Old Clarendon Building

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English Heritage

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Year published

1939

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12-13

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'Old Clarendon Building', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford (1939), pp. 12-13. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=121682 Date accessed: 31 August 2014.


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Old Clarendon Building


The Old Clarendon Building

The Old Clarendon Building

(3) The Old Clarendon Building (Plate 60) stands on the S. side of Broad Street at the W. angle of Catte Street. It is of two storeys with basement and attics; the walls are ashlar-faced and the roofs are lead-covered. It was built between the years 1711–13 from the profits of Lord Clarendon's History of the Rebellion and is from the designs of Nicholas Hawksmoor. Until 1830 it was occupied by the University Press and is now used for various University offices. The S. and W. fronts were restored in 1909.

The building is symmetrically designed. The N. Front (Plate 93) has a central portico approached by a flight of steps; it has four Doric columns supporting an entablature and pediment with a semi-circular window; on this and the other pediments are standing lead figures of the Muses, one on the W. being missing; the entablature is continued along the front. The round-headed central doorway is fitted with wrought-iron gates with foliage scroll-work and a shield-of-arms of the University in the head; flanking it are round-headed niches with plain imposts and key-blocks; there is an upper range of round-headed windows within the portico. The side-bays of the front have segmental-headed windows to the ground and first floors and square-headed windows to the basement. The S. Front is similar in general design but in place of the portico are four attached Doric columns supporting the entablature and pediment and the niches are replaced by windows; in place of the middle window on the first floor is a niche with a lead figure of Lord Clarendon as Lord Chancellor, ascribed to Sir Henry Cheere, with the inscription "Edwardus Comes Clarendoniae Summus Angliae, Summus Academiae." The E. and W. Ends are uniform and are finished with pediments. The ground and first floors have both a central segmental-headed niche, flanked by segmental-headed recesses or windows; the basement has windows like those on the two fronts.

Interior. The central passage has a barrel-vault. The two staircases have twisted balusters, close strings and square newels with pendants. The lobby on the W. of the central passage is panelled and gives access to the Delegates' Room; the doorway is flanked by Doric pilasters supporting a cornice. The room (Plate 64) is lined with bolection-moulded oak panelling and fluted Corinthian pilasters supporting the enriched entablature; the fireplace has a moulded marble surround, and in the panel above is a painted portrait of Queen Anne, given by George Clarke in 1723. Above the doorways on each side are bronze busts of Archbishop Laud and Lord Clarendon; the panelled doors have early 18th-century rim-locks of brass. The basement has segmental-headed openings and a system of groined vaulting. In the attics, part of the roof-trusses are exposed; they are of queen-post type.

On the N., E., and W. sides of the building is a low stone wall, bounding the basement-area, with a simple iron railing and restored stone piers at the angles. On the E. side this enclosure is continued to the angle of the Schools Quadrangle; in the middle is a pair of wrought-iron gates with a scrolled overthrow.

Condition—Good.