Day 7: First Day in Oxford
(posted the following day)
I’ve hit the ground running in Oxford. I was afraid I wouldn’t like the place with its reputation of being more urban, secular, and, yes, snooty than Oxford. And perhaps it is more snooty. The colleges, at least, seem to be more restrictive about entry than at Cambridge.
But I already see there is a lot here I want to explore, certainly enough to take up a week. And two kindly ladies on the bus suggested an excellent walk to Iffley to me . . . if it gets a little warmer and I want a walk in the country.
As for urban,, the bus fumes got my attention. Yet Magdalen College has huge pastures with numerous deer. Two of the racks on them were awesome. More on Magdalen in a moment.
Among my first orders of business was to visit key sites pertaining to the martyrdom of the Oxford Martyrs, Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley. First, I managed to find the cross on the pavement where they were burnt. I say “managed” because it was not easy to find. There’s not much of a memorial there, which doesn’t reflect well on Oxford, does it not? Oh well, they were Cambridge men.
(To be fair, I think there is a more appropriate monument around the corner which I have yet to visit. It’s located next to St. Mary Magdalen Church, an Anglo-Catholic hotbed. The irony.)
Later, I stood on the very spot in St. Mary the Virgin University Church where Cranmer repudiated his recantations, and I touched the groove cut in the pillar to support his platform.
Moved, I nearly lit a candle in the chapel for him and Latimer and Ridley. But then I remembered such a popish act probably would have annoyed them, so in honor of them, I desisted.
I hope they don’t mind that I later went to the rather popish Magdalen College. The chapel literally has an east wall of statues and faintly smells of incense.
Theirs was a wonderful time of worship and a bit different than I’ve experienced, even in Cambridge. The service is introduced with much outside bell ringing and has its share of pregnant pauses, both practices I immediately like. Yet, it’s quite brief, about 30 minutes. It even omitted two key collects which is a no-no in my prayer book. But it was still excellent – yes, particularly the singing of the choristers. (The men did not sing tonight.) And they are even more disciplined than those of King’s and St. John’s in Cambridge, although the ones on my side were passing something down the line. In any case, the service greatly helped me to worship.