West Wycombe and the "Other Place"

Posted on June 5, 2007 by Holly Hayes
Part of: Graduate School in Oxford

On Saturday we had an appointment to visit a couple of prospective flats in High Wycombe, and we took the opportunity to do some sightseeing while we were out.

On our way to Wycombe we stopped at West Wycombe Hill, which is topped by a church built in 1760 by a rich family called the Dashwoods. David had visited it briefly in the rain on the way home from work a few months ago and wanted to show it to me and photograph it in the sunshine.

st lawrence, west wycombe

We had a nice surprise when we arrived - a wedding was just finishing! Within a few minutes of our arrival, we heard the recessional music come from inside, the church bells started ringing, and the newlyweds appeared. They posed with balloons and then released them. It was great stuff.

st lawrence, west wycombe st lawrence, west wycombe st lawrence, west wycombe st lawrence, west wycombe st lawrence, west wycombe 400d_0015

After the couple came out and posed for lots of pictures we were able to slip inside, where the minister was gratefully getting rid of her hot velvety robe and cape.

The interior was unusual, as often happens with privately-sponsored churches. It is said to be based on the Temple of the Sun in Palmyra or an Egyptian temple (my sources differ). The ceiling has a painting of the Last Supper (above right) that focuses on Judas, whose eyes follow you around the room. Interesting and creepy!

st lawrence, west wycombe st lawrence, west wycombe

Out behind the church is an unusual mausoleum built for the Dashwood family burials. They clearly fancied themselves to be on par with the ancient Romans.

dashwood mausoleum dashwood mausoleum

From the mausoleum there is a lovely view of High Wycombe and the surrounding countryside.

view to high wycombe

The Other Place

We were done with our apartment viewing in High Wycombe at about 3:30 and decided to do some more driving while we were out. Lots of options were considered but in the end we decided to go to Cambridge.

The University of Cambridge was founded by students from Oxford in 1209 and the two schools have been rivals ever since, traditionally referring to each other as "the Other Place" instead of by name. As a devoted Oxonian, I follow suit.

cam river, cambridge The Cam River behind King's College, photographed by David.

Cambridge was a beautiful town, admittedly more so than Oxford overall. But the architecture wasn't quite as old or quite as good (in my opinion) as Oxford and there was a surprisingly trashy feel about parts of the town. We expected it to be more posh than Oxford since it is smaller, greener and not as popular a tourist attraction. Instead, the streets were full of loitering teenagers smoking dope and there was trash strewn all over the parks. But if there were no people, Cambridge would probably win as the better city. As for the quality of the academics, I have no doubt Oxford is better. :)

A few highlights of Cambridge:

round church, cambridge The Round Church, built c.1130, is one of only four medieval round churches in England.

christ's college, cambridge Entrance gateway to Christ's College, founded 1437.

christ's college, cambridge perks of the job
Inside Christ's College gateway.

river cam quayside Restaurants and pubs along the river. We saw (or rather heard) a punter fall in the water along here! Good stuff.

hen party on a punt A hen party on a punt! Looks like a great idea.

st mary's university church king's college
St. Mary's University Church and King's College.

king's college chapel The back of King's College Chapel, as seen on our long walk back to the car.