Thursday, 14 July 2016

Merton College Library

After a free hour for lunch, we headed to Merton College for our tour. It was founded in the mid-1200s, with the hall being built in the 1270s, and the chapel between 1270 and the 1290s. There’s a mix of the original gargoyles as well as Victorian reproductions. Originally, the chapel here was going to be the city’s cathedral, but that honor went to Christ Church College instead.

Many windows in the college used to be stained glass, but were taken out during reformation. Some have been restored by the Victorians – though it doesn’t seem like the windows were put back correctly, a lot of the images are a bit jumbled up. The organ in the chapel is surprisingly modern – it was made two years ago in Iowa!

Throughout the college, we were shown how little of an idea people had of what dolphins looked like –we didn’t know they were dolphins at first!

After the chapel tour and seeing some of the grounds, we went on to the college’s library, which is the oldest continuously used library in the world. The ceiling wasn’t the most impressive of all the ones we saw over the month, but it was still impressive. The bookshelves in the library are the originals from the 15th century, and were a new invention when they were put in!

Aside from the hundreds of books, the library contains quite a few artefacts and noteworthy architectural features. Amongst them are Bodley’s funeral helmet, which is much smaller than any of us expected and was actually the accurate size; A stone tablet from Assyria, “claimed” in the 1920s; astrolabes, sextants, and quadrants, one of which may have belonged to Chaucer; screens designed by Christopher Wren; and floor tile from a 17th century Benedictine abbey.

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