OXFORD BY THE LOCALS Mai Sugimoto
Shop Assistant at Alice’s Shop
Oxford Tour Guide
My favourite place in Oxford is the streets surrounding the Radcliffe Camera and the Bodleian Library. Walking through these streets I have a feeling of timelessness. Away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford’s shopping streets, you can walk around these lanes and feel as if you are in an Oxford of another era. You can be transported back 250 years in time, because since then very little has changed in these streets and lanes. Some of Oxford’s gems jump out and surprise you like the Bridge of Sighs nearby. There is the Vaults and Garden cafe in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin where you can have morning coffee outside in relative tranquillity sitting in the sun reading your morning paper surrounded by grand 18th century architecture gazing down at you, as if it is the most normal thing in the world.
I really enjoy showing people glorious Oxford on a walking tour and my favourite building is the 15th century Divinity School. This is the oldest purpose built classroom for the University for the teaching and examination of the most important subject of Divinity. I never fail to be impressed by the stunning gothic architecture and the stone carvings called “bosses” on the ceiling made possible by donations and a number of master masons most notably William Orchard. To think that centuries ago the exams were verbal and all in Latin and your disputation could go on for days with the public watching it. The history and the numbers of important people who have walked across the flagstones on their way to receiving their degrees leaves you with a sense of awe and inspiration for learning. I wish my classrooms had been like this.
Patti Stansfield, Custodian at Christ Church College I adore one door at Christ Church. Unlike the Peel door, this has no graffiti. Nor is it associated with Alice in Wonderland. Or Charles I. ‘My’ old door has its own character and everyone can see it: before heading into the glorious Great Hall, glance left to read ‘Buttery.’ Below is a splendid solid door which sinks so snugly into its doorway. Keyholes are such a feature of the Alice story – and what big keyholes you have, Buttery! Extreme security for where butter was traditionally made? No. Think ‘barrel’, as in water butt. The split-level door serves as the hatch to the Buttery bar, serving beer (and other beverages!) to students before their formal dinner. Wonderland’s writer, Charles Dodgson would have approved of the wordplay for Hogwart’s tipple. I raise my Butterbeer in a toast – to the window of my imagination prised open by one closed door.
Experience Oxfordshire 2017 Oxfordshire Visitor Guide | 7