Wadham College

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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'Wadham College', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford, (London, 1939) pp. 118-123. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/oxon/pp118-123 [accessed 21 April 2024]

Wadham College

Wadham College Arms

(25) Wadham College stands on the E. side of Parks Road. The walls are of local Oxfordshire stone (mainly Headington and Burford) and the roofs are slate-covered. The college was founded by Nicholas Wadham who died in 1609 but whose intentions were carried out by Dorothy (Petre) his widow. The buildings were begun on the site of the former house of Austin Friars, in April 1610 and finished in July 1613; the society was founded in 1612. The masons were brought from Somerset and it seems probable that the design was due to William Arnold the chief craftsman; the oak came from Cumnor; the foundation stone was laid on July 31st 1610 and the chapel was consecrated on April 29th 1613. The building accounts show the detailed progress of the work during this period. The Warden's Lodging was moved from the W. to the N. range between 1626 and 1640. In 1693–4 a new block of rooms was built S. of the original building. In the 18th century the attics were converted into rooms and various minor alterations were made; in 1797 the fireplace was inserted in the hall and the central brazier abolished; many of the windows were fitted with sashes late in the same century. The Warden's Lodging was much altered in 1812, again in 1832 and forty years later the existing kitchen was largely re-built and the corridor leading to it was added. Considerable refacing has been done in the late 19th and early 20th century, the pinnacles of the hall and library restored and the roofs of the chapel and hall strengthened.

The building is of great interest as a complete and little altered structure of early 17th-century date. The fittings of the chapel and the roof and screen of the hall are noteworthy.

Wadham College

Architectural Description—The Main Quadrangle (134 ft. by 122 ft.) has ranges of rooms on the W., N. and S. sides, of three storeys divided by string-courses and with attics; they are finished with embattled parapets on the W. front and towards the quadrangle. The W. Range (Plate 1) has the gate-tower in the middle; it is of three storeys, rising above the adjoining roofs and has a restored embattled parapet with a square turret at the N.E. angle. The outer archway has moulded jambs, imposts and moulded four-centred arch in a square head with a key-block and label; above it is a much restored oriel-window resting on moulded corbelling and having four trefoiled and transomed lights on the face and one on each canted side; it is finished with an embattled parapet; in the top stage is a much-restored window of four trefoiled and transomed lights in a square head with a label. The inner archway and windows on the E. face of the tower are similar to those on the W. face. The gatehall has a stone fan-vault, with cusped heads to the panels and cresting to the cones; the square central panel has small pendants at the angles; the inner circular panel has a cartouche of the arms of the college (Wadham impaling Petre). The oriel-windows of the room above have Doric columns on the inside face of the main mullions; the ceiling of the bay has a band of early 17th-century conventional foliage with lions' masks. The Muniment Room in the top stage of the tower has an old door with three locks; the middle mullion of both windows has an attached shaft with a capital and base. The rest of the W. front is symmetrically designed with a gable at each end, enclosing a restored three-light window. The windows, generally, are more or less restored and are of two or three four-centred lights in square heads; the gabled bays have each a partly restored three-storeyed bay-window with four lights on the front, one in each return and an embattled parapet. The E. front has similar windows of one, two and three lights and the doorways have moulded jambs and four-centred arches in square heads. The fronts of the N. and S. ranges towards the quadrangle are similar to that just described. On the outward face, however, they are finished with a series of gables, restored on the S. side, divided by chimney-stacks. The three ranges are divided up into sets of rooms approached by staircases enclosed by timber-framing; the original arrangement has been altered in places especially in the N.W. angle which now forms the Warden's Lodging. Many of the rooms have 18th-century panelling and fireplaces. The Dining Room of the Warden's Lodging has a cartouche of the arms of James I; both this and the DrawingRoom above have 18th-century bolection-moulded panelling; a bedroom on the second floor is lined with original panelling with an 18th-century cornice. A room on the second floor in the S. range and approached from staircase 4, has a painted plaster panel with a Jacobean ornamental design. A room on the first floor approached from the next staircase to the W. is lined with bolection-moulded panelling of c. 1700; the fireplace has an enriched shelf and an enriched panel above it. A room, off the S. staircase in the W. range, retains its original doorway with a four-centred arch in a square head.

