OXFORD England — What links fictional sorcerer Harry Potter American country singer Kris Kristofferson former Bristish Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and U.S. President Bill Clinton?
Answer: This high-end second-oldest surviving university in the world (1096) — an easy day trip by train from London. (www.ox.ac.uk)
Clinton and Kristofferson were Rhodes scholars here honored with ”the world’s most famous scholarship.” Clinton’s daughter Chelsea followed her father’s academic footsteps — but not via Rhodes.
Baroness Thatcher received a 1947 degree in chemistry but in 1985 was denied a higher honorary degree snubbing her while she was prime minister on the basis of her conservative political views.
Although The University of Oxford has produced 26 prime ministers 47 Nobel Prize winners 50 Olympic medalists 12 saints and 20 archbishops of Canterbury — mega author J.K. Rowling’s ”Harry Potter” fiction book and film series bestowed a higher fame when academic sites served as major film locales.
”It was exciting to see locations that we students used on a daily basis being picked up by Hollywood” Matthew Haley now a rare book specialist at Bonham’s Auction House said of his 2003 student days. ”A bunch of us went over to the Bodleian Library (1488) and watched them film a scene where Harry is in the hospital.”
Through www.britmovietours.com and other tour agencies various ”Harry Potter”-themed tours are offered of Oxford London along with a two-day tour of HP England.
”Feel free to dress up as Harry or any other character in the series” one tour invites.
Britmovie also offers ”James Bond” Beatles ”Doctor Who” and ”Downton Abbey” tours.
We caught the final tour of the day on one of Oxford’s double-decker red buses a good value. I had hoped to see the picturesque sight mentioned in guidebooks — of Oxonians riding ubiquitous bicycles long black robes streaming behind them. But our excellent guide told us students wear robes only during exam times. Undergraduate Oxford is organized around weekly tutorials at self-governing colleges.
After a decades-long series of incremental skirmishes women were admitted to Oxford with the equal full complete rights and privileges as men in 2008. Acclaimed author Dorothy Sayers turned the gender-equality fight into the novel ”Gaudy Night.”
Had we more time a walking tour would have been better than the bus. Walking tour maps are in all major guidebooks.
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