The views of Oxford
Updated: Feb 13
I will very rarely write about Architecture as I simply know nothing about it. But I am doing a module this term called Oxofrd Buildings where we look at the relationship between the University buildings and society. We are required to go around Oxford identifying the different styles used in these buildings as well as examining their purpose, whether it be political, economical, religious and so on... I had the pleasure of going to the Sheldonian Theatre this morning. It had always been a name I'd known, a building I consistently passed in order to get to Blackwell's art and poster shop, yet I had never even released the external and internal beauty and magnificance of this particular building. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who also designed most of London after the Great Fire in 1666. Now I want to tell you how to get the most incredible view of Oxford.
The emerald dome stands triumphant surrounded by a vast collision of architectural styles. The first thing you need to do is walk into the auditorium and look up. Stand in the middle. You will be overwhelmed by this euphoric allegorical painting by Robert Streater, it is made up of 32 individual panels and displays myhtological figures such as puttis and gods. This painting seems to relate to the classically revived architecture of the building which was supposedly inspired by the Roman theatre of Marcellus.
Now go up the stairs, there's loads of them so stretch if you must. Go all the way up to the attic, try and do it alone or at least when there's not many people as you need to really rake this all in. The skyline of this city is one of the most incredible things. I had the pleasure of seeing this on a sunny day which seemingly made this whole experience even more transcendant. The Radcliffe Camera is encircled by Gothic and Medieval buildings and had the sun above it making it almost glow. The whiteness of the surrounding buildings all merge into one, at first, but take your time. Look at how they all seem to stand together yet shine alone. They individually represent the growth and development of one of the most famoous institutions in the world. The skyline is a timeline of the city. It slowly grew college by college into what it is today.
Every week I will be visiting a different site in Oxford and I would like to really explore architecture as much as I can this term so I will be writing as many posts as I can about these buildings. Next week I will talk about the Canterbury Quadrangle in St John's College and about the relationship between two juxtaposed styles of architecture.