Oxford University & Colleges, Oxford

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  • Fellow's Garden
    Fellow's Garden
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  • The 'Cottages'
    The 'Cottages'
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  • Wadham College gardens, Oxford
    Wadham College gardens, Oxford
    by iblatt
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    Wadham College

    by King_Golo Updated Feb 8, 2014

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    Wadham College is one of the few colleges founded by a woman - Dorothy Wadham -, who used her husband Nicholas's heritage to found the college in 1610, a year after his death, when she was 75 years old! Interestingly, despite being founded by a female, women were not allowed in the college at all, except for the laundress who had to be of "such age, condition, and reputation as to be above suspicion". Wadham only changed this in 1974 when women were allowed to be members of the college.

    Wadham is a nice example for early 17th century architecture - not laden with numerous gargoyles, but rather plain and clear. Opposite the entrance, you can see the hall which is, if you're lucky enough to get a glimpse in, as beautiful a place to eat as you can imagine. On its outside, two statues commemorate Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham. To the left of the hall, hidden in a passageway, is the entrance to the chapel. In the college's early days, every student and every fellow had to visit a service twice a day: at 5am and at 8pm! Compared with other college chapels in Oxford, Wadham's is not too special, so you do good to step out again and into the wonderful college garden. Whenever you come here, there are always blooming flowers. A vast lawn stretches between numerous trees, and in summer open-air theatre plays are staged here. If you go to the corner diagonally opposite the passageway, you can take a look through the gate towards the Fellows' Garden. It's private and only accessible for high-rank members of the college like so many of the college gardens, but a very nice place to be.
    For some newer architecture go to the other end of the front quad and walk through the passageway on that side. Climbing up the stairs to your left, you will come across the modernist library and next to it several dormitories which always remind me of some kind of holiday apartments in Spain or France.

    While Wadham's most prominent member was Christopher Wren, the architect of London's St Paul's Cathedral, the college now has a reputation to be a left-wing college, sometimes called "The People's Republic of Wadham". Among its more recent well-known members was Michael Foot, former leader of the Labour Party.

    Wadham's front quad
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    Jesus College

    by King_Golo Updated Feb 8, 2014

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    Jesus College is yet another beautiful Oxford college - small, squeezed between high walls and a huge chestnut tree, but lovable nonetheless. Founded in 1571, Jesus is one of three Turl Street colleges (the other being Exeter and Lincoln). It was opened on the grounds of White Hall, a student accomodation that had stood there since the 13th century. For reasons unknown the college has always attracted students and fellows from Wales, so that it calls itself the "Welsh College". Between its founding year and 1915, 24 of its principals in a row were Welsh! Welsh, however, was not to be spoken in the college during its early years. Jesus' statutes demanded that only Latin, Greek or Hebrew be spoken on the college grounds. I wonder if there is any one person left today who could obey these statutes... In any case, they seem to have allowed Welsh again in the meantime - if you peak into its front door, turn your head to the door frame. There's Oxford's only (?) "No Smoking" sign in Welsh!

    While not as famous as other Oxford colleges, Jesus has also contributed to the long list of famous Oxford graduates: Lawrence of Arabia, the adventurer and writer, Pixley Seme, the founder of the African National Congress, and William Boyd, an author, have all studied here.

    Entering the college through the porter's lodge on Turl Street, you first come into the First Quad, a beautiful 16th century quadrangle with one of the best-kept lawns in Oxford. Let your view wander around the buildings, take a breath of fresh air mixed with the scent of freshly mown grass and rosemary growing in massive quantities on the flowerbeds and go on into the Second Quad. This one is as lovable and beautiful as the first, and people (or at least college members) are even allowed to sit on the lawn and to enjoy the sun there. If you can, catch a glimpse of the interior of Jesus' hall which is remarkably well-lit for an Oxford hall.

    Jesus College, Second Quad
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    Exeter College I - General Facts

    by King_Golo Updated Feb 8, 2014

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    Exeter College is one of Oxford's oldest colleges dating back to 1314, and fortunately part of the consortium of colleges I teach for.

    Among other sights it has a wonderful chapel built in Victorian Gothic style which has just celebrated its 150th birthday. The interior is just marvellous - colourful windowpanes, dark wooden benches, Gothic arches, and you often hear the organist or Exeter's choir practicing which is simply amazing due to the chapel's great acoustics. Choral evensongs take place three times a week during term and are open to the public as well as classic concerts every now and then. But the best time to enjoy a visit to Exeter's chapel is 8th week of Michaelmas Term (normally the last week in November). This is when all the colleges have Christmas Carol services. The chapels are jam-packed with students, professors and tourists, and everybody is singing along. It's truly a magical atmosphere, even if you don't understand the texts or don't like singing. After the service, visitors are treated to mince pies and can get a rare glimpse into the Rector's Lodgings.

