The Queen's 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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'The Queen's College', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford, (London, 1939), pp. 96-100. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

. "The Queen's College", in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford, (London, 1939) 96-100. British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024,

. "The Queen's College", An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford, (London, 1939). 96-100. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,

Queen's College

Queen's College Arms

The Queen's College

(20) The Queen's College, stands on the N. side of High Street, immediately W. of Queen's Lane. The walls are of local Oxfordshire stone and ashlarfaced and the roofs are covered with slates and lead. The Queen's Hall was founded in 1340 by Robert de Eglesfield, chaplain to Queen Philippa who was regarded as a co-founder. The mediæval building consisted of a single quadrangle entered by a gatehouse in the E. range; the chapel on the S. was built in 1373–82 and had an ante-chapel added c. 1515; on the W. side were the Provost's lodging, the hall of c. 1400 and the kitchen to the N. of it; to the W. of the chapel lay the Library of c. 1392. The whole of these buildings were demolished when the college was re-built on a larger scale between the years 1672 and 1760. The position of the mediæval buildings, particularly the chapel, has been determined with some exactness by the uncovering, from time to time, of parts of the foundations. A new range was built by Sir Joseph Williamson in 1672 on the front to Queen's Lane and immediately to the N. of the old quadrangle. The new Library on the W. side of the N. quadrangle. seems to have been designed in connection with the general reconstruction and was built in 1692–95 by Timothy Halton, Provost. The N. range of the N. quadrangle was built in 1707 and the W. range of the front quadrangle was built in 1710–11. Probably shortly after this the main mediæval buildings were demolished and the Hall and Chapel were begun in 1714; the hall was finished in the following year and the chapel soon after, though it was not consecrated till 1719. The Kitchen was built at the same time but was perhaps modified when the S. range of the N. quadrangle was built in 1719; the inner part of the E. range of this quadrangle was also built in 1719 to render the quadrangle rectangular. The colonnaded screen towards the High Street was built in 1734 and in the next year the block at the S.E. angle was built; the rest of the E. range was not erected till 1757–60, the bridge between it and the chapel being even later. The design of the new buildings has been assigned to Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor. The statement that Wren actually built a chapel for the college is almost certainly incorrect, and the existing building shows the influence of Vanbrugh. The design of the gateway in the S. colonnade was ascribed to Hawksmoor by a writer in 1736.

The college includes good examples of the later English Renaissance and both the chapel and library have noteworthy contemporary fittings with some earlier glass in the chapel.

Architectural Description—The Front Quadrangle (140 ft. by 140 ft.) is entered by a Gateway on the High Street which forms the central feature of the one-storeyed colonnade on the street-front, built in 1734. The gateway is of the Doric order with rusticated columns flanking a round-headed arch; above it is a domed structure with open round-headed arches supported by coupled Doric columns; it contains a statue of Queen Caroline by Henry Cheere. The gateway is fitted with a contemporary oak door with carved work in the head. Flanking the gatehouse are five bays of open arcading with rusticated masonry and round arches towards the quadrangle and similar blind arches enclosing niches towards the street. The W. Range was built in 1710–11 and is of three storeys with attics. The E. front, largely refaced, has on the ground-floor an open arcade of round rusticated arches, similar to those on the S., above them are two ranges of square-headed windows, set in a tall recess in each bay; the wall is finished with a cornice and modern balustraded parapet and above the three middle bays is an atticstorey finished with a segmental pediment with cherubs, swags and a cartouche-of-arms of William Lancaster, Provost (1704–17). The S. end of the range is of three bays and generally similar to the E. front; within the ground-floor arches are round-headed windows with imposts and key-blocks and the end is finished with a straight-sided pediment, enclosing a carving of the royal arms of Queen Anne after the Union, with four cherubs and cartouches-of-arms of the college and Williamson; on the pediment are three modern statues. The W. front has three ranges of square-headed windows and a range of segmental-headed windows lighting the basement; the wall is finished with a cornice and balustraded parapet. Inside the range, the ambulatory or loggia has groined vaults springing from pilasters with moulded capitals and bases; the loggia is continued N. for four bays beyond the quadrangle as a passage. The room at the S. end of the range is lined with bolection-moulded panelling with dado-rail and cornice. In the buttery are preserved three silk banners of the college trumpet dated 1666 or 1667; they bear the college arms. The northernmost staircase is probably the library staircase of c. 1696, re-set; it has heavy turned balusters, panelled newels and close moulded strings; opening off the staircase is a doorway with panelled linings and doors leading to a corridor on the first floor; on a bracket above it was a painted bust of Queen Philippa, of uncertain date; the next staircase to the S. is of c. 1710 and has turned balusters, square newels and close strings; a staircase of similar type rises from the corridor to the upper floors. The Senior Common Room (Plate 165) has a doorway with a round head, eared architrave, cornice and segmental pediment; the room is lined with early 18th-century panelling with entablature, dado-rail and cupboards and doorways with round heads; the fireplace-projection is flanked by fluted Corinthian pilasters and above the shelf is an enriched panel; the fireplace has a veined marble surround. On the second floor is a little re-set late 16th-century panelling.

