Ever since I got here, I’ve been amazed at the architecture and general grandeur of the buildings. In the U.S., historical buildings are a novelty; here, most city buildings have been around much longer than I have.
The weekend before this past one, I took two day trips with the International Society here to places with lots of history.
I spent Saturday in Oxford, home of the famed university. Although I had heard about its beauty and prestige, I didn’t realize exactly how much history occurred here. For example, the building below? Lewis Carroll studied and taught here — telling the real-life Alice his stories of Wonderland in the adjacent garden — and the dining hall was replicated for the “Harry Potter” movie series.
Our tour guide was awesome. She showed us where Diagon Alley and infirmary scenes from “Harry Potter” were filmed. We saw the window of Bill Clinton’s former room, where he lived as a Rhodes Scholar. We saw the lamp post featured in the “Chronicles of Narnia” book series and an engraved Mr. Tumnus in the doorway of the former home of C.S. Lewis.
She even directed us to The Eagle and Child, a pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would meet weekly over drinks to discuss their latest work. The inside is filled with literary references, and I was, unsurprisingly, all about it.
To end the day, my friend Abby and I climbed to the top of the university church, where we got a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
View of Oxford University buildings
On Sunday, we went to Warwick Castle, which is perhaps most known today for being a “Merlin” filming location. Lots of royalty — actual royalty, such as Marie Antoinette, and pop royalty, such as Mick Jagger — have spent time there, as it has exchanged hands several times throughout the past 1,100 years. The company that owns Madame Toussard’s bought the castle several years ago and has turned it into a family-friendly tourist destination.
My favorite parts? Seeing peacocks in the garden and climbing up (literally) hundreds of stairs to walk around the top of the castle.
I’m glad I got to see so much history that weekend in places I might not ordinarily think to go.