Exeter College

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3, the University of Oxford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1954.

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'Exeter College', in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3, the University of Oxford, ed. H E Salter, Mary D Lobel( London, 1954), British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol3/pp107-118 [accessed 24 July 2024].

'Exeter College', in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3, the University of Oxford. Edited by H E Salter, Mary D Lobel( London, 1954), British History Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol3/pp107-118.

"Exeter College". A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3, the University of Oxford. Ed. H E Salter, Mary D Lobel(London, 1954), , British History Online. Web. 24 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol3/pp107-118.

In this section



The history of the college may conveniently be divided into three periods marked by the issue of three bodies of statutes. (fn. 1) The first statutes were drawn up in 1316 when the college had been in existence for two years. The second come from the year 1566. Their occasion was the benefaction of Sir William Petre which more than doubled the income of the college, but many of the changes for which they legislated had already come about in the previous fifty years with the admission of commoners to a recognized place in the college. The third code was produced in 1856 under the impulse of the Universities Commission, though again they were made necessary by changes which had already come over the college. These periods will be taken in order.

I. 1314–1566. The founding of the college was a complicated action, which was not accomplished in a day. Possibly 4 April 1314 has most claim to be regarded as the date of foundation: on this day Walter Stapeldon, Bishop of Exeter, gave the rectory of Gwinear in Cornwall to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter for the support of twelve scholars at Stapeldon Hall. But it was not until 7 April that the bishop obtained Hart Hall, on the site of the present Hertford College, as a house for them to live in; and the licence of mortmain was only obtained on 10 May. The site itself was changed in the next year for St. Stephen's Hall, which occupied part of the present area of the college: this henceforth became known as Stapeldon Hall and the rent of Hart Hall was devoted to its upkeep. During the next ten years the new foundation took shape; its numbers were filled up, the main part of its medieval site was obtained, and in 1324–5 (the year for which the first financial record survives) it was already in possession of an income which was not much exceeded during the next hundred years. The present site of the college, bounded on the north by Broad St. and on the south by Brasenose Lane, may be divided into two roughly equal parts: the southern part, now occupied by the main quadrangle and the Fellows' garden, is the medieval site and was contained within the city walls; the northern part, astride the wall, ditch, and lane, was acquired in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The medieval site was obtained by a series of gifts and purchases between 1315 and 1406, but the greater part of this site was not occupied by college buildings until the 17th century. Except for the hall and library which jutted into an adjoining tenement, the buildings of the 14th and 15th centuries were contained within the tenements given by Bishop Stapeldon and his clerk Peter Skelton in 1315: these were three adjoining tenements along the lane beneath the city wall, known, before the college took possession of them, as St. Stephen's Hall, La Lavandrie, and the tenement of the abbess of Godstow. (fn. 2)

The history of the medieval endowment of the college is similar to that of the medieval site: after the first endowment the increase was gradual, disturbed by no spectacular misfortunes or benefactions. The Gwinear tithes given by Stapeldon were the biggestsingle possession of the college till the 16th century; to these tithes he added those of Long Wittenham, and the two together were worth £52 13s. 4d. a year. During the year 1324–5 the college received £48 16s. 9d., but since it did not get possession of Long Wittenham till 1355 this revenue was probably seriously diminished for the thirty years after Stapeldon's death in 1324. From 1355 until 1479, the small increase in revenue was due rather to careful management and investment of the surpluses than to new endowments. Several of the bishops of Exeter showed themselves well disposed towards the college, but they confined themselves generally to gifts of books and care for the discipline of the scholars. The greatest benefactor among them was Bishop Stafford (d. 1419) who, besides giving books, spent over 200 marks on building a chamber under the library, a porch to the chapel with a chamber under it, and in other improvements: but these gifts brought no great change in the material prosperity of the college. On the other hand, except in years of famine, the college seems to have suffered little from the economic crises of these times. Its temporary difficulties were sufficiently met by loans raised on books, and by licences from the bishops of Exeter allowing the college to break into the common fund formed from the profits of past years and to raise the commons of the scholars. Moreover, the scope of the college was so limited by the statutes of Stapeldon that it is doubtful whether large benefactions could have been profitably used without some change in the statutes. An important addition to the college revenue was made in 1479 when some members of the Exeter Chapter gave the rectory of Menheniot, which was worth £20 a year: (fn. 3) this accounts for nearly the whole increase during the first 200 years. In the valuation of 1535–6 Exeter is assessed at £83 2s. (fn. 4) : of this, about £55 came from Stapeldon's benefaction. (fn. 5)

