Oxford Gardens and Exams

We move away from Magdalen bridge and Magdalen college, and we move across the road to the botanical gardens, just like Brexit we are not moving very far.

I’ve learnt more and more about the Oxford botanical gardens. It is the first in the U.K, open from 10-5pm, you have to be in 45 minutes before it closes, as that is the last entry time and you’ll need it to see everything and tickets are £5-6.

The entrance is opposite the college and resembles a typical Roman triumphant monument, it’s known as the Danby Gateway, which is fair enough.

Oxford Botanic Gardens Entrance

Oxford Botanic GardensOxford Botanic Gardens

It is triumphant, the grounds are over 4.5 acres, and it contains over 8000 species of plants.

Oxford Botanic Gardens

It has an interesting history as it was once the Jewish cemetery until the Jews were kicked out of the country in 1290, the area was then used for the cities waste, a dumping point, which has today provided the area with lush fertile soil. However, an extra 4000 cartloads of manure was needed in the 1600s to raise the area above the flood plain. The garden eve produces its own alcohol from its plants including a superb gin, in very limited amounts. As you can imagine with the array of plants and excellent fertile soils this is expensive but well worth it.

As we move past the botanical gardens we start to into the city and along High street.

On the left is the exam halls, an interesting part of Oxford University life.

Oxford University Exam Hall

Although I did. It go to the university, I had many friends there and dated a number of woman for studied and lectured there. The University appears to create an interesting social situation with the colleges. The students are encouraged and tested for three years, whilst the majority are within the colleges for three years, with the exams, which are a culmination of these three years taking place inside this building. Having been inside the colleges for three years, having high levels of academic training and lecture, plus being around students who are generally academically competitive and confident the students become increasingly stressed and study focused. I bore witness to students sleeping all night inside the libraries, to then rise and study once more. I knew ladies who were playing and pulling their hair out, to such an extent in their third year they were creating bald patches when speaking to their GPs, they were told not to worry as this is “normal” and should stop after the exams. Of course, there were more carefree students, but the general note was extreme stress and of course if “Tom” was studying then I need to be, and being in a closed environment everyone pretty much knew what everyone else was doing.

There are some interesting rumours surrounding the exams themselves. One involves turning up in a full suit of armour, on a white horse, and either receiving a glass of sherry or potentially a first in your degree. The other involves bringing 2 shillings to the exam and apparently being able to order a flagon/pint of ale. As stated these are only rumours but there is a book with all of the exam rules, known as ‘the doorstop’ I assume the name reflects the size and not the usage. If you take a left down Merton Street, you will come across some magnificent buildings, including a curiously designed exam hall. The main entrance appears to be on the high street, yet down Merton Street, you see a beautiful part of the building that looks like it should have been the entrance. A large courtyard made of a beautiful sandstone colour.

Oxford Exam Halls

Upon finishing your exams you exit the back of the exam halls onto the still cobbled part of Merton street, with the road leading to Merton College and Christ College. Entrance fee £0, around June and July. Students pile out of the exam hall, to be met by friends who proceed to cover them in glitter, alcohol and potentially milk, which has been left by a radiator for a month. The joys of getting legitimate revenge on someone you’ve lived with for three years. Once more our weekly tour has ended, as we find ourselves back to the High Street and continuing into town.

With special thanks to Instagrama spiralling_oxford


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