For those who know Oxford, there will be much here that is familiar, but also some oddities. The university structure had not yet taken on its later form, so that in 1353 undergraduate students were not admitted to the colleges. They lived in ‘halls’, or sometimes in town lodgings, and would only join a college if they proceeded to advanced study after completing the Trivium and Quadrivium.
It would be another century before the invention of printing replaced the handwritten book, but nevertheless booksellers did exist and in university towns they could be licensed to provide the peciae, extracts from essential texts. Students would hire and copy these, in order to have their own versions of the study texts, and the system provided booksellers (who were also stationers) with a regular income.
Only a handful of colleges existed at the time, and not all are extant. Gloucester became Worcester, Canterbury was replaced by Christ Church, much of Durham was taken over by St. John’s College. Hart Hall has become Hertford College. You will not find the Hospital of St John, it has vanished under Magdalen. The monastic establishments were suppressed at the Reformation.
The area of dirty hovels north of St-Peter-in-the-East, inhabited by thieves and prostitutes, was swept away later in the fourteenth century and replaced by New College.
The main street plan survives, although the Broad now lies over the line of much of the filthy Canditch, and very little of the town wall can still be seen. Hammer Hall Lane is New College and Queens Lane. Even now the maze of waterways encompasses the town and the water meadows are still at risk of flooding.
A curious personal note. A later building replaced the medieval Holywell Mill, but as a first year student I cycled there once a week for a tutorial. Miller Wooton, I’m glad to say, no longer lives there.