A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3, the University of Oxford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1954.
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THE UNIVERSITY PRESS
The University Press was removed from the Clarendon Building in Broad Street to a new printing-house erected in Walton Street in 1830. (fn. 1) The front and south wing of the new building was begun in 1826 to the designs of Daniel Robertson, architect, and were finished in 1828, Charles Smith being the contractor. (fn. 2) The north wing and the west ranges were completed in 1830 under the direction of Edward Blore, architect, Messrs. Smith being the contractors. (fn. 3) The front on Walton St. consists of two wings, on the north and south, joined by a screen which has a central monumental entrance-way, all in the Corinthian order. The original building was built on a plinth of Headington stone with a Bath stone facing and dressings. The facing was repaired in 1864, 1907, and 1935. (fn. 4) Headington stone was used for parts of the interior. (fn. 5) There have been alterations and additions to the original structure. (fn. 6)
The Taylor Institution and the Ashmolean Museum
The combined building which contains the Taylor Institution and the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology occupies a site on the corner of St. Giles's Street and Beaumont Street acquired by the University from Worcester College. It was built in 1841–5 to the Neo-Greek designs of Charles Robert Cockerell, R.A., which were based on a study of the temple of Apollo at Bassae. (fn. 7) The contractors were Messrs. Baker of Lambeth. The main part of the structure is of Bath (Box Ground) stone on a plinth of Permian sandstone; (fn. 8) the pilasters and entablatures are of Portland stone and the decorations are in terra cotta; the sculpture in the tympanum of the pediment and the figures on the St. Giles's front of the Taylor Institution were the work of G. W. Nicholl. (fn. 9) The Ashmolean Museum, forming the central range and the west wing, was altered and extended in 1892–5 through the benefaction of Charles D. E. Fortnum and again in 1900, 1923–8, 1933, and 1937–40. The last of these extensions forms a frontage on Beaumont Street to the west and was built in Clipsham and Bath (Monks Park) stone to the design of E. Stanley Hall. (fn. 10) The Taylor Institution, which forms the east wing, was extended northwards in 1932 and 1938 in Bath (Monks Park), Portland, and Clipsham stone to the designs of T. H. Hughes.
The Ashmolean Museum now contains exhibits brought together from various sources within the University. Sir Thomas Bodley, on founding his library, provided a gallery therein for the display of antiquities and to this were added in 1654 the marbles left to the University by John Selden, the antiquary, the Arundel collection of inscriptions in 1667, the Arundel statues joining these latter in 1755; in 1683 other additions were made by Sir George Wheler. All the collections mentioned above were housed in or near the Bodleian precinct. In the original Ashmolean Museum, built for the purpose to the west of the Sheldonian Theatre in 1679–83, were exhibited the Tradescant collections (mainly natural history and presented to the University by Elias Ashmole) and various manuscripts. These collections having become too large were transferred to the Clarendon Building in 1832. In 1855 the natural history collection was moved to the newly formed University Museum and the rest to the Bodleian library. Meanwhile in the late 18th century benefactions had been made to the University by Francis Randolph and Sir Roger Newdigate. Sir Robert Taylor who died in 1788 left under his will his residuary estate amounting to £65,000 to found and build an establishment for 'the teaching and improving the European languages'. (fn. 11) The money, however, did not pass to the University until 1835 and when the Taylor Institution for Modern Languages was set up, the opportunity was taken to combine this with the 'Randolph Gallery' in 1841. Other collections added in the last half of the 19th century included the Chambers Hall gift of antiquities and pictures, the Douce drawings and prints, the antiquities from the excavations of Sir Flinders Petrie and those received from Sir John and Sir Arthur Evans. Many of the original items of the Tradescant museum and portraits were transferred from the 'Old' Ashmolean Museum in Broad Street. In 1908 the Ashmolean Museum and the University Galleries were vested in the Board of Visitors of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. In 1937 the Griffith Institute for Egyptological and cognate studies under the provisions of the wills of Francis Llewellyn and Nora Christina Cobban Griffith was accommodated in the north-west of the main buildings. (fn. 12)
The University Museum
In 1845 Dr. Henry Acland was appointed Lee's Reader in anatomy in the University, and it was partly to his forceful personality and partly to an enlightened encouragement of every form of science in the University that the foundation and building of the New Museum was due. (fn. 13) After the failure of those interested at the meeting of the British Association at Oxford in 1847 to gain the necessary support, it was not until 1849 that a resolution was passed by a committee of teachers led by Acland to build a new museum in order to assemble under one roof 'all the materials explanatory of the organic beings placed upon the globe'. (fn. 14) In 1853 a Delegacy was appointed to carry out the scheme. Four acres of land in the Parks were bought for £4,000 from Merton College for the site of the building. (fn. 15) Thirty-two designs were received and Convocation was asked to choose between two submitted by the Delegacy, one Palladian (by E. M. Barry), (fn. 16) the other Venetian Gothic. After considerable argument and pamphleteering the Gothic design of