I recently spent the last month studying in Oxford. I moved my life from the US and put it in Oxford for a month and it was one of the most rewarding times of my life. One of the courses I was taking was a literature course which focused on literature based or inspired by Oxford. The first book we read was Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.
Its hard to see the connection between Wonderland and Oxford and its very complicated to explain but a quick explanation would be that in Wonderland time stops and everyone is the same age forever, Alice forever being 7. This can be compared to college because often times the people there are going to be forever between the ages of 18-22. The time stops there. Carroll an Oxford professor took the inspiration of time “stopping” at the Oxford Universities and turned it into a story.
The story behind Alice in Wonderland is that one day Carroll, Henry Liddell and his daughters the Liddell Sisters were punting down the Thames. Alice one of the Liddell sisters asked Carroll to tell them a story while they were punting through Port Meadow, a local common in Oxford. It was there that Alice in Wonderland was born.
Now that you are caught up on how Wonderland relates to Ports Meadow and Binsey, I can finally get into what to expect when you are there. Port Meadow and Binsey are about a 3 mile walk from Summertown which is about 2 miles outside of the city center. Port Meadow has been a grazing area for Oxfordians cattle and horses since ancient times.
I previously posted about this area the day after I went because I was in awe of the beauty that surrounded it. When you walk into Port Meadow, all you hear is nature. If you look around you, you are surrounded by lush green grass with the occasional puddle. There are some worn paths that lead to the river Thames where you can see boats anchored along the shore and old bridges helping you get to the other side.
If you cross one of those bridges it will lead you to a path that will lead you to a tiny village called Binsey. Binsey only has a total of 9 buildings. 6 cottages, St. Margaret’s Church, with St. Margaret’s Well and the Perch Inn. My professor took us to the Perch Inn where we sipped on delicious cups of hot chocolate, observed a wedding reception, and discussed the mysteries of Alice In Wonderland.
If you ever find yourself in Oxford and its a beautiful day I would definitely check out Port Meadow and Binsey.