The Bodleian Library

The Tower of the Five Orders
Photography by Carlos Dorce

One of the best days in my holidays was my visit to the Bodleian Library in Oxford. This was the first library for Oxford University and it was initially housed in a room above the Old Congregation House (c. 1320). In the XVth century, it was moved to a new building by Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, younger brother of King Henry V, because of it had to host his collection of more than 281 manuscripts, including several important classical texts. So in 1444 the University decided to erect a new library over the Divinity School although it wasn’t opeded until 1488. After a lot of years of decay, the library was rescued by Sir Thomas Bodley (1545–1613), a Fellow of Merton College who had travelled extensively in Europe and had between 1585 and 1596 carried out several diplomatic missions for Queen Elizabeth I.

Sir Thomas Bodley. Source: Wikimedia Commons

He donate a great amount of money in 1598 and the old library was refurnished to house a new collection of some 2,500 books, some of them given by Bodley himself, some by other donors. So thanks to Bodley, Oxford had its wonderful and famous library which is possible to visit nowadays.

I’ve visited the building and I’ve been very lucky because I’ve been able to book a visit to the library for the afternoon (the last ticket of the day!).

Main entrance Photography by Carlos Dorce

Main entrance
Photography by Carlos Dorce

The forecourt is full of doorways to different schools as the Schoof of Astronomy and Retorics… 

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

or the School of…

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

The first room is the Divinity School  and it was used by students to deliver their thesis (no women were allowed to study at Oxford until the XXth century!). Can I deliver my thesis too?

Here I am!

Here I am!

The room is full of “W” which are its architext’s symbol: sir Christopher Wren. Finally, I’ve visited the library and I’ve seen some mathematical books as Cardano’s Ars Magnae.

Can you find Cardano's  Ars Magna? Photography by Carlos Dorce

Can you find Cardano’s Ars Magna?
Photography by Carlos Dorce

It was a very great day in Oxford!

Location: Bodleian Library (map)

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