Oxford, England

Bodleian Library

Named after its founder, Thomas Bodley, and opened in 1602, the Library (locally, ‘The Bod’) today holds around 11 million books, many of these housed within some of Oxford’s most memorable architecture, set in the historic heart of the University. 

Picture credit Tours of Oxford

While its great to just stroll into the Old Schools Quad and pause to admire the Tower of the Five Classical Orders, the Library offers public access into the Divinity School most days of the year. Audio guides are also available.

Access: The Divinity School £1 per person

Audio hire: Single £2.50 per person
Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £6 per family group (Adults: age 16 and over; children: age 0-15)

Bodleian Library Tours

Better still, to get a real insight into the history of the Library, take one of the ‘Bod’s’ numerous daily tours.  The tour includes, along with The Divinity School,  visits to Duke Humfrey’s Library and the 17th Century Chancellor’s Court, both architecturally and historically of note and both otherwise off limits to the visitor. 

  • Standard Tour £7pp. No concessions.

If you want to get really Behind the Scenes, though, then book one the Library’s acclaimed extended tours. Two options are offered. The tours run three days a week (currently on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays), and can include the Gladstone link, the underground passageway that connects the main Library to the Radcliffe Camera. These tours are popular, so booking is advised (which you can do online).

  • £13 per person. No concessions.

All tours are informative, of a very high standard, reasonably priced, and offer good value.

Harry Potter fans will not be disappointed either: both The Divinity School and Duke Humfrey’s Library provided locations for a number of the boy wizard’s earlier films. 

The illustrated guide book to the Bodleian, published by the Library, is informative and visually attractive. There is also a kids’ version available which includes activities. 

Not to be missed!

Check online for more info, tour schedules, options, prices and updates at www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whatson/visit/old-bodleian.

Review thanks to Chris Peters of Tours of Oxford