The E. Range of the quadrangle is occupied by the Ante-chapel and the Hall; from the quadrangle it is symmetrically designed, the entrance to the hall forming a central feature. The Chapel (Plate 180) consists of a Choir (69 ft. by 27 ft.) and an Ante-chapel (73 ft. by 27 ft.) and is ashlar-faced. The choir is of five bays with staged buttresses and plain parapets; the E. gable has restored pinnacles at the angles; the E. window is of five cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label. The side walls have in each bay a window of three cinque-foiled and transomed lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label. At the W. end of the choir is a two-centred arch of two moulded orders springing from shaped corbels. The ante-chapel (Plate 65) forms three bays divided by two arcades of two bays, continuing the side walls of the choir; the arches are two-centred and of two moulded orders and spring from piers with four attached shafts having moulded capitals and bases; the responds are in the form of half-piers. The four windows of the N. bay, the two in the middle bay and the four in the S. bay are all of three lights with pseudo-Gothic tracery in a two-centred head; the two windows of the middle bay are both blocked. In the W. wall of the N. bay is a doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head. The partly restored W. doorway of the middle bay has a round head with key-block, enriched imposts and an eared architrave; above it is a panel, broken pediment and a finial. In the E. wall of the S. bay is a blocked doorway now a cupboard. The W. wall of the ante-chapel is finished with an embattled parapet ranging with that of the other sides of the quadrangle. The roof of the chapel is concealed by a plaster ceiling erected by Blore in 1832. On the roof is an octagonal timber lantern with two transomed lights in each face and an ogee capping.

