We are at a crossroad of where to go next. Carfax Tower in front, on the new mall behind, and the castle beyond that. Right takes us to Cornmarket, which was the Main street for shopping until the new mall opened.
To the left is Christ Church College. So many choices, and thankfully so much time. So to the right and Cornmarket again with an interesting history. Don’t get too comfortable. It doesn’t stand out and to be honest, I think they could have something actually quite beautiful here. The street is wide and pedestrianised. Yet totally open to the elements, no covered walkways on either side. No cafes in the street, with covers and heaters, nor a fountain, for when England win the World Cup. Ok, a point of fantasy about the fountain, but still nothing remarkable. Except for the benches. If and when you make it to Cornmarket Street and walk along count the number of benches. We will come back to this later. To the right and left are shops. Supposedly, every shop to the right up to St Michael’s Tower is owned by one of the University colleges. Rumour has it that it’s owned by Jesus College. There is some evidence to support this, a new building has been proposed this year, being built by Jesus college for the cheap price of £36 million.
As we make it halfway down to the left is a small alley with arguably two of the most underrated underground clubs in Oxford. The Cellar, which has hosted a wide array of hip hop and drum and bass artists, as well as some comedy legends, such as Stewart Lee, both the Holly’s from Red Dwarf, Russell Howard and Jack Whitehall, was the compere for a full season. Even beyond that is the Oxford Union, which has hosted famous people from Churchill, the Dalai Lama, Einstein, Hawking and Malcolm X, within it’s debating forums. You are able to become a member and attend through its website as either a resident, you will need to meet with Officers of the Union to be allowed in. Or if you have studied at the University.
To your right, we come to the supposedly oldest building in Oxford. A Saxon Tower, almost 1000 years in age and attached to St Michaels church.
The Tower has an infamous history, with part of its history being tied to a prison, which is for a later story and for a curious tale involving King Edward the 2 and a cat.
John Powderman was living in Oxford in the 1300s when he decided to enter the royal residence in Beaumont Street and claimed to be King Edward II himself. He was tall, and good looking but there was one problem. When queried about his claim, they asked why he had lost an ear? He claimed that a nurse had let him be attacked by a pig whilst playing in the courtyard. Knowing she would be severally punished she swapped the baby. He then claimed this was why Edward had such strange habits and that he would challenge him in one to one combat for the throne. Eventually, he was arrested and met the King. Deydras not short on courage insulted the King and offered trial by combat. Instead, the King put him on trial, where Deydras confessed that it was a lie and that whilst walking through Christchurch Meadow a cat had convinced him to tell this lie. He and the cat were hung!
As we come to the end of the street, I hope you added the number of benches.
Then take that number and divide it by the supposed figure of £250,000. Reported by the Oxford Mail in April 2004. The apparent cause being that local officials blamed each other for the spiralling costs and no one would take responsibility. Of course, the bench makers in the background rubbing their hands with glee. The worse thing about these benches is that they are designed to be comfortable for only a short. One side has cured seats like that of a banana 🍌 the other side has seats that would make a RyanAir seat look elegant and feel comfortable.
Then we have the disabled spot, which is a clear space that is plonked next to a delightful bin. The reason for this design is to get people not sitting for too long so they go to the next shop, to stop anti-social behaviour and to stop homeless people from sitting or sleeping on them at night. Considering the almighty cost, the council could have just turned this around by buying some classic wooden benches. I’ve found a found fountain ⛲️ for £3000 with installation included.
Some wooden benches for roughly £300, and the rest of the money totalling £243,000 could have gone to the homeless shelter and food banks. Just an idea, for helping and not deliberately hindering others who are already suffering and in need of support.
I’ve started a YouTube channel documenting some of the sites I’ve visited in Sicily.
I will be doing a video soon, on where to stay.
Special thanks to spiralling_oxford on Instagram for the beautiful
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