This included the 15th century Divinity School, Duke Humfrey’s mediaeval library; formerly used by five kings, 25 British Prime Ministers, and writers such as Oscar Wilde, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein, and the Radcliffe Camera. This was followed by lunch at the oldest pub in Oxford, which dates back to 1607.
The tour took them into the interior of the buildings that form the historic heart of Oxford University that came into being in the Middle Ages. They began in the English Gothic style Divinity School, built in 1488 for the teaching of theology. Students had to be able to debate in Latin, which must be a very minority skill these days! The guide explained to them some of the symbolism of the 455 carved bosses, and pointed out details they might have easily missed such as the ‘Green Man’ head, and the carving of a fox carrying off a goose.
Cameras were not permitted in the library, but you can see an image here. It was built to make maximum use of natural daylight as lamps and candles were forbidden, for obvious reasons!
The last part of the tour, before adjourning for lunch, took them into the Radcliffe Camera (camera meaning ‘room’ in Latin), a neo-classical style round building funded by a noted physician, academic and politician of the day, John Radcliffe. The building now serves as a Reading Room for the Bodleian.
Peter Brooks entered the Taylor & Francis National Library Day Prize Draw, and was named one of the 10 lucky winners invited to visit the medieval library. He was joined by librarians from Birmingham, Chichester, Greenwich and as far afield as Aberdeen, who were looked after by three friendly representatives from Taylor & Francis plus a volunteer and very knowledgeable tour guide.
Taylor & Francis is one of the world’s leading publishers of scholarly journals, books, eBooks, text books and reference works whose UK offices are in Oxford.
A splendid tour, splendid spring weather, and a splendid lunch in good company – thank you Taylor & Francis!
Peter Brooks, Head of Library Services