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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(7) Balliol College stands on the corner of Broad Street and the street E. of St. Mary Magdalen church-yard. The walls generally are of local Oxfordshire stone and the roofs are slate-covered. The college was founded by John Balliol of Barnard Castle and Devorgilla his wife between 1263 and 1268. There is mention of the building of a chapel of St. Catherine in 1327–8 but its position is uncertain. The Old Hall, now the New Library, is said to have been built by Thomas Chace, Master (1412–23), or alternatively by William Grey, Bishop of Ely (1454–78), and George Neville, Archbishop of York (1465–76). Bishop Grey seems, at any rate, to have built that portion of the Master's Lodging which adjoins the Hall on the S. These two buildings form the W. range of the Front Quadrangle. The Library building on the N. side of the same quadrangle was built, as to its W. part, by the same Thomas Chace in 1431 when Chancellor of St. Paul's, and, as to its E. part, by Robert Abdy, Master (1477–90). A new chapel was built at the E. end of the N. range between 1520–30. The Bristol Buildings, towards the S. end of the front towards Magdalen Street, were built in 1714, and the adjoining Fisher Buildings at the S.W. angle of the site in 1769. The remainder of the buildings date from the 19th century and include a block to the N. of Bristol Buildings in 1826, Salvin's Buildings and a new block at the N.W. angle of the front quadrangle in 1852–3, the new Chapel in 1856–7 on the site of the old chapel, the S. range of the front quadrangle with most of the Master's Lodge in 1866–8 and the new hall and other buildings on the N. side of the Garden Quadrangle from 1873 to 1877, when the hall was opened. This part incorporates a 17th-century domestic building. The Warren Buildings at the N.W. angle were built in 1905.
Architectural Description—The Front Quadrangle (Plate 68) (125 ft. by 78½ ft.) is entered by a gatehouse in the S. range, which was entirely re-built, with the E. range, in 1866–8. The Old Hall (55 ft. by 27½ ft.), now the New Library, forms the N. part of the W. range and is of early to mid 15th-century date. It is ashlar-faced and finished with a modern embattled parapet; the bays are divided on both sides by two-stage buttresses, with a string-course on the E. face, terminating in carved figures against the window-jambs; in each bay is a more or less restored window of two cinque-foiled and transomed lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label with defaced stops. The S. window on the E. side is entirely modern and in this bay there was formerly a doorway opening into the screens-passage; this doorway is that now re-set in the S. wall of the N. range. The former screens-doorway in the W. wall still remains and has moulded jambs, two-centred head and label. The interior was entirely remodelled before 1816 when the passage was transferred to the N. end of the building and again in 1853, when the hall was lengthened northwards. At the W. end of this passage is re-hung a 15th-century door, formerly in the S. gate, of two leaves with moulded rail, frame and ribs forming vertical panels. The S. end of the range forms part of the Master's Lodge; the ground-floor was formerly the buttery. On the E. face, the lower windows are modern but on the first floor is a much restored 15th-century orielwindow with a moulded and quatre-foiled base resting on three panelled cones and corbels and finished with an embattled parapet; the face has two windows each of two cinque-foiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a square head; each return has a similar window; the corbels are modern but bore and still bear shields-of-arms of William Grey, Bishop of Ely. The interior of this block has been entirely modernised but the windows of the Master's Drawing Room, on the first floor, contain some re-set late 15th and 16th-century glass; in the tracery of the oriel-window is a roundel with the word Ihu., two with the word mc~i, and another with a sun; in the S. window are the following shields-of-arms, (a) Horne quartering Crowche, Fabian and Flaxall (?), (b) France and England quarterly with a label, (c) Ravenscroft (for Norreys) and Montfort of Beaudesert, fessewise impaling Sherland, (d) Montagu and Monthermer quartering Neville with a label gobony, for Archbishop Neville, (e) Russell and De la Tour quarterly quartering Herring, Froxmere and Wise (f) Beauchamp quartering Newburgh, all partly restored; over the door are fixed three 17th-century oak cartouches-of-arms.
