October 9, 2013

0831 UNITED KINGDOM (England) - Winter light over Oxford

Even if in nowadays has a diverse economic base, Oxford is known worldwide mainly as a university town and home of the University of Oxford, the oldest in the country and in the English-speaking world. Its buildings demonstrate examples of every English architectural period since the arrival of the Saxons, being known as the "city of dreaming spires", a term coined by Matthew Arnold in reference to the harmonious architecture of Oxford's university. This postcard illustrates well what wanted to say the poet.

On the left, in the foreground, rises the twin towers of All Souls College (full name: The Warden and the College of the Souls of all Faithful People deceased in the University of Oxford), one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford, located on the north side of the High Street. Founded in 1438, it operated on the theory that men of learning should also be men of influence. All Souls consists of 52 Fellows, ranging from brilliant graduate students who conduct research of "unfathomable depth" for up to 14 years, to the most active leaders of British culture and politics.

Behind the two towers can be seen the spire of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin (St Mary's Church), the largest of Oxford's parish churches and the centre from which the University of Oxford grew, situated on the north side of the High Street. In the later 15th and early 16th century the main body of the church was substantially rebuilt in the Perpendicular style, but the oldest part of the present church is the tower, which dates from around 1270. The spire with its triple-gabled outer pinnacles, inner pinnacles, gargoyles and statues was added in the 1320s, and is claimed by some church historians to be one of the most beautiful in England.

On the right, in the far, it is the Radcliffe Camera, designed by James Gibbs in the English Palladian style and built between 1737 and 1749 to house the Radcliffe Science Library. Its construction and maintenance was funded from the estate of the doctor John Radcliffe. Until 1810, the Library housed books covering a wide range of subjects, but under Dr George Williams it narrowed its focus to the sciences. After the Radcliffe Science Library moved, the Radcliffe Camera became home to additional reading rooms of the Bodleian Library. It now holds books from the English, history, and theology collections, mostly secondary sources found on Undergraduate and Graduate reading lists.

About the stamp
The stamp ia part of the definitive series issued in 2011, about which I wrote here.

Oxford - Wikipedia
All Souls College, Oxford - Wikipedia
Oxford University, All Souls College - Postcards of the Past
University Church of St Mary the Virgin - Wikipedia
Radcliffe Camera - Wikipedia

sender: Irina Vasilescu
sent from Swindon (England / United Kingdom), on 13.08.2011
photo: Chris Donaghue

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