Benjamin Woodward, in partnership with Sir Thomas Deane and Thomas N. Deane, was accepted on 11 Dec. 1854. The contractors were Messrs. Lucas Brothers of London who undertook to build the Museum for £29,041, (fn. 17) W. C. Bramwell being clerk of works. (fn. 18) The foundation stone was laid on 20 June 1855 by Edward, Earl of Derby, Chancellor of the University. (fn. 19) The position of the stone was lost to memory until 1906, when it was found, and a suitable Latin inscription placed thereon. (fn. 20) In 1858, after repeated increases in the original estimate had been demanded and sanctioned, the University withheld further funds, and the building still remains incomplete as regards some of its decorative sculpture. The Museum itself was finished, however, in time to enable the British Association to hold its meeting there in 1860. (fn. 21) By 1867 a total sum of £87,000 had been spent on ground and buildings. (fn. 22)
John Ruskin, the intimate friend of Acland (fn. 23), was much involved in the scheme which was indeed to become a type-specimen of the Gothic revival; (fn. 24) he provided designs and for a time supervised the work during the illness of Woodward. Ruskin, however, said in 1859 that there was 'a discouraging aspect of parsimony about it … the architect has done the utmost he could with the means at his disposal and that just at the point of reaching what was right he has been stopped for want of funds'. He also gave warning 'Against supposing that the ornamentation of the Museum is, or can be as yet, a representation of what Gothic work will be when its revival is complete.' He did not so much criticize the design, but the execution of it, which was a disappointment. (fn. 25) In later years in a lecture delivered in the Museum he said he had never meant that 'a handsome building could be built of common brickbats'. (fn. 26) Acland (who had become Regius Professor of Medicine in 1858) (fn. 27) expressed the view in 1855 that 'Oxford was about to perform an experiment … how Gothic art could deal with those railway materials—iron and glass.' (fn. 28)
The Museum was designed to provide lecture rooms, laboratories, a library, and space for the display of specimens. The plan consisted of a central court covered with a glass roof supported on cast-iron columns and divided into three main aisles. The naturalistic ornamental ironwork of the roof was made by Skidmore of Coventry at the cost of £5,000. (fn. 29) The west external porch, an important feature of the original design, the detail of which was intended to be carved by James Woolner, was never carried out. (fn. 30) On each of the four sides of the court are upper and lower arcades or corridors. The entrance is on the west, and on the outer sides of the corridors are the surrounding laboratories of the various departments. (fn. 31) The exterior is built in Bath (Box Ground) stone with dressings of Hornton stone and red sandstone from Bristol. The interior is of polychrome brickwork and the ornamental sculpture and the materials used throughout were intended to reflect the scientific purposes for which it was built, 'each column being hewn from a different plant, flower, or fruit, all arranged in a natural sequence.' (fn. 32) The series of six statues on corbels against the piers of the west arcade within the court of Hippocrates, Galileo, Liebnitz, Newton, Humphrey Davy, and James Watt were carved by Alexander Munro; (fn. 33) there is also a carved medallion portrait of Benjamin Woodward, who died in 1861, by Munro. (fn. 34) The naturalistic carving of the interior arcading, carried out by those temperamental but competent craftsmen John and James O'Shea and one Whelan, (fn. 35) who were brought from Ireland by Woodward, was left unfinished until 1905; it was then continued according to the original plan of Professor Phillips; (fn. 36) it was completed by 1914, mainly at the cost of the Rev. H. T. Morgan, Trinity College, and by public subscription. (fn. 37) In 1905 and for some time subsequently this work was carved by Messrs. Mills and Holt, two sculptors of the firm of Farmer and Brindley of London. (fn. 38)
Museum House, to the south-east of the museum, was built as the Curator's house, c. 1860, at the cost of £1,300 in Gothic style. (fn. 39)
The Clarendon Laboratory was erected in 1868 in Bath stone to the designs of Thomas N. Deane. This building was altered (1946–8) and additions made to it in Bladon stone with Clipsham stone dressings by Messrs. H. V. Lanchester and T. A. Lodge, architects, and it is now used as the Department of Geology and Mineralogy. (fn. 40)
The Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory. This consisted originally of a small structure built in 1860 adjoining the museum on the south-west, the design being based on that of the Abbot's kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey. (fn. 43) The present main building was added in 1878 in Bath stone. In 1901 the Glastonbury kitchen was divided into two floors and adapted to give access to the new Radcliffe Library, and a new building was made on the north in 1902–3. Further extensions were made in 1920 and 1928–9. (fn. 44)
The Physiological Laboratory was built in 1884 in stone and a wing added in brick in 1907, the architect for the latter being John R. Wilkins of Oxford. (fn. 45) An extension in stone on the north was made in 1920. (fn. 46)
The Pitt Rivers Museum was built in 1882–5 as an extension on the east side of the court of the Museum to hold the ethnological and archaeological collections given to the University by Lt.-Gen. A. H. Lane Fox Pitt Rivers. (fn. 47) An extension was made in 1907, John R. Wilkins of Oxford being the architect. (fn. 48)
The building of the Department of Human Anatomy on the east side of the Pitt Rivers Museum was built in 1891–2 in Bath (Box Ground) stone with additions in 1917 and 1925. (fn. 49) The south-west corner was reconstructed in 1937.