Fittings (All early 17th-century unless noted)— Clock: On W. face of ante-chapel—late 17th-century wooden clock-face, traditionally given by Wren, with scrolls, cherub-head, painted shields-of-arms of the college and Wren and the date of the new works 1873; original works now in ante-chapel. Communion Rails (Plate 18): of cedar, and twelve bays divided by panelled pilasters, each bay with an open strapped wreath and pierced spandrels, moulded base and enriched entablature. Communion Tables: of oak, with bulbous enriched legs with Ionic caps, enriched upper and lower rails, c. 1600, from Ilminster church, given in 1889. In antechapel—original table, of oak with turned legs in form of Doric columns, moulded top and enriched lower rails, partly restored. Cushions: Now in Library—of woolwork, one with a crowned rose and the initials I.R. and the other with conventional design. Door: In W. doorway, nail-studded, with moulded ribs forming vertical panels. Glass: In E. window (Plate 191), by Bernard van Linge, ten scenes from the Passion, in the main lights as follows—(a) the Entry into Jerusalem, (b) the Agony in the Garden, (c) the Betrayal, (d) Christ before Caiaphas, (e) Pilate offering Christ or Barabbas to the people, (f) the Flagellation, (g) the Bearing of the Cross, (h) the Crucifixion, (i) the Resurrection, (j) the Ascension; at the foot of middle lights the inscriptions "Haec fenestra ornata est sumptibus Dnī. Johannis Strangwayes militis unius ex cohaeredibus fundatoris," and "Bernard van Ling fecit 1622"; in tracery lights, Old Testament subjects—the Brazen Serpent, Abraham and Isaac, Jonah and the Whale and the Translation of Elijah, also a series of shields of Wadham, Strangways, Petre and Bisse, cherub-heads, sun and moon, window repaired in 1742. In lower lights of five N. windows figures of prophets with their names in strapwork panels below—(a) King David, (b) Isaiah, (c) Jeremiah, (d) Ezekiel, (e) Daniel, (f) Amos; (g) Obadiah, (h) Joel, (i) Hosea; (j) Habakkuk, (k) Micah, (l) Haggai; (m) Zachariah, (n) Malachi, (o) Jonah; probably by Robert Rudland of Oxford, c. 1614 and partly renewed late in the 18th or early in the 19th century; in upper lights of easternmost window, the Nativity (Plate 192) with attendant figures in an architectural setting, Flemish, 16th-century, given in 1836. In lower lights (Plate 192) of five S. windows figures of Christ, the apostles and St. Stephen with inscriptions in panels below—(a) Christ with inscription from Matthew xxviij, 18–19, (b) St. Peter, (c) St. Andrew; (d) St. John, (e) St. James the Great, (f) St. Philip; (g) St. Bartholomew, (h) St. Thomas, (i) St. Matthew; (j) St. James the Less, (k) St. Simon, (l) St. Jude; (m) St. Matthias, all with appropriate sentences from the Creed and the last with the date 1616, (n) St. Paul with inscription from 1st Corin. xv. 9, (o) St. Stephen with the date 1616; in upper lights of easternmost windows, figure-subject of the Pentecost, Flemish, 16th-century, given in 1836. Lectern (Plate 25): of brass with enriched baluster-stem on four couched lions and supporting eagle, on ball-top the inscription "Ex dono Thomae Lear de Lindridge in Comitatu Devoniae Militis et Baronetti 1691," with achievement-of-arms. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In ante-chapel—on E. wall, (1) to Samuel Bishop, M.A., 1695, oval stone cartouche, with shield-of-arms; (2) to Gilbert Drake, M.A., 1629–30, alabaster and marble wall-monument with Doric side-columns, entablature, broken pediment and achievement-of-arms in cartouche; against N. wall, (3) of Sir John Portman, Bart., 1624, alabaster and marble monument (Plate 195) with panelled base, coloured reclining effigy in civil costume, at back, a round-arched recess with draped figures and cartouche-of-arms and flanked by coupled Corinthian columns supporting an entablature, broken pediment and centre-piece with achievement-of-arms and figures of Time and four virtues; (4) to Thomas Harris, B.A., 1614, stone tablet with frame and cresting of books; on S. wall, (5) to John Upton, 1686, white marble tablet (Plate 35), with drapery, cherubs and achievement-of-arms; on the W. wall, (6) to John French, 1668, alabaster and slate tablet (Plate 29), with bay-wreath, pendants, dolphins, pediment and achievement-of-arms; (7) to Thomas Farmer, 1672, alabaster and marble tablet, with pendants, enriched entablature, broken pediment and cartouche-of-arms. In cemetery-garden, E. of cloister—(8) to Robert Rogers, 1676, slab. Floor-slabs: In ante-chapel—(1) to George Fletcher, M.A., 1676–7, with shield-of-arms; (2) to John Dampier, M.A., 1694; (3) to R.A., late 17th-century; (4) to Gilbert Stoakes, S.T.B., 1654; (5) to Robert Shortgrave, M.A., 1713; (6) to S.H., 1658; (7) to John Buller, 1634; (8) to John Baker, 1701; (9) to [Humphrey Hody], 1706–7, with shield-of-arms; (10) to J.U. (John Upton), 1686. Paving: In choir—of black and white marble squares, set diagonally, c. 1670. In ante-chapel—of stone, partly set diagonally. Picture: In ante-chapel—saint in prayer, Flemish, c. 1700. Pulpit: of oak, hexagonal, with fluted pilasters at angles, carved band at base and carved frieze, each face with enriched arched panel, moulded cornice and scrolled stem. Seating: Against W. face of screen —box pews, enclosed with panelling, with carved frieze, finials and arched lower panels. Screen (Plate 196): under W. arch of choir—of oak and of seven bays including central doorway, doorway with enriched four-centred head fitted with double panelled doors, the upper part open and with a range of small Corinthian columns below and an arcade of two bays above with Composite column and responds; side bays with close lower panels and open arcade above with fluted Corinthian columns and round enriched arches with lion-masks and foliage in the spandrels and cresting at the sill of each opening; projecting E. from middle bay at sides, a semi-octagonal canopy with cherub-head and foliage on soffit, over the stalls of the Warden and sub-Warden; screen finished with an enriched entablature, surmounted by elaborate pierced cresting with pinnacles and three shields-of-arms, (a) the college, (b) Wadham and (c) Petre. Stalls: against side walls of choir and returned against screen—with shaped arms and capping, set against panelling (Plate 43) on side walls, divided into bays by enriched pilasters, supporting a continuous entablature with an enriched frieze of scrolled monsters, etc.; in each bay an enriched arched panel; desks, etc., remodelled by Blore in 1832, but original panelling remaining under lower stalls.

