The Cotswolds

 

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace Oxfordshire

Bodelian Library

Bodelian Library Oxford

Magdalen College

Magdalene College Oxford

Charming English towns in a region called the Cotswolds mark the lovely drive from York to Oxford.

We stopped to enjoy a great tour, tea, and a leisurely walk at Blenheim Palace, the estate of the Duke of Marlborough and the ancestral home of Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim.

A long walk through the lush gardens gave us all some welcome quiet time.

Instruction began at the University of Oxford in 1096, making it likely the oldest university in the English- speaking world.

It was at Oxford that three senior English bishops, including Thomas Cranmer, were burned at the stake by order of Queen Mary Tudor for their efforts to develop and lead a Bible-based church in England, and for refusing to repent of their protestant beliefs and submit to the authority of the pope.  We gathered in a sweet chapel at St. Mary Magdalene church to reflect on their sacrifice and pray for the Church.

It was at Oxford that the ‘Oxford Movement’ began.  In the mid-19th Century, a group of priests connected with the university began to write and publish a series of pamphlets, called Tracts for the Times, to denounce the increasing theological liberalism in the Church of England and to call the church to renew a number of apostolic and monastic practices. It was the so called Tractarians who renewed interest in the Divine Office in the Church of England and throughout the communion.

Indeed, our group has attended Choral Evensong, based on two monastic offices of vespers and compline, at Durham Cathedral, York Minster, and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.  We can thank the leaders of the Oxford Movement for Evensong, and for making Holy Eucharist the normative worship on Sunday mornings in the Episcopal Church and many others throughout the Anglican Communion.

And it was at Oxford that CS Lewis trained as a soldier before World War I, attended University College, and both taught medieval literature and wrote prolifically at Magdalene College for thirty years.  We toured the places where Lewis lived and wrote, including a short drive to the Kilns, a charming cottage that, interestingly, Lewis purchased and shared with two women.

Oxford is one of my favorite places in the world.

Events that occurred at this great University over the past 900 years have had a profound effect on my faith and that of most English-speaking Christians.

We finished the day over a pint at the Eagle and Child, the pub where Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and other members of the famous friendly club the Inklings would gather daily and share drafts of their most recent work with one another.

Another splendid day.

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