Corpus Christi 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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'Corpus Christi College', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford, (London, 1939), pp. 48-54. British History Online [accessed 22 June 2024].

. "Corpus Christi College", in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford, (London, 1939) 48-54. British History Online, accessed June 22, 2024,

. "Corpus Christi College", An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford, (London, 1939). 48-54. British History Online. Web. 22 June 2024,

Corpus Christi College

Corpus Christi College Arms

(10) Corpus Christi College stands on the S. side of Merton Street, between Merton College and Christ Church. The walls are of local Oxfordshire rubble with ashlar and dressings of the same material; the roofs are covered with slates and lead. The college was founded in 1516 by Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, but building had begun on the site as early as 1512; William Vertue and William Est were the masons and Humphrey Coke the carpenter; considerable building was in progress in 1514 and soon after the date of the foundation much of the Front Quadrangle was probably completed, including the Hall, Chapel, Library and a cloister S. of the chapel; a building called the Cloister Chambers was begun in 1517. The Kitchen Wing on the E. of the hall, formed part of the earlier Urban Hall and dates from the 15th century, though much altered. A President's Lodging, S.W. of the main block, was erected in 1599 and the existing E. Wing of this house was added probably in 1689. An embattled parapet was added round the quadrangle in 1624 and in 1636 the existing staircase was inserted in the S.E. angle. In 1675–6 the chapel was refitted and extended to the W. by the inclusion of the gallery or pew, formerly the vestibule of the library, and in 1700 the hall was repanelled. Between 1706 and 1712 the Cloister and the Cloister Chambers were re-built, under Thomas Turner, President (1687–1714); the chambers were subsequently known as Turner's Buildings and now as the Fellows' Buildings. In 1737, the Gentlemen Commoners' Building was erected between the chapel and the kitchen wing; it replaced, and incorporates, portions of an earlier building; in the same year the outer N. and W. walls of the Front Quadrangle were carried up to mask the attics. The inner walls of the Front Quadrangle were refaced in 1804 and again in part in 1935, when the battlements were removed. In 1884–5 the new block at the E. angle of Magpie Lane and Merton Street was erected; in 1906 the President's Lodging was re-built except the late 17th-century wing and in 1928 the Emily Thomas Building, N.E. of the kitchen-range, was built; the Senior Common Room E. of the cloister was re-built in 1929 and rooms added over it and the adjoining cloister.

Corpus Christi College

The fittings and roof of the Hall and the fittings of the Chapel are noteworthy, as is the plasterwork of the Library and the old President's Lodging in the N. range.

The Front Quadrangle (100½ ft. by 80½ ft.) (Plate 1) is generally of early 16th-century date and is entered by the Gatehouse near the middle of the N. range; in the E. range is the Hall and in the S. range the Library. The N. Range is of two storeys with attics, the latter masked on the N. face by a heightening of 1737. The walling is ashlar-faced but has been largely renewed on both the N. (in 1937) and S. faces. The Gatehouse is of three storeys finished with a modern embattled parapet and rising high above the adjoining range; it has a square embattled stair-turret on the S.E. The restored outer archway has a four-centred arch in a square head; it is fitted with the original door of oak and of two leaves with moulded ribs forming vertical panels; there is a wicket in the W. leaf; above it is a restored orielwindow, partly old on the inside and of four lights on the face and one on each return; flanking it are restored niches; the top stage has a restored central niche flanked by two windows, each of two four-centred lights and old internally. The restored inner archway is four-centred and has a moulded label; above it is a restored carving of Bishop Oldham's arms; the second stage has a restored window of four four-centred lights and in the top stage are two restored windows each of one similar light. The gate-hall has a modern or much restored fan-vault of stone with cinquefoil-headed panels and a cresting of Tudor flowers to the cones; the central panel is traceried and has the arms of the founder with the garter and four pelicans. The room on the first floor formed part of the former Lodging of the President; it is lined with early 17th-century panelling with an entablature and fluted frieze; the E. doorway is flanked by fluted pilasters and above it is an entablature and a pediment with a lion-mask; the oriel-window is flanked by enriched pilasters and has a later or modern, enriched segmental arch with a cartouche of the founder's arms above the key-block; the fireplace has a richly carved late 16th-century overmantel (Plate 113) of three bays divided and flanked by enriched Ionic pilasters supporting an entablature with modillions and scrolled monsters on the frieze; the central bay has an enriched arch enclosing an achievement of the founder's arms impaling those of Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter; the side bays have smaller arched panels and above them cartouches of the arms of the sees of Winchester and Exeter. Above the woodwork the walls have a deep late 16th-century frieze of modelled plaster with scroll-work and a series of cartouches bearing the arms of the founder, the University and of the fifteen colleges founded before 1571; in the middle of the N. and S. sides are the arms of Queen Elizabeth; the plaster ceiling (Plate 116) has a geometrical design of moulded ribs with modelled pendants and bosses at the intersections and sprays of flowers and acorns in the minor panels; the larger panels have wreaths enclosing Tudor badges, also a crowned falcon and the same holding a sceptre (the badge of Anne Boleyn). The recesses of the orielwindow and the window in the S. wall have plaster soffits, perhaps of early to mid 16th-century date, with arabesque designs and beasts; above the S. window is a wooden cartouche of the arms of the founder as Bishop of Durham; in the window are two 16th-century painted glass shields-of-arms of the founder as Bishop of Winchester and of Oldham impaled with Winchester (sic). The parts of the N. range flanking the gatehouse have restored features and modern embattled parapets on the N. face; the doorways towards the quadrangle have four-centred arches in square heads with labels and the windows have four-centred lights; the plain parapets are modern, replacing the embattled parapets of 1624. Inside the range the first-floor room at the E. end is lined with early 17th-century panelling with a cornice. The early 18th-century W. staircase has turned or twisted balusters and close strings. The upper rooms at the E. end have 17th-century panelling.

