The Dreaming Spires of Oxford

The Dreaming Spires of Oxford

Our grandson went up to Oxford about a year ago. He sent us a postcard during his first term. The view was of the dreaming spires which was an ideal picture for painting. All those old favourites, Tom Tower and the Ratcliffe Camera plus a few that I’ve forgotten

A tremendous amount of national history took place in Oxford. The university is one of the four oldest in Europe, and I believe that Merton is the oldest college, although happy to be corrected on that score. I haven’t been there for years, unfortunately. I remember in the cathedral, there is the notch in the wall which supported the dais on which Cranmer sat during his trial.There was only one outcome to this trial. He was going to burn. Queen Mary had already decided. She hated him for the way that he had treated her mother, Catherine of Aragon in the past. And, of course, burn he did, and the spot is still marked.

During the Civil War that followed about a century later, Oxford was the seat of the King and the Royalist Party. London had declared for Parliament.

In this painting, I struggled to capture the soft light on the honey-coloured stone, and hopefully a quiet peaceful atmosphere. Others may judge me on that score

I haven’t shown this painting publicly yet. My first opportunity is at the end of this month, when I show with the Village Artist at Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking, Surrey. They have been kind in the past, so we shall have to see what the reaction is.


3 thoughts on “The Dreaming Spires of Oxford

  1. Dreaming is an understatement to what Oxford actually is. Been fascinated by the place from childhood. It’s my dream to visit it one day, the seat of Tolkien and of course the very famous “Morse”. There’s so much history in the very name of the place I think it’s fair to call it the Alexandria of the West. I know I’ll be completely lost in history there.

    Interestingly, Tudor history is one of my most favourite, especially by David Starkey. He’s such a learned speaker, in my opinion. Can make anyone feel interested in the topic. Catherine and Anne’s undoing wasn’t exactly Thomas Cranmer’s fault. He had witnessed what Henry’s wrath had done to Wolsey, and was keen to avoid it all costs.

    This view comes up on most of the episodes of Morse, with the sound of the bells in the background. If only one could paint the sounds of the bells, the view would be complete.

    Good luck with the exhibition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes David Starkey is probably one of the finest historians we have, and especially versed in the Tudor period
      Thomas Cromwell finally fixed the royal divorce which Mary was so bitter about. He however had already been beheaded by Henry. He was not known for his gratitude. Cranmer recanted and returned to the Catholic faith but it didn’t save him and he went to the stake. Famously he held his right hand in the fire, the one that had betrayed him, so that it was consumed first. Awful story

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry, I always mix up the two Thomases: Cromwell and Cranmer. Anne of Cleves was Cromwell’s undoing. And helping Edward 6 and opposing Mary 1’s ascension was Cranmer’s.

    Starkey’s Mind of a Tyrant is one of the best works on Tudor history. He also made separate documentaries on all three children of Henry 8. Watched them all multiple times. You can find them on Real Royalty on YouTube.


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