One of the highlights of our week in Oxford was the visit to Broughton Castle on Friday. Bob and I had initially planned to stay in Oxford that day, but after attending the morning lecture on the English Civil War by Oxford Professor Diane Purkiss, we decided that we couldn’t miss the tour.
After a fascinating visit to Burford Church, we were driven to Broughton Castle, a moated and fortified manor house that played an important role in the English Civil War. The oldest parts of the castle were built in 1306 and most of the rest was built in its current form by the 1550s.
Upon arrival at Broughton Castle we were served a delicious “cream tea” after which we strolled through the spectacular gardens while waiting to take the guided tour of the castle. Several of us struck up a conversation with a very nice older woman who was weeding and dead-heading the beautiful roses. Much to our surprise we learned that she was Lady Saye and Sele whose family has owned the castle since 1447!
She could not have been friendlier and we spoke to her for nearly 20 minutes. She told us about how the castle has stayed in the same family, through war and peace, boom and bust, and as we learned later on the tour, despite a few “black sheep” ancestors prone to running up large gambling debts.
She knew all about the Williams at Oxford program, since Williams groups have been coming to visit the castle since 1985 and visits like ours are an important source of income that they use to maintain the castle. As we drove back to Oxford that evening, I found myself reflecting on the wonderful connections that the Williams at Oxford program have made possible, not just for the lucky students who get to study there, but for everyone connected to this special program.
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