Visiting the oldest university in the English speaking world is quite an experience. The University of Oxford has a world-class reputation for academic excellence, with internationally renowned tutors who provide high-quality teaching. With every step I took into the campus, I grew more appreciative of the grand surroundings. It is a college in a palace! From the architectural beauty to the exclusive sections, I was happy to be here and to be getting a chance to visit the school that once taught Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Former PM David Cameron, Michael Palin, and Bruce Kent.
Oxford is the world’s 2nd-oldest surviving university with its roots tracing to 1096. The renowned University of Oxford has many colleges, and Brasonese is one of them. Each college admits students that come from different backgrounds and schools. It’s an incredibly diverse neighbourhood where passion for learning unites all students. As I strolled within, I noticed that most students here ride bikes. In my head, I always imagined Oxford students to be driving around in fancy cars. So to watch them grounded and hung in simplicity was an absolute delight. Oxford University rapidly grew 1167 onwards after Henry II supposedly forbade English students from attending the University of Paris.
Over nine centuries, Oxford University has been a centre for debate and controversy concerning science, religion and arts. However, a trip to Brasonese college was also ‘special’ because I come from the educational background. Having taught for over 25 years, I have cultivated a love for education and everything related. Visiting Oxford was pretty much a dream come true. While here, I learnt that the initial colleges of Oxford sprang in the thirteenth century. After which, it further branched to 38 constituent colleges. Each college at Oxford is a self-governing institution with an independent authority arrangement. In 1878, Oxford opened its doors to female disciples, however, the culture of granting degrees to ladies only followed through after 1920. By 1974, each Oxford college began to admit female students.
While here, I made sure to visit the Brasonese libraries. Oxford is home to the most comprehensive library system in the UK with over 100 libraries, thus getting to tour the one at Brasonese was a delight of an experience. Brasenose has two exceptional libraries that keep over 60,000 books and publications and are accessible all 24 hours in a day. On the upper floor is the 16th-century Main Library, lately renamed as the Del Favero reading room. Until 1897, this part of the Greenland Library was confined, to the scholars/members of the college. On the 1st-floor over a previous place of holy seclusion, is an imposing apartment with a barrel-vaulted painted ceiling illustrating explanatory aspects of the Radcliffe and All Souls College. The airy expanse of this library is split, into 16-alcoves, each with laptops connected to the wireless network.
A spiral staircase goes beneath the Del Favero Reading Room, to the recently finished Smith Reading Room. From books shelved in vintage arcades to height-adjustable desks, this collaborative study room is equipped, with a snug-relaxed seating area and ample USB ports. In the Smith Reading Room, you will find books related to art, physics, music, computing, chemistry, engineering, medicine, maths, geography and biological sciences. The 1951 History Library, near Smith Reading Room, contains the contemporary history and diplomacy collections and stars 2 Tudor chimneys restored during 1950 fire. Brasenose also accommodates a plentiful, and impressive collection of 16th-century antiquarian books and manuscripts. By the mid-sixteenth century, Brasenose had in surplus of 100 volumes and now about 2,500 books printed before 1641.
Nestled in the city centre, BNC or Brasenose is a diverse community with a strong tradition of scholastic transcendence! This college is officially recognised as the King’s Hall and is one of the constituent colleges of Oxford. It was founded in 1509, by respected lawyer Sir Richard Sutton and the Bishop of Lincoln William Smyth. Architects Powell and Moya designed its magnificent building, wherein, the name Brasenose arose from the name of a bronze knocker, that once adorned the hall’s door. Fun Fact: The college is linked, to Lincoln College through a connecting door. The Brasenose college members enter Lincoln College through this door on ascension day each year. What a lovely experience it was to be here. You must ‘certainly’ tour this college while you are in London.