Saturday, 25 July 2009

Thursday, July 23

Exterior of the Bodleian

We jumped on the train this morning for a visit to picturesque Oxford. We were met by a delightful tour guide, Mr. David East. He was full of great information about Oxford and specifically the Bodleian Library. Our first stop was Duke Humfrey's library which was completed in 1488 and designed to hold the gift of 281 volumes from his personal library that he donated to the college. Sir Thomas Bodley became the next patron of the library at Oxford and in 1598 donated funds to refurbish the library. The Bodleian has been a repository library since 1610 and holds over 9 million bibliographic packages. The library houses such treasures as a first edition of Shakespeare's sonnets, four original copies (with seals intact) of the Magna Carta, a 42 line Gutenberg bible, and an Egyptian marriage contract written on papyrus dating from 527 B. C.

Mr. East took us on a wonderful tour of "behind the scenes" of the library. We saw the underground stacks with their book-moving system and snaked through a tunnel which ended up linking us to the New Bodleian the Radcliffe Camera. We learned that the D-Day invasion was planned in the Radcliffe building Upper Reading Room. Unfortunately this room was under refurbishment and we unable to visit it. The New Bodleian is undergoing renovations and will be unveiled in the new and improved form in 2012.

Several of us strolled through the streets of Oxford and found a great little noodle bar for lunch. We sat next to a nice couple from Mexico City and chatted with them about lots of interesting things including the outbreak of Swine Flu in the U.K. The gentleman was an immunologist and provided much for us to consider and reminded us of the importance of hand sanitizer!
We strolled up the High Street and stopped to purchase sweatshirts and mementos of our day in Oxford. Plans to visit and tour the Oxford Castle were dashed when we found that the remaining tours were booked for the day. Jessica, Christina and I boarded a train back to Waterloo and home to Stamford Street.

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