The E. Range is occupied for the N. half of its length by the Hall (53 ft. by 24 ft.). This was built early in the 16th century and is of a single storey, ashlar-faced and finished with a plain modern parapet. The former N. gable was replaced by a parapet in 1737; in it is a restored window of five cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with moulded reveals. The E. wall is of rubble and has a restored oriel towards the N. end; this has a window on the face of four cinque-foiled and transomed lights with tracery in a four-centred head with moulded reveals; the recess has a four-centred arch with a soffit of cinque-foiled panels springing from embattled cornices; further S. are two restored windows, both of two cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a square head; the chimney-stack is of 1741. The W. wall has been completely refaced and has three windows similar to the two in the E. wall. The hall (Plate 110) has an original hammer-beam roof of six bays with moulded main timbers; the hammer-beams have curved braces and semi-octagonal ends, with carved pendants, and supporting the side-posts; from these spring curved braces under the collar-beams, forming four-centred arches; the upper collar-beams are supported on posts with ogee struts and the purlins have curved wind-braces; the wall-posts stand on moulded stone corbels carved with Tudor roses and scrolls inscribed "Est Deo gratia"; the quatre-foiled frieze is carved with various Tudor badges, a heart, pelican, mitre, keys and sword of Winchester, a lozengy shield in a garter, the initial W., bear and tree-stump, a monogram perhaps R. W., foliage and shields, one bearing the date 1516. The walls are lined, to below the window-sills, with bolection-moulded panelling of 1700, with panelled pilasters and an entablature; at the N. end is a central feature with carved pendants and a segmental pediment surmounted by two vases and a cartouche-of-arms of Fox; the main frieze at this end has four cartouches-of-arms of Turner, Parry (?), Potenger and Martin (?) and there are two more on the E. and W. walls, of Hodges and Drake; the panelling is continued as a screen against the S. wall; it has two round-headed doorways with carved key-blocks and spandrels and enriched architraves; carved consoles at the sides support projections in the main entablature and segmental pediments; the tympana have carved putti, drapery and achievements-of-arms of Atkyns and Parker of Hurstmonceux; above the main entablature is an attic with carved panels and a centre-piece with carved scrolls, vases and a carved cartouche of the founder's arms with a mitre above; at both ends of the attic are carved consoles; the panelling appears to have been the work of Arthur Frogley and the carving of Jonathan Mayn. The rest of the E. range is of two storeys with attics; the W. side has been entirely refaced. On the E. side the walling is of rubble; the doorway and windows, partly old, are similar to those on the sides of the quadrangle; the attics have dormer-windows of 17th-century origin altered in the 18th century. The screens-passage has an original E. doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head; the much restored W. doorway has moulded and shafted jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with shields of Winchester See in the spandrels; the passage has the panelled back of the screen on the N. side and panelling of c. 1700 in two heights on the S. wall. The Buttery has some panelling of c. 1700. The staircase, further S., has exposed framing and a 17th-century doorway in the S. wall, with a moulded frame; the door has vertical ribs and strap-hinges. The Junior Common Room is lined with early 17th-century panelling with a cornice; on the N. wall is a strap-work panel with flanking pilasters, enriched cornice and pediment. The fireplace has a moulded stone surround of c. 1700 and an early 17th-century overmantel; it is of three bays, divided and flanked by carved balusters supporting three pediments, with marquetry-work; the bays have arched panels enclosing the founder's arms and two pelicans, one painted and the other inlaid; over the N. doorway is an enriched pediment. The S. staircase was inserted in 1636, but it now has early 18th-century twisted balusters and newels, the latter with shaped pendants; at the foot are remains of an original circular staircase. On the first floor the room over the buttery is lined with panelling of c. 1700; the passage to the E. has remains of early 17th-century painting with strap-ornament and the name Thomas. The room over the junior common-room and that further S. are lined with early to mid 17th-century panelling, the former room having enriched upper panels. A doorway on the S. staircase has its original moulded oak frame with a four-centred arch in a square head; the upper staircase has turned balusters of c. 1700.

