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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(12) Hertford College stands on the E. side of Catte Street and on both sides of New College Lane. The walls are of local Oxfordshire stone and the roofs are slate-covered. Hart Hall was in existence in 1282; Black Hall, the property of the University, was next to it on the W., and these two halls occupied the N. side of the present quadrangle. Hart Hall was re-built in the second half of the 16th century by Philip Randall, Principal (1549– 99), and apparently consisted of a Hall and Buttery with rooms over. The E. Range is of two builds, the southern being probably the earlier, but both are of c. 1600 or early 17th-century date. The building further S. was erected early in the 18th century either by William Thornton, Principal (1688–1707), or Dr. Richard Newton, Principal (1710–53). The latter built the Old Chapel, now a library, on the S. side of the quadrangle; it was consecrated in 1716. In 1740 Hart Hall became Hertford College and so continued till 1805–10. It had by then so declined that the buildings were taken over by the members of Magdalen Hall who moved there in 1822. At this time the two blocks at the N. and S. ends of the W. range were built. Magdalen Hall became Hertford College in 1874 and much building has been done subsequent to this date. The middle block on the W. was built in 1887–9, the W. block on the N. in 1890 and the new Chapel in 1908. The extension to the N. of New College Lane, with the bridge, was built at various dates between 1903 and 1931. Incorporated in this extension is the early 16th-century octagonal chapel of St. Mary the Virgin.
Architectural Description—The late 16th-century building of Hart Hall forms the E. part of the N. range and was originally of one storey with attics. The existing upper storey was added probably late in the 17th or early in the 18th century. The W. part formed the old Hall and has in the S. wall two partly restored windows of three round-headed lights in square heads; the corresponding windows on the N. are modern. The room has a coved ceiling and panelling of the 18th century. In the passage at the E. end is a re-set 16th-century doorway with hollow-chamfered jambs and four-centred head. The Buttery, originally of two storeys, is now of three with attics; the line of the original roof can be seen on the E. wall. The first floor retains some single-light 16th-century windows and inside the building the doorway leading to the cellar is similar to that described above.
The E. Range, as shown in Loggan's view, was formed of two buildings, not very different in date. The range was much altered in the 18th century and the top storey is a 19th-century addition. The windows on the W. front are of 18th-century or modern date, but two early 17th-century windows remain on the E. side. At the S. end is an original two-storeyed bay-window, with all the lights blocked. Inside the building, the Senior Common Room, on the ground-floor, is lined with 18th-century panelling, finished with a cornice. The early 18th-century building, to the S., is of two storeys with cellars and attics and pedimented dormer-windows; the walls are, at any rate partly, of brick. The windows are square-headed and there is a band between the storeys and an eaves-cornice.
The modern Chapel, built in 1908, contains two 18th-century brass candelabra, each with twelve branches. The Old Chapel, now a library, stands to the W. and was consecrated in 1716. The walls are cement-rendered and each side has three round-headed windows, with moulded architraves, imposts and key-blocks; the N. doorway has a moulded architrave and cornice. The interior retains its original cornice. Rehung in the modern entrance in the W. range are a pair of 17th-century doors with bolection-moulded panels and carved scrolls, fruit and flowers in the top panels; one leaf has a wicket.
The Chapel of St. Mary at Smith's Gate stood immediately N.E. of the town-gate of that name. It was built or re-built c. 1520–1 and is an octagonal building now incorporated in the modern extension of Hertford college. At the building of this extension it was largely restored, particularly towards the W, the missing portions were replaced, a floor was inserted and the pyramidal roof erected. It now serves as a Junior Common Room with a kitchen below. The walls are ashlar-faced and stand on a moulded plinth; at each external angle is an almost detached octagonal shaft finished with a modern pinnacle. The original doorway (Plate 129) in the S. wall has moulded and shafted jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with foliated spandrels; the outer order of the jambs is carried up to a higher square head under which is a range of three canopied niches and two panels with traceried heads, and containing a representation of the Annunciation with the lily-pot in the middle. The lower windows are all modern but the upper windows are partly original with modern tracery inserted; they have four-centred heads with moulded labels; there appears to have been a window in each wall except the S. but only those on the N.E., E., W. and S.W. are now open; a doorway has been formed in the N. window and a fireplace in that on the N.W. In the internal angle between the E. and N.E. walls is a niche with side-shafts, crocketted pinnacles and a canopy carved with vaulting and a central boss; immediately below is a moulded corbel. Loose in the building is part of a carved angel and re-set in an adjoining building is a head-corbel.