A Glimpse of Oxford

Mauritius Times – 60 Years

By B. Ramlallah

On August 31st, the Mauritian press delegation visited Oxford University, which proved to be one of the most thrilling and instructive experiences of our tour. None of us had a university education, so exploring Oxford University, known as the Mecca of learned men and women from around the world, was particularly unique for us.

We boarded a train at Paddington at 9:45 am and arrived at Oxford Station after an hour and fifteen minutes. From there, we were escorted to the Mitre Hotel on High Street, often acclaimed as “the most beautiful street in the world.” The Mitre Hotel is the most luxurious and spacious in Oxford City, offering various comforts and amenities. An interesting feature, common to many Oxford hotels, is a beautifully bound Bible placed in a cloth bag near each bed. These Bibles are indexed by subjects such as bravery, charity, friendship, hope, and truth. The introductory remarks printed on the book’s flap were so compelling that even in my fatigue that evening, I could not resist reading a few pages before succumbing to sleep.

We set out on foot from the hotel for a guided tour of several central university buildings. Accompanying us was a representative from the British Council, who expertly narrated the history, unique features, architecture, academic subjects, and significant events associated with each college.

For lunch, we dined at the Regency Restaurant, where we were joined by a professor from the university specializing in agriculture, along with a Mauritian student, Mr Gunnee. Since the university was on vacation, we missed encountering other students or witnessing classes in session.

During dinner, we had the pleasure of Dr and Mrs T.P. Soper, MA, PhD, Deputy Warden of one of the university’s colleges, joining us.

Among the colleges and libraries we visited was the Radcliffe Camera, which houses part of the university library. The Radcliffe Camera, a massive Palladian-style building, was funded by Dr John Radcliffe, personal physician to Queen Anne and an alumnus of Oxford University. The library holds not only books but also ancient manuscripts on papyrus, leather, or cloth in languages such as Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Arabic. Notably, it houses a large, beautifully illustrated old Bible with gold-plated illustrations and titles, a testament to the precision and craftsmanship of its time.

St. Mary’s Church serves as the centre of religious ceremonies in the university and, prior to the construction of the Sheldonian Theatre, was also its administrative headquarters.

Founded in 1571 by Dr Hugh Price, Jesus College aimed to provide education to Welsh scholars who were previously underrepresented at Oxford. Among its notable alumni are historian John Richard Green and Lawrence of Arabia.

Lincoln College, although founded by two Bishops of Lincoln, is closely associated with John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, who was a fellow of the college for twenty-five years.

Magdalen College, celebrated as one of Oxford’s most beautiful colleges, dates back to the fifteenth century, with much of its original architecture preserved. The old examination schools, built in 1439 and partially rebuilt in the seventeenth century, now house part of the renowned Bodleian Library, which received significant funding from the Rockefeller trustees.

Originally founded by Thomas Cobham in the fourteenth century and later re-established by Sir Thomas Bodley during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the Bodleian Library today holds invaluable manuscripts and over a million books, many distinguished by their magnificent book binding.

6th Year – No 275
Friday 20th November, 1959

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 21 June 2024

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