An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1939.
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(24) University College stands on the S. side of High Street. The walls are of local Oxfordshire stone with dressings and ashlar of the same material; the roofs are slate-covered. The foundation of the college is ascribed traditionally to King Alfred but the earliest historical endowment dates from 1249 when William of Durham gave a sum for the maintenance of ten or more Masters of Arts. There are records of the building of a hall in 1448–9, of a gatehouse in 1470 and of a chapel c. 1475–8. The rebuilding of the college was due to the benefactions of Charles Greenwood and Simon Bennet and the foundation-stone of the W. Range of the Main Quadrangle was laid in 1634; in the following year the N. Range with the Gatehouse was begun and finished in 1638; in 1637 the S. Range including the Chapel and Hall was begun, but was interrupted by the civil war and not resumed till 1657; the chapel was consecrated in 1666. The Kitchen Range with the Library above was built between 1668 and 1670; the old E. Range was pulled down in 1669–74 and the new E. Range built in 1675, partly on the foundations of the old hall. The Radcliffe Quadrangle was built from a bequest by Dr. John Radcliffe between 1716 and 1719. In 1766 the interior of the hall was remodelled in the Gothic taste from the designs of Henry Keene, and the open roof ceiled and a marble fireplace inserted. In 1802 the exterior of the hall and chapel was refaced from the design of James Griffith, later Master of the college. In 1842 the New Range on High Street to the W. of the main quadrangle was built from the design of Sir Charles Barry and in 1861 the Library was built from the design of Sir Gilbert Scott who also re-built the E. end of the chapel and raised the roof. The new Master's Lodging was built in 1879, the Shelley Memorial in 1894 and Durham Building on the E. side of Logic Lane in 1903. The hall was extended W. in 1904 and the plaster ceiling removed. Some of the gables of the quadrangle were restored in 1907–8 and the High Street front was restored in 1911.
Architectural Description—The Main Quadrangle (105 ft. by 101 ft.) is entered by the gatehouse in the middle of the N. Range. This range was built between 1635 and 1638 and is ashlar-faced and of three storeys. The Gatehouse is also of three storeys but rises above the range and is finished with a restored embattled parapet. The outer archway has moulded and shafted jambs and four-centred arch in a square head, with cusped spandrels and a fleur-de-lis in each, and a moulded label; it is hung with panelled oak doors in two folds with a wicket in the W. half; the carved panels in the head bear cartouches of the arms of the college and William of Durham; the oval panels below have ornamental cartouches and the lower panels have cinque-foiled or elliptical heads and jewel-ornaments. The second stage has a much restored orielwindow with two four-centred and transomed lights on the face and one on each return; the middle part is occupied by a pseudo-Gothic niche containing a figure of Queen Anne set up in 1709 and replacing a figure of King Alfred; the oriel-window rests on moulded corbelling and has an embattled cresting. The third stage has two restored windows both of two four-centred and transomed lights in square heads; between them is a niche generally similar to that in the stage below but with no figure. The inner archway to the quadrangle is similar to that on the N. front but has trefoiled spandrels; the two upper stages have restored windows and niches similar to those of the top stage of the N. front; the lower niche contains a figure of James II in classical costume; the upper niche is empty. The gate-hall has a traceried fan-vault (Plate 5) with cinque-foiled heads to the panels and crested bands; the central spandrel has a cartouche of the arms assigned to King Alfred, being those of the college, there are other cartouches-of-arms of Percy, Dudley, Skirlaw and William of Durham; the two former are surrounded by the garter; the vault rests on corbels carved with angels bearing shields with the arms of William of Durham. The room in the second stage has some re-set late 17th-century bolection-moulded panelling probably from the E. end of the chapel; parts of the frieze and upper rails have enrichment of palms and drapery-swags, etc. The ranges flanking the gatehouse are finished on both faces with a series of restored ogee gables and the string-courses are carried along at the levels of the window-sills and the returns of the window-labels; the windows are of two elliptical-headed lights in square heads, except at the junction with the later E. quadrangle where a three-storeyed bay-window was inserted probably when the new quadrangle was built in 1716–19; it has four lights on the face and one on each return. The S. face of the range is generally similar to the N. face and has been extensively restored; the doorways have moulded jambs and four-centred arches in square heads with labels. Inside the range, some of the doorways have original moulded oak frames with four-centred arches in square heads; some of the doors are also original. A certain amount of 17th-century panelling remains. A room on the first floor at the W. end is lined with original panelling finished with a cornice; the fireplace is flanked by simply enriched pilasters supporting the shelf; the overmantel is of two bays divided and flanked by Ionic columns supporting an entablature; the bays have central applied tablets, each with an arched panel and a broken pediment.
