Doors of Oxford

I’m just back from a seminar in Oxford, where I found the program (UK: programme) too interesting and too packed with sessions and events to give me any time for blogging. I hope this short note with photos of Oxford will hold your interest until I can write something with a bit more substance—if substance is the word for the kinds of things I normally post.

One of several early-17th-century doors leading from the Schools Quad into what were originally lecture rooms, all with intriguing titles and a couple of small carved heads.

OXFORD sometimes seems like one long series of closed doors.

One of the many doors to private staircases in Worcester College. Students and dons (professors) live in rooms, suites, and flats off these staircases.

I’m sure Oxford has no more doors than any other institution; and the sight of the doors of, say, University of Surrey, which I also have no right to enter, doesn’t carry the same force.

This one doesn't even have a sign to say where it leads, though the cognoscenti understand what I had to do some serious Googling for: that the device on the left is the arms of Exeter College.

Maybe it’s the way that, in Oxford, the University and the town intermingle that makes the the closed doors seem so emphatic; there’s no campus proper, tucked away, and instead you can’t help but see university buildings—and their doors—wherever you go.

Here is a closer view of the insignia on that last door. In heraldic lingo, the one on the left, denoting Exeter College, is: Argent two bendlets nebuly within a bordure Sable.

In any case, something about Oxford gives the impression that fascinating things occur all around you, and the people doing these fascinating things want you to know that you’re no part of it.

Schools Quad again. Anybody want to study metaphysics? The door's open...

So it was a real treat to stay in Worcester College for a few nights, to have the right—if not earned, but only bought—to walk in the grounds, sit and read by the lake, eat in the hall, and pretend to be a part of how the scholarly half lives.



Filed under Architecture, Culture, History, Travel

6 responses to “Doors of Oxford

  1. Love the pictures of the doors! I want to see Oxford someday but I’ll never see it as a student, I’m afraid.

  2. Great photographs of the doors! I fixate on stuff like that as I wander about with my camera and tripod. I really am looking forward to your comments about the symposium. As I said over in AA, I love literary immersions like that. I have done multi-day symposiums on Cather and Wharton and had a ball, and learned ever-so-much. It really reinforced my love of both authors. I am planning to attend the big Thomas Hardy bash at Yale next year, and that ought to be a good ‘un. Take care! Cheers! Chris (“Sir R.”)

    • Thanks, Jersey and Chris!

      Just a note for American readers: AA means “Anglophiles Anonymous”, a sort of on-line book group — I haven’t started hitting the bottle. Though in the UK generally, AA means the Automobile Association (like the AAA, but without “American” on the front).

  3. Don Wells

    Another great article.

    I have always been fascinated by doors.

  4. I had to take my mother to the doctor the other day – in the waiting room, there was a large picture entitled “Doors of Washington” and it was simply various doorways in Washington DC. I thought that was really interesting since I’d recently read this article. How many doors did you photograph? Perhaps a composite picture would be fun to put together.

    • I’ve got lots more Oxford doors, actually, not all of them to college properties, not all of them private. But since people seem to like door photos (who knew?), maybe I’ll do a doors photo sometime, ,or make a sub-page just for photos, or something. The next post will probably be photos of the fete at Garsington the day I was there.

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