Thursday, July 14, 2016

Europe Adventure: Day Nine, Part Five- Christ Church

After lunch we walked to Christ Church College. 
Christ Church is a joint College and Cathedral. It is one of the largest of the Oxford colleges.
 Christ Church was founded in 1525 by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and originally called Cardinal College. The Cardinal lost favor with King Henry the 8th after refusing to support his marriage to Anne Boleyn and Henry re-founded the college in 1532 as King Henry the 8th's College. It was renamed Christ Church in 1546.

We approached it through the Christ Church Meadow which was beautiful. 

 Mr. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, known more widely as Lewis Carroll, was a mathematics lecturer at Christ Church when he met Alice Liddell. Alice was ten years old and the daughter of Henry Liddell, the Dean of Christ Church. 
From his office he could see Alice and her siblings playing and a locked wooden door that went into a garden they weren't allowed to enter. Her real attempts at trying to get in through this door inspired the beginnings of Alice in Wonderland
After he made friends with the Liddell family, he would often take the children on boat rides. In 1864 he told them the story of Alice for the first time.
At the real Alice's request he recorded the story and added illustrations, which he then gave to her for a Christmas gift that year.
He was encouraged to get the book published and he eventually did so under the new pen name.

 Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) lived at Christ Church from 1851 until his death at age 65 in 1898. 
Alice lived there from age 3 until she was married in 1880.

I kept expecting to see the Cheshire Cat hop along this tree....

We entered through the meadow building that was built in 1863.

The Cloister is part of the original Priory of St Frideswide that was here before the college was built. 
The olive tree (symbol of peace) and the fountain are modern additions. 
The inscriptions around the olive tree is from the Book of Revelation:

"The leaves of the tree are for the healing of nations."

From the Cloister we entered the Hall area and saw the Hall staircase, famously used in the Harry Potter films. 

The fan-vaulted ceiling in above the Hall staircase was built in the early 17th century. 
It was so beautiful.
And I could just see Ron and Hermione standing up there as Harry talked to them from below. 

"All right, Hermione?"
"Never better."

We wanted to see the dining hall that was used as the Great Hall in Harry Potter but it wasn't open at the moment so we needed to do something else for about twenty minutes. 
We walked out into Tom Quad. 
It is named after the six ton bell, Great Tom, which hangs in Sir Christopher Wren's Tom Tower.  It was named for Sir Christopher Wren the architect of the tower and former student.
At 9pm each night the bell chimes 101 times to represent the 101 original Christ Church students.

From there we made our way into the Christ Church Cathedral.
This is a 12th century church and one of the oldest buildings in Oxford. It was originally built by Augustinian monks as a monastery church. It became the college chapel when Cardinal Wolsey founded the college.
It is the only building in the world to be both a Cathedral and a college chapel.
King Charles the first worshiped here during the English Civil war in 1642-1646 as he lived at Christ Church during this time.

At the end of this photo, toward the alter, you can see the intricate ceiling vaults. This area is called the Chancel Vault. It was built in 1500 and is made up of star shaped patterns to create an image of heaven. Twelve lantern pendants hang from it.  

The Jonah Window: 

Only the figure of Jonah is made of stained glass. The rest of the window is small panels of painted glass showing the city of Nineveh in minute detail.

The picture below shows the St Frideswide window on the right and the Shrine. 

In the St. Frideswide window the upper panel shows a ship of souls carrying St. Frideswide (a local saint) to heaven. The lower window panels tell the story of St. Fridewide's life. It was created in 1858.

The Shrine was built in 1289, destroyed in 1538, and re-built in 1889. 
It is the oldest monument in the Cathedral and is covered with carvings of plants and faces. It once held the relics of St. Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford, but was destroyed during the Reformation. Frideswide was buried beneath a nearby gravestone.

St. Catherine Window: 
The St. Catherine window was built in 1878. The central figure is of St. Catherine of Alexandria. Her face is a portrait of Edith Liddell, the sister of Alice. 

The Becket Window: 

This window is the oldest in the Cathedral, built in 1320.
It has a rare panel showing the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Becket, mentioned in my Canterbury post, who died at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.
In the panel it shows Becket kneeling between a monk and the four knights who murdered him. The panel was defaced in the 16th century and the original face of Becket is missing. 
It is in the very middle of the teardrop shaped windows. 

After walking through the Cathedral we made our way back to the Hall Staircase. 

We went up the stairs to the Hall. 
This ceiling. Amazing.

This was used as the Great Hall in the first Harry Potter movies. 
We couldn't go in and walk around as they were preparing for a gala but we did get to stand in the entrance and look around. 
I asked a guide where the Alice window was and he said it was down to the left at the end so unfortunately we couldn't see it. 

He did point out the picture right by us of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll).

This place was so cool. I wish I could dine in there!

The portraits hanging around the hall are of famous members of Christ Church including John Locke (an English philosopher and physician), six Prime Ministers, and of course Charles Dodgson. 
 Above the High Table is a portrait of King Henry the 8th. 
On the sides of the fireplace, which we couldn't see well, there are brass firedogs with long necks that are believed to be the inspiration for when Alice's neck grows. 

After we had looked around as much as we could, we went back down the staircase.

Then we began to make our way to the gift shop and then the exit. 

We hurried across the street to Alice's Shop.
Alice Liddell used to come to this shop to buy sweets.
It also inspired the Old Sheep Shop in Alice through the Looking Glass. 

After doing a bit more shopping we walked back toward our bus stop and made it just in time for a bus that was leaving for our car park. 
I wish we could have stayed longer. I would love to spend a few days just at Oxford. 
I loved everything about this place.

Next up: Stratford-upon-Avon to look for Shakespeare


Seth and Julie said...

I didn't know that's where they shot Harry Potter. How fun to experience the tie to history and to a modern film there. How do you feel about the Alice books? I studied Carroll in a Children's Lit class 20 plus years ago. I remember reading Alice and thinking it was so bizarre and not really even a children's book. Then my professor was fully convinced that Carroll was a pedophile and my views of him have been warped ever since. I hate to second guess people's art or to assume something that I have no real evidence for, but naked pics of children is weird and in modern times would be a nail in the coffin. I am still intrigued by the man and his work though. So strange and different from anything else in the genre.

cheryl said...

I am torn on the Alice books. They are so strange. I remember the first time I read Alice I thought maybe he had been on drugs when he wrote it. :)
But I still really enjoy them because they are so different- especially from the other things of that time period. As for him being a pedophile. Who knows. People said that about Jm Barrie (Peter Pan) as well and I think it is dangerous to believe those kinds of things about people when we have no way of proving it. I love kids. And I tend to get along better with kids than adults sometimes because I understand them and how to talk to them... and so I often wonder if they were the same way. What if every person that can relate to kids well and likes being around them was thought to be one. You know what I mean? But he could very well have been one. No way to know. So I don't really let it change the way I think of him.

The Kings said...

Awesome place to visit! so beautiful. It was fun to get my copy of "Alice Through the Looking Glass" at the Alice shop.

cheryl said...

Yes. I am so glad I got my copy there. It will always have special meaning as will so many of the books we bought on this trip!