The E. Range was built in 1734 and 1757–60; it has been refaced and accords generally in design with the S. part of the W. range. It has three contemporary statues, by Henry Cheere, on the S. pediment and restored carving in the W. pediment.

The N. Range consists of the Hall on the W. and the Chapel on the E. divided by a corridor. The front (Plate 78) to the quadrangle is treated as a single design with a central feature and four bays on each side; it is of one storey with a basement and the central feature is of four bays divided and flanked by Doric columns with an entablature continued along the front and a pediment; the metopes of the frieze are carved with cartouches-of-arms of the college, Lancaster and Williamson and the tympanum with a seated figure of Justice with Neptune, Plenty, an amorino and scrolls; the central bay has a round-headed doorway with a window of similar form above and round-headed niches in the side bays; the bays on each side of the central feature are divided by Doric pilasters and the entablature is surmounted by a balustraded parapet; each bay has a single round-headed window. Rising from the middle of the range is the restored cupola; it is octagonal on a square base with coupled Ionic columns at the angles supporting entablatures and vases; it is finished with a small dome. The N. front is of much simpler character and has a plain cornice and parapet; the central feature is flanked by coupled Doric pilasters and has a round-headed central doorway and a round-headed window above, within the later bridge; the side windows are round-headed and set in square-headed recesses. The apsidal E. end of the chapel is treated like the N. front as to its windows, cornice and parapet; it has been largely refaced. The central corridor has a stone vault of three bays with a saucer-dome over the middle bay and panelled barrel-vaults over the side bays.

The Chapel (Plate 174) (102 ft. by 33 ft.) is ashlar-faced internally and has side walls and apse divided into bays by Corinthian pilasters supporting entablatures of which the enriched cornice is continued along the walls; the E. bay and the pilasters flanking it are faced with marble; one bay of each side wall is blind and has a shell-headed niche with cherubs below; the W. wall is divided into three bays similar to those of the side walls; in the middle bay is a doorway with an eared architrave, entablature and pediment of oak on the E. face; the side bays have each a round-headed recess with a glazed fanlight. The plaster ceiling is deeply coved at the sides and divided into bays by coffered bands; the bays are panelled and have modelled foliage and cherub-heads; the apse has a semi-dome of more elaborate character with a central wreath enclosing a painting of the Ascension by Sir James Thornhill, 1716.

