I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about time lately. There’s a lot of History in England, and I’m simply amazed by how much of it I get to experience here. Every day I tour centuries-old streets and buildings, and I often find myself wondering what life must have been like all those years ago. Recently my program visited Hampton Court Palace, where I was able to envision the life of a king.
We left in the morning and drove for about an hour to get to Hampton. We spent a day touring the palace, but there still wasn’t enough time to see everything. Even so, I was amazed by the size and grandeur of Hampton Court Palace. The front and entrance is adorned with a distinct rose-colored brick, unusual for a time period in which most buildings were constructed of stone. The palace is surrounded by the River Thames, and a moat even runs in front of the gate! I underestimated the chill that the river could bring, however, and was freezing in my light jacket throughout the entire day. Surprisingly, it was colder in many parts of the palace than it was outside! I’m sure a king would keep his palace warm and inviting, but for us it certainly wasn’t!
Besides the chill, my experience of Hampton Court Palace was incredibly enjoyable, and I learned a great deal about the Tudor period. Upon entering the palace, we found ourselves in an unusual courtyard. In the middle of the courtyard stood a large, brightly-colored fountain, surrounded by numerous wooden mannequins in various, unattractive poses. We quickly learned that the fountain was a replica of a fountain said to flow with wine in King Henry VIII’s time. He liked to keep his courtiers “refreshed,” and the mannequins were displays of courtiers who had been, I suppose, a little too refreshed.
From the courtyard we went straight to the Chapel Royal, the place of worship for the king and royal court. We were treated to a viola concert inside, which was wonderful, but were not allowed to take pictures. However, the chapel is so amazingly gorgeous, I suggest that you visit the Chapel Royal’s website and take a look: here you can find photographs of the ceiling and worship space. To think that kings and queens worshipped here! It seems very fitting.
Among other things, we also toured the palace’s kitchen, gardens, and Great Hall. The Great Hall was used as both a “canteen” for the common folk and a venue for royal dinners. If the king was eating in the Great Hall, the servants, of course, were not. On any given day, the Great Hall fed up to 600 of the king’s courtiers, and the dinners were very extravagant!
You may be surprised to know that the back of Hampton Court Palace is not at all like the front, as the two parts were constructed at different times. While the front of the palace emulates Tudor architecture, the back is of the Baroque style.
If you want to learn more about the history of Hampton Court Palace, how it came to be, and my impression of this great historical site, visit my page titled “Journal Entries“.
This week I had my first seminar and tutorial sessions! On Tuesday, I went to my Seminar, The Inklings, and we discussed our previously-assigned reading, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters (hence the quote above). It was an interesting discussion, and if you’d ever like to chat about it, feel free to send me an email.
On Wednesday I ventured into the Bodleian Library for the first time, and ended up studying in the Gladstone Link (an underground tunnel that was once used for transporting books between buildings). It would have been more enjoyable if the book I needed had actually been on the shelf, but it wasn’t, and there wasn’t a placement card to be found. I had spent a good half hour trying to find it, too, because England’s library classification system is not the same as ours. What are the odds?
Thursday I attended my first required integral lecture. I may or may not have (nearly) fallen asleep (no offense, Dr. Crowe. Is it too late to blame jet lag?). I also went to my first tutorial session, 20th Century Poetry, which was held at my tutor’s house. Besides the 20 minute walk, it was an enjoyable session. My tutor, Kieron Winn, is very nice, and his house is wonderfully quaint. Right now, I am reading Yeats. 🙂 Again, if you’d like to chat, I’m just an email away.
Friday I had my final tutoring session of the week: Narrative with Shane Garrigan. I must say, this is the class I am most excited about. The guidelines are very loose, but, essentially, each week I must write a 2,000-word short story or continuation of a story. I already have some words on paper, and it isn’t due until Friday. This is how excited I am. Last night there was also a “mixer” for the new Keble College students. There was wine involved, and it was fun, but it was difficult to meet people. Almost everybody there was American, and who wants to meet Americans in Britain? Not me, anyway. My roommate, on the other hand, was a different story…. 🙂
Today was spent mostly working. However, I did go the public library, Oxford Central Library, to get a library card! I also needed a book for my tutorial, but I met with a similar fate as with my experience at the Bodleian. This book (Yeats) had been checked out….. in 2008. I’ll be able to get it at another library though, which shouldn’t be a problem. There are literally dozens of libraries in Oxford, and, luckily, it’s a popular book. This morning I went on a run with Hannah and Megan. There is a lovely park, Oxford University Parks, that we have been running in, and today, I was able to snap a picture of some swans!
As of now, I don’t have much else planned on the horizon. Tutorials have started, and that means a heavy workload for the next 8 weeks, but I’ll still be sure to keep you posted. I’m loving every second of England, and as C.S. Lewis points out, time goes on. Cheers!