I write a lot of blog posts about places I’ve visited in Oxford but there are two good reasons for this – 1, it’s not too far from where I live, and 2, it’s overflowing with literary history so there’s always something to write about! This time we’re at Christ Church College, home of many famous names and a couple of famous films.
Founded in 1546, the college is one of the largest that make up Oxford University. Its alumni include writers Lewis Carroll, WH Auden, and John Ruskin, innumerable archbishops, and 13 Prime Ministers.
Adult admission costs £10 which isn’t too bad, but as the college is rather wealthy it does give cause for a little side-eye. It’s also one of the busiest (for reasons I’ll get to), so I’d recommend buying tickets online to avoid the queues. I still think it’s worth the visit if you’re in town, and as visitors aren’t allowed everywhere (students live here after all), some areas at least appear free of people in photos!
My primary reason for visiting this college was because of Lewis Carroll, author of my favourite book Alice in Wonderland. He lived and taught here for 47 years, and the Dean’s daughter was the eponymous Alice. Lewis would take her and her siblings on boat trips down the river, which is where he outlined his famous tale, and later wrote it for Alice in 1864.
In more recent years, many films have been made here. The observant may be thinking, “hey that looks a lot like Hogwarts” and you’d be right. Parts of the first two Harry Potter films were filmed here, which is probably the top reason it’s such a popular place with tourists. This staircase is where Professor McGonagall meets the first years at the start of term.
The cloisters are where Harry was shown the trophy his father won as a “seeker”. And although the 16th-century hall wasn’t used for actual filming, it was the inspiration for the great hall in Hogwarts. Handy tip – if you want to see inside, make sure you get there before or after lunch!
The college was also used during the filming of the movie adaptation of “The Golden Compass”, which is set in Oxford.
The two quadrangles, “Tom Quad” and “Peckwater Quad” are gorgeous, and although I could only see the outside of it, the library also looked stunning.
Despite the crowds, the buildings certainly lived up to my expectations. It must be an extraordinary place to live and work (if annoying at times with all us nosy visitors), and possibly the closest you can get to being at Hogwarts. But if you’re a fan of history, architecture, Lewis Carroll, or Harry Potter, I’d recommend this place.
What do you think of this place? Have you ever visited before? Let me know in the comments.
I used to go there for Systematics lectures when I was a student at LMH in the 1980s. It was never a favourite college – too big, too patriarchal, and way too entitled. I always preferred the smaller colleges like Teddy Hall, Pembroke and my beloved LMH – all of whom have their fair share of famous alumi.
Stunning photos, though 🙂
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Thanks! It’s very interesting to hear from someone who experienced this place as a student. My intention is to try and visit all the colleges (well the ones open to visitors anyway!)