Does the name Christ Church sound familiar? Many of you might have seen it already in some of the Harry Potter and The Golden Compass scenes. What you may not know is that Christ Church is the largest of the 39 colleges making up Oxford University and it’s the only college in the world which is also a cathedral.
The minds of Albert Einstein, philosopher John Locke, poet WH Auden, Charles Dodgson, and Lewis Carroll received an education within its magnificent walls. The college was originally called Cardinal College, after its founder Cardinal Thomas Wolsey who founded it in 1525. After his death the college was taken over by Henry VIII in in 1532 and changed into Henry VIII’s College and then renamed to ‘Christ Church’ in 1546.
Christ Church is easily recognizable with its grand 17th-century Tom Tower, designed by former student Sir Christopher Wren, which serves the purpose of the main entrance. If you happen to be near it around 9.05 pm any day of the week, you will hear the 6-tonne tower bell which still chimes 101 times, once for each of the original scholars. The question is why at 9.05? Because Christ Church has a different timezone than the rest of England which is five minutes behind GMT, as Oxford lies five minutes west of Greenwich.
During your visit you must also see the college’s spectacular dining room, the Great Hall, full of long tables, grand portraits of past scholars and hammerbeam roof which dates back to 1529. It’s not a surprise that the room became an interior inspiration and was replicated in film studios as the Hogwarts dining hall for the Harry Potter films and the dining halls at the University of Chicago and Cornell University. As in every college, the Hall is the place where students have their meals and funny enough whenever you visit it, the tables will be awaiting the next meal with small lamps lighting up each table.
Want to see more? Visit the full gallery and get to know Christ Church better.
While exploring these evocative and atmospheric surroundings, you will find yourself being drawn to many areas, but for me the most impressive part of the Christ Church is the cathedral which is also the smallest cathedral in England.
During your visit make sure to take a closer look at the colourful stained glass window which hides some really interesting stories.
If you want to experience Christ Church’s nostalgic atmosphere and escape the busy groups of tourists, make sure to come in the morning instead of in the late afternoon as then you will be able to take a closer look at everything and search for the picture of Alice and other figures from “Alice in Wonderland” in one of the stained glassed windows.
Christ Church was also an inspiration to Rev Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) who studied here and later on became mathematics tutor and author of “Alice in Wonderland”.
Legend has it that he invented this world-famous story on a boat trip and based his novel on Alice Liddell, daughter of the then Dean.
Mondays to Saturdays – 10.00 – 17.00
Sundays – 14.00 – 17.00
Last entry: 16.15
Tickets and Prices:
Residents of Oxford (OX1-4) are permitted free entry during visitor hours.
Single tickets are between £4 to £7, see more information on Christ Church website.
Timing your visit:
Christ Church gets very busy during July and August, particularly at weekends. Try visiting early in the morning or in the afternoon.
Photography and Filming:
Photography is permitted, provided this is for personal and non-commercial use.
Image credits: Christ Church Cathedral and Dining Hall by Meraj Chhaya and Christ Church Cathedral by David Iliff source Wikimedia.