    Similarly interesting is the hall from 1618 - the place where lunch and dinner are taken. At lunchtime, students queue before the door to eat in this magnificent place while in the evenings, fellows and lecturers join them for dinner, wearing their gowns. Exeter's hall is similar to many others: dark brown wood, a high ceiling and paintings of famous members of the college (among them the current Rector, Frances Cairncross, who was the first female head of a college in Oxford), but most of my guests have found it a wonderful place to be. If you are lucky to be able to visit it, do not hesitate!

    While the college dates back to 1314, the oldest remaining part is Palmer's Tower from the 15th century. It is now home to several fellows' offices and - interestingly - the college's computer department.

    As every other college, Exeter, too, is proud of its famous graduates. The most well-known among them is J.R.R. Tolkien, author of "Lord of the Rings" (see another tip), but Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, two well-known pre-raphaelites have also studied here. Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile under 4 minutes, was also a student of Exeter.

    Note that the college is open to the public only in the afternoons during term. The exact times change over the year, but as long as it is not dark yet, you'll be lucky at around 2 or 3pm.

    Inside Exeter Chapel

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    University

    by solopes Updated Jan 13, 2014

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    Everywhere, in each street, in each room or yard is possible "to breed" the dense and conservative character of the old England.

    It's a heavy sensation, thinking about the role played in the world by the thousands of students "built" in this colleges.

    Oxford Oxford Oxford Oxford
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    Brasenose College

    by King_Golo Updated Apr 10, 2013

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    Brasenose College is one of the most central colleges, located directly at Radcliffe Square. Founded in 1509, it has just celebrated its 500th birthday. For this reason, David Cameron, the then British opposition leader, now Prime Minister, gave a talk to students and members of the college - being a former student himself! Cameron graduated in 1985. Other famous members were William Golding, the author of "Lord of the Flies" (a portrait of him is found in the hall), Michael Palin, member of "Monty Python", and Elias Ashmole, founder of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

    Brasenose is probably the college with the weirdest name. It derives from a door-knocker which is shaped like a nose and made from brass. If you are able to get a college tour, you will see it hanging over high table in the hall. The nose has since become the inofficial symbol of Brasenose - you can even get tobacco pipes with a nose on them!

    Nowadays, Brasenose is a wonderful place to study and work. Its quiet, well-kept quads are a nice place to sit down and relax from work while its huge sundial will nevertheless tell you the time, so that you'll know when to get back to work...

    Brasenose College - Old Quad Brasenose College and Radcliffe Camera
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    Wadham College

    by iblatt Updated Jul 1, 2011

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    Wadham College was founded in 1610, and is one of the largest colleges in Oxford. Its most famous scholar were architect Christopher Wren and physicist Robetr Boyle. In the 2pth century, director Tomy Richardson studies here.

    We visited Wadham College as part of a guided city walking tour; it was one of our guide's favorite colleges, and I can see why. The architecture is gothic with some classical elements.
    As we entered the college quad and saw the main building we were impressed with the beauty, the symmetry, and the "frontispiece" directly opposite the entrance with the figures of King James I and the college founders.

    Another highlight of Wadham is the chapel with its stained glass windows, showing many famous Biblical scenes. My favorite was Jonah and the whale, which looked like a very lovable little monser (see photo). When you enter the chapel you can see a colorful monument with a reclining figure (see photo): This is Sir John Portman, who died in 1624 as an undergraduate at the age of 19.

    The gardens are among the larger college gardens in Oxford, and I envied the students sitting on the lawn (forbidden to visitors!) surrounded by all the beautiful shrubbery. In one corner there is a strange sculpture of Warden Bowra, one of the most notewirthy figures in Wadham's history: the human figure is integrated into a chair, remotely resembling a mythological centaur (see photo).

    One of the curious pieces of Wadham College history relates to women: It was one of the first colleges in Oxford to admit women (in 1974!), but originally it was intended strictly for men; no woman could even be employed except for the laundress. According to the college website, this laundress had to be of 'such age, condition, and reputation as to be above suspicion'...

    Wadham College, Oxford Reclining figure of John Portman, Wadham Chapel Jonah and the whale, Wadham College chapel Wadham College gardens, Oxford Warden Bowra's chair-statue, Wadham College garden
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    All Souls College

    by iblatt Updated Jun 26, 2011

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    This college, founded in 1438, is unique in Oxford: It is a highly esteemed academic rsearch institute which does not admit undergraduate students.

