In addition to the physical transition of the gallery, the move to Turl Street has brought us closer to the heart of Oxford.
Here on Turl Street, one can almost hear the footsteps of history, all of the past students and travellers who have crossed these cobblestones. One of Oxford’s famous faces, Tolkien, called Turl street home during his tenure at Exeter college. Many of his experiences in these years worked their way into his later writings.
Tolkien also had a hand for drawing and sketched out some scenes of the city centre as he knew them. It is very exciting to see that our gallery features in a sketch by one of the most creative minds of all time.
The first here is one Tolkien drew of Turl Street from the vantage point of his college room, the red circle depicts where our gallery is.
This second image is very similar to the first, however, it was used as the cover of a smoking concert invitation.
The scene of the tipsy students staggering homewards is not much different than it would be if this were drawn today. The university proctors are shown as the watchful owls and are reminiscent of the Ringwraiths of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth tales
Tolkien’s whimsical sketches include other well-known Oxford locales, such as this one of Broad Street, the erstwhile home of Aidan Meller.
Discovering images like these is an exciting way to link the past and the present of Oxford. Now that Turl Street is our new home we too hope to become a part of that narrative going forward.
You can read more about J.R.R Tolkien in the book Tolkien at Exeter College by John Garth.