Oxford Commas are Superior

May 18, 2022

Today we visited the world famous Oxford University. To much my surprise, Oxford is actually made up of 39 colleges. The one college that we had the opportunity to explore today was Christ Church. It was built in 1523 originally called Cardinal College after Cardinal Wolsey who was the right hand man to Henry VIII. When the Cardinal failed at securing a divorce for Henry VIII, Henry VIII re-found the college as Christ College and cathedral in 1546. This college has a very unique history and it was very interesting to learn about.

Alec, Connor, Reagan, and I outside Christ Church

Alice and Harry

Furthermore, this particular college was the inspiration for many children’s works such as Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter to name a few. When touring Christ college, I entered the Great Hall which serves as the area for current students to eat. It is the oldest part of the college dating back to 1529. Upon looking in the room, I noticed it seemed a little familiar. That would be because the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies is inspired by this very hall!

Great Hall, Christ Church, Oxford University

Another cool aspect of this hall is this stain glass window in particular. The images in this window include Alice Liddell on the top left, who was the inspiration for Alice in Alice in Wonderland, and the dodo bird whose character was based off of Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, the author of the story. In real life, Alice Liddell was the daughter of Dean Liddell, the head of Christ Church, and Charles Dodgson was a maths tutor there who told stories to the young Liddell girls. The publication of Alice in Wonderland took place in 1865. This publication date is really shocking to me because it feels like Alice in Wonderland is so recent.

Alice Window in Great Hall


To continue, a few of us waited for the Christ Church cathedral to open up after examinations (yes, students are still taking exams there) and it was so worth it. As soon as we entered the sacred church, we saw beautiful architecture and stained glass windows. The ceilings in particular were very impressive with their web-like pattern and intricate features of biblical figures.

Christ Church Cathedral

I followed the guided tour around the areas of the church and was fascinated by the story of Saint Frideswide, the patron saint of the University, Oxford, and the surrounding area. While looking at the stained glass window of her story, I learned that she was a young girl who was set to marry the horrible King Algar. She escaped this fate by rowing up the River Thames. For three years, she preached and healed the sick until one day, King Algar’s soldiers found her. When he entered her town, a bolt of lightning struck him and left him blind! Compassionately, Saint Frideswide healed him and therefore, he promised to stop hunting her. In the end, she carried out her remaining days helping others and preaching the faith. The site of her church became what is known as Christ Church Cathedral today. She is buried somewhere within the church and this shrine is dedicated to her:

St. Frideswide shrine and stained glass window

Blenheim Palace

After exploring Oxford, we made our way towards Blenheim Palace, the ancestral home of Winston Churchill, the famous Prime Minister in the 1940s.

The history of this place begins when John Churchill became the first Duke of Marlborough in 1704. Queen Anne awarded this title to him after he lead his troops to success at the Battle of Blenheim. She granted him the Royal Park of Woodstock and 240,000 pounds to build Blenheim Palace. As you can see, he built a beautiful palace with many areas to explore.

In our exploration, we came across a field of sheep. We watched as the little lambs ran around and played together. They were so adorable! We continued our walk along the path towards the Walled Garden. This garden was indeed walled off with spectacular brick walls. Inside, many of the plants were not in bloom, however, there were still fun activities to do. Mary and I completed a maze together and then we met up with some other friends to explore the lavender garden and butterfly house! The lavender garden was very beautiful and the butterflies were so cool to see.

Sheep field

To conclude our final night in Birmingham, a group of us went to Figure of Eight pub! We laughed rambunctiously while we shared our favourite adventures from the trip. Jessica, a friend from Birmingham City University, also joined in on the fun! I am so thankful for all the people I have met and all the friends I have made on this trip. I am truly blessed to be a part of this experience!

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