Hertford College, Oxford, Bridge of Sighs painting by Cathy Read

Bridge of Sighs Meditation

Hertford College on New College Lane has a curious little bridge between two buildings, nicknamed “Bridge of Sighs” after the famous structure in Venice. Although the college dates from the 13th century, the bridge is a relatively recent addition completed in 1914. It is called the Bridge of Sighs because of its resemblance to the bridge of the same name in Venice; however, it was never intended to be a replica of that bridge.

Bridge of Sighs on a Wet Day

The painting depicts a wet day. The lone cyclist embarks on his journey having unchained his bicycle from the railings on the right. He stands on the pedals, propelling his transport ever faster. Eyes intent on his destination.

The road surface dominates this image. It is a scarred surface telling of roadworks, resurfacing, and general wear and tear. Yet the road surface, like the bridge, is a recent construction when compared with Hertford College, steadfast in the background.  The 800-year-old building looks more majestic than the care-worn roads despite hard work done over the years.  As one would expect, the ravages of time wear away at the hardy architecture.

Tourist Magnet

The Bridge of Sighs is obviously on a regular tourist route. Even when I was there on a quiet wet day, numerous visitors stopped to pose for snaps of themselves and with each other, with the architectural featured in the background. People turned the corners, and you could see the looks of surprise and delight on their faces, especially on those for whom it was a novelty.

As a relative local and one who lived in Oxford for several years, it still delights me to see beautiful architecture as I go about my daily life. That architecture can be found all over but too often the locals tend not to visit these beauties on their doorsteps and wait for times when friends come to visit. And then they come out as tourists of their hometown.

Hertford College, Oxford, Bridge of Sighs painting by Cathy Read

If you enjoy Oxford, you might be interested in Oxford Artweeks, a countywide event which is free to attend. I’ll be taking part in a group exhibiting at Bicester Golf Hotel and Spa. Not far from Bicester Village.

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