Brushing Shoulders with Some Ghosts

So it turns out Oxford is one of the most haunted places around. Who knew, right? At a 900+ year old university, I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was still intrigued to see a sign advertising Ghost Tours outside my very own Trinity College.

Cue my spontaneous solo adventure today to some of the coolest Oxford haunts.

First I checked out the beautiful Trinity College Chapel, which was so quiet and peaceful. Apparently in 1962, a person died suddenly while playing the brand new organ there.


Then there’s St John’s College Library. I only had access to the main lawns (a bummer when you study at a university of 38 colleges!), but the library is said to be haunted by Archbishop William Laud, who was impeached and beheaded in 1645. According to stories, he walks through the reading room, kicking his head along the floor.


And I haven’t even visited the famous 1,000 year old Oxford Castle and Prison yet!

Okay, so maybe I didn’t have any supernatural sightings, but I think I felt a touch from the past in another way.

During my tutorial about Literature of Place today, I studied poems from writers like Gerard Manley Hopkins, who wrote about Oxford and the surrounding area. While talking with my professor, I thought about how we experience a connection with a long-gone writer both while reading words they penned at a specific moment, and by walking around their town and thinking they walked this path too.

I stumbled upon a carving that people say inspired C.S. Lewis to create the faun in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.


And, a little more difficult to miss, I finally got around to checking out The Eagle and Child, where J.R.R. Tolkien and his writing group used to meet.


What is it about these little corners of the world that touch our imaginations? I am struck by the creative energy that has been left behind in places like these, and it makes me want to write.

Places can be really powerful. Oxford has inspired writers to create so many stories and poetry over the centuries. And as I find the quiet nooks and alleys on a spur-of-the-moment expedition, I think I can sense the stories this place lets linger like ghosts in the corners.



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