The Open Arms

William Osler nicknamed Open Arms the house he lived in in Oxford (13 Norham Gardens) from 1907 to his death, in 1919, due to the great numbers of friends and visitors he and his wife Grace welcomed and sheltered in it1.

"In 1906 the Oslers bought the big Victorian Gothic red-brick house at 13 Norham Gardens, down the street from the place they had been renting [since 1905, at N.7]. They spent months and many thousands of pounds having the thirty-year-old house thoroughly renovated, installing American-style central heating and three new bathrooms. Grace created a local legend in Oxford when she climbed into a porcelain tub at a shop to try if out for lenght. The Americans must have seemed obsessed with washing and keeping warm. They were certainly obsessed with haste and were driven nearly mad by the snail's pace of British labor. Despite or perhaps because of their frustrations, the Oslers finally gave a wind-up dinner in their garden for the more than hundred workers who had done the job. Externally, 13 Norham Gardens was (and is) architecturally undistinguished…


… Its virtues for the Oslers were its large size and its terrace, tennis court, and large garden…


…fronting on the University Park. Norham Gardens is still a peaceful street of English country houses in easy walking distance of academic and medical Oxford"2.

Today the house belongs to Green Templeton College and hosts the "Osler-McGovern Centre": "the Centre promotes the integration of the art and science of medicine by uniting a community of scholars through programmes involving lectures, seminars, workshops, conferences, visiting scholars and post-doctoral Fellows"3.


Under the pressure of its enthusiastic Director, Professor Terence Ryan, the "Osler-McGovern Centre" is trying to recreate the original "oslerian" atmosphere both in material and in cultural terms. Visitors and scholars can find many osleriana in the entrance hall…


… in the library…


…in the consulting room…


…in the bedroom (with Osler's angular desk)…


…as well as in other rooms…

  • Photos by ti.supmacinu|ihgrob.l#ihgroB acuL (August 2011), courtesy of the Osler-McGovern Centre.

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