The W. Range was begun in 1634; it is similar to the side portions of the N. range in its windows, doorways and gabled cresting, but has been less refaced; above the middle doorway is a panel with a modern shield-of-arms. One doorway on the W. face has a fanlight above the door-head. Inside the range, the S. room on the ground floor has an early 18th-century bolection-moulded dado from the Hall. The Senior (Summer) Common Room is fitted with woodwork from a demolished house at the E. angle of High Street and Logic Lane. The walls are lined with late 16th-century panelling with an enriched rail, having an inlaid band of key-pattern; the upper panels are arched and the enriched entablature has a panelled frieze with small carvings from Apuleius, Aesop's fables, etc.; on the N. wall are two Doric pilasters with Corinthian pilasters superimposed. The fireplace (Plate 21) is flanked by fluted Doric columns and the overmantel is of three bays, divided and flanked by enriched terminal figures, supporting the enriched entablature; the side-bays have arched panels and both these, the centre-panel and the panels of the frieze have small carved subjects from Aesop's fables, etc.; the carved lower rail has a cartouche with the initials and date R.S. (for Richard Slythurst) 1575 E. S. The Senior Common Room is lined with panelling, executed by Thomas Barker in 1697. It is bolection-moulded, with a dado-rail and cornice continued along the ceiling-beams; the pelmets are enriched with leaf-ornament and the overmantel has an enriched panel; the fireplace has a veined marble surround. On the first floor the Junior Common Room has an original fireplace with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head. Another room on the same floor has some early 17th-century panelling and an original fireplace, flanked by wooden Ionic columns supporting the modern shelf.
The E. Range was built in 1675 but follows the lines and general design of the W. range. Above the central doorway is a panel with a modern shield of the arms of Bennet. Inside the range is a considerable amount of 18th-century woodwork and some fireplaces of the same period.
The S. Range (Plate 197) was begun in 1637 and finished in 1666; it contains the chapel on the E. and the hall on the W., with a gabled block between them, and forming a symmetrical design towards the quadrangle; this was largely remodelled in 1802 when the central block was entirely altered and the former cresting of gables on the main range was replaced by the existing embattled parapet and pinnacles.
The Chapel (74½ ft. by 26 ft.) was restored under Sir G. Scott in 1862 when the E. wall was re-built and the roof renewed. The N. wall has three original windows each of three cinque-foiled lights with uncusped tracery in a two-centred head with a label; externally the lights have been carried down to form blind panels but this is an alteration of 1802; further E. is a blind window, covered by the organ-pipes; the doorway in the W. bay is modern. The S. wall is finished with a moulded cornice and parapet and shaped brackets; of the six windows the easternmost is modern and the rest are partly restored and uniform with those in the N. wall. Fittings—Candelabra: two of brass, given by William Bouverie in 1747. Candlesticks and Brackets: On both sides of chapel, 18th-century. Communion Table: of oak with turned and carved bulbous legs finished with Ionic capitals, inlaid and gadrooned upper rails, early 17th-century, altered later. Glass: In N. and S. windows—by Abraham van Linge, 1641, N. side, 1st window (Plate 190), Jonah and the whale, shield-of-arms of Percy and figures in tracery; 2nd window, the translation of Elijah with Elisha catching the cloak below, arms of Bennet in tracery; 3rd window, Jacob's vision, arms of Greenwood in tracery; S. side, 1st window (Plate 190), the temptation and expulsion of Adam and Eve, arms of the college in tracery; 2nd window, Adam and Eve lamenting the Fall, Abraham and the angels etc., arms of William of Durham in tracery; 3rd window, the Sacrifice of Isaac, arms of Skirlaw in tracery; 4th window, Christ in the house of Martha and Mary, arms of Dudley in tracery; 5th window, Christ driving out the moneychangers, blank shield in tracery. In the Chef's office— made up panel, formerly part of E. window, representing the Nativity and by Henry Gyles, 1687; other portions stored in Bursary. