Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bartlemas, Oxford

Tucked away up a lane (signposted ‘Private’) just a few hundred yards away from Cowley Road in East Oxford, Bartlemas is the remains of a hospital founded by Henry I, who ruled England from 1100 to 1135. This little building is the chapel, which, going by the windows, looks 14th century and so must be a replacement of an earlier original. Just to the north is a long stone range, part of the hospital’s domestic buildings.

When the hospital was built, and for centuries afterwards, this would have been an isolated enclave, far away from the city of Oxford, a place of quiet and seclusion where a few old or infirm inmates could live out their years in peace. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Oxford grew eastwards in ribbons of houses, shops, and factories, the new buildings surrounding and sometimes engulfing what was already there. What’s remarkable is that Bartlemas still keeps its air of quietude, even though it’s now so near to the bustle of the Cowley Road. A haunt of ancient peace.

1 comment:

Peter Ashley said...

How private? I want to go there.