The settlement that became Oxford grew up around a place in the Thames River that was shallow enough for oxen to cross. After the Norman Conquest, a castle was built to control the river crossing and the surrounding countryside, but it was never very important militarily and was later converted to a prison. Described by nineteenth century poet Mathew Arnold as the “city of dreaming spires,” a reference to its churches and university buildings, Oxford has been a college town since Saxon times.
Most of the people in Laetitia’s group today were Laetitia’s group were young adults who found the campus ambience intoxicating. She took them to the Natural History Museum in the morning, turned them loose to mingle with the campus crowds for a few hours, and then collected them again for a walkabout.
Crotch Crescent is another Oxfordshire locale listed in Rude Britain. Located in the Oxford suburb of Marston, this half-moon-shaped street was named for an Oxford professor of music. William Crotch was a composer, organist, and teacher who was named professor in 1797 and remained so until his death in 1847. During the walkabout there, Laetitia talked to a resident who enjoyed the notoriety that his street achieved when Rude Britain first appeared on the market. Sadly for him, the phenomenon didn’t last long. Laetitia summarized their conversation in the limerick of the day.
Hugh relished the humor pubescent
Brought by his address, 8 Crotch Crescent
In which he took delight
But sad was his plight
For the fame it brought was evanescent.