Elizabeth Goudge Oxford - The family moved to Oxford when Henry Leighton Goudge, Elizabeth's father was appointed Regis Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford.
During World War II, the Ely Theological school, which Goudge's father headed, was turned into a hospital. After the war, he oversaw the reopening of the Theological College at Ely but was appointed Regis Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford in 1923. This was an honor but it meant leaving Ely, a place that Elizabeth loved. The family moved to Tom Quad in Christ Church College.
Elizabeth Goudge Oxford - some views of Christ Church. As you review these, imagine what it would be like to live here.
The Goudge's living quarters at Oxford were very damp and this was difficult for her mother, Ida Collenette Goudge. She finally moved and her to establish herself in a cottage in Devon for much of the year. It then fell upon Elizabeth to perform the hostess services expected by her father's position.
Elizabeth missed Ely but, as always, embraced her situation and explored the city. Oxford has much to explore.
The city is one large university with students filling the streets. Traffic is heavy and buses fill the roadways as they trace their many routes. ( I wondered if the traffic was so heavy in Elizabeth Goudge Oxford days.)Most of the colleges are gated and tourists are not welcome on their grounds. Still the air is filled with the sounds of their bells and the stone architecture dominates your vision. If you really want to seek them out, you can find the old four gates of the city - though West Gate is now a modern shopping center.
In center city there is an area closed to traffic. Pedestrians walk on sidewalks and roads as they visit shops. This area has an old fashioned Covered Market where you can buy baked good, fruits and vegetables, meat as well as other consumer items.
During my visits To Oxford I would often go to one of the shops to get an egg salad on baguette as 'take away', (the English name for fast food).
Two special treats were walking through the land along the river; a park runs along side Christ Church. Trees, grazing cows, paths and on occasion benches make it a lovely area. Also, the river flows near Christ Church and you can see the boat house and sometimes boaters in their punts, poling up the river.
Towers in the Mist, Goudge's fourth published novel, is set in Oxford and it offers a real sense of the excitement of a Renaissance University town. One of my own delights during one visit to Oxford was visiting some of the places mentioned by Goudge in both Joy of the Snow and Towers in the Mist.
One day I took the bus out over the Magdalen Bridge, got off and walked out Cowley Road. I was looking for St. Bartholomew's Church that is in the opening chapters of Towers in the Mist. I had checked a the tourist center, across from the bus station in center city and found St. Bartholomew's listed in a book of old structures. But no one in the office was able to give me good directions. I found a park and clinic with the name but could not find the Church.
Finally I saw a clergymanleave the clinic and mount his bicycle. I waved him down and explained my quest. He gave me excellent directions. I was just not walking far enough but he said that I would know when I reached it because there would be a high, well trimmed hedge. I set off again in this Elizabeth Goudge oxford venture and after another half mile or so, I was rewarded when I came upon the long hedge with an opening.
Entering, I was in another world. There were old stone buildings and there stood the St. Batholomew's Chapel found in the early part of , Towers in the Mist. And to my surprise, as I was taking some photos of the Church, a man came out to invite me in. It seems that the building is now used by his son as an artist's studio. But the early features of the building were intact.
I shall be ever grateful to the clergyman who stopped his bicycle as he was leaving the St. Batholomew's Health Clinic to give me directions . I had about given up but his directions were excellent. I shall never read Towers in the Mist again without thinking of the kindness of those who helped me explore this structure.
Oxford is a lively city and the various college of the University with their students and faculty members dominates the culture. But there are other aspect too.
There is still "market day" down at the center city near the bus stop. By 8 AM people are buying fruits and vegetables, clothes, books, art work and all the things found at a modern market day. The pace is easy and it struck me that this is a connection with those who lived before us - market day in Oxford..
Here is a walking tour of the city.....though I NEVER saw it with so few people, so little traffic or so few pedestrians. Still the beauty of the architecture is capture in Views of the city
To read more about Elizabeth Goudge's England go to:
End of Elizabeth Goudge Oxford page