Oxford: Brief Historical and Descriptive Notes (page 2/3)

[picture: Godstowe]


“ Any places of strength in Oxford would command the roads leading to the north and west, and the secure, raised paths that ran through the flooded fens to the ford or bridge, if bridge [...]grand pont, where Folly Bridge now spans the Isis. Somewhere near Oxford, the roads that ran towards Banbury and the north, or towards Bristol and the west, would be obliged to cross the river. The water-way, too, and the paths by the Thames’ side, were commanded by Oxford. The Danes, as they followed up the course of the Thames from London, would be drawn thither, sooner or later, and would covet a place, which is surrounded by half-a-dozen deep natural moats.” (p. 9) [more...] [$]

[picture: Frontispiece: Magdalen Tower.]

Frontispiece: Magdalen Tower.

From an Etching by R. Kent Thomas. [$]

[picture: View of Oxford]

View of Oxford

We see the ancient city in the distance between trees in the foreground. [more...] [$]

[picture: High Street]

High Street

“Most old towns are like palimpsests, parchments which have been scrawled over again and again, by their successive owners. Oxford, though not one of the most ancient of English cities, shows, more legibly than the rest, the handwriting, as it were, of many generations. The convenient site among the interlacing waters of the Isis and the Cherwell, [...] its occupants, before the last two centuries began, was very eager to deface or destroy the buildings of its predecessors. Old things were turned to new uses, or altered to suit new tastes; they were not overthrown and carted away. Thus, in walking through Oxford, you see everywhere, in colleges, chapels, and churches, doors and windows which have been builded up; or again, openings which have been cut where none originally existed. The upper part of the round Norman arches in the Cathedral has been preserved, and converted into the circular bull’s-eye lights which the last century liked. It is the same everywhere, except where modern restorers have had their way. [more...] [$]

[picture: Folly Bridge]

Folly Bridge

“Any places of strength in Oxford would command the roads leading to the north and west, and the secure, raised paths that ran through the flooded fens to the ford or bridge, if bridge there then was, between Godstowe and the later Norman grand [...] [more...] [$]

[picture: Oxford Castle]

Oxford Castle

From an Etching by A. Brunet-Debaines. [more...] [$]

[picture: Bocardo, destroyed in 1771.]

Bocardo, destroyed in 1771.

Lang says that the Bocardo Prison predated the University.

The image is signed “S. R.” [$]

[picture: Martyrs Memorial]

Martyrs Memorial

“In Broad Street, under the windows of Balliol, there is a small stone cross in the pavement. This marks the place where, some years ago, a great heap of wooden ashes was found. These ashes were the remains of the fire of October 16th, 1555—the day when Ridley and Latimer were burned. “They were brought,” says Wood, “to a place over against Balliol [...]candida fossa, to the way leading by it.” To recover the memory of that event, let the reader fancy himself on the top of the tower of St. Michael’s, that is, immediately above the city wall. No houses interfere between him and the open country, in which Balliol stands; not with its present frontage, but much farther back. A clear stream runs through the place where is now Broad Street, and the road above is dark with a swaying crowd, out of which rises the vapour of smoke from the martyrs’ pile. At your feet, on the top of Bocardo prison (which spanned the street at the North Gate), Cranmer stands manacled, watching the fiery death which is soon to purge away the memory of his own faults and crimes. He, too, joined that “noble army of martyrs” who fought all, though they knew it not, for one cause—the freedom of the human spirit.” (pp. 98-100) [more...] [$]

[picture: Bocardo, North Side]

Bocardo, North Side

The Bocardo, the mediaeval prison in Oxford, shown from the North side; the engraving is signed “S. R.” [more...] [$]

[picture: Isis and Oxford Canal]

Isis and Oxford Canal

In the foreground a man wearing a hat and carrying a bag or box stands at a canal lock; another walks along the towpath. On the river we see someone punting a [...] [more...] [$]

[picture: The Muniment Room at Merton College]

The Muniment Room at Merton College

From a Drawing by R. Kent Thomas. [more...] [$]

[picture: Magdalen Tower From Christchurch]

Magdalen Tower From Christchurch

From an Etching by A. Brunet-Debaines [$]

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