Thursday's Child: Oxford at Christmas

Thursday, January 1, 2015
Last week I wrote about spending time in the south of England. But the main reason for our pre-Christmas trip was to attend Andrew's cousin's wedding in Oxford.

Fortunately, we had a little time before the big event to see Oxford. I had my heart set on visiting the Christmas market, which was in its final afternoon when we arrived. We bought chestnuts roasted on an open fire (could anything be more evocative of Christmas in England?) and visited stalls selling crafts and food.

"The compound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth..."

- from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Ashmolean museum was across the street from our hotel, and we ducked in just before closing time to check it out. It was the world's first university museum, built in the late seventeenth century to house the donations of Elias Ashmole. Among the striking pieces in its collection is the Shrine of King Taharqa, which was erected in Sudan in the seventh century BCE. It's so large that during a recent renovation of the building, it stayed in place while the building was reconstructed around it.

The highlight of our evening came when we heard choral music from inside University Church. We spoke to an usher, and were told it was the beginning of the Fourth Sunday of Advent service. We found a seat in the balcony, as we marvelled at the angelic choir, meditated on the scriptures read in plummy accents, and sang Christmas carols along with the congregation.

The Mr. Darcy wrapping paper that I wrote about last week was purchased to wrap David and Sally's wedding gift - a framed painting that Andrew's father Roy had done as a young man. David and his Uncle Roy were very close, and shared travel and art as passions. We were thrilled to make my late father-in-law a part of the day.

The happy newlyweds.

The girls, with their lovely cousin Sarah.

The Church of St. Mary Magdalen, Oxford
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

- "Spring and Fall" by Gerard Manley Hopkins (poet and scholar at Oxford University)


Jemi Fraser said...

Lovely!! I bet the painting was a big hit!
Wishing you and your family all the best for 2015 :)

Velva said...

The Christmas Markets are divine. I had the opportunity o experience them in Germany.
Happy New Year! Looking forward to your posts in 2015.


Gloria Baker said...

Happy new year dear Beth!

Valerie Gamine said...

*love* the Mr. Darcy wrapping paper!
What a stunning couple, so beautifully in love. :-) Thanks for sharing the gorgeous photos and making me long for England, again. xoxo

Happy New Year, Beth!!

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

Hi Beth, the Christmas market sounds wonderful, love the Darcy wrapping paper. Happy New Year!

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

What an awesome Christmas find, hope you had an awesome time :D
Happy New Year!

Choc Chip Uru

Barbara said...

Such a lovely trip, Beth! Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year!

Marcela said...

oh, and again, such an amazing trip, Beth! I love reading about your adventures :) I wish you Happy New Year!

Julie said...

What a lovely trip! Happy New Year!!!

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

Oh, the painting sounds like such a thoughtful gift. And chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Perfect! Happy New Year, Beth, to you + your lovely family. =) And thank you so much for letting me know about the comment issue on my blog - I just checked and you still cannot add comments. =/ I emailed my host/server people to let the know. I SO appreciate you telling me, because I never would've noticed! I would've just assumed that people didn't read my little ol' blog anymore. So, thank you! xo

Angie's Recipes said...

I like to visit X'mas markets during the advent fun! It sounds like you had a great time in England.
Happy New Year to you and your lovely family!

scrambledhenfruit said...

I love seeing your photos and reading about your adventures- Vacationing vicariously is one of my favorite ways to travel! :) I hope you and your family have a lovely New Year!

Lavender and Lime ( said...

Dave and I were very close to Oxford in April but chose to spend the time wrapped with family instead. To make up for what I can see we have missed, a trip is being planned to explore this region properly :)

Beth said...

I'm so glad to hear you're going back, Tandy. We loved it, but would love to go back because most of our time there was at the wedding. I know there's so much we missed!

And you're so welcome, Amy. Hope your blog is up and running again soon!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

What a marvelous pre-Christmas holiday! I love the photo of the 3 cousins---a treasure! Happy New Year, Beth!

Monica said...

Happy New Year! All the best for a very happy and fulfilling 2015! I always imagine that England is the place to be at Christmastime. Just lovely...thanks for sharing.

Joanne said...

So fun! Happy new year love! Here's to many more fun travels in 2015.

Mary @ The World Is A Book said...

What a great way to sneak in some sightseeing before the wedding. Beautiful photos of the scenery and your family. We haven't made it to Oxford yet but it looks like a wonderful place to visit especially during the holidays. Happy New Year!

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