Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Europe Adventure: Day Nine, Part Three, Bodleian Library Tour

We set up our tour with the Bodleian Library a few weeks in advance, as soon as it would let me do it online. We signed up for the standard tour, an hour long tour that was just eight pounds each. It would take us through the Divinity School, the Radcliffe Camera, and the Duke Humphrey's medieval library.
Our tour guide Gillian was fantastic. 
She had so much energy and made it so interesting. 

The Bodleian was the first library of Oxford University.
It is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. It was first built in the 1300's in the University of St. Mary the Virgin in a room which still exists as a meeting room for the church.

Duke Humfrey was the Duke of Gloucester and younger brother of King Henry the 5th. 
He gave the University his collection of over 281 priceless manuscripts. 
They built a new library over the new Divinity school for them. It opened in 1488.

The library only lasted 60 years as the Dean of Christ Church wanting to purge the traces of Catholicism removed the books, some to be burnt, in 1550. 

Sir Thomas Bodley rescued the library. 
He was a Fellow of Merton College and a diplomat in the court of Queen Elizabeth the first.

In 1598 the old library was refurnished and given 2,500 books, some from Bodley, and it opened in 1602. In 1610 Bodley was able to come to an agreement with the Stationers' Company of London and this meant that a copy of every book published in England and registered through them would be given to the new library.

The tour started in the Divinity School which you might recognize from the Harry Potter movies as the Infirmary. 
The Divinity School is a medieval building built between 1427-1483. It is the oldest surviving building purpose-built for university use for lectures, oral exams, and discussions on theology. 
It isn't used for this anymore. It is just under the Duke Humfrey Library.

She told us about the origins of the libraries while in this room where she could speak loudly. 
We were given headsets to wear for the rest of the tour. 

"Dumbledore's door"

We walked across the courtyard to the Radcliffe Camera. 
It was Britain's first circular library. 
In the early 18th centuries there began to be more libraries built in Oxford. 
John Radcliffe left his trustees a lot of money in which to buy some land, pay a librarian, and purchase books for a new circular domed building. 
It was built between 1737 and 1748 and opened in 1749. It was independent of the Bodleian for many years and called the Radcliffe Library. But it was eventually taken over by the Bodleian and renamed the Radcliffe Camera (which means room in Latin).
She told us about it before going in as she couldn't speak out loud while in there. 
The library was full of students studying. 
We couldn't take pictures either. 
She had to unlock it for us to go in and then lock it behind us. All the students studying also had to do this.

Like I said, I couldn't take pictures inside but I found some online. 
It was so beautiful inside.

 Photo credit: Bodleian library website

the ceiling: 

We then toured the Duke Humfrey library. 
It was amazing. 
She told us about it quietly through our headsets as we were able to stand inside the entrance to it. 
The books were not lent to readers, even King Charles the first was refused when asked to borrow a book in 1645.
The books used to be chained to the shelves and we were able to see that as they still had a few chained for display.
The users in the library have to tell the librarian what they want and they will bring it to their table.
This library was also used in the Harry Potter movies as their library. 
We couldn't take pictures in here either. 
Here are some I found online:

photo credit: Bodleian library blog

 photo credit: Wikipedia

This one is taken of the spot where we were able to stand and explore: 

photo credit: Wikipedia

The ceiling was covered with the Oxford University Coat of Arms:

photo credit: The Heraldry Society

The coat of arms depicts an open book with the inscription "Dominus iluminatio mea" which means "The Lord is my light" and is surrounded by three golden crowns. 

Gillian told us there is a joke about the coat of arms between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Cambridge has a closed book on theirs. She said that Oxford says about Cambridge that they never open their books to learn and Cambridge says that Oxford is always stuck on the same page.

The new Boldeian, now called the Weston Library (where we went to the exhibit and gift shop) was built for more space and opened completely in 2015.

This was a fantastic tour and we loved every minute of it. 


The Kings said...

I just loved our visit to Oxford University and all the wonderful things we got to see! I also loved the atmosphere in Oxford.The Bodleian was awesome to visit and Gillian made the tour so fun and interesting!! So not only did I love seeing "Harry Potter" stuff I loved enjoying the beauty and wonder of this place and the Radcliff Camera!!

cheryl said...

Yes. It is such an amazing place.

Seth and Julie said...

So many awesome libraries and I laughed out loud at the Oxford/Cambridge joke. I would have loved to study at either, or both.

cheryl said...

Oh me too. I wonder if you love the one you visit first the most? I would like to go to Cambridge too but now that I have been to Oxford I can't imagine loving any campus more.
I loved everything about it. I will do my part to try to convince one of my kids to go there.