, another day in sunny old England. (So far, we hadn't had any rain.) Another early morning, head out to Paddington Station again, and get ready to catch our train to Oxford. 

This time, though, we got to the station early enough to look around and check off one of the things on my Children's Literature Tour Checklist.

Who's that under there?

Two Bears

And also this random thing, but it was cool.

But anyway, on to Oxford, home of PILES of classic literature, and several Harry Potter sets! (And yes, a very respectable college and center of learning and wisdom and whatnot.)

One of the first shops we saw.
First we went to the legendary Covered Market, home of amazing shops.
We arrived a week before Alice's 150th anniversary. Alice stuff everywhere!

 Then we headed to the main attraction: the University itself!

The Radcliffe Camera, the most photographed building in Oxford.

The Tower of the five orders. Each level displays a different order of architecture. Note the columns: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Composite.

The Bodleian Library
 The top floor of the library there is SUPER old. You can't touch or take out anything without lots of special permits. No books are allowed to leave the building. Seriously, they wouldn't let the KING OF ENGLAND check out a book- true story. No photography. But you might recognize it in these photos...

King of England? All of the nope. Harry Potter? OMG YES!

The statue of Pembroke outside the library.

This is the Oxford Divinity School
Look familiar?

How about now?
What about now?

 These ceilings are amazing. They only survived the destruction of the Protestant Reformation because the protestants didn't have tall enough ladders. They are covered with the seals and coats-of-arms of the patrons of the library.

Then we headed to the main Oxford library, the modern area. It is one of England's copyright libraries, and holds a copy of everything printed in the U.K. They had an exhibit called Mark of Genius, showcasing their rarest items. It was MIND BLOWING. I can't believe they allowed photographs! Let me walk you through it.

A really old printing press, and they let you try it out!
 They had several copies of the Magna Carta from several time periods, dating back to 1215.

William Blake

Dante's Divine Comedy, (Including the Inferno) from the fourteenth century

St. Augustine's City of God

Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism, 1709, with notes

A Gutenberg Bible. Amazing condition,1455

 Okay, this one is fantastic: This is Tolkien's original watercolor he made for the cover of the Hobbit. I didn't realize that he did the cover and all the illustrations himself This is the original he sent to the publishers, complete with his own notes in the margins. BLEW MY MIND.

An original John Audobon book

Letter from Ghandi

Jane Austen's notebook

Handel's Messiah, his personal conductor's copy

Mary Shelley's journal

Euclid's Elements



Pliny the Elder from 1476

So, our heads were pretty well spinning after that. A sledgehammer full of history. We also saw one of Shakespeare's first folios, but it was in the "no pics" section. Back out to the street and off to a British lunch!

That bear is EVERYWHERE!
This was the White Horse Tavern, one of Oxford's many historic pubs. We're enjoying some traditional English cask ale. Next to the pub was Blackwell's books, a fantastic and famous bookstore.

They also have an impressive rare book collection. As if we hadn't seen enough already. These were all a bit more modern, and impressive in a different way. All of the following are first editions:

Alice's books

Little Women, and others. 
Curious George

More Dahl


C.S. Lewis adult works


WOOOOW. I wish I had millions of dollars, because those are all for sale. Next we went on the "When Tolkien Met Lewis" tour of the university, highlighting all the places where Tolkien and Lewis went to school and taught. It was so cool, I forgot to take pictures. But afterward we ended up in ANOTHER Harry Potter shop and bookshop.

They had a scale model of the Grand Budapest Hotel

The famous Arch at Oxford.
Then we booked it to the natural history museum before it closed.

A much vandalized statue in one of the student chapels.

Dinosaur footprints outside the museum

Lots of stuffys in the museum.
 We had about five minutes to go through the Pitt Rivers Collection, a room accumulated by a 19th century explorer. Amazing. Everything is laid out by usage, not region. It looks like a vintage Explorer's Club, and I can't believe they haven't made a Night at the Museum movie here.

Okay. This guy looks like The Phantom, right? Right?
Then into the rest of the museum...


Inspired Lewis Carol's Alice in Wonderland character

Whale Skull

Japanese Spider Crab. TERRIFYING.

Giant Tortoise

ACTUAL MUMMIFIED DODO HEAD. They just ran a CT Scan on it, and the results are CLASSIFIED.

The exhibit on the evolutionary fossil record was all sorts of amazing. 

Even the variation between modern humans is fascinating.

Our adventures done, it was on to the Bird and the Baby, officially known as the Eagle and Child, where Tolkien and Lewis would meet with their writing group, The Inklings.

And after a long day and the most pictures we took anywhere on the trip, it was back to London and bed.


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