Afternoons in Oxford
- Inklings walking tour of Oxford
Visit Magdalen, Merton, Exeter, Keble, University, and New Colleges where the Inklings were undergraduates and fellows. Make plans to eat and refresh yourself at their favorite spots: The Mitre, the King's Arms, the White Horse, The Turf, The Lamb and Flag, and, of course, The Eagle and Child
- Blackwell's Bookshop
Spend an afternoon or a lifetime browsing what is arguably the greatest book store in the world. Blackwell's has occupied its buildings on Broad Street across from the Sheldonian Theater for over a hundred years and has been a second home to generations of Oxford scholars. Lounge in their concession to the twenty first century - a grand coffee shop on the second floor with most comfortable chairs.
- The Bodleian Library
Since the late middle ages, the library has formed the heart of the university. By law a copy of every book published in the realm must be sent to the Bodleian which allowed it to become one of the greatest libraries in the world. Visit the Divinity School, which Lewis regarded as the most beautiful room in Oxford, and the Duke Humphrey Library above it. Book lovers will find a fascinating exhibit always on display.
C. S. Lewis lived in Headington, the quiet suburb at the top of the hill overlooking Oxford, from the early 1920s until his death. Other Inklings joined him. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson both moved up the hill.
- The Kilns
The Kilns, Lewis's home in Headington for thirty years, may be toured by making arrangements with the C. S. Lewis Foundation at www.cslewis.org.
- Shotover Hill walking tour
Shotover Hill, which rises next to the Kilns, is a grand promontory from which to view the surrounding countryside. A bit of wilderness in the midst of Oxfordshire, it is now a nature preserve with an extensive hiking path. Here you can see the countryside that Lewis and his friends loved to walk.
- Cuckoo Lane
Parallel to the London Road and the hectic business district that lies along it runs Cuckoo lane, a narrow and secluded footpath that leads from Headington, down the hill through gardens and hidden walled passageways to the edge of Magdalen College grounds. Warnie and Jack Lewis loved to take this peaceful walk into town.
- Port Meadow walk to the Trout
A huge stretch of meadow extends from the edges of Oxford just beyond St. Giles to the village of Wolvercote and The Trout, an ancient inn to which the Inklings loved to walk. Take the bus to Wolvercote to eat at the Trout for lunch and then walk back, or enjoy the walk both ways for supper.
- Punting on the Cherwell
In the days leading up to their deployment on the Western Front, Jack Lewis and his friend Paddy Moore enjoyed punting the Cherwell. A punt is a sixteen foot long, flat bottom boat that one propels by standing in the stern and pushing against the river bottom with an exceedingly long pole.
- Christ Church Meadow
This park, where Alice went down the rabbit hole, is a wonderful place to take a picnic lunch. Or, you can simply stretch out with a good book along the banks of the river where Ratty, Mole, Badger, and Toad lived. Christ Church Meadow also has one of the best views of Oxford's skyline.
- University Park
Another nice place to sit and read or go for a walk. The park has an extensive flower garden and exotic trees around the playing fields. It lies close by Keble College and the University Museum, and it stretches along the Cherwell River from Parson's Pleasure where Lewis loved to swim as an undergraduate.
- Botanic Garden
Across the street from Magdalen College beside the Cherwell River stands one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe. Here you will find Tolkien's favorite tree in Oxford.
- White Horse Hill
Around 1400 BC, the figure of an immense white horse was carved into the chalky hillsides southwest of Oxford (about 15 miles). G. K. Chesterton's poem "The Ballad of the White Horse"
was inspired by this figure. Nearby are the ruins of an Iron Age castle and Dragon Hill, where, according to legend, St. George slew the Dragon.
- River cruise in the wake of Warnie Lewis
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Warnie Lewis bought a cabin cruiser in which he went "ditch crawling" along the rivers and canals of the Upper Thames basin. During the war, he painted his boat, "The Bosporus," battleship grey and joined the river patrol. River cruises still leave from Salyer's boat yard where Warnie kept his boat. The River Thames flows through this part of England down to London and the sea, but through these precincts it name changes to the Isis.
- The University Museums
For centuries, the graduates of Oxford University have sent piles of treasure back to the university when they cleaned out their attics. Since the attics were in the great houses and castles of the
United Kingdom, the university museums have collected quite an amazing collection, including the ceremonial robe of Powhatten of Virginia.
- The Tower views of Oxford
The robust can climb the steps of the dreaming spires of Oxford to see the fabuloius views they afford, and snap a few pictures on the way. Don't miss Carfax Tower, St. Mary's Tower, the cupola of the Sheldonian Theatre, and the old Saxon tower of St. Michael's.
- Bus to Woodstock and Blenheim Palace
You can take an Oxford city bus the ten or fifteen miles out to Woodstock where you can stroll the quaint streets of this nearest of the quaint villages of the Cotswolds where the Dukes of Marlborough (the Churchills) have presided over Blenheim Palace for three hundred years.
- Stratford (mind the coach and train schedule for returns!)
Shakespeare country is only an hour away by coach. You can visit the home of Shakespeare's family and that of his bride Anne Hathaway, as well as take in a play at the Royal Shakespeare Festival Theater - BUT CHECK THE COACH AND TRAIN SCHEDULES FIRST!
- Rent a Bicycle
Bicycles still abound in Oxford and may be rented during your stay, but mind the traffic which has increased since Tolkien's day.
- Walk in the Rain
Do not be disappointed when the rain begins to fall, which we hope it will. Oxford is beautiful in the rain of summer. Carry an umbrella and walk!