The W. Range is generally similar to the side portions of the N. range. The E. side to the quadrangle has been refaced in modern times and has a modern parapet. The W. side was raised in 1737 to mask the attics and the rest of the front seems to have been refaced in 1741 and again largely in 1936. Inside the range, some timber-framing is exposed. Two rooms have bolection-moulded panels over the fireplaces. The large S. room has an original fireplace with moulded jambs and four-centred head. On the first floor, the N. staircase retains two original doorways with four-centred heads. The roof is original and has cambered tie-beams and curved wind-braces.

The Sundial (Plate 15), in the middle of the quadrangle, was erected by Charles Turnbull in 1581. It now consists of a late 17th-century pedestal with defaced carving, an octagonal shaft with moulded base and enriched capital supporting a rectangular block with a cornice and pyramidal capping; near the top of the column on the S. is a gnomon and painted on the shaft is a perpetual calendar and the inscription "Horas omnes complector" all added in 1606; the block above has carved cartouches of the arms of Queen Elizabeth, the University, the founder and Oldham, and various astronomical formulæ; on the cornice is the inscription "Posui Deum Adjutorem meum est reposita Justitiæ corona gratia Dei mecum, 1581. Est Deo gratia"; the capping has two dials and is finished with a pelican standing on a sphere; the column has been restored and repainted in 1876, 1907 and 1936–7.

The S. Range is generally similar to the W. range; the N. side has been refaced and has a modern parapet and stepped gable in the middle with a niche and a figure of the founder added in 1817. The doorways may retain some old portions, that at the E. end has shafted jambs and moulded four-centred arch in a square head, with shields of the arms of the see of Winchester and the founder in the spandrels; it is fitted with an early 18th-century door with a wicket; the opposite doorway in the S. wall is similar and the head is original. The external S. wall is faced with rubble and has lower windows of Tudor type similar to those in the quadrangle but partly original; the upper windows, lighting the library, are each of two four-centred lights with pierced spandrels in a square head; the partly restored embattled parapet dates from 1624. Inside the range, the passage at the E. end has moulded ceiling-beams; the Lower Library has remains of early 17th-century paintings on the S. wall, towards the W. end. The first floor is occupied by the Upper Library and has a doorway to the chapel-gallery, in the E. wall, of 1604; it has a round enriched arch of wood springing from enriched Corinthian columns and having carved 'woodmen' in the spandrels and a carved entablature; the panelling at the sides is largely covered by bookcases but has some arched panels, perhaps re-used; above the entablature is a large modelled plaster pediment set forward from the panelling and having an elaborate plaster soffit; the pediment (Plate 37) has enriched scrolls, terminal pilasters and three panels, that in the middle with the arms of the founder and those at the sides with the arms of Bishop Oldham, but impaled by Winchester instead of Exeter. The side walls are finished with a plaster entablature having scrolled monsters on the frieze; the soffits of the windows have 16th-century plaster decoration similar to that of the room over the gatehouse; two soffits in the N. wall are modern. The W. wall has a doorway dated 1604, with a round enriched arch of wood with leaves in the spandrels and flanked by pilasters with vine-ornament supporting an enriched entablature with a cartouche-of-arms of Fox; above this is a centre-piece of c. 1700 with carved scrolls, segmental pediment and a framed portrait of the founder. The early 16th-century bookcases, heightened in 1604, are in two ranges with a central corridor; they have hinged reading-shelves and a plain entablature; on the ends are frames (of 1605) for contents-lists with cornices and pediments and metal flaps for locking the ends of the book-rods; the benches have shaped ends with ball-terminals; the W. part of the library is an extension, thrown into it and fitted up after 1605. The wooden ceiling is of 1843.