The building of the Department of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy on the north side of the museum was built in 1898–9 in brick with stone dressings; a morphological building was added in 1901. (fn. 50) A second floor to part was made in 1931 (fn. 51) and the brick north wing extended to the west in 1937. (fn. 52)
The Radcliffe Science Library was built in Doulting ashlar facing South Parks Rd. in 1901–3 to the design of Sir T. G. Jackson at the cost of the Drapers' Company. A new wing fronting on to Parks Rd. was added in 1933–4 in Bladon stone with Clipsham stone dressings to the design of Sir Hubert Worthington. (fn. 53)
The Department of Pathology was built in red brick with Bath stone dressings in 1901 mainly at the cost of Mr. Ewan Frazer. (fn. 54) In 1928 this building was adapted for the Department of Pharmacology, and the new Sir William Dunn Laboratory (Pathology) built at the east end of South Parks Rd. in 1926–7; the latter is in red brick with stone dressings to the plans of E. Warren at the cost of £80,000. (fn. 55)
The building of the School of Rural Economy and the School of Forestry was erected in 1907–8 by St. John's College in Bath ashlar with Doulting stone dressings on a site on the west side of Parks Rd. (fn. 56) In 1912 the gift of £10,000 made by Mr. Walter Morrison provided for an extension, costing £6,000 to the School of Rural Economy. (fn. 57) A detached Soil Science Laboratory was added in 1931.
The Electrical Laboratory, north of the museum, was built in 1908–10 in red brick with stone dressings at the cost of the Drapers' Company to the designs of Sir T. G. Jackson. (fn. 58) An addition was built in stone on the east side of the main block. (fn. 59) The laboratory of the Department of Engineering was built to the designs of W. C. Marshall at the junction of Parks Rd. and Banbury Rd. in 1914 in red brick and stone dressings and was extended by Edward Warren in 1927 and 1931 by G. P. Baynard. (fn. 60) The building of the Dyson Perrins (Chemical) Laboratory was begun in 1913 and finished in 1916 in red brick with stone dressings to the designs of Paul Waterhouse, the contractors being Armitage and Hodgson of Leeds. £5,000 was provided by Mr. Dyson Perrins of Queen's College and further sums from Endowment Trustees. In 1920–2 a wing was added to the east of the main entrance as contemplated in the original design. (fn. 61) In 1934 an extension for medical students was made, (fn. 62) and in 1940–1 a new brick wing on the north was built. (fn. 63)
The Biochemical Laboratory, to the east of the Physiological Department, was built in 1924–7 to the 'classic' design of H. Redfern at the cost of the Rockefeller Foundation. It is of brick with a facing of 'Aluminous cement to harmonize with the adjacent stone buildings'. (fn. 64) An extension was made in 1936–7. (fn. 65)
The New Clarendon Physics Laboratory, to the north of the Electrical Laboratory, was completed in 1940; it is built in brick. (fn. 66)
The Laboratory for Physical Chemistry was erected to the east of the Dyson Perrins Laboratory in 1939–40 at the cost of Viscount Nuffield; it is of brick. (fn. 67)
The buildings of the Imperial Forestry Institute and the Schools of Forestry and Botany are to the west of the Sir William Dunn Laboratory. To the designs of Sir Hubert Worthington they were faced with Bladon stone with Clipsham stone dressings in 1946–50, partly from the gift of the Rajah of Sarawak and partly from funds supplied by the Colonial Office, the University, and the Rhodes Trust. (fn. 68)
The Oxford Union Society
The Oxford Union Society serves the undergraduate members of the University in the dual capacity of a social club and a debating society. In 1812 a beginning was inspired principally by two undergraduates (fn. 69) of New College and Brasenose. By 1822 rules were drawn up, and early in the following year debates were instituted and the first meeting of the Society was held on 5 April. (fn. 70) In 1825 it was found necessary to frame new rules for the suppression of disorder during debates, and what had previously been known as the Oxford Union Debating Society became the 'Oxford Union Society', by which name it has since been known. (fn. 71) Debates, however, were held in various 'rooms' in the town until 1856, when a debating hall was built in Frewin Court to the Venetian Gothic design of Benjamin Woodward. (fn. 72) The bare walls of this debating hall (now used as a library) attracted the notice of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, himself not a member of the University, who felt them to be 'hungry for pictures and he hungry to fill them'; his friends William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, both then of Exeter College, were joined by others in the University in forwarding a scheme for decorating the walls of the hall. This was carried out by the spring of 1858 at the cost of some £500, the twelve designs being based on the Arthurian legend. (fn. 73) By 1870, however, the paintings had suffered much from damp and decay, having unfortunately been executed in distemper. Nothing was done to preserve them until 1936, (fn. 74) when the remains of what had been termed the most important corporate effort of the PreRaphaelites (fn. 75) were treated and preserved by Professor E. W. Tristram.