This absence of large endowments kept the college faithful to the statutes of the founder in a way that other colleges were not. These statutes (fn. 6) define the studies and constitution of the house as they existed for 200 years, though there is an increasing divergence towards the end of the period. Provision was made for thirteen scholars; eight from the archdeaconries of Exeter, Totnes, and Barnstaple, four from the archdeaconry of Cornwall, and one priest who was the chaplain of the college. The chaplain was in a special position, being chosen by the Dean and Chapter of Exeter and obliged to study Theology or Canon Law. The other twelve, who were to be at least sophists (i.e. undergraduates of two years' standing), were all to be elected by the scholars themselves from the time when their number was made up by Stapeldon, and they were obliged to study Philosophy. The chaplain also differed from the other scholars in that he held his office for an indefinite period unless he were removed at the petition of two-thirds of the scholars, while the rest of the scholars could hold their fellowship at most for rather under fourteen years: within six years of election they must determine as B.A., within ten incept as M.A., and vacate their fellowships after the necessary two years as regent masters and a further year's grace. The number of fellows was increased by two by Bishop Stafford of Exeter in 1404, but there was no further addition to the numbers during this period.

Besides the chaplain, the only college officer provided for in the statutes was the Rector, who was to be elected annually by the scholars, and whose chief functions were to receive and account for the revenue of the college and to punish offending scholars. In this latter duty he had wide powers of suspending a scholar from his commons and even of finally removing him from the house without appeal. A function which was lucrative and caused trouble when permanent rectors were instituted was that of appointing college servants; but this cannot have been important in the early days of the college, when rectors held their post for short periods and when the demand of two scholars sufficed to remove a servant.

The other important matter dealt with in the statutes was the support of the scholars. It has been seen that the full income of the college as Stapeldon left it was (when some allowance has been made for the cost of collection) between £40 and £50. Of this £35 13s. 4d. would be spent on the food and allowances of the fellows. Their commons amounted to 10d. a week, with additional yearly allowances to the Rector and chaplain of £1 and to the other fellows of 10s. Thus, under the original statutes, the Rector and Chaplain each received £3 3s. 4d., and the other eleven fellows £2 13s. 4d. a year. These payments were augmented by occasional gifts to the college, by the temporary raising of the commons in time of scarcity in the 14th century, and by their permanent raising to 1s. a week in 1408. There were besides various gaudy days and distributions of money for clothes about which we hear in the 16th century. These payments made, there would still remain, in a normal year, a surplus for the needs of the college and about the spending of this we are fortunately well informed by the existing Rectors' Accounts.

These accounts (fn. 7) are, with the exception of titledeeds, the only important mass of documents left by the college before the Reformation and, since any account of the working of the college during this period must come from them, they deserve some description at this point. The statutes required that the Rector, within six days of laying down his office on the eighth day after Michaelmas, should render an account to the college. The first of these which exists is for the year 1324–5, but during the 14th century there are many gaps, notably for the years 1337–54, 1365–72, and 1376–7, and many others are in a fragmentary state. For the 15th century the series suffers from no large gap. The series offers a terminal and detailed account of every item of expenditure drawn up with varying degrees of proficiency: it is of some interest that I have noticed no humanist hand among them before the sixteenth century. The greatest space is devoted to the payments of commons and to sums given to fellows ad amicos visitandos: it is from this portion of the accounts that Boase was able to make so complete a list of the early fellows of Exeter. Repairs to the various halls owned by the college, especially to Hart Hall, to its other properties, and to the college itself are another large item: chief among them is the account for the building of the library in 1383, and there are other details of buildings throughout the period. More interesting for the scholastic history of the college, though tantalizing from their scarcity, are the notices of the purchase and repair of books, of gifts of books which needed to be transported to the college, or of those which—as in the case of the splendid series of volumes of Hugh of Vienne given by Roger Keys (d. 1477)—needed to be completed. (fn. 8)

