Radcliffe Camera and Churches

We head towards the end of our journey. We head past the Sheldonian and onto the Radcliffe Camera and St Mary’s Church.

Radcliffe Camera and St Mary's Church

The Bodleian as mentioned last week, is a gigantic library, in the heart of Oxford City Centre. To get access to the University books, anyone can join, but it is easier if you are at either of the Oxford Universities.

As you come from Broad Street, you can go up some steps, through to a courtyard containing the Sheldonian Theatre 🎭 , and then through the courtyard, you can see a covered bridge linking two college buildings.

Sheldonian Theatre

Bridge of Sighs

This is Hertford Bridge is also known as the Bridge of Sighs. There is a myth that it is constructed to reflect a bridge in Venice. The name reflecting the prisoners being taken to their cells and they would cross the bridge and sigh at the beautiful and possibly final sight of Venice. Although, I personally think it looks nothing like the bridge and more like another bridge in Venice called the Rialto Bridge. Nevertheless, the Hertford Bridge does look beautiful and can be fun on drunken nights, if you stand underneath you can hear a clear echo.

If you turn right when facing the bridge from the courtyard you can enter a passage built by Christopher Wren. Which takes you into a smaller square courtyard. Something out of Harry Potter, with elaborate designs of sand coloured stone, a clock tower to your left, and an almost lifelike statue of the Earl of Pembroke, almost standing guard over the library and building. He was Chancellor of the University, founded Pembroke College, and Shakespeare dedicated his first folio to him. Not too shabby for a life’s work.


If you continue through the entrance on the other side of the courtyard. You come out onto cobbled streets (Cobbled streets are very good for working the glutes.) and you are confronted with the Radcliffe Camera in the Radcliffe Square. A unique round building in the centre of town, which is where you go to collect your books from the Bodleian Library. Iron railings, with bicycles chained to it, surround the building, and an oval-shaped grass lawn separating the railings and camera. Creating a very quintessential Oxford University feel to the square. To the left All Souls College and to the left Brasenose College.

Radcliffe Camera

The Bodleian Library is supposed to have a copy of every book printed. Some of it’s more ancient pieces include:

A copy of the Magna Carta

Shakespeare’s first folio(book of his plays and poetry.)

The Gutenberg Bible (One of the earliest mass printed bibles.)

If you want to look at these books you must go and stay inside the library. Then you have to make an oath either written or said allowed:

“I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”

Radcliffe Camera

The Radcliffe Camera was completed in 1749 and is probably one of the most famous buildings in Oxford. It’s linked to Tolkien and claimed to be the basis of one of the great castles 🏰 led by the side of Evil in the Lord of the Rings. Personally, I can’t see a resemblance, it’s just too beautiful to be evil.

As we work our butts on cobbled streets we come to St Mary’s Church next to the Radcliffe Camera. The church has existed on the site for almost 1000 years. It also saw the Oxford martyrs tried inside and the scene of the Oxford Graduations ceremony until the 1600s. The main thing to really take note of is climbing the churches’ spiral staircase to the top. Recently redesigned, it now includes a giant map of Oxford to let you know what you are looking at. The church captures breathtaking views of the city from a 360 viewing platform at the top of the spire. From looking down into colleges and Radcliffe Square to the far distance of Boars Hill. It’s well worth the energy, effort and price for anyone visiting.

Bridge of Sighs

More next week, if you enjoyed please like and follow,

and special thanks to spiralling_oxford for the wonderful Instagram pictures.

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