Head over Broad Street to Blackwell’s bookshop for a truly vast variety of books to choose from
The Famous Five
The Bodleian, or simply ‘the Bod’, is Oxford’s main library and one of the oldest libraries in Europe: it holds over 12 million items. Over the centuries it has expanded along with the university. The Schools Quadrangle was added at the start of the 17th century. The tower over the main entrance is know as the Tower of the Fiver Orders, because it is ornamented with columns from each of the five orders of classical architecture: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite.
A walk around the perimeter of the Schools Quadrangle reveals the latin inscriptions over the doorways, such as Schloa Moralis Philosophiae. The inscriptions read like spells, but that’s not the only magic the Bodleian has seen: many scenes from the Harry Potter films were shot here too. For example, the Divinity School doubles as the Hogwarts hospital wing and Duke Humfrey’s Library is the Hogwarts Library. The students sometimes wear flowing gowns too!
The Bodleian, with all its history and wealth, is unsurprisingly home to a fair few treasures. For example, the Bay Psalm Book, although modest in appearance, is actually the most valuable printed book ever sold due to its status as the first book printed in North America. You can also find souvenirs from the Women’s suffrage movement, along with a 1217 engrossment of the Magna Carta and a draft of Wilfred Owen’s war poem Dulce et decorum est, written in his own hand.
Some animals are more equal than others
Most importantly of all, there is an outstanding compendium of beasts from the 13th century, and also a Victorian advert for a performance by Toby the sapient pig. Toby took London by storm in the 19th century with his mind-reading abilities.
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