Yet, despite the great bulk of these records, it is very difficult to form an idea of the discipline and internal condition of the college during this period. With the limitations imposed on it by its statutes it could not attain great eminence. The average age can scarcely have been as much as 25. Except for the chaplain, no provision was made for the study of Theology, and the best scholars, when they became Masters, necessarily migrated to other colleges to continue their studiessuch were Henry Kayle, Walter Lyart, John Halse, all of whom became Provosts of Oriel. If we look at the composition of the college at one moment in the 15th century, on 20 Nov. 1420, there would seem to have been six masters, four bachelors, and two sophists, not counting the chaplain and two more sophists were elected during the next few days. Most of these men went later to livings in the diocese of Exeter; two of them, Walter Lyart and John Arundel, later became men of distinction as bishops of Norwich and Chichester. One fellow had come to the college in 1404 (though it is difficult to see how he had stayed so long), the Rector had been a fellow since 1407, but none of the others for much more than half that time. Probably the greatest difficulties in this society arose from the natural division between the masters, who were the governing body in the faculty, some of whom were heads of halls and had pupils of their own, and the bachelors and sophists, over whom the masters, as members of the University, had some jurisdiction, while standing on an equal footing with them as members of the college. It must have been particularly difficult that the college statutes made no provision for this distinction when the masters were men of position: one of them for instance would generally be the head of Hart Hall, a position which certainly carried with it more dignity and importance than a fellowship of the college. Hart Hall was the property of Exeter, but while in 1552 it numbered 45, Exeter had only 31 members, of whom 25 were subgraduati. (fn. 9) Another example of the intricacies of college and University affairs is found in the account of an Oxford Hall in 1424, published by Dr. Salter: (fn. 10) here there was a fellow of Exeter, John Arundel, as Principal of the Hall with about thirty students; he was assisted by another fellow, John Burwick, and succeeded, it seems, by a third fellow, Walter Lyart, who took over the pupils of yet a fourth, John Beaucomb. Some hint of the difficulties caused by these divisions may be obtained from the Consuetudines of 20 Dec. 1539. This document (fn. 11) was drawn up by the Rector of that date, John French, as a manifesto against the insolentia bachalaureorum and the ignorance of the younger members of the college in the matter of ancient customs. He attempted to enforce respectful behaviour towards the masters and the regular attendance of bachelors and other battelers at lectures, disputations, and in the library. But it was a weakness that of all this the statutes said nothing, and the power of Rectors, during their short term of office, to enforce regulations not required by the statutes, must have been slight.

II. 1566–1856. So far the history of the college has been one of slow growth within the limits of the original statutes, although, especially towards the end of the period, there are many signs of change to which the old statutes could scarcely accommodate themselves. Chief among these at Exeter as elsewhere was the presence of sojourners in college. Some of these were mature scholars who hired rooms in college to continue their studies: William Grocyn, for instance, who had been a fellow of New College, rented rooms in Exeter for two years on his return from Italy in 1491; and there was the Greek scholar, Cornelio Vitelli, living in college at the same time. But, though no doubt these men had a stimulating effect on studies, they were less important in the development of the college than the junior sojourners who had to be looked after. It is significant that early in the 16th century the college began to make payments to outsiders for lectures: thus Richard Smith, the first Regius Professor of Divinity, got 2s. 4d. for his lectures in 1537 and 1538, Dr. Cots and Dr. Brode had the same amount in 1543, and Magister Warde also had 2s. 4d. for philosophy lectures in 1548. But it was from outside that the impulse came which overturned the old state of affairs, and this came not from any of the great events of the time but from the appearance of a benefactor.

