On our second day here at Oxford, the BADA Midsummer Conservatory Program was fortunate enough to take a walking tour on a very lovely and sunny day. Our tour guide, Will, took us around Oxford for an hour and a half and told us all the most exciting stories and facts about the place we are living in for the next 3 weeks. Here are some highlights from our amazing tour.

Will, the tour guide, introduced us to Trinity College, which is the biggest rival to its neighbouring college Balliol. Their relationship is sort of like Griffindor to Slytherin. Over the years, they would play tricks on each other and the feud is still going on. Here are two of the stories we heard: Every year, all the Oxford colleges have a tortoise race, and Balliol College’s tortoise was a very consistent winner. One year, that tortoise went missing, so they tore up Trinity’s lawn in order to get revenge. But Trinity claims to not have stolen the tortoise, so they had to apologize for the destruction they had done and it turns out the tortoise was never seen again. While Balliol college was having a very formal dinner, Trinity college locked the doors without them knowing so no one would be able to leave or enter the hall during the meal. They then, through a secret passage/window, released pigeons in the hall that had been fed laxatives and the pigeons pooped everywhere.

As you might have known, C.S. Lewis (the author of The Chronicles of Narnia)  taught English Literature at Oxford University. On our tour, we got to see his inspiration for the world of Narnia. To the right, is a picture of the door that looks like the Wardrobe and has a carving of the lion figure from his novels. Also, right outside this door is a lamppost, which, in The Chronicles of Narnia, is the first thing the children see when they come into the world of Narnia. 

Finally, we visited Christ Church. Lewis Carroll wrote his story of Alice in Wonderland during his time at Oxford University. He knew the headmaster’s young daughter named Alice and would play games with her in the garden. She loved to hear his stories that he told just for her and one day, she requested that he write them down for her. As they got older, they tried to get married but due to social reasons, their families did not allow it. So many years later, when they both married other people, Alice had a son and named him Lewis, and Lewis had a daughter and named her Alice.

When his work was published, Queen Victoria loved it so much that she requested he send the next thing he writes directly to her. Since he was actually a mathematician and was not studying English, he sent her a book he wrote about math. When he sent it to the queen, she wrote a note to him in response saying the famous “we are not amused”.

Overall, it was quite a lovely and factual tour that we took part in and was a great start to our time in Oxford!

By Antoinette Pompe van