The Hall (82 ft. by 27 ft.) forms the S. part of the E. range of the quadrangle and is entered under a partly restored central feature of this elevation. This feature (Plate 194) is of four stages flanked by coupled columns of the Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite orders respectively and divided by entablatures; the ground storey has a doorway with plain jambs and moulded and coffered four-centred arch; the second stage has a panel inscribed "Hospes quam vides domum musis nuncupatam ponendam mandabat Nicholas Wadham Somersetensis Armiger verum ille fato praereptus Dorotheae conjugi perficiendam legabat illa incunc tanter perfecit magnificeque sumptibus suis auxit. Tu summe pater adsis propitius tuoque muneri addas quaesumus perpetuitatem"; above it are two round-headed panels inscribed "Anno Dom. 1613 Apr. 20 sub auspiciis R. Jacobi" and a shield of the arms of the college; flanking the inscriptions are recesses with shell-hoods and figures of the founder and his wife; they were carved by John Blackshaw but have been restored; the third stage has a figure of James I in a niche with a projecting cusped canopy; the top stage has a carving of the Royal Stuart arms and the feature is finished with a low segmental pediment and an ornamental cresting. The rest of the S. front has a range of four windows similar to those of the antechapel and towards the S. end a sham doorway fitted with a door, similar to the W. doorway of the antechapel; the wall is finished with a restored embattled parapet, lining with that of the rest of the quadrangle. The roof has a lantern or louvre, similar to that on the roof of the chapel. The E. wall of the hall has a plain parapet and three windows similar to those in the W. wall; the next bay to the N. on this front had a similar window lighting the Senior Common Room, but the mullions and tracery have been replaced by a large sash-window with modern tracery in the head; flanking it are two square-headed windows also altered for sashes. The bay of the E. wall, S. of the kitchen-wing, has an oriel or bay-window of four cinque-foiled and double transomed lights on the face and one on each canted side. The S. wall has a large partly restored pseudo-Gothic window of six cinque-foiled or trefoiled lights with a transom and tracery in a four-centred head with a label; the gable has crocketted pinnacles. The Hall (Plate 189) has an open roof of six bays and of hammer-beam type; it rests on enriched stone corbels and has curved braces to the hammer-beams, moulded side-posts with pierced pendants, braces forming pointed arches under the collar-beams, with central pendants and pointed lights in the spandrels; there are queen-posts under the upper collar-beams; the side and queen-posts have curved struts with fleur-de-lis and scroll ornament and there are pointed arches with pendants running longitudinally between the side-posts. The walls have panelling cut down to the present height and finished with a modern cornice in the 19th century; in front is a fixed bench with enriched rail and turned legs; set above the panelling on the S. wall is a re-set frieze with carved conventional ornament. The screen is of oak and of five bays with two round-headed doorways flanked by Corinthian columns supporting a continuous entablature with an enriched frieze; over the columns are shields-of-arms of the college, Wadham and Petre; the spandrels of the doorways are carved with angels, two of which hold shields-of-arms of Wadham; the panelled doors are of late 17th-century date; the other bays have shaped rectangular panelling, an arched panel above and two arched panels below; above the main cornice is a panelled gallery front, apparently modern, on which is fixed the original strap-work cresting, rising in three main features and enclosing cartouches-of-arms of the college, Wadham and Petre. On the N. face the screen has plain panelling and six added Doric pilasters. In the N. wall of the screens are two doorways with four-centred arches in square heads; one, leading to the buttery, is fitted with an old nail-studded door; there is a similar doorway in the E. wall; the N., E. and W. walls of the screens are lined with early 17th-century panelling, with a carved frieze, said to have come from Merifield (Somerset) and given in 1926. In the E. window are panels of glass with the heads of the foundress, Charles I and Henrietta Maria; in the W. window are shields of the quartered arms of Latton, of Laud as bishop of Bath and Wells and of Arthur Lake, bishop of Bath and Wells. Below the four N. bays of the hall is a cellar of four bays with cylindrical columns, having moulded capitals and bases, and supporting the groined vaulting; further S. are a passage and two chambers all three vaulted in stone. The cellar is approached from the buttery and the staircase has an ornamental wrought-iron railing of late 17th or early 18th-century date.