Fittings—Bells: In cupola—two; 1st by Michael Darbie, 1655; 2nd by Abraham Rudhall, 1718. Brasses: On walls of apse—(1) of Henry Robinson, Bishop of Carlisle, 1616, plate with kneeling figure of bishop in front of Carlisle cathedral with a shield-of-arms of the bishop over the doorway, various figures, devices and inscriptions; (2) of [Robert Langton, LL.D.], c. 1518, figure of priest in doctor's cap and cope diapered with fleurs-de-lis, small plate with rebus and initials R.L.; (3) of [Nicholas Hyenson, 1477 (?)], worn figure of priest in academic dress with defaced inscription; (4) to Ralph Hamsterley, [1518], Master of University College, inscription and indent of small figure; (5) of Henry Airay, S.T.D., Provost, 1616, plate with kneeling figure in cap, gown and hood and various other figures and devices. In ante-chapel—(6) to Henry Airay, 1616, inscription only. Candelabra: two, each of ten branches, given in 1721 by Penyston Powney and Thomas D'Oyley respectively, with their shields-of-arms; also, against side-walls, a series of wall-sconces probably of the same date. Communion Rails (Plate 28): of wrought iron with elaborate scroll-work standards and gates, c. 1719. Floor-slabs: In ante-chapel—to [Gerard Langbaine, S.T.P., Provost, 1657–8], with shield-of-arms; (2) to [Christopher Potter, S.T.P., Provost, 1645–6], with shield-of-arms. Glass: In E. window (Plate 176)—by Joshua Price, c. 1717, figures of the Holy Family with angels, in lunette, figures of St. Peter and St. Paul and a view of a city; in lunettes of all other windows glass by same artist with small figure-subjects of the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Magi, the Baptism, the Last Supper, the Flight into Egypt, the Agony in the Garden, all in the apse, Apostles and shields-of-arms of (a) Lancaster impaling Wilmer, (b) the College, (c) Marteine; (d) Henry Compton, Bishop of London; (g) Sir Joseph Williamson; (f) variant of Lancaster; (g) variant of Lancaster; (h) Gibson impaling Alexander; (i) Celey (?); (j) Dixon; (k) Sir William Dawes, Archbishop of York and (l) Hilton. In four windows on N. and S. sides—glass by Abraham van Linge, 1635, repaired and re-set by Joshua Price; on N. side, (a and b), formerly in one window and representing the Last Judgment (Plate 176), with name of artist, date and date of repair; (c) the Last Supper with the Crucifixion; (d) the Annunciation and the Visitation (Plate 176); on S. side, (a) the Ascension; (b) the Resurrection (Plate 177); (c) the Adoration of the Shepherds (Plate 177); (d) Pentecost (Plate 177); In next pair of windows to W., glass of 1518 re-set with later glass, in N. window (Plate 178) figures of archbishop and two bishops under canopies and with the arms of Wolsey and a coat with various charges presumably for Langton, but not heraldic, on the brackets the date 1518; in S. window three figures of St. Peter as pope, St. Clement and a bishop under canopies with the same date, the royal arms of Henry VIII and two early 18th-century shields-of-arms of Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham and Sir Wilfrid Lawson. In westernmost pair of windows—on N. side (Plate 178), the Annunciation with the Crucifix on the Lily and figures of St. Aldhelm, St. Osmund and St. Lawrence, partly restored and shields-of-arms of Lancaster, Hilton, Heglise (?), the see of York and Salkeld; on S. side (Plate 178), figures of St. Margaret, St. Christopher, St. Edward the Confessor, St. John of Beverley, St. Robert and St. Anne and the Virgin, also shields-of-arms of Langton, Hilton, Edward the Confessor, the college and another coat for Langton (?), all early 16th-century, perhaps repaired by van Linge and again repaired and re-set by Price. Lectern (Plate 24): of brass, with eagle on globe, moulded baluster-stem and four lions at base; inscribed on globe "Aquila Regina Avium et Avis Reginensium. Johan. Pettie socius Coll. moriens legavit Anno Dom. 1653", and on the stem "Gullielmus Borroghes Londini me fecit Ano. Dni. 1662". Panelling: In ante-chapel—on N., S. and W. walls, panelled wainscotting with cornice, bench against S. wall and seats with later lockers in recesses of W. wall, early 18th-century. Paving: In chapel—of marble squares set diagonally. In ante-chapel—of two types of stone with black marble squares set diagonally, early 18th-century. Reredos: of marble with guilloche and floral enrichment, scrolls at ends and acanthuscresting with pedestal and vase, fixed on face of reredos enriched wooden frame enclosing a 17th or 18th-century copy of Correggio's La Notte. Screen: Between chapel and ante-chapel—of oak and of three bays, middle bay with high round-arched opening with carved scrolled supports, cartouches-of-arms of the college and Sir J. Williamson on the E. and W. key-blocks and carved spandrels; bay finished with a cornice, broken and scrolled pediment and tall central vase, side bays flanked by coupled and fluted Corinthian columns standing on a plinth and supporting an entablature with vases over the outer columns, on E. face in each side-bay a stall with swags above and a panelled desk in front, early 18th-century. Stalls: Against N. and S. walls of chapel—benches with shaped supports, set against panelled backing with cornice and scrolled and carved bracket at E. end and returned to screen at W. end with pierced and carved upper panel, panelled desks with panelled standards, finished with shaped heads and vase-finials, lower benches with continuous moulded fronts, early 18th-century.

