07 April 2014

Christ Church College

Now that I have been in Oxford for about a week, I thought I would give you a good glimpse of where I am living, Christ Church College. It was founded in 1525. Tom Tower stands tall amidst the Oxford skyline, and the top portion of the tower was designed by Christopher Wren (who designed St. Paul's Cathedral and the Sheldonian Theatre here in Oxford).

Each morning I wake up and get ready (no sleeping in!) and at 8:00 AM Tom Tower bells ring, signalling the start of breakfast. Breakfast only goes to 9:00 AM, so that's why there is no sleeping in!  But getting up for breakfast in the grand dining hall is definitely worth it. Plus, the English breakfast. I love an English breakfast. I usually get a fried egg, hash browns, baked tomato, baked beans, fruit (grapefruit, honeydew, and sometimes strawberries) and yogurt, and toast. Orange juice is already on the table, as are pots of coffee and tea.

The dining hall is three long rows of tables, which adds to a community feel because I end up sitting next to a variety of people. So, nobody ever really sits alone. It's quite nice, because there is more opportunity to chat with people. I have found that most people are here for conferences and they just stay in Christ Church for the Oxford experience.

It is really fun to sit in the dining hall knowing how much history is there. Sometimes I sit after eating, with my cup of tea and just look around at the portraits of important figures and the enormously tall wood beamed ceiling, and just think about the inspiration that is all around. In fact, Lewis Carroll lived and taught here in Christ Church. This is where The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland was born. Take a look at the last photograph, of one of the big fireplaces in the dining hall. Did Lewis Carroll draw inspiration from the elongated necks of the brass figures for the Alice books? Here is the original drawing from the books when Alice grows big.

Anyway, that is one huge reason why I love Oxford so much. I get to see and be immersed in the place that my favourite authors drew inspiration from. I get to be where they were and learn more about them because everything is as it was when they were here. So much history and quirks are kept alive.

For example, Oxford used to go by their own time, which was five minutes behind London because they are 1 degree and 15 minutes west of the Greenwich Meridian in London. In the 19th century they all converted, though Christ Church College still goes by Oxford time, meaning you are never late for anything by Oxford time unless you are more than five minutes late. Each night at 9:05 PM, the Tom Tower bell chimes 101 times, once for each member of the college at foundation.

I love being able to stay here for awhile, because it is with time that I notice the little things that someone living here would see every day and have in their memory as they write.

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