Oxford, England

Of course, the city of Oxford (pics) is home to Oxford University.  The university is actually an amalgam of 38 colleges and is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world.

Towers of Five Orders - Bodleian Library

There is no known founding date for Oxford University but there is evidence that there was some teaching taking place here as early as 1096, but most of the Colleges claim to have begun in the 13th and 14th centuries.  The earliest colleges were formed by monks in order to provide education for monks so it has a solid foundation in the church.  The motto of Oxford University is “Dominus illuminatio mea” or “The Lord is my light”.  Each of the colleges operates more or less independently with their own admission requirements and curriculum and each college has its own chapel.

"Harry Potter" hall

Oxford has educated British prime ministers, writers, Nobel laureates and foreign heads of state, including Bill Clinton.  Among the writers are Lewis Carroll (“Alice in Wonderland”) and JRR Tolkien (“The Hobbit” and “The Lord of The Rings”) who were contemporaries at Oxford.  One of the shared facilities for the 38 colleges is the Bodleian Library.  It is one of the oldest libraries in the world and one of England’s three copyright libraries, meaning that it holds at least one of every book copyrighted in the United Kingdom.  That means that it holds over 11 million items with some 4,000 more arriving each week, and seating for 2,500 readers.

Also of note is the Sheldonian Theater built in 1663, the first major work of Christopher Wren, at that time a professor of astronomy.  He would later become most known for a much more significant architectural work in London.  We will be visiting it shortly and we’ll make the connection.  Do you know what it is?  The Sheldonian hosts the graduation ceremonies for those that make it though Oxford University and is most known for its beautifully painted ceiling.

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