    The college facade dates from the 1440s. In the front quad the highlight is the beautiful 17th century sundial designed by Christopher Wren.

    The Great Quad offers a good view of the nearby Radcliffe Camera, it is surrounded by spires and is dominated by twin towers designed in 1710. If the college is closed to visits when you arrive, you can peek through the gates on Catte Street and admire these pseudo-Gothic towers and the Great Quad.

    Twin towers of All Souls College, Oxford Chapel of All Souls College, Oxford Wren's sundial, All Souls College, Oxford Great Quad, All Souls College, Oxford All Souls College, Oxford
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    Worcester College ~ once owned by a tailor!

    by aaaarrgh Written May 15, 2011

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    Worcester College was a pleasant surprise. It is a little less discovered because it is further from the city centre (but not far from the railway station). Despite this, it is rich in history, has beautiful buildings, large tranquil gardens by the Oxford canal and, importantly, is open every day and FREE to enter!

    Worcester College began as Gloucester College in 1283, easily making it one of Oxford's oldest colleges. It was dissolved by King Henry VIII and later bought by a wealthy local tailor, Thomas White. Unfortunately the college continued to decline until it received a masive bequest, of £10,000 from a wealthy baronet, Sir Thomas Cookes, who hailed from Worcestershire. The college was renamed Worcester College in 1714.

    The college has a marvellous walled garden which has, on one side, some of the original 13th century buildings. From here you can walk through the grounds, around a large lake which is fed by the next-door canal.

    Don't forget to visit the incredibly colourful chapel. When we visited (on a Sunday) one of the students was playing the organ here. The chapel is a 'recent' addition, completed in 1791. During the 1860's the interior was decorated by the flamboyant architect, William Burges (who was rumoured to sometimes design under the influence of hallucinatory drugs!).

    Open 2pm to 5pm every day.

    front door quadrangle
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    St. John's College

    by iblatt Updated Apr 30, 2011

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    We visited this beautiful college as part of a walking tour of Oxford.
    Its architecture is outstanding, even by Oxford standards, and has won awards. The gardens are extensive and beautifully laid out, and were probably at their best during our visit in the spring.

    St John's was founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas White, a wealthy London merchant and Lord Maor of London. He was a Roman Cathoic, and originally intended the college to turn out well educated clerics to support the Counter-Reformation.

    Today it is one of Oxford's largest and richest colleges, is considered to be one of the most successful academically, and has students from various backgrounds. It has a reputation of providing a "lively, stimulating and supportive atmosphere" to its students. Tony Blair is among the many distinguished graduates.

    The quad of St John's College, Oxford The quad of St John's College, Oxford Lawn in St. John's College, Oxford In the garden of St. John's College, Oxford
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    Merton College

    by leffe3 Written Nov 15, 2010

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    Merton is the third oldest college in Oxford, founded in 1264 and named after Walter de Merton, chancellor to both Henry III and Edward I. Merton acquired land around the old parish of St John's - by 1290 the old church had been replaced by the present chapel of the college and which stands proudly at the front quadrant of the grounds directly onto the street. A number of the buildings in the college are 14/15th century and, in the garden, the southeastern corner of the old walls of the city are incorporated.

    Merton was placed 3rd in the academic rankings of the 30 colleges of Oxford University.

    Alumni include:
    Theologian John Wycliffe; Sir Max Beerbohm; Lord Randolph Churchill; athlete Roger Bannister; TS Eliot; actor Kris Kristofferson; HIH Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan; Tolkein

    Open: Monday - Friday, 2-5pm: Saturday-Sunday, 10am-5pm
    Entry fee: £2

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    The Bodleian

    by leffe3 Written Nov 15, 2010

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    Informally known as The Bod, The Bodleian Library was opened in 1602 by Thomas Bodley with 2,000 books. Nowadays, every copyrighted book must be lodged with The Bod - resulting in a collection of more than 9 million items and 176 kilometres of shelving.

    Bodley was a former diplomat in the court of Elizabeth I and by the time of his death in 1613 an extension to the original 1488 building and the quadrangle we see today began. In addition to books, the Library began housing manuscripts, thus attracting academics from throughout Europe.

    A purely research library, The Bod does not allow the borrowing of books (based on the fact that the original collection from the 14th and 15th century were 'dispersed' in 1550 by agents of King Edward VI in rooting out any traces of catholicism). King Charles I was famously refused permission to borrow books in 1645.

