A Day in Oxford // England with Kids // Part 3

IMG_1645 One of our favorite places in the world is Oxford, “the city of dreaming spires.” I visited my friend Laura in Oxford when she was a student there, and then I returned as a summer university student about 10 years ago. Elliott has also visited twice, and we each have our own memories and our own favorite places around the city.

Also, has anyone else read A Severe Mercy, part of which takes place in Oxford? We read it together when we first started dating, and it is a book that we reference often as our inspiration for a tender and adventurous marriage.

We decided to go to Oxford on our second day in England, on Friday, April 8th. We stayed on our feet almost all day and managed to see a lot of this beautiful place!

IMG_0039 First stop: the local library. This was unintended; we got off the bus at the wrong stop — whoops. But we needed wifi in order to orient ourselves. (Later that day we bought SIM cards for our iPhones and now have U.K. phone numbers and data. We’re European locals again for a few weeks!)

IMG_0076 Found these two cute prisoners at the Oxford Castle. We could definitely use one of these at home — hah!

IMG_0040 IMG_0078 IMG_0079 Magdalen College and Magdalen Street (pronounced “Maudlin”) are everywhere in Oxford! Our little Magdalena (nicknamed Lena) loved that.

IMG_0082 At The Eagle and Child pub for lunch with my own littlest child.

IMG_0083 We enjoyed following in the footsteps of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and the other “Inklings” to eat and talk at this pub, but we found more Americans here than anywhere else in Oxford. It’s more of a tourist attraction now, I suppose… oh well.

IMG_0043 Around the corner from the pub is the Ashmolean Museum, where the kids saw their first Egyptian mummies and enjoyed the beautiful children’s section.

IMG_0084 IMG_0096 IMG_0085 We adults paid £2 each to go inside the private grounds of Balliol College, one of the many colleges that make up Oxford University. The gardens were in gorgeous spring bloom! It was a perfect spring day, and we ended up staying for over an hour, exploring and then relaxing on the grass. Visiting Balliol is one of my favorite memories of our trip so far. These are a few of my favorite photos (out of about 100!).

IMG_0048 Reading the hymnbook in the Balliol chapel. They’re both beginning readers, so they have been trying to decipher signs and books everywhere we go on this trip.

IMG_0050 IMG_0097 IMG_0086 IMG_0087 IMG_0088 IMG_0054 IMG_1581 IMG_1573 IMG_0056

IMG_0058 After Balliol, we walked across the street to visit Blackwell’s, a huge and incredible bookshop. When I was a summer student, I spent many hours studying and reading inside the Classics section or the cafe there.


IMG_0091 IMG_0090 IMG_0092 We walked on to Christ Church Meadow on our way to visit Magdalen College. The kids were enjoying a precious hot chocolate that Elliott had purchased for them in Blackwell’s. He rarely buys them anything sweet, so they were savoring every sip!

IMG_0062 A view of the Christ Church Cathedral from the Meadow.

IMG_0063 IMG_0064 IMG_0065 IMG_0066 Approaching Magdalen College now. All the trees in bloom…!

IMG_0068 Inside the cloisters of Magdalen College. Years ago I went up to the top of that tower with some friends. The key to enter was about 10 inches long.

IMG_0101 The deer park in Magdalen College.


IMG_0073 We walked through the grounds to the meadow behind the college. The story goes that Lewis and Tolkien used to walk together around the meadow here, feet crunching on the path as they discussed faith and life.

IMG_0070 This beautiful old house reminds me of Toad Hall from The Wind in the Willows!

IMG_0071 IMG_0072 I used to come back here to the meadow and quiet gardens behind it as a summer student to read and study. What a gloriously beautiful place!

IMG_0074 If you are in need of grit, Magdalen College has some.

IMG_0075 Magdalen College’s boats being gathered up for the night. I wish we could have hired a punt boat and taken the kids around the River Cherwell in the meadow; I have fond memories of doing that with friends as a summer student. We’ll have to save that for next time… maybe when they can all swim!

And that was the end of our lovely day in Oxford. Have you been? Which little nooks and crannies are your favorites?

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8 Responses to A Day in Oxford // England with Kids // Part 3

  1. Poppy April 14, 2017 at 6:14 am #

    Wonderful pics. I remember Blackwells, I’m sure I have a book or two from there but can’t remember which ones. I spent a couple weeks there for an oil and gas meeting and we met at St. Catherine’s college. I don’t recall the weather being as nice as you have. So nice for you guys to get to visit.

  2. Sarah D April 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    oh, wonderful, wonderful pictures! I’ve never been to Oxford but it’s on my list. I love that you went to Balliol! it makes me think of Peter Wimsey. :) :)

  3. Grammie April 15, 2017 at 6:44 am #

    Ohhhhh….these capture such magnificence! It looks like your weather is dreamy, and the flowers are abundant in their beauty. You must be there at an ideal time of year. And every photo shows how you are drinking it all in. A place so full of good memories for you. I’m so happy you could visit, and linger over thoughts of Tolkein and Lewis, and see the children enjoy practicing their reading and handstands.

  4. Sarah April 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

    Loving your photos and travelogue. When we visited in 2012 (a friend from UGA was teaching for six months, so we had a great “local” tour guide!) our favorite day was spent at the Pitt Rivers Museum. If I remember correctly, the kids were given magnifying glasses and an explorer kit with which they could examine all of the incredible anthropological displays. So very cool! Also – an afternoon by myself to visit Barefoot Books and make a few purchases for our birthday boy at the time. Last…just the simple act of shopping for groceries. Simple pleasures!

  5. Christina Hitchcock April 15, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

    Gorgeous pictures! I love, love, love England!

  6. Marmee April 19, 2017 at 8:34 pm #

    I’ve looked at it all before, but just swinging back to see these gorgeous pictures of all of you that I love so much. <3

  7. Bethany April 20, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    Aw, your pictures totally take me back to the college term I spent at Oxford (Trinity College). How wonderful that you could introduce your kids to its beautiful treasures!

  8. Site November 3, 2019 at 11:06 pm #

    ___123___A Day in Oxford // England with Kids // Part 3 – Becca Garber___123___

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