The N. Range is mostly occupied by the Old Library built in 1431 and c. 1477. It is ashlar-faced and has a modern embattled parapet. The S. face has a re-set 15th-century doorway with moulded and shafted jambs, two-centred arch, ogee crocketted label, side-shafts and pinnacles; the doorway at the N. end of the cross-passage has moulded jambs, four-centred arch and label. The other doorways and windows on the ground floor are modern. The library, on the first floor, has eleven partly restored 15th-century windows on the S. side and ten on the N., each of two cinque-foiled and transomed lights with vertical tracery in a segmental-pointed head with a label. Inside the range, a room at the W. end on the ground floor has a late 17th-century panelled overmantel with scrolled foliage, fruit and flowers; above the doorways are cornices with carved foliage and flowers. The library was modernised internally by Wyatt in 1792. In the windows is a considerable amount of re-set heraldic glass as follows— on N. side, (a) Abdy, (b) Grey, Bishop of Ely, (c) Stanhope alias Longvillers, (d) Erdeswick impaling Stafford with an inscription "Thomas Erdeswik Margaret Staford 1338", (e) Archbishop Neville as shield in the Master's Lodge, (f) old see of York impaling the same, (g) City of London, (h) Beauchamp quartering Newburgh; (i) John Alcock, Bishop of Ely, (j) Archbishop Neville, (k) Chace, (1) Oxford University, (m) Richard Clifford, Bishop of London, (n) Eglesfield (?), (o) Percy impaling Neville, for Henry 2nd Earl of Northumberland, (p) France quartering England, (q) Roger Whelpdale, Bishop of Carlisle, (r) Skelton, (s) Wombwell (?), (t) Barry (?); on S. side, (a) Skipton quartering Curzon(?), (b) France quartering England, (c and d) blank, (e) Balliol, (f) Dalton, (g) John Carpenter, Bishop of Worcester, (h) Snarby, (i) Bishop Grey of Ely, (j) Abdy, (k) Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham, (1) Robert Hallam, Bishop of Salisbury, (m) Percy, (n) Neville, (o) City of York, (p) Pembridge, (q) Merton Priory?, (r) See of Salisbury, (s) the Trinity, (t) symbols of the Passion; in the tracery of the windows are rayed roses, columbines, rosetrees, portcullis, etc.; all 15th-century except (d) on N., 18th-century. In a window in a passage at the W. end of the library are some miscellaneous pieces including shields with late 15th-century figures of Zephaniah and a saint and two inscriptions. At the E. end of the library are preserved portions of carved woodwork from the former screen of the chapel; they include a pediment with a cartouche-of-arms of Sir John Popham, angels and a figure of St. Catharine, all of c. 1635–40. The 17th-century W. door has raised panels and a tympanum of pierced strapwork.
The Chapel was entirely re-built in 1856–7, apparently with the re-use of old ashlar on the internal faces of the walls; it contains the following earlier Fittings—Glass: in E. window (Plate 74)—re-set but mostly parts of the former E. window given by Lawrence Stubbs, S.T.P., in 1529 and representing various scenes of the Passion and Ascension with donors and saints; in tracery, fragmentary figures of kneeling man, angels and a bishop and initials L.S. and R.S. for the donor and his brother Richard; in main lights, four ranges of subjects, beginning at the top (a) probably the Betrayal, (b) the road to Calvary, (c) the Crucifixion, (d) the arrest of Jesus, (e) the Ascension; in second range, (f) the Agony in the Garden, (g) the crowning with thorns, (h) the Ecce Homo, (i) the Resurrection; in third range, (j) St. Lawrence, with a shield-of-arms of Stubbs, (k) the Scourging, (1) Pilate washing his hands, (m) the Virgin with the dead Christ, (n) a bishop holding a child, with the Stubbs rebus; in fourth range, (o) angel holding shield of Stubbs with remains of inscription below "[Orate pro anima magistri Laurentii] Stubbs sacre theologie professoris [et] istius Collegii [specialis benefactoris qui hanc fenestram procuravit sumptibus suis] An. Dni. 1529", (p) kneeling figure of Lawrence Stubbs in gown with his initials and the date 1529, (q) jumble of various figures, etc., (r) kneeling figure, of Richard Stubbs, (s) angel with a shield of Balliol. In two first windows on N. side and in two windows at W. end—glass by Abraham van Linge, given by Richard Atkins and Peter Wentworth in 1637, glass formerly in two windows each of four lights; in N.E. windows (Plate 76), the sickness and recovery of King Hezekiah, king in large canopied bed with various attendants and, in the westernmost light, a crowd of figures outside the palace with city in background; at bottom inscription "Petrus Wentworth sacrae theolo[giae professoris] et hujus [Collegii] Socius, D.D. 1637" and small inscription "Abraham van Linge fecit 1637"; in tracery, portions of main subject; in western windows (Plate 76), the baptism of Candace's eunuch; in N. window, St. Philip preaching to the eunuch seated in his chariot and in S. window the actual baptism; in N. window, small panel with the artist's inscription; in tracery, shields-of-arms of Wentworth and Atkins, and angels. In third window on N.