Exploring Oxford colleges

At the same time as the second chapter of my thesis is firming up, my initiative to visit and photograph all 39 colleges is proceeding apace. Today, I visited Somerville College (where Margaret Thatcher read chemistry, a factor that may have contributed to her eventual strong support for CFC regulation, despite her ideological leanings) as well as Kellogg, St. Peter’s, and Lincoln. Only Linacre, Mansfield, Oriel, Pembroke, St Cross, St Hilda’s, and Templeton College have been spared from my lenses as of now. That said, not all the photos I have taken in recent days have had the chance to be posted yet. When one is mired in academic work, it is good to have a reserve. Likewise, it is good to have a pattern of exploration, using a quad or coffee shop here or there to read a chapter or two, before moving on to the next target.

A tip for fellow explorers: make sure you speak to the porters, before wandering in. Particularly in the less well known colleges, they will be happy to let you in if you tell them that you are a student at a different college and have been wanting to have a look at some of those you haven’t seen previously. Among all the colleges I have visited so far, the porters at Kellogg and Lincoln have been the most helpful. The only colleges that have refused me admission (or demanded money) are Christ Church and Magdalen. While I understand that they risk being besieged by tourists, it is hardly appropriate to bar the foreign graduate students who are subsidizing their fine stonework and scores of undergraduates.

In any case, I expect that the collection will be complete by the time this site gets its 50,000th visit. That should be within the next two weeks, at which time I will be spending my days fretting about drafting chapter three.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

6 thoughts on “Exploring Oxford colleges”

  1. When I asked the porters at Lincoln (a) which species of impressive tree is in their ‘grove’ quad and (b) why there is a model owl (look for it) in their main quad, they gave me a glossy packet of information about the college.

    That makes for quite a contrast with the gruff commands not to enter any buildings that you frequently receive. The porter at Kellogg encouraged me to visit their library and bar; most colleges will only allow you into their library if you have orders from a magistrate or perhaps a dozen sturdy men with cudgels at your back.

  2. As a Wadhamite, I have gone often to Magdalen and Christ Church for free just by waving my Bodleian card around. Try again, dear boy – you may need to go on afternoons rather than early mornings or evenings.

  3. Most colleges, you are best off explaining yourself to the porters.

    For Magdalen and Christ Church, it can be best to just stride in purposefully. Do not carry a camera (visibly). Do not pause within eyesight of the lodge.

  4. @A Wadhamite you have never met

    I bet you £100 Milan didn’t try to do this in the early morning.

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