The Chapel (75 ft. by 21 ft. including the ante-chapel) is of 1512–17 and forms a single-storey extension of the S. range towards the E. The walls are of rubble and the embattled parapet is of c. 1700 or modern. In the E. wall is a window of five cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with moulded reveals and restored externally; the lights were continued down below a transom but are now blocked and the middle mullions removed. In the N. wall are two windows each of three trefoiled lights in a four-centred head with moulded reveals; the easternmost seems to have been re-set further W.; further W. is a blocked doorway with moulded jambs; at the gallery-level is a doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head. In the S. wall are four windows, similar to those in the N. wall; lighting the gallery is a window of two four-centred lights in a square head. The roof has a boarded soffit forming a four-centred arch and was probably much restored in 1843; the wall-plates are moulded and embattled and have two cherub-heads at the E. end and two mitres at the W. end; the roof is divided into rectangular panels by moulded ribs with bosses at the intersections; the bosses are carved with foliage, instruments and emblems of the Passion, Tudor badges, the arms of the founder as bishop of Winchester, Durham and Wells, pelican, mitre and a cheeky shield, perhaps for Warenne. The roof above was reconstructed in 1843, with old materials; over the W. end is an octagonal bell-turret with an ogee capping.

Fittings—Bell: In turret—inaccessible but with inscription in capitals, probably 16th-century. Brasses: In ante-chapel—(1) to John Claimond, 153[7], first president, skeleton in shroud, foot and mutilated marginal inscription; on N. wall, (2) to Peter Fry, 1579, with shield-of-arms, in stone frame; (3) to Francis Colthurst, 1602, inscription in round-headed stone panel; the two last covered by organ. Frontal: Now in library—part of altar-frontal in silk embroidery and representing the Descent from the Cross, early 16th-century. Gallery: Over W. part of ante-chapel, carried on two square Doric columns of wood and pilasters, late 17th-century. Glass: In S. W. window, two shields-of-arms with mitres, of Fox as bishop of Winchester and Winchester impaling Oldham, early 16th-century. Now in library—fragments, including Fox's motto, a pelican, crown, angel and foliage, 16th-century. Lectern: (Plate 24) eagle-lectern of brass with moulded stem and base on three seated lions, ball and eagle; on central knop the inscription "Joh~es. Claymond primus pr~s.", early 16th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: On N. wall— (1) of John Rainold, S.T.D., President, 1607, stone wall-monument with bust of man in gown in recess, flanked by Ionic pilasters supporting an entablature and obelisk; (2) to Robert Newlin, S.T.P., President, 1687–8, white marble tablet with broken pediment, urn and shield-of-arms; behind organ, (3) to William Barket, 1632, tablet with Corinthian side-columns, entablature, pediment and shield-of-arms; (4) to John Becket, 1709, white marble tablet with cornice and pediment; (5) oval tablet of white marble and slate with cherubs, perhaps c. 1700; (6) white marble tablet with shield-of-arms, late 17th or early 18th-century. On S. wall—(7) of John Spenser, S.T.D., President, 1614, stone wall-monument (Plate 30) with painted bust of man in gown and hood in recess, Corinthian side-columns supporting entablature, cartouche and two shields-of-arms; (8) of Thomas Turner, S.T.P., President, 1714, white marble wall-monument, with Doric side-pilasters, entablature and pediment with medallionbust, cherubs and two shields-of-arms; (9) to John Carter, 1671, white and black marble tablet with wreath and cartouche-of-arms; (10) to Caleb Jones, S.T.B., 1675, scrolled stone tablet. In cloister—on S. wall, (11) to Alexander Cheeke, 1664, alabaster tablet with frame and cartouche-of-arms; on N. wall, (12) to Christopher Wase, S.T.B., 1711 and Phineas Ellwood, 1690, scrolled white marble tablet with drapery, urn and two cartouches-of-arms; (13) to Nicholas Prideaux, 1675, alabaster tablet with scrolls, entablature, pediment and two cartouches-of-arms. Floor-slabs: In chapel— (1) to Thomas Turner, S.T.P., President, 1714; (2) to Basil Kennett, President, 1714. In ante-chapel— (3) with date 1659, partly hidden; (4) to George Reynell, S.T.P., 1687, with shield-of-arms; (5) to ..., 1619 and Thomas Powell, 1642; (6) to Robert Newlin, S.T.D., 1687. Painting: As altar-piece—The Adoration of the Shepherds, attributed to Rubens but more probably after him and nearly contemporary. Panelling: In chapel—on side walls over stalls and to E. of same, range of panels with perspective arches and divided by panelled Ionic pilasters, supporting a deep projecting cornice with carved consoles, c. 1675–6, three modern or reversed panels on N. side. In antechapel—with bolection-mouldings, the three bays on W. wall with pilasters and central doorway with panelled doors in two leaves, late 17th-century. Paving: In chapel—of black and white marble squares mostly set diagonally; in ante-chapel—similar pavement of stone and slate; late 17th-century. Pulpit: (Plate 44) In antechapel—of oak, hexagonal with two ranges of moulded panels and cornice; turned legs with moulded stretchers and ball-feet, late 17th-century. Screen: (Plate 79) between chapel and ante-chapel—of cedar and of three bays, divided and flanked on E. face by fluted Corinthian pilasters, supporting an enriched entablature with a central segmental pediment; in tympanum, pelican, garter, palms and mitre above; doorway in middle bay, with round head, scrolled acanthus-spandrels and scrolled key-block; side bays each with perspective arch and inner pair with semi-hexagonal canopies of the 18th century; W. face similar with Corinthian columns in addition to central bay (Plate 112) and cartouche of the royal Stuart arms on the pediment; side bays with carved middle (Plate 51) and bolection-moulded lower panels; c. 1675–6; some carved ornaments from screen now in buttery cellar. Sedilia: In S. wall, behind panelling, recess with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in square head with quatre-foiled spandrels, panelled soffit and back of six cinquefoil-headed panels, early 16th-century. Stalls: nineteen on each side and four on returns, with moulded capping, shaped arms and fixed seats; book-rests with cornices, panelled fronts and standards with ballcappings, c. 1675–6.