—collection of panels, etc., mainly early 16th-century, (a) the Virgin kneeling before the Child, (b) kneeling figure of man in surplice, amess and cap with fragments of inscription recording gift of window by [John Hygden], President of Magdalen, 1530, (c) shield-of-arms of Compton quartering Aylworth, Wykwan and Vannal (d) do. of Brereton quartering Berkeley and Belhouse (?), (e) kneeling figure in gown and hood and eight other figures with inscription of 1431 referring to Thomas Chace, (f) kneeling figure of Sir William Compton with tabard of arms and two other figures probably sons, (g) kneeling figure of man, similar to (b), with remains of inscription recording gift of window by [Thomas Knolles], subdean of York, 1530; also a 17th-century panel with figures and dislocated inscription recording gift by Richard Atkins. In fourth window on N.—collection of panels, etc., mainly early 16th-century, (a) St. Michael and the dragon, (b) St. John the Baptist, (c) the Virgin and Child, (d) St. Anthony, much made up, (e) male saint with book, (f) St. John the Evangelist, (g) St. Margaret with the dragon, also various smaller and some later fragments. In first window on S. (Plate 75)—six scenes from the martyrdom of St. Catharine, of early 16th-century date—(a) the saint kneeling before the wheel, (b) in prison with gaolers and angel at barred window, (c) bound to a column and scourged, (d) seated and holding sword and book, (e) executed with a sword, (f) entombment by three angels. In second window on S.—fragments and seven panels with figures, partly made up and consisting of 16th and 17th-century work—(a) bishop with nimbus, (b) composite figure, (c) jumble of fragments with man's head, (d) St. Lawrence, incomplete, (e) St. Edward the Confessor, (f) possibly St. Mary Magdalene, (g) crowned and nimbed abbess with book. Lectern: (Plate 24) of brass with eagle standing on ball, moulded stem and base resting on three lions; on ball, achievement-of-arms and inscription "Donum Eduardi Wilson SS. TH. Bacc. et Collegii Baliolensis Socii", also two shields-of-arms of Balliol, c. 1635. Pulpit: of five sides with Corinthian columns at angles, supporting strapwork-cornice, on each face, two panels, upper with perspective-arch treatment, c. 1630–40, cornice modern.
On the E. side of a small courtyard to the N.W. of the Garden Quadrangle is an early 17th-century building of three storeys, incorporated in modern buildings. The W. face is timber-framed but extensively restored; the upper storeys both project and the top storey has two small gables with enriched barge-boards. Inside the building, the first floor room is lined with panelling of c. 1700 and the fireplace has a moulded surround of the same period. Re-set in the Common Room under the New Hall is some panelling of c. 1630–40 from the old chapel made up with modern work. It is divided into bays by single or coupled pilasters and has some enriched panels. In the garden, N. of the Old Library is a feature made up of stonework said to have come from the old chapel and including a door-head with quatre-foiled spandrels and plain shields, carved bosses and shields-of-arms of the see of York and the old see of York impaling the traditional arms of St. William, Balliol, etc. Re-set in the wall to the E. are various other fragments including corbels, bosses etc. with some shields-of-arms, including the see of Durham.
The Bristol Buildings, facing St. Mary Magdalen church, were built in 1714. The building is ashlar-faced and of three storeys with a modern attic-storey; the E. front has square-headed windows with architraves and cornices; two bays of the front are finished with pediments. The W. front is of three main bays with a cornice and central pediment; the stonework was refaced in 1826. The S. staircase, in the range, is original and has twisted balusters and close strings. The Fisher Buildings of 1769 are ashlar-faced and of three storeys with a central pediment on the S. front. They were refaced in 1877.