Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lit Rally

Today we took a most literary excursion--to the city of Oxford. Let's see if we can count all the sites that figure into kids lit.

We caught the train from Paddington Station, immortalized in the stories about Paddington Bear. They sell Paddington Bear merch at the train station, complete with rain jacket and wellies. The statue, however, shows him with just a hat and tag. "Please take care of this bear. Thank you."

Photo by carmen_seaby on Flickr. Creative commons license.

The train to Oxford takes an hour. Once there, we headed to the Bodleian Library, Oxford University. The library was originally started with a bequest of 280 books in the early 15th Century (a huge jump from the 20 owned by the university previously). We got to see the oldest part of the library, where scholars used to use the resources while standing up, with the books actually chained to the desks. For average tourists like ourselves, no photos were allowed in this area.

And the kids lit connection? Parts of the Harry Potter films were filmed here. The oldest area, Duke Humfrey's Library (with false walls hiding the real 15th/16th century manuscripts), was the restricted area of the library at Hogwarts. And the Divinity School was used as the site for the Hogwarts infirmary.

The Divinity School

From the Bodleian Library website. Lots of CGI went into these movies!
Next stop: Christ Church. I had no idea that Oxford University was comprised of 39 different colleges, each with their own campuses, libraries, and dining and residence halls. Christ Church is particularly famous because Charles Dodgson was a mathematics tutor there. Who? You know, Lewis Carroll! Alice Liddell, Wonderland's Alice, was the daughter of the college dean.

Alice wanted to know what lay beyond the wall that separated her backyard from the Cathedral Garden, so she'd look through the keyhole.

In the Cathedral Garden. Also known as the
Forbidden Garden, since Alice was not allowed to play here.

Looking back at the yard that Alice knew.

Illustration by John Tenniel.
Public domain, found using Google image search.

Christ Church (don't call it Christ Church College, for Christ's sake) was also a location for...Harry Potter!

The dining hall inspired the great hall at Hogwarts. The filmmakers found it better to build a replica on a sound stage rather than attempt to film on location, but it's quite a faithful representation, don't you think?

I also made it to Alice's Shop and The Story Museum. This museum is so new that they offer tours of the building, but it won't open to the public until 2014. Regardless, the concept is brilliant (as they say here) and will be a wonderful addition to the literary life of Oxford.

And now for some random photos from the day:

No photo cropping. Used the wide setting.

So glad I brought my umbrella. (From Tar-gjay.)

Glass tiles on a wall.

Vintage and modern Minis. There were four others in this same lot.

1 comment:

  1. I'm loving how you highlight just the parts of Britain I'd care about--the bookish ones!