Jesus 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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'Jesus College', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford, (London, 1939) pp. 59-63. British History Online [accessed 22 April 2024]

Jesus College

(13) Jesus College stands on the W. side of Turl Street between Market Street and Ship Street. The walls are of local Oxfordshire rubble with dressings of the same material and the roofs are slate-covered. It was founded officially by Queen Elizabeth in 1571, at the instigation and expense of Hugh Price. The E. and part of the S. range (probably up to No. 4 staircase) of the First Quadrangle were built by Price; the remainder of the S. range was occupied by the pre-existing White Hall. About 1617 under Griffith Price, Principal, the W. range with the Hall was built and the S. range completed on the site of White Hall, at the same time the Chapel was built at the expense of Sir Eubule Thelwall, who, when he became principal, completed the chapel; it was consecrated in 1621. Thelwall also built the Principal's Lodgings in the N. W. angle of the quadrangle and projected the Inner Quadrangle; of which, however, he built only a library. This was pulled down by his successor Dr. Francis Mansell, who built the E. half of the N. and S. ranges of the Inner Quadrangle c. 1635 and extended the chapel to the E. and W. in 1636. Sir Leoline Jenkins, Principal, completed the S. range of the Inner Quadrangle in 1676 and added the S.W. range and Library, finished in 1679. The remainder of this quadrangle was not finished till c. 1713. Between 1733 and 1741 the gables of the principal's lodgings were replaced by an embattled parapet and at the latter date the hallroof was ceiled. The E. front was remodelled in 1756 in the Palladian style and in 1815 battlements were added to the ranges fronting the first quadrangle. The E. front was again entirely refaced in 1854 and in 1864 the chapel was restored and the chancel-arch re-built and widened. In 1886 additions were made to the Principal's Lodgings and the front to the quadrangle was refaced about 1920. In 1905 a new block was built to the N.W. and fronting on to Ship Street; the buttery and kitchen were re-modelled after a fire in 1913.

Jesus College Arms

The Hall, Library, Chapel and the Principal's Drawing Room have interesting fittings.

Architectural Description—The First Quadrangle (Plate 68) (93½ ft. by 77 ft.) is entered by the Gatehouse in the E. range. The E. front with that of the rest of the range was entirely refaced in 1854 when the Gatehousetower was heightened. It is of three stages with an embattled parapet. The late 16th-century inner archway has chamfered jambs, moulded imposts and a moulded four-centred arch and label. The four-light window on the first floor is modern and the whole of the top storey has been refaced. The rest of the range was originally of two storeys with attics, but the former dormers were faced by a modern third storey with an embattled parapet in 1815. The old part of the W. front is ashlar-faced and of late 16th-century date; the partly restored windows are of three square-headed lights and the doorways have moulded jambs and square heads. Inside the range, there is a brick-vaulted cellar below the Steward's office, and N. of the gatehouse part of one of the original roof-trusses is exposed.

The Chapel occupies the E. part of the N. range of the First Quadrangle. It was begun c. 1617 and consecrated in 1621; in 1636 the chancel was added and the chapel extended one bay to the W. The outer S. doorway was added probably late in the 17th century. The building is ashlar-faced and finished with modern embattled parapets. The Chancel (16½ ft. by 22¾ ft.) has a much restored Gothic E. window of seven cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label with defaced angel-stops. The N. wall has a modern window and both this and the S. wall have modern wall-arcading. The chancel-arch is modern. The body of the Chapel (52½ ft. by 22 ft.) consists of the choir and the ante-chapel. The N. and S. walls have both four partly restored Gothic windows, each of three cinque-foiled ogee lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head, with moulded reveals and label. In the third bay of the S. wall is the original S. doorway, now blocked; it has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head; the rather later S. doorway, under the S.W. window, is similar to the blocked doorway but has small balls in the spandrels; the late 17th-century outer doorway, forming a shallow porch, has moulded jambs and imposts and a segmental arch with a rose and thistle in the spandrels; on the arch is the inscription "Ascendat oratio, descendat gratia"; the door-head is flanked by brackets supporting a continuous entablature and a pediment with palms and cherub-heads in the tympanum. The roofs are modern except for the moulded wall-plates. The stone bell-turret on the W. end of the roof has been re-built but reproduces the previous structure; it has trefoil-headed openings at the E. and W. ends and trefoiled panels on the sides; it is finished with an embattled parapet and an ogee capping.

