Back to England - III

Bell Tower of Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England (LEO Design)


In Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Charles Ryder (played by Jeremy Irons in the television series) seeks a place for him and Lord Sebastian Flyte to reside together during their final term at Oxford.  Charles relates, "The weeks went by; we looked for lodgings for the coming term and found them in Merton Street, a secluded, expensive little house near the tennis court."  Money wouldn't be a problem; Sebastian was very wealthy.  But the strength of their love affair would be tested: by Sebastian's alcoholism and the social disapproval of the times.  Brideshead's author, Evelyn Waugh, was at Hertford College.  His friend, Hugh Lygon, was at Pembroke College.  The two did live together for a time on Merton Street in the Twenties.

Shown above, the Gothic bell tower of Merton College Chapel.  Much of the church we see today was built in the late 1200's.  The tower itself was completed in 1450.  Surprisingly, some of the original Thirteenth Century stained glass windows still remain.  With the help of protective priests and parishioners, they escaped Henry VIII's wrath—the destruction of all things Catholic.  When succeeding monarchs attempted to destroy these windows, some were removed (and hidden) and others were boarded-over and whitewashed.  Today, surviving Pre-Reformation Anglo-Catholic stained glass windows are very rare.


Façade of Merton College Warden's House, Oxford, England (LEO Design)


Shown above, the Warden's House at Merton College.  At Oxford, a warden is the "head of governance" at any particular school. This "Elizabethan-Style" home was built by architect Basil Champneys in 1908 to house the warden of Merton College.  However, given post-WWII British austerity, it proved to be too big (and grand) a space for a warden and his family (if he had one).  The last warden moved-out in 1947.  Today it houses the Merton College library.


Quaint and Cobbled Merton Street, Oxford, England (LEO Design)


Another view down the quaint, cobbled Merton Street.  Even today, I can imagine Charles Ryder walking down Merton Street in his scholar's gown and mortarboard—Sebastian Flyte alongside, gently swinging his teddy bear, Aloysius, by the well-worn arm.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248