The Cloister is a one-storey building against the E. wall of the hall and ante-chapel. It has a plain parapet and a central double doorway, with four-centred arches under a common arch of the same form in a square head with quatre-foiled spandrels. The three bays on each side have each a window of three cinque-foiled lights in a square head. Set in the W. wall is a stone with two octagonal panels enclosing a crowned Tudor rose with supporters and the arms of Wadham quartering Chesildon, Popham and Achard, the whole impaling Seymour, for Sir Nicholas Wadham, died 1542. In the windows is some glass formerly in the Hall and including the arms of Arthur Lake, bishop of Bath and Wells, with the date 1622, James Montague, bishop of Winchester, Strangways, with the date 1622, Laud as bishop of Bath and Wells, also roses, shells, mitre, etc.

The Senior Common Room on the first floor between the hall and the ante-chapel, is approached by a spiral stone staircase with a balustrade of symmetrically turned balusters at the top; the passage on the W. of the Common room has some original panelling. The Common Room, formerly the Bursary, seems to have been fitted up c. 1724–5 and is lined with bolection-moulded panelling with swags of drapery, fruit and flowers above the upper panels; the overmantel (Plate 23) has an enriched panel with elaborately carved swags and pendants of flowers, fruit and foliage and a cartouche of the arms of the college; the fireplace is of 1787.

The Kitchen and Library Wing adjoins the hall on the E. and is of two storeys with a plain parapet and buttresses on the N. side. The windows are square-headed; those on the ground-floor have four-centred lights and those of the library on the first floor have two trefoiled lights; in the S. wall is an original doorway with a four-centred arch in a square head and panelled spandrels; adjoining the S. wall is a low annexe, partly original. In the E. wall of the Library is a window of three cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a label. Inside the range, the kitchen is entered by a doorway in the W. wall with a four-centred arch in a square head; the two fireplaces in the S. wall have three-centred arches; the kitchen is roofed with a four-centred barrel-vault of stone; at the E. end is a timber partition dividing it from the Larder. Set in the E. wall of the larder is a large stone bracket. In the S. wall is a large recess with a four-centred head. The Library, on the first floor, has no old features except a painted glass shield-of-arms of the college, with portraits of the founder and foundress, in the E. window.

The Block containing the rooms of Staircase 9, stands to the S. of the main building. It is of three storeys with attics and was built in 1693–4. The E. front has bands between the storeys and is finished with a cornice; the doorway has a bolection-moulded surround and the windows are square-headed and the roof has restored dormers. The W. front is similar but simpler in design and the two ends are gabled. Inside the building, some of the rooms retain their original panelled doors.

The Garden Wall on the E. side of the Fellows' Garden incorporates a stone recording its building by Robert Smith, M.D., in 1685. In the wall between the Fellows' and the Warden's garden is an original doorway with a four-centred arch in a square head.