Oxford Trip – Part Two

Well, yesterday I left you at the Turf Tavern for a spot of lunch and I hope you enjoyed it.

If you missed it you can find it here.

It’s time to get up now and stretch those legs and off we go.

So head back to Queen’s Lane and turn right to pass under the Hertford Bridge, which dates from 1931 and which links the Old and New Quads of Hertford College. However, nobody really calls it by its original name as, because of a perceived likeness, it is more commonly known as the Bridge of Sighs.

Having passed beneath it, keep ahead and go in through the gates directly ahead. Pause at the Porter’s desk on the right to buy a ticket for the Divinity School and then head for the black statue to enter. Before you go in pause and look back at the Tower of the Five Orders which dates from the 1600’s and which depicts the five classical orders of architecture.

Now enter the Divinity School, which dates from the 15th century and look up at the magnificent carved stone ceiling. It has been described as the most beautiful room in Europe. The Divinity School, incidentally, was used for the infirmary in the Harry Potter films.

Exit the School via the entrance you came in through and veer diagonally left across the courtyard, pass through the covered passage and, to your left, is the Sheldonian Theatre, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1663.

Exit on to Broad Street and turn left. Keep ahead and, towards the top in the center of the road, a set of cobbles in the shape of the cross mark the site of the execution by fire of the Oxford Martyrs, Bishops Ridley and Latimer and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in the 1550’s.

Keep ahead along the right side of Broad Street and turn right along Magdalen Street and ahead into St Giles. A little way along on the right go in through the gate to enter St. John’s College, which dates from the 1550’s and can number former Prime minister Tony Blair amongst former students. Head straight through the covered passage opposite and gasp in wonder at the magnificent Canterbury Quad, which was completed in 1636 by Archbishop William Laud and which celebrates King Charles 1st and his wife Henrietta Maria, whose statues gaze across at each other from niches on either side of the quad. Also be sure to go through the next passageway and enjoy the college’s magnificent gardens.

Backtrack to exit the college, go left along St Giles and, on arrival at the Martyrs memorial, cross the road (cautiously as it’s very busy) and keep ahead onto Beaumont Street. On the right is the entrance to the Ashmolean Museum, begun in the 17th century and one of Britain’s first Museums. It’s free of charge, but as we’re on a tight schedule you’ll need to aim to leave here by 3.20pm, so a highlights tour is in order.

Leave the Ashmolean and turn right along Beaumont Street. When you reach the end, go over the traffic lights, veer left and then go in through the gates of Worcester College, founded in the 13th century as a monastic institution called Gloucester College and, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries renamed Gloucester Hall before being re-founded in 1714 as Worcester College. The line of cottages to the left, as you stand in the cloisters, are medieval and reminiscent of Cotswold Cottages. Turn right in the cloisters and, if open, take a quick peek inside the chapel which dates from the 18th century and which was “redecorated” in the 1860’s by architect William Burges in a riot of colour and mosaic!

Exit the college, turn right and then right again to walk briskly back to the Railway Station.

The train you will be getting is the 4.01 to London Paddington (there is an earlier train but it stops at every station and takes a lot longer). The 4.01pm, stopping only at Reading and Slough, takes 59 minutes so you should arrive back at Paddington at 5pm.

Once at Paddington find your way to the Hammersmith and City Line platforms and take an east bound train bound for Barking. This will take you to Aldgate East Underground Station in plenty of time for our Jack the Ripper Tour.

If you wish to eat then turn left of the train go up the stairs and through the ticket barrier and take exit one on the right. Go right along Whitechapel High Street and a few minutes along is the Aldgate Exchange Pub. Be sure to leave the pub by 6.35pm. Go back to exit one of Aldgate East, go down the stairs and out of exit two. Cross over Leman Street, passing the Lloyds Bank (sign of the black horse) and keep ahead over the next main road to arrive at Exit four of Aldgate East underground Station. Your guide should now be waiting outside the exit so check in and at 7pm you will set off on our world famous Jack the Ripper Walking Tour.

So there you have a planned day out that shows you two decidedly different and distinct aspects of England.

Just by way of a quick disclaimer (I have to do this!) the directions are given in good faith and have been set out according to my own experience of taking tours to Oxford. Obviously there can be train and tube delays, and building closures, which might adversely affect the trip. If this happens and you find you’re late back to London, then we’re happy to switch your tour booking to another night.

Other than that, please have a great day and, if you require extra advice, please do get in touch.

Now I’m off to bather my sore feet!