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In ante-chapel—on N. wall, (1) to John Radcliffe, 1626, alabaster and black marble tablet with frame; (2) to William Rookes, 1667–8, white and black marble tablet with frame. Floor-slabs: In ante-chapel —(1) to R.G., 1710; (2) to F. F., 1695. Paintings: Said to be in lights of blind window in N. wall, behind organpipes—scriptural subjects, including Lot's wife, signed H. Cooke, probably 17th-century. Pavement: of black and white marble squares, set diagonally. Reredos (Plate 193): of oak and of three bays, divided and flanked by fluted Corinthian pilasters supporting an enriched entablature; bolection-moulded panels in bays, elaborate carved decoration round middle panel including a pelican, birds with snakes, fruit and flowers, in side bays, swags of drapery and flowers; cornice continued along side-walls to a pair of Corinthian pilasters; executed by Thomas Barker, 1694, re-set in 1924. Screen (Plate 193): Between choir and ante-chapel—of oak and of five bays divided and flanked by fluted Corinthian columns and pilasters, supporting an entablature with a curved pediment over the central bay, having cherub-heads in the tympanum and surmounted by two angels with trumpets and four vases over the side-bays; band of carved work carried along between capitals; square-headed doorway, with moulded architrave, in central bay; small pedimented canopies with vases in bays flanking doorway and elaborately carved and pierced panels in outer bays, with cherub-heads, etc.; W. face of screen generally similar but with alterations in detail; c. 1694, by T. Barker. Stalls: On both sides of choir— with shaped arms and moulded rests and pendants, against wall, panelled backing with coupled fluted Corinthian columns between the bays, carved swags between the capitals and an enriched, bracketed and coffered entablature; stall-fronts and lower seats with bolection-moulded panels and moulded cornices, standards with triangular tops, and ball-terminals, front benches with continuous moulded fronts, stallfronts at W. end with panels of pierced carving; c. 1694, by T. Barker.
The Hall (77½ ft. by 28 ft.) stands on a cellar which was perhaps inserted in the 18th century, as the floor of the hall seems to have been raised; the hall was remodelled internally in the Gothic taste in 1766, when the roof was ceiled, and the oriel perhaps re-built; the ceiling was removed in 1904 when the hall was extended to the W.; the entrance has also been altered, but the modern outer doorway is uniform with that of the chapel. The three eastern windows in the N. wall are uniform with the corresponding windows of the chapel. The kitchen-wing seems not to have formed part of the original design as it blocks two windows, one in the hall and one further E., remains of which can still be seen; in the E. bay of the S. wall of the hall is a blocked doorway, probably of the 18th century, and behind the fireplace is a third blocked window; the oriel or bay-window has three four-centred and transomed lights on the face and two on each return; it is finished with an embattled parapet; the internal arch has 18th-century panelled jambs and soffit and the bay itself has a flat panelled ceiling of the same age. The roof is original but has been partly reconstructed and considerably restored; it is of hammer-beam type with curved braces to the hammer-beams, side-posts with pendants, braces forming four-centred arches under the main collars with pendants in the middle and pendants below the upper collars; the louvre in the former middle bay of the hall has been renewed, except for the framing of the opening; between the timbers, against the side-walls, are plaster enrichments. The cellar, under the hall, has square piers and pilasters supporting groined vaulting.
The Kitchen Wing is ashlar-faced and was built between 1668 and 1670, and is of two storeys with cellars and attics. The windows of the ground floor have square-headed lights, those of the upper floor have four-centred lights; in the S. wall is a restored oriel-window of three four-centred and transomed lights on the face and one on each return. Inside the building, in the S. wall of the staircase-hall are two original doorways to the kitchen; they have moulded jambs and four-centred arches in square heads; the floor has apparently been raised and the doorways are now blocked. The staircase has late 17th-century turned balusters and close strings and has been re-set. The kitchen has a segmental stone arch to the E. fireplace. Refixed in the modern passage to the new buttery is the doorway to the old buttery, E. of the hall; it has a moulded oak frame with a four-centred arch in a square head, with fleur-de-lis enrichments.
The Radcliffe Quadrangle adjoins the main quadrangle on the E. It was built between 1716 and 1719 and is remarkable as carrying on the semi-Gothic lines of the earlier building. The N. front follows very closely the design of the N. front of the earlier building; the gatehouse has statues of Queen Mary II on the front and of Dr. Radcliffe on the inner face; the gate hall has a panelled fan-vault (Plate 5) of two bays with shields-of-arms; the panelled doors resemble those in the earlier gatehouse. The elevations towards the quadrangle follow the lines of the main quadrangle with the same three storeys finished with a cresting of ogee gables. Inside the building the staircases have twisted balusters and close strings and some of the rooms have bolection-moulded panelling. On the S. side of the quadrangle is a screen-wall with an ornamental stone centrepiece in the form of a doorway.
In the boundary-wall at the S.W. angle of the site is a 17th-century archway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch. In the S.W. corner of the Master's garden are the defaced remains of a figure of King Alfred formerly above the entrance to the hall.