Jesus College

Fittings—Door: In S. doorway—panelled, with carved angel holding book and vine-ornament in head, strap-hinges, 17th-century. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In chancel—on N. wall, (1) to Francis Mansell, S.T.P. Principal, 1665, stone tablet with cornice, pediment, cartouche-of-arms and cherub-heads; (2) of Sir Eubule Thelwall, 1630, Principal, marble wall-monument (Plate 134) with kneeling figure in recess flanked by pilasters and angels holding curtains from the entablature of the canopy above, obelisks, centrepiece with broken pediment and cartouche-of-arms. In choir—on N. wall, (3) to John Lloyd, S.T.P., 1686–7; Principal and Bishop of St. David's, white marble tablet with cornice, pediment and cartouche-of-arms; on S. wall, (4) to Henry Maurice, S.T.D., 1691, white marble tablet with urn and shield-of-arms. Floor-slab: In choir—to Sir Leoline Jenkins, LL.D., 1685, Principal, with achievement-of-arms. Picture: of St. Michael, a copy of c. 1700. Pulpit: of oak, rectangular upper panels moulded and enriched lower panels enclosing strapped and enriched ovals and flanked by spindle-ornaments on front, enriched cornice and plain legs, early 17th-century. Screen: (Plate 66) Between choir and ante-chapel—of oak and of three bays divided and flanked by Corinthian pilasters with Corinthian columns also flanking the middle bay towards the W., enriched continuous entablature with scrolled and broken pediment over middle bay and achievements-of-arms of Thelwall towards the W. (now re-set on organ-gallery) and Jenkins towards the E., doorway in middle bay with round arched head, cherub-head as key-block, carved and pierced spandrels and a rectangular carved and pierced panel above, side-bays with close lower panels and open upper panels with oval frame and carved and pierced spandrels, probably late 17th-century.

The Principal's Lodgings form the W. part of the same range as the chapel. It was built c. 1625 and was formerly of two storeys with gabled attics; it is now of three storeys, the top storey having a modern front, finished with an embattled parapet. The S. front has been refaced except for the square-headed doorway which is surmounted by an early 18th-century shell-hood, with consoles, cornice, soffit carved with an elaborate cartouche, etc. and a cherub-head. The N. front is partly concealed by modern additions and the top storey is modern. The windows, formerly of one or two transomed lights, have almost all been altered and fitted with sashes. The W. end forms part of the internal elevation of the Inner Quadrangle. The windows have all been re-built as has the top storey with its shaped gables. Inside the Lodgings, the staircase of c. 1700 has close strings, twisted balusters and square newels. The Drawing Room (Plate 120), on the first floor, is lined with panelling of 1623 with fluted Ionic pilasters at intervals supporting a continuous enriched entablature; the panelling is in three heights of oval enriched panels, with jewelled straps and carved spandrel pieces. The fireplace (Plate 117) is flanked by enriched diminishing pilasters supporting the shelf carved with arabesques; the overmantel is of two bays divided and flanked by pilasters similar to those below but with Ionic capitals under the main entablature of the room; the bays have each a large oval panel with jewel-ornament and arabesque panels below.

The W. Range consisting of the Hall with the buttery and kitchen was built c. 1617 but the embattled parapet and the top storey of the S. part are modern. On the W. side the range is finished with a series of re-built curvilinear gables like the rest of the Inner Quadrangle. The Hall (54 ft. by 25 ft.) (Plate 64) has, in the E. wall three windows, each of three cinque-foiled and double transomed lights in a square head; the doorway has moulded jambs and square head; above it is a two-light window to the gallery over the screens and below the window is a modern panel with the Prince of Wales' feathers. On the largely refaced W. side of the hall is a central chimney-breast with an oriel to the N. and a large window to the S. The oriel was added at some uncertain date and is of four transomed lights on the face, two on the canted sides and one on each return; the large window to the S. is of four cinque-foiled and transomed lights. The doorway has moulded jambs and modern head; above it is a two-light window to the gallery. In the S. wall of the hall are two doorways, the eastern modern and the western, to the Buttery, of early 17th-century date with a moulded oak frame and four-centred arch in a square head; the panelled door is nail-studded and in two halves. The former open timber roof of the hall was ceiled under the level of the hammer-beams in 1741 and attics constructed in the roof above; the form of the roof is preserved in drawings and most of the structure survives though much altered and concealed by partitions, etc. The roof had hammerbeams, side-posts, lower collars with curved braces and pendants and upper collars with side-posts and curved braces. The ceiling of 1741 is panelled and coved at the sides; under it on the N. wall is modelled plasterwork of the same date with a cartouche of the arms of the college. The N., E. and W. walls of the hall are lined to a certain height with early 17th-century panelling, finished with an enriched arabesque entablature; round the dals-end the frieze is further enriched with grotesque heads. The screen (Plate 115) is of five bays, including the two doorways, divided and flanked by enriched Corinthian columns supporting an enriched entablature; the frieze is carved with monsters in low relief, but the projecting portions, above the columns have four shields-of-arms, being the quarterings of Powell; the doorways are round-headed with carved spandrels and are fitted with late 18th-century doors; the other bays have enriched panels, those in the upper part being grouped round a central arched panel. The gallery front is modern, replacing a former partition. Below the hall is a basement with a brick vault below the dais; further S. the floor above is supported by two Doric columns of timber. The square-headed windows are partly old and the restored doorway in the W. wall has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with blank shields in the spandrels. The Buttery and Kitchen, forming the rest of the W. range, were largely remodelled after a fire in 1913. The external features are all modern and the top storey is a modern addition replacing former attics. Inside the block, the kitchen has in the N. wall an early 17th-century doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head; it is fitted with an old plank door cut in two heights.

