Open Doors is an annual event in which historic Oxford buildings are open to the public. This means that places that you usually have to pay to go into are free and places which are generally closed become accessible. It takes place on the second Saturday and Sunday of September and, whilst it’s a bit of a bonus for tourists, is something that is taken up by people from the local area.
This year, I didn’t have a plan as such – just a few hours to fill in, which, on Saturday, I spent by wandering randomly into places that were open and didn’t look too crowded. This became a mini church crawl within a small area in St Giles, a wide street which was originally just outside the north gate of the city and which, a few days earlier had hosted an improbably large fair. On Sunday, I formed a plan and took in a couple of colleges.
As there are rather a lot of pictures and it’s a busy week, I’m going to break this into a number o posts.
First port of call was Blackfriars Priory. This is actually a working priory as well as being an “private hall” – an educational institution connected to, but not part of, the University.
Curiously, this is only the second time I had ever been inside a Catholic church in the UK (the first time was to see a play at The Oratory which is just a little further down the road). This isn’t, I hasten to add, on ideological grounds – just something that I’ve never had occasion to do.
You could really only go into the chapel, which dates from the 1920s and is surprisingly and pleasingly plain.