Under the chapel is a basement or crypt containing various burials including that of the founder.

The Hall (Plate 172) (62 ft. by 31 ft.) is of five bays divided by Doric pilasters with entablatures from which springs the plaster barrel-vaulted ceiling, coffered over the E. bay; the other bays are divided by enriched bands and are panelled with a large rosette in the middle panel of each bay. The end walls are each of three bays with pilasters as on the side walls and a continuous cornice, above which is an 'attic-storey' with plain pilasters and a pediment over the middle bay; on the E. wall this bay has a niche with a large urn. On the W. wall the same bay has a window and the stage below three round-headed openings to the corridor beyond; all these are fitted with scrolled wrought-iron balustrades, that of the central opening forming a balcony; the central doorway below has panelled side-pilasters, a round head and panelled doors. The lower parts of the walls are lined with oak panelling finished with a cornice and in the middle of the E. wall is a raised centre-piece (Plate 49) with elaborately carved scrolls, entablature and pediment with a cartouche-of-arms of Lancaster. In the windows are a series of heads in painted glass, ascribed to William Price; they represent the founder, Queen Philippa, Edward III, Edward IV, Charles I, Queen Henrietta Maria, Sir Joseph Williamson and Dr. Lancaster. Under the hall is a cellar with barrel-vaults of brick. The buttery and the adjoining staircase have a range of windows, in the W. wall, each of two transomed lights. Two heads mostly of c. 1640 in painted glass of Henry V and Cardinal Beaufort are in these windows.

The North Quadrangle (126½ ft. by 92 ft.) is flanked by the Library on the W., the enlarged Williamson Building on the E., a range of 1707 on the N. and the kitchen-range, extended in 1719, on the S.

The Library was built between 1692 and 1695 and is an ashlar-faced building of two storeys. On the E. face (Plate 170) the ground storey is rusticated and has a series of eleven round arches with carved or scrolled keystones; these were all formerly open but have now been mostly filled in to part of their height with windows inserted in the upper part. The upper storey has a series of windows of similar form lighting the library; the three middle bays form a central feature, divided and flanked by Corinthian pilasters supporting an entablature and pediment; below the three middle windows are carved swags and on the frieze is a cartouche-of-arms of Crewe; in the pediment is a statuary-group representing Wisdom with attendant amorini with books and instruments; on the apex is an eagle on a globe, holding a shield of the college arms. The main cornice of the entablature is continued along the whole front and is surmounted by a panelled parapet. The W. front has been almost entirely refaced; it is generally similar to the E. front but in place of the arcade on the ground floor is a central doorway with a pediment and a series of arched recesses, each enclosing a round-headed niche with a statue; the statues (Plate 52), by Vanderstein, represent Queen Henrietta Maria, Sir Joseph Williamson, Bishop Thomas Barlow, Archbishop Lamplugh, Robert Eglesfield, Edward III, Queen Philippa and Charles I; the cartouche on the frieze bears the arms of Thomas Smith, Bishop of Carlisle, 1684–1702, and the tympanum has a group representing Queen Philippa with attendant amorini. The N. end of the building has a single central window on the first floor, similar to those in the side-walls. Inside the building, on the ground floor, there was formerly an open loggia on the E. side, with three passages carried through to the W. side; the arrangement has now been altered and most of the floor forms the lower library. The Library (Plate 173) is entered by a doorway in the S. wall with eared architrave, consoles and a cornice; on the inner face (Plate 169) the doorway is flanked by Corinthian columns supporting an entablature and a pediment with a cartouche-of-arms of Crewe; on the pediment are two allegorical female figures and on the wall above is an elaborate achievement-of-arms of the college with cherubs. The walls are lined to a height of about 10 ft. with oak panelling finished with a cornice; above the internal window-heads is a series of modelled festoons in plaster with various devices, books, shells, musical instruments, cornucopiae, globe, pelican, etc. The flat ceiling has three large enriched panels with shaped ends and smaller panels in the spandrels; the smaller panels have sprays of acanthus and other foliage, fruit and flowers; the central panel has an oval in the middle with festoons, etc. and cartouches and palm-branches in the spandrels; the end panels are more simply treated; all these panels have later decoration in the middle; against the walls is a deep modillioned cornice. Between each window and at right angles to the wall is a book-case finished with an entablature; the end is panelled with enriched upper panels; above the cornice of the two central cases on each side is a pediment with a cartouche of arms and carved cresting; the arms are those of Henry Robinson, Bishop of Carlisle and Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury, the see of Lincoln and the see of York impaling two crossed spears; the side-pilasters of these cases have carved pendants. Flanking the S. doorway is a pair of cupboards, the re-set panels (Plate 51) of which are formed of elaborate carved and pierced scrolled foliage. In the windows is a series of heads in painted glass and a series of cartouches-of-arms; the heads are those of Henry IV, Charles II and Catharine of Braganza, and the cartouches those of the College, Cardinal Beaufort, William Fettiplace and Sir Joseph Williamson with a device for the founder Robert Eglesfield; the glass is ascribed to William Price and was formerly in the hall. On the sill of the N. window is a painted wooden figure of Queen Philippa, formerly in the old hall and perhaps of 16th or early 17th-century date.

