Oxford's Keble College
Halfway between Bainton Bikes, and Gloucester Green, where we planned to catch a bus to London the next day, we stepped over the two-foot threshold of the Main Gate to be embraced by the tranquility of Keble College.
We’ve all heard the old realtor’s maxim, “location, location, location.” However true it is when selling a home, it’s especially true when selecting lodging when you're cycle touring. That’s how we stumbled onto Keble College, Oxford University
Plain as a Cardboard Box
After we picked up our room keys at the Porter's Lodge, we carried the big skeleton keys up stone stairs with divots from 150 years of use, to a dorm room as plain as the inside of a cardboard box. The room was outfitted with the ubiquitous heated towel rack, electric kettle, tea, instant coffee and cookies.
Our view of Liddon Quad below would help even the dullest student find her muse.
Keble College is one of the newer Oxford colleges, founded in the late 1870’s to offer higher education to students of limited financial means. We realized we might have been eligible forty years ago, if we had only known. We mulled over that one for awhile, imagining the directions our lives might have taken had we really been students at Oxford University.
Wow What a Dining Hall
The next morning, our breakfast in the Dining Hall scored Keble College as an impressive bed and breakfast experience, plain room aside. We walked in to the vast hall and just stared. “First time?” asked the Hall Porter, like it wasn’t obvious from our gaping wonder.
At 300 feet Keble’s dining hall is the longest of any of the Oxford colleges. It’s that big because all students were required to take all their meals together. A rule intended to counter the tradition of private dining common at the more elite colleges.
The cavernous darkness is warmed with yellow-shaded lamps regularly spaced along the truly impressive ranks of tables -- creating a dining experience that we found both intimate and communal. The grand setting encourages quiet, serious conversation, a far cry from the concrete, plastic, and fluorescent lights of the college cafeterias of our day.
Student waiters kept our coffee cups filled, the one and only time we had coffee refills in England. We enjoyed our choice of vegetarian, full English, or Continental options but the atmosphere trumped the food by a long shot.
About Kebel College
Keble College welcomes visitors between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm daily.
For more details about the architecture of Keble College, this video provides fascinating background on one of our remarkable lodging experiences.
Susan Carey retired in 2017 after a long business career. She writes about her experiences as a vagabond in Europe. Susan shares her gentle life with her husband, Jamie, and two geriatric cats they brought with them from the United States.