Last weekend, I met up with some friends from Davidson who are also at LSE and we headed to Oxford for the day. I’ve always wanted to see the campus so it was great to see it with some friends from back home!

Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, with teaching dating from 1096. Wow. After riots between the townspeople and students in the 13th century, primitive halls of residence for students were constructed. These halls turned into University, Balliol and Merton Colleges, which were established between 1249 and 1264. Since its founding, Oxford has been a part of much of England’s history, cementing its status and reputation as one of the leading universities in the world.

Like Cambridge, Oxford is made up of the collegiate system. Students are admitted into one of 30 colleges, where they live, eat and learn. Today, there are over 22,000 students at Oxford. About half are graduate students. There are so many famous alumni and the town just has that “smart” air about it. It also has a lot of really cool doors so be prepared for some door pictures as well!

We first headed to to the Bodleian Library. It is the main research library of Oxford and one of the oldest libraries in Europe. We entered the Divinity School, which was built in 1488 for the teaching of theology. It is the oldest surviving purpose-built building for university use and served as a lecture hall and an examination room. It was also used as a munitions store during the Civil War. More importantly, it was used as a set for Harry Potter! Let’s be honest, that’s really why I visited Oxford. In this room, they learned how to dance in the Goblet of Fire and it was also the room used as the Hogwarts Infirmary in The Philosopher’s Stone. Needless to say, I spent probably way too long taking pictures of such a small room, but it was so gorgeous!

Harry Potter room!! #obsessed
The ceiling!

Unfortunately we didn’t get to go into Duke Humphries Library (pictured below) because you need to book a tour in order to enter. It was also used in Harry Potter as the library. It looks beautiful and I will hopefully one day get to see it in person!

We then went to a small exhibition on John Radcliffe, an English physician, academic and politician and Oxford graduate. Many buildings in Oxford are named after him, including the Radcliffe Camera, our next stop! It is a library built between 1737-1749.

Balliol College

Balliol College was founded in 1263, claiming to be the oldest college in Oxford and the English-speaking world. It has around 800 students, about half are undergrads. According to its website, it’s known for “relaxed atmosphere, active participation, and students who achieve outstanding academic results”. Three prime ministers and four Nobel Prize winning scientists have graduated form the college. Aldous Huxley, John Wycliffe, Adam Smith and Boris Johnson are notable alumni.

Trinity College

Trinity was founded as a training house for Catholic priests in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope. It only has about 400 students and has also graduated three Prime Ministers. It has a fierce rivalry with Balliol College. Cardinal Newman, William Pitt and Henry Moseley are famous alumni. The Chapel (pictured below) was gorgeous and we got to enter the dining hall (not sure if we were allowed to…we just followed a tour group inside)!

Wadham College

Wadham College was founded in 1610 and houses around 150 grad students and 450 undergrads. Sir Christopher Wren, Rosamund Pike, Felicity Jones, Michael Foot (former leader of the Labour Party)

We couldn’t pass through Oxford without taking a picture of the famous Bridge of Sighs, which was built in 1914.

Christ Church

Christ Church was founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1524 and was built on the site of a monastery. During the English Civil War, King Charles I used the Great Hall as the Parliament. Sir Christopher Wren designed the bell tower in 1682. Today, it has 450 undergrads and 150 grad students. Notable alumni include John Locke, Lewis Carroll, Robert Peel, William Gladstone, and W.H. Auden. Wow.

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Perhaps more notably (at least in my opinion), it was used as the site of some of the Harry Potter films!! Unfortunately the Great Hall has been closed and is closed until June. It was the inspiration for Hogwarts Great Hall. However, we got to see the stairs where the students await their first entrance into the Great Hall and the one that Harry and Ron use when they enter Hogwarts late in the second movie. The stairs are also used at the end of the first film when Harry looks up at Hermione and Ron. Unfortunately, because the Great Hall was closed we couldn’t walk up the famous stairs so I did the best I could picture-wise. The pictured cloisters were used as the corridor that housed the quidditch trophy case that Harry, Ron and Hermione looked at in the first film. Other cloisters (not the ones pictured but very similar) were used during the 4th movie where Harry and Cedric talked.




A peek into the Great Hall….
The staircase! There was no good angle to take this :(
The trophy case corridor
Me with the staircase…Had to be done

Now for the Cathedral.

The Jonah Window(1630s): this is the only part of the window that is made of
stained glass. The rest of the window was made of small panels of
painted glass.
The Shrine: Built in 1289, destroyed 1538, rebuilt 1889.
It is the oldest monument in the cathedral and once held
the relics of St. Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford.


A medieval watching loft…the only other one in existence is in St. Albans.
so pretty
#obsessed with the ceiling

St. Mary’s Church


Some cute streets~while we were walking to New College…unfortunately it was closed.



Jesus College

Unfortunately we arrived at Jesus College right at its closing time so we didn’t get to visit. I did get a couple of shots of the courtyard though. It was founded in 1571, making it the only Elizabethan College at Oxford. It was founded at the request of a Welshman and has retained strong ties with Wales, which is really interesting. It also has one of the best places to study Celtic Studies.


Exeter College

Exeter College is the fourth oldest college in Oxford, founded in 1314 by Walter de Stapelton. The film The Golden Compass was made there. It is also one of the smaller colleges at Oxford. J. R. R. Tolkein, Martin Amis, Philip Pullman, Richard Burton, Imogen Stubbs and John Kufour (former president of Ghana) are former students. Unfortunately, no Harry Potter scenes were filmed here… but it was still pretty!



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I love the stained glass!





All in all, it was a very good day! It was good to catch up with friends, get out of the city, and explore a new place (not to mention, walk where the Harry Potter actors once stood!! I have a problem). I also found my dream store…a stationary store that had the most beautiful leather-bound journals. Too bad I didn’t have the money too afford them :( One day!
England, Travels
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