Theme Thursday: I Am a Camera

We all know what a "camera" is, but while visiting Oxford, England a few years ago, I came upon a different kind of camera.  Beautiful and intriguing, it piqued my curiosity, but since it was not open to the public, all I could do was take pictures of its exterior.  The interior shots came from the Internet.

The Radcliffe Camera

by David Ross, Britain Express

The circular dome and drum of the Radcliffe Camera is one of the most distinctive landmarks in a city full of distinctive buildings. The camera (the word means simply "room") was built 1737-1749 with £40,000 bequeathed by Dr John Radcliffe, the royal physician.

The Radcliffe Camera was intended to house a new library, and designs were called for from several leading architects, including Nicholas Hawksmoor (responsible for much of All Soul's College) and James Gibbs.

It was Gibbs who won the competition, with his elegant Palladian design, though his final plans drew heavily on earlier work by Hawksmoor. Gibbs was also responsible for the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, in Trafalgar Square, London.

Originally the library in the Radcliffe Camera held both scientific and general books, but those collections were gradually moved to other University libraries, so that today the Camera functions as the main reading room of the Bodleian Library. The finished building holds some 600,000 books in underground rooms beneath Radcliffe Square.

Sadly, the Radcliffe Camera is not open to the public.


And now, another unusual look at "camera."


  1. I had no idea a part of a building could be called a camera. Cool.

    I swiped something from you today. Hope you don't mind.

  2. Oh, that kinda sucks. Don't you hate it when you REALLY want to check something out, only to find you can't?


    So is it only open to students at Oxford?

  3. That was a great post. Oxford is such a beautiful university city. Have you ever watched the old whodunit series, Insprector Morse? Filmed in Oxford, it always brought out its beauty.

  4. Hi! I have very much enjoyed my first visit here. Who would have thought the word Camera would be used to describe the Redcliffe building with its interesting history!
    I loved your 11/8/2009 post "Dessert at the French Laundry", because it reminded me so much of the experience of husband and myself as young Aussie backpackers. Rapidly running out of clean clothes to wear,Paris just happened to be the place where finding a laundromat was a necessity. So unromantic in such a beautiful city!

  5. what a unique take ont he theme...did not know that a building could be called a camera...and i hate it when i get somewhere and cant go in...

  6. Hey, now that was really amazing. Love the photos and learned something new!

  7. What a fantastic take on this theme. Whodda thunk "camera" had the alternate meaning. My Theme Thursday is HERE .

  8. The Italian word "camera" means room so I was familiar with that much. But I liked the whole idea that WE are cameras. Think of all the images we carry in our minds and that enrich us.

  9. Here in Newport the Preservation Society doesn't let you take pictures inside the famed mansions, but then I suspect it's an economic move; they want you to buy the postcards. I suspect they keep the public out of the Radcliffe Camera to keep the students undistracted while they study there.

    I see you went with The Buggles, too. We're the only ones I've seen so far, though. I suspect Kimy would have, too, but she's off on the road again!

  10. Wow, that's a fascinating building and I like learning that a building could be a camera.

  11. Not open to the public? That's a crime! I protest!

  12. Cool that you went to Oxford. And I didn't know that's what "camera" meant.

  13. A different kind of camera...indeed. What a great take on our Thursday theme.

  14. I guess that's where the term 'in camera' comes from meaning in a chamber or 'in private. Nice. I've seen this building but never knew what it was Next time I'm in Oxford (like that's going to happen) I'm gonna find a way in!


Thoughts? I would love to hear from you.