The N. Range of the N. Quadrangle was built c. 1707 and is of three storeys with cellars and attics. The building is ashlar-faced and has on the partly restored S. front three ranges of square-headed windows with architraves; it is finished with a later balustraded parapet; the doorways have straight-sided pediments. At the W. end of the building are two round-headed niches. The N. front has windows, with plain architraves and moulded bands between the storeys; the wall is finished with a cornice but no parapet. Inside the building many of the rooms are lined with early 18th-century panelling; the staircases have turned balusters, square newels and close strings. The E. Range is of three storeys with cellars and attics; it was originally built in 1672 but was extended to the S. and W. and heightened in 1719. The W. front to the quadrangle is entirely of 1719 and continues the design of the adjoining S. front of the N. range. The E. front is ashlar-faced and has three ranges of windows all square-headed with architraves and the two lower originally each fitted with mullion and transom, some of which remain, and the upper with mullions; two bays project slightly and are finished with pediments but the rest of the front has a cornice and plain parapet. The first three bays on the N. extending up to the top of the first floor, were part of the original building but the rest of the front is an addition of 1719, the mullioned upper windows being so treated to accord with the earlier work. The N. front is similarly treated but has two round-headed niches in the middle with a carved half-eagle between them. Inside the range there are two staircases of 1672, with turned balusters, square newels with pendants and close strings; a third staircase in the S. part of the range is of c. 1719. Many of the rooms have panelling, dadoes and cornices and stone surrounds to the fireplaces, of early 18th-century date. The S. Range is of three storeys with cellars and attics. The N. front is generally similar to the corresponding elevations on the N. and E. of the quadrangle. Inside the range, the Writing Room is lined with 17th-century panelling perhaps re-used; it is finished with an enriched entablature and has a painted canvas over the fireplace with a shield-of-arms; there is also a carved cartouche of the arms of the college on the door.

The Brew House is a timber-framed building at the W. end of the Fellows' garden. It was built probably in the 16th or 17th century but was largely reconstructed in the 18th century. In it are preserved some mediæval slip-tiles from the site of the old chapel. Adjoining the Brew-house on the N. is a garden shelter with a half barrel-vault in enriched plaster, probably dating from the 18th century. Re-set in the S. wall of the Fellows garden is the upper part of the stone effigy of a woman probably Queen Philippa; it is much defaced but may be of the 16th century. Set in a wall in the Provost's garden is a restored shield, for Langton, with angel-supporters and a hat, from the old Provost's lodging.