I love FREE! Who doesn’t love FREE! I love FREE so much that when something says FREE, and it’s not FREE, I get a little upset.
Such is the case when I attempted to tour certain colleges at Oxford University. Online some buildings like All Souls College and Corpus Christi College were listed as being free of charge for visitors to tour. So on my first day in Oxford, I go to All Souls College to take a tour of the campus, only to find that FREE means I don’t even get to enter the school building. I get access to two courtyards and a chapel (shown above). Granted, the chapel was beautiful, but it wasn’t the college. Each college I wandered up to had a cover charge to explore. The Bodleian Library required that you use a self-guide audio tour, and they charged for £2.50 for that. I was upset that the most I could get was courtyards and the outsides of buildings.
The longer I looked to find somewhere to explore, the more it felt like a money-making tourist machine. Even Christ Church cost £10 to get in if I wasn’t worshipping. Over all, the frustration from trying to be satisfied with “free” Oxford encouraged me to think that while beautiful, the university isn’t worth exploring unless you are willing to pay at least £15 to see it.
I ended up wandering through Christ Church Meadow and Botanical Gardens, which was much more satisfying. The grounds were extremely beautiful and calm, instead of the hustle and bustle of Oxford University.
If you wanted to explore Oxford University, you might be much happier than I was. The building are gorgeous, and I’m sure the insides are too. From what I observed, most buildings are only a few pounds each to enter. Here is a link to their website to check out more.
Interestingly enough, my favorite part about Oxford was the tower tour at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin right in the middle of campus. It was a self-guided tour that cost £4 ($). The tour is first come, first serve, as only so many people can be at the top at once. I didn’t really think much of it until I climbed to the top and found a very narrow walkway around the outside of the tower.
The walkway has high stone railing for anyone afraid of heights (not that this assured a few people I observed). The path gave a fantastic view of the entire surrounding city. Unlike at the Oxford Castle, which I wrote previously about, the view of the city was mostly focused on the college buildings. The Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College offered picturesque scenery for photos.
The architecture of the tower itself is also wonderful. Classically gothic, the tower, as with the church itself, blends with the similar gothic architecture of most of the Oxford campus.
St. Mary’s Church and Tower should definitely be visited by all those who enjoy photography, scenic views, and great architecture. Be warned if you are afraid of heights, that this is entirely open to the elements and quite high up. To visit the church, click here to visit their website and check their hours.
(I take all my own pictures. I do not earn money for advertising)