England, Day Four – The Uffington White Horse, Our Anniversary, Oxford

Monday, May 20

We had breakfast before checking out of the hotel. Our stay at the Angel was quiet and comfortable and the meals were good.

This is the breakfast room,

Angel Breakfast Room

The cozy pub,

Angel Pub

And the sitting room. It was a bit strange to see the computer in the sitting room with the ancient timber and plaster walls.

Angel Sitting Room

We checked out, packed the car and then stopped in at Mrs Bumbles to pick up a few things for our picnic lunch at the Uffington White Horse.

Uffington White Horse NASA

Photo by USGS (World Wind (go)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Horse is a large stylized figure that was made by cutting through the grass and digging trenches into the soil which were then filled in with chalk. It’s just over 350 feet long and 130 feet tall (for any horse people out there, that’s 390 hands!). It’s dated from the Bronze or Iron Age, possibly as old as 1400 BC. It’s maintained at periodic scouring fairs.

Uffington White Horse

Not surprisingly, it has changed in appearance over the centuries. Illustrations from 1813 and 1835, for example, show no eye and the legs in different positions. During World War One, the horse was almost completely occluded by grass. It World War Two, it was purposefully covered so it could not be used as a navigational aid by German pilots. It stands to reason that after periods of neglect, the design could only be approximated – sort of a visual Telephone Game. If we had a drawing for every year from the time it was created, it would make a great flip book animation.

Uffington White Horse

View from the head.

We had a great view from White Horse Hill even on a cloudy day. Six counties can be seen on a clear day.

Uffington White Horse

Over the hill is Uffington Castle, an Iron Age hillfort. There is an aerial photo here. What remains is a grassy plateau in the middle of a defense ditch.

Uffington White Horse

We disturbed a flock of sheep who kept their distance.

Uffington White Horse

It was really windy on the hills and I felt bad for the sheep who had already been sheared for the year.

We walked around the Castle and made our way back down to the entrance. We found a spot out of the wind for a picnic lunch. We got married in a national park and decided that rather than go back to that same spot, we’d find a new one to visit each year for our anniversary. When we ended up planning our vacation for the month of our anniversary, I found that the Horse is a British National Trust property and we decided that would qualify.

After our anniversary picnic of pork pie and Guinness-flavored chips for Jim and a vegetarian pie and some Cornish Yarg cheese for me, we packed up the car and headed for Oxford. We checked into the Green Gables Guest House, dropped our luggage in the room and walked into town.

It was the middle of the term so the area around the University of Oxford was very crowded. The campus is open to the public in between terms but there was a security guard at the Great Tom gate of Christ Church College. Great Tom is the bell in the tower.

Christ Church Gate

We passed the Oxford University Press.

Oxford University Press

I really, really wanted to bring home a shiny new Oxford English Dictionary but was daunted by the size of even the “Shorter Oxford English Dictionary”.

Oxford English Dictionary

Across the street was a building with some wonderful grotesques.

Oxford Grotesque 1 Oxford Grotesque 2

Oxford Grotesque 3 Oxford Grotesque 4

Oxford Grotesque 5 Oxford Grotesque 6

Oxford Grotesque 7 Oxford Grotesque 8

Oxford Grotesque 9 Oxford Grotesque 10

I haven’t been able to figure out what the building is other than a part of Oxford University, possibly Lincoln or Brasenose College.

I would have loved to go inside the Bodleian Library but it was closed to the public as well.

Oxford Bodleian Library

We walked back along the Thames River and watched the rowing crews practice. Their coaches ride up and down the path on bicycles calling out instructions and encouragement.

Oxford Rowing

They look so graceful gliding along but I know it’s a serious workout.

Next time on SLWS, we get to tour the Mini Plant – birthplace of my darling Mini Roadster!


2 thoughts on “England, Day Four – The Uffington White Horse, Our Anniversary, Oxford

  1. Anonymous

    I love the Uffington White Horse! and you’re right, images of it over time would make a great flip book. Loved your description of it as a visual telephone game.


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