For our first trip of 2021 we start off in the city of Dreaming Spires – the famous university city of Oxford.
The city revolves around its prestigious university which was established in the 12th century.
The architecture of the 38 colleges in the city’s medieval center led poet Matthew Arnold to nickname it the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’.
But it’s not just scholastic buildings that make the city famous. Below is the Turf Tavern – one of the oldest pubs in the city.
The foundations of The Turf Tavern date back to 1381. Once serving as a malthouse, producing brewing malt for the local beer houses, the site was in use as a cider house by 1775, known as The Spotted Cow.
Turf Tavern is hidden away down a narrow medieval alleyway today known as St Helens Passage, but described in the 1772 Survey of Oxford as ‘Hell’.
Hell Passage in the 19th century was a wretched place, with tightly packed tenement cottages housing poor working families. Below is the alternative route to the tavern via Bath Place.
Below is the beautiful Sheldonian Theatre, built from 1664 to 1669 after a design by Christopher Wren for the University of Oxford.
This beautiful building is part of Trinity College – one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. The college was founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope.
Below is St Mary Magdalen, a Church of England parish church.
A Saxon wooden church originally stood on the site but this church was burnt down in 1074 so Robert D’Oyly, the Norman Constable of Oxford, had single-aisle chapel built to replace it.
Behind these imposing walls is Balliol college, another of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford.
One of Oxford’s oldest colleges, it was founded around 1263 by John I de Balliol, a landowner from Barnard Castle in County Durham
And this is just some pretty wisteria outside a shop that I enjoyed 🙂
The final stop off on our Southern explorer is the stunning town of Stratford Upon Avon, best known for being the birthplace of our premier playwright Mr William Shakespeare.
Stratford is a market town that is full to bursting with stunning Tudor details, some of which would be recognisable to Will himself.
Naturally the town, and shops, are steeped full of England’s most renowned son’s musings and best loved phrases. (and some other, slightly less deep thoughts)
Below is the birthplace of the Master of Musing’s – a charming building on Henley Street, one of the town’s oldest streets.
Interestingly, it was another famous author that we can thank for helping to ensure that the building is still here to enjoy, as in order to save it a public campaign was launched which was supported by Charles Dickens.
Away from the Bard though there’s plenty of other sights for the snap happy architecture fan to enjoy including a wealth of timbered Tudor buildings.
The most notable architecture is known as half-timber work, where buildings have an exposed wooden framework, with the rest filled with another material such as brick, plaster or wattle-and-daub.
Half-timbered houses often have an overhanging upper storey, which added extra space.
It was good manners for men to walk on the outer side of the pavement (where there was one), where he was most likely to be splashed by the contents of chamber pots emptied from above.
Not sure if the hubby would have taken one for the team back in the day . .
The gorgeous building below is Harvard House. It was built in 1596 by Thomas Rogers who was the grandfather of John Harvard – benefactor of the famous American Ivy League University.
After emigrating to America with his wife, John Harvard gifted the equivalent of three million pounds to the Massachusetts Bay Colony who named their new college after him – Harvard.
All in all a glorious place to spend a sunny day exploring. One final visit to make and then that’s this trip all wrapped up!