    The collection continued to grow, and the taking on of the Radcliffe Camera in 1860 considerably increased space but with the collection growing at 30,000 items per year, more and more space was required. Thus, with the building on the New Library (on Broad St) in the the 1930s enabled the Library to house its collection in much better conditions.

    But its the old Bod that is the pull - and the quadrangle can be accessed free of charge (it lies behind the Sheldonian). But beyond that, payment must be made.

    Opening Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm; Saturday, 9am-4.30pm; Sunday 11am-5pm
    There are various types of visits - from £1 per person to access the Divinity Room only through to 90 minute guided tours (£13).

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    All Souls College

    by leffe3 Written Nov 15, 2010

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    Another of those mouthfuls for its full name - The Warden and the College of the Souls of all Faithful People deceased in the University of Oxford... All Souls for short!

    Founded in 1438 by King Henry VI and his Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry Chichele. All Souls is completely different from the other colleges - no undergraduate study. All 'students' are automatically Fellows of the College - recent top achieving graduates from other colleges apply to All Souls for a Fellowship for up to 7 years (for which a stipend is paid). The applicants are faced with 'the hardest exam in the world' (The Guardian) to be accepted.

    Past Fellows include:
    Sir Isaiah Berlin, Lord Curzon, A.L.Rowse, Lawrence of Arabia

    Open: 2-4pm daily
    Entrance Free.

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    Trinity College

    by leffe3 Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    Founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope, a trusted privy counsellor of Queen Mary I, Trinity is one of the smaller colleges in terms of numbers but has extensive grounds in the centre of the city (entrance is on Broad St virtually opposite the Bodleian Library).

    Full title of the college is The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in the University of Oxford of the foundation of Sir Thomas Pope. Hardly surprising it is called Trinity for short!

    It was positioned 23rd of 30 colleges in the 2010 academic rankings.

    Famous alumni include:
    Richard Burton; Cardinal Newman; William Pitt the Elder; playwright Terence Rattigan

    Open: Monday-Friday, 10am-12 noon & 2-4pm; Saturday & Sunday, 2-4pm (term time):
    Saturday-Sunday, 10am-12 noon, 2-4pm (vacation).
    Admission: £1.50/75p

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    The Queen's College

    by leffe3 Updated Nov 14, 2010

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    Founded in 1341, The Queen's College is named after Queen Philippa of Hainault, wife of King Edward III. Unusual for an Oxford college, The Queen's is renowned for its 18th century buildings (as opposed to the usual Gothic) due to renovations and rebuilding of the time.

    Of the 30 colleges that make up Oxford University, The Queen's was ranked 14th in the 2010 ratings.

    Famed alumni include Tony Abbott (Head of the Liberal Party and Australia's current Leader of the Opposition): Rowan Atkinson; philosopher Jeremy Bentham; King Henry V; playwright Thomas Middleton; writer Oliver Sacks.

    The Queen's can only be visited by appointment and with a Blue Badge Guide booked through the Tourist Office.

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    Nuffield College

    by King_Golo Updated Nov 12, 2010

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    Nuffield College is a rather new college (founded in 1937 by Lord Nuffield a.k.a. William Richard Morris) and not often visited by tourists. However, it is quite beautiful and has an interesting background.
    William Morris was earning some extra pence repairing other people's bicycles when he was young. He left school at the age of 15 and opened his own bicycle garage in his parents' house on James Street in Oxford - a little plaque nowadays commemorates this place. As the business soon flourished, he became more and more successful and eventually founded the Morris Motor Company in 1912 to produce cars. Their most popular car was the Morris Minor which you can still see quite often on English roads. Morris was created baronet in 1929, Baron Nuffield in 1934 and eventually 1st Viscount Nuffield in 1938. He didn't have any children and so donated roughly 1,000,000,000 Euro for charitable causes during his life time, among them Nuffield College. He wanted it to be an engineering and economy college, but it became a graduate college for social sciences. Lord Nuffield wasn't too happy about that: Allegedly he called it a "bloody Kremlin" where left-wing scientists conduct research at his expense...
    The college is easily visible from nearly everywhere in Oxford due to its copper-roofed spire which is among the highest in the city and because of its young age the most modernist. Inside the college grounds, visitors first come across one of the largest quads (or rather rectangles) in Oxford, complete with a deep and dark pond in the middle. This pond is the last remaining part of a canal basin where coal boats coming down the Oxford Canal from Staffordshire unloaded their freight. Beautiful Cotswold stone houses surround the quad. The upper quad features a very modern fountain and a sculpture made from a Scandinavian rock shaped by the glacial forces of the ice age. One last interesting fact: Nuffield College was the first Oxford college to accept men and women from its first day on.

    Nuffield College

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