Further travels in enemy territory

Oxford (Oxenford) is obviously a compact and historic city although visiting specific buildings at short notice is difficult at present. Christ Church Cathedral (England’s smallest for the largest diocese) and the Ashmolean Museum (currently organising a Rembrandt exhibition) were unbookable whilst the Pitt-Rivers Museum didn’t open until September.

I went for the Bank Holiday weekend and stayed in Headington, opposite the former football ground (left), where a long parade of shops and cafes now lies.

I was able to visit the outdoor parts of Oxford Castle and Prison, where our 45-minute tour was led by the “Empress Matilda” (Natalia, left). The entrance will be familiar to those who have viewed The Wench is Dead, where two of the boatmen were hanged and a third reprieved. The prison (right), where real executions took place, closed in 1996, just in time for filming an episode first shown in 1998.

Oxford’ oldest surviving building, dating from c.1040, is St. Michael at the North Gate (left), on the east side of Cornmarket Street. Visitors can climb the Tower which incorporated the Bocarno Prison, where Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were held. The place of their execution is now the Martyrs’ Memorial (right).

The most accessible parts of the city were those with a twentieth century theme. The former Oxford High School for Boys on George Street, of which Ronnie Barker was an alumnus, inspired the Four Candles pub (left). Morse sites are ubiquitous, particularly the Randolph Hotel, whilst the Eagle and Child (below) was frequented by the likes of Tolkein and Lewis (C.S., not Robbie), as Crick and Watson did its Cambridge namesake during their DNA research. I was able to verify that the “Last Bus to Woodstock” leaves Magdalen Street at 00:16.

This central plaque (left), around the corner from the Pitt-Rivers Museum, remembers Dorothy Hodgkin, the renowned chemist from Beccles.

Finally, here (right) is Oxford station, where murder suspects would often alight, although I saw no red Jaguar in the car park.

By super blue

Grandson of a Town player.

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