My eldest nephew visited here with us Sunday overnight. He had been a student at Oxford University and we had visited him there – I can’t believe how time has flown – three years ago. At that time, we learned a bit about Oxford students from him as he showed us around:
After we’d left St. Hugh’s, we meandered through a park nearby that had a university field. When I mentioned the cricket pitch, he noted, “They also play quidditch here.”
You know, the game from Harry Potter.
“Uh, don’t you need a flying broomstick to play that?” my wife snickered.
“They run around with broomsticks between their legs,” he replied deadpan.
“Future world leaders. Greatest university in the world,” I chuckled.
He lives in Oxford again now. He loves the city. He headed back earlier this morning.
Yesterday, we had a walk across country over to neighboring Ayot Saint Lawrence…
Playwright George Bernard Shaw famously lived in the village for some 50 years; and I’ve already posted about his presence there. For all intents and purposes, Shaw put the tiny village on the historical map. We didn’t go near his house this time, though.
Less well known, and more recently, novelist/historian Carola Oman (Oh-man, not Oh-mahaan; formally Lady Lenanton) also lived in the village later in life until her death in 1978. Among other works, she wrote groundbreaking biographies of Admiral Lord Nelson and General Sir John Moore. Nelson is well known still today – considered one of Britain’s national heroes
and he was also a bit nuts. Moore is not as well remembered; early in the Napoleonic wars, the Scot had been Great Britain’s pre-eminent soldier and army “modernizer” until he was killed in battle against France’s Marshal Soult’s forces in Spain in 1809. (Afterwards a man named Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, would surpass him many times over in terms of army fame.)
I have Oman’s Moore biography (written in 1953) in its first edition hardcover. It is on a shelf in the Catskills. I found it by accident in a second hand bookstore in St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, in 2005.
Ayot Saint Lawrence also has an architecturally curious classical-looking church. You don’t generally see Church of England parishes built in this style:
While we were there, I went looking for something about her inside of the church that I had read existed…
We have been around Ayot Saint Lawrence a bunch of times, but I had not actually ventured inside of the church before.
It was nearing four o’clock. The church was silent and empty. We three were entirely alone.
And I found what I was looking for: there is a plaque hono(u)ring her (and honoring her husband too), unmissable on the wall on the right (visible to the left side in the photo above) as you walk into it:
There is also this on another wall:
Don’t groan. I know you find that all rather obscure history stuff. But I find it fascinating, okay.
And a writer must be a “sponge”: you never know what you might find useful knowledge someday…
Oh, and we stopped at the Brocket Arms pub, of course:
Have a good Monday, wherever you are. 🙂