In 1864 the present red brick building with stone dressings was built adjoining the debating hall to the design of Thomas Deane. (fn. 76) In 1878 a new debating hall was constructed, the architect being A. Waterhouse, and in 1891 a new smoking-room was added. (fn. 77) A north wing, containing a new library, rooms, and the steward's house was erected in 1910–11 to the designs of Messrs. Mills and Thorpe of Oxford. (fn. 78)
The Examination Schools lie on the south side of High Street between Logic Lane and Merton Street. The buildings form three sides of a square with the north wing facing the High Street, the east side being open on to Merton Street. In 1875 the New Schools Delegacy invited several architects to receive instructions and G. F. Bodley, Basil Champneys, Thomas Newenham Deane, T. G. Jackson, and J. Oldrid Scott were interviewed. (fn. 79) Designs were submitted and on 9 March 1876 Mr. (afterwards Sir) Thomas Graham Jackson received the support of an absolute majority of the Delegates and his plans were recommended for adoption by Convocation: (fn. 80) on 15 June Convocation approved the plans. (fn. 81) In his design Jackson's object was 'to give the building a collegiate character which would not be out of harmony with the traditions of Oxford … He chose 'that late eclectic style of which Oxford and Cambridge contain admirable examples … so well worked out in detail that they almost constitute an Academic style by themselves'. (fn. 82) In his Recollections he describes his design as being 'a sort of Renaissance' one with long mullioned and transomed windows reminiscent of Kirby Hall and containing Elizabethan and Jacobean features. (fn. 83) The contractor was Albert Estcourt of Gloucester with R. Edwards as clerk of works. (fn. 84) The building was carried out in Clipsham stone (fn. 85) with Headington hardstone for the foundations. (fn. 86) Messrs. Farmer and Brindley executed the carving and marble work. (fn. 87) Work commenced in the summer of 1877 and on 13 May 1882 Estcourt handed over to Dr. Evans, master of Pembroke College and Vice-Chancellor, the key of the principal door of the building. (fn. 88) Excluding the cost of the site, architect's charges, &c., but including all the carving, marble work, other decorations, and furniture the cost amounted to £98,400, or at the rate of 12½d. a cubic foot. (fn. 89)
The Indian Institute
The Indian Institute, at the east end of Broad St., was founded by public subscription in 1880 to form a centre of teaching and research on all subjects relative to India. It contains a library, now part of the Bodleian system, and a museum of Indian arts and industries. (fn. 90) The three-storied building was erected in Milton stone (fn. 91) in 1883–96 to the designs of Basil Champneys. It displays a mixture of oriental and Gothic detail.
Building of the Delegates for the Examination of Schools
The building erected originally for the Delegacy of Non-Collegiate Students, of Local Examinations, and for the Inspection and Examination of Schools stands on the north-west corner of Merton Street; it adjoins the Examination Schools on the west and its front faces the High Street. In May 1886 Mr. (afterwards Sir) T. G. Jackson explained his plans for the High Street front to the Curators of the University Chest and estimated the cost at £7,000. On 15 June 1886 this sum was voted by Convocation. Mr. Burgess was appointed clerk of works on 16 October and on 30 October 1886 the tender of Parnell & Son of Rugby of £5,118 for the building was accepted; other items, such as heating, lighting, and architect's fees brought the total to £6,412 thus leaving a margin of £588. Jackson's elevation for the south front was approved in November 1886 and by the autumn of 1887 the contractors finished the work. (fn. 92) Doulting stone was used for the dressings and the main walling was built in Bladon stone. (fn. 93)
The New Building, The Bodleian Library
The New Building of the Bodleian Library at the corner of Broad St. and Parks Rd. was built in 1937–40 to the designs of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. (fn. 94) It is a steel and concrete structure with the external walls of Bladon stone and Clipsham stone dressings. The interior lining of the walls is in polished Taynton stone. Under Broad St. and the Clarendon Quadrangle a tunnel was constructed to connect the New with the Old Library through which runs a mechanical conveyor for the transference of books. (fn. 95)