The Cloister (Plate 109), S. of the chapel, was re-built in 1706–12 and is an ashlar-faced building originally of one storey but with modern additions over the short E. and W. arms, that on the W. forming the Shadworth Hodgson Library. The N. range is of nine bays in three groups, with plain pilasters, cornice and low parapet; each bay has a round-headed arch with plain imposts and key-stones. The range has a plaster vault groined over the arch-heads and against the back wall and with a range of panels down the middle; over the main divisions are scrolled cartouches (Plate 39) and foliage with the arms of the founder and impaled by his various sees. The E. and W. ranges are similarly treated but one bay on the E. has been enclosed in the adjoining building. In the W. wall of the W. range is an early 16th-century doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head.

The Fellows' Building on the S. side of the cloisterquadrangle was erected in 1706–12 and is an ashlar-faced building of three storeys and cellars with a cornice and balustraded parapet. The design is ascribed to Dean Aldrich. The S. front has a centre-piece with four Ionic pilasters and a pediment; the windows of the ground floor have key-blocks and those of the first floor, cornices. The central doorway has ironwork placed here in 1782. The N. front and ends are similarly treated but there is no centre-piece and the main parapet is solid. Inside the building, the two staircases have twisted balusters, close strings and square newels with pendants. The central passage has a segmental vault of stone. On the second floor is some original panelling.

The Senior Common Room at the E. end of the chapel has been re-built but is lined with early 17th-century panelling, with an entablature and enriched frieze; the fireplace (Plate 22) has fluted side-pilasters and the overmantel is of three bays divided and flanked by fluted pilasters; the middle bay has a pedimented panel with the arms of the founder; the side panels have the arms of Bishop Oldham and those of Turner. The Gentlemen Commoners' Buildings between this and the Kitchen wing were re-built in 1737 but perhaps incorporate earlier walling. The W. front is of three main storeys with projecting side-wings and rusticated angles; the two doorways have consoles supporting pediments. Inside the building is some early 17th-century panelling and a staircase of the same period.

The Kitchen Wing, extends E. from the S. end of the Hall and is partly of one, partly of two and partly of three storeys. It probably incorporates portions of the 15th-century Urban Hall and the rubble walling on the outside is perhaps of this date. The passage at the W. end has two early 16th-century doorways with four-centred arches in square heads; in the wall between this and the kitchen are a doorway and two serving-hatches of oak, all of similar form and date. The kitchen is of a single storey and has two collar-beam roof-trusses with curved braces forming arches; they have been partly reconstructed, but are possibly of the 15th century.

The President's Lodging is modern except for a late 17th-century wing, which projects to the E. It is of two storeys with a modern attic. The ground floor was originally open and has three openings on the N. and one at the E. end; the N. arches form a colonnade of the Doric order with a cornice and half-columns as responds; the E. opening has similar responds; the windows of the upper storey have architraves and there is an eaves-cornice.