The S. Range of the First Quadrangle is partly of late 16th-century date and was extended westwards c. 1617; a slight alteration in line in the S. frontage indicates the junction of the two works. The S. front has been entirely refaced. The N. front, to the quadrangle, is generally similar to the side parts of the E. range, the top storey being a modern facing of the former dormers to the attics. The restored doorways have four-centred arches with sunk spandrels, surmounted by open lights. Inside the range, one room on the first floor has some late 16th or early 17th-century panelling with enriched frieze-panels. The roof-trusses of the older part have collar-beams with curved braces; the later roof has plain collar-beams with raking struts above.

The Inner Quadrangle (103½ ft. by 94½ ft.) was built at various periods, the E. halves of the side ranges c. 1635, the rest of the S. range and the S. half of the W. range in 1676 and the rest of the Quadrangle c. 1713. The elevations to the quadrangle are of three storeys and are uniformly treated, the windows being of two elliptical headed lights with labels continued as stringcourses; the parapet is finished with a series of small curvilinear gables which are repeated on the W. face of the older E. range; the walling of the top storey and the gables has been refaced. The doorways, generally, have moulded jambs and four-centred arches in square heads with plain shields in the spandrels. The S. front of the S. Range has been entirely refaced and the former small gables removed; internally the range has exposed ceiling-beams and on the ground floor is a 17th-century panelled door. The N. front of the N. Range has also been largely refaced above the second-floor level. The central passage has an arch at each end, with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with a label. The W. Range contains the Common Rooms on the ground-floor and the Library in the S. half of the range on the first floor. The doorway to the library-staircase, on the E. front, has an eared architrave, entablature and segmental pediment. The S. end of the range has been remodelled and refaced, the former curvilinear gables being replaced by a single modern gable; the ground-floor has a window of four four-centred lights and the library above, a window of four cinque-foiled lights with Gothic tracery in a two-centred head with a label. The W. elevation has been entirely refaced but is generally similar to the E. elevation. Inside the range, the older Senior Common Room (Plate 120) is mostly lined with bolection-moulded panelling of c. 1700, with an entablature. The second Senior Common Room is lined with bolection-moulded panelling of 1736 with an entablature and panelled overmantel. The late 17th-century staircase (Plate 162) to the library has close strings, twisted balusters and square newels with turned pendants; on the first landing is a dog-gate. The Library (Plate 118) is of two storeys in height and is fitted with the panelling and book-cases of the earlier library of 1626. The walls are lined with this panelling up to the height of the bookcases and finished with a dentilled cornice; the book-cases are finished with bracketed entablatures with arabesque ornament on the frieze; on the ends are enriched tablets or frames for contents-lists; these have strapwork aprons, enriched entablatures, pediments and small vases; on each side of the W. book-cases are sloping book-rests with moulded brackets. Between the W. book-cases are benches with shaped and enriched ends. Against the E. wall and resting on the book-cases is a late 17th-century gallery; the front is divided into bays by pilasters with carved panels and the bays have panels alternately plain and filled with scrolled acanthus-foliage; the front is finished with a cornice; the gallery is approached by a small staircase (Plate 185) in an open framed enclosure with round-headed arches springing from twisted balusters; the door is similarly treated with four ranges each of two open arches in the width. In the N. wall is a square-headed doorway (Plate 49) fitted with panelled doors of two folds; on the cornice above is elaborate scrolled and openwork cresting with a central cherub-head and obelisk; the small crestings at the sides perhaps belonged to the book-cases. The library has a flat ceiling with a wooden cornice, scrolled on either side of the S. window. The rest of the range has a considerable amount of 18th-century panelling. Below the Senior Common Rooms are brick vaulted cellars.