In the Rector's Account for 1564 there is a charge of 14d. 'for wine and sugar at the reception of M. Wodward with whom we talked over the plan and design of Sir William Petre'. This Sir William Petre (c. 1505–72) was a civil servant of Henry VIII and his three successors, and something of a scholar: his 'plan' was given effect in a series of documents of 1566. On 22 March 1566 Queen Elizabeth empowered the Bishop of Exeter to draw up new statutes for the college with the advice and consent of Petre. (fn. 12) The details of his benefaction will be described later; its effect on the constitution of the college was as follows. By far the greater part of the new revenue went to the setting up of seven new fellowships from Somerset, Dorset, Oxfordshire, Essex, and other counties where he or his heirs should have lands or possessions. Even more important were the changes in the machinery of the college—the new position of the Rector and fellows, the establishment of college officers, and the provision for teaching within the college. The regulations on these three subjects dominate the history of the college during the second period of its existence and they must be described in detail, with some account of their future modifications.

The change in the position of the Rector and fellows is easily described: the Rector was elected by the fellows for life unless he should vacate his office by becoming a bishop or should be expelled by a judgement of the Visitor (the Bishop of Exeter); similarly the scholars were, after a year's probation, admitted for life provided that they did not receive an external revenue of more than 10 marks a year or contract to marry. This applied to fellows on both the old and the new foundations and, like the Rector, they could only be expelled by a decision of the Visitor. The Rector's ascendancy was established in a decisive manner by attaching to his office the vicarage of Kidlington. The commons (at 22d. a week) and allowances of the new fellows amounted to £7 8s. 8d. a year, and the son of the second founder made a gift to the college to equalize the payments due to the fellows on the old and new foundations. The scholars were to be sophistae ad minus as in Stapeldon's statutes and to have entered on their seventeenth year. Until their M.A., for which nine years were ordinarily allowed, the course was similar to that prescribed by Stapeldon, but then within ten years of completing their regency as Masters they were to take their B.D., and within another eight years their D.D.

Besides these changes in the position of the Rector and scholars, the new statutes also made provision for the discipline and studies of a body of members of the college subordinate to them—the commoners and battelers. In the original statutes discipline had been thought of as power over unruly and contumacious fellows and placed in the hands of the Rector. The new statutes removed this form of discipline into the province of the Visitor and made provision for discipline of a quite different sort—the discipline of the senior over the junior members of the college, the lack of which Rector French had bewailed in 1539–a discipline which aimed at preventing not crime but idleness. The original statutes had likewise made no provision for teaching or the holding of disputations in college: the only obligatory exercises were those required by the University for the obtaining of degrees, and these were performed in Hart Hall or in one of the schools belonging to the college in School Street. Henceforth, however, the studies of the college were ordered through a little hierarchy of college officers, the SubRector, the Dean, and the Lector. The five senior fellows of the college elected them and gave advice in scholastic matters. The three officers were paid and formed the nucleus of a teaching body in the college, half-way between the medieval presidents of disputations and the modern college lecturers. The Sub-Rector gave no lectures, but he was bound to be present as 'moderator in singulis theologorum problematibus seu questionibus et disputationibus'. The Dean similarly presided twice a week at the disputations of the bachelors in dialectic and philosophy, but he—or a deputy appointed by him—also lectured to the undergraduates (scholastici) on dialectic on feast-days, listened to their disputations on the same subject daily, and exacted exercises (repetitions) from them thrice a week; to these duties was attached the right of punishing inattention and of receiving a fee of 8d. each quarter from all commoners and battelers who attended his lectures. The Lector was solely a lecturer, who was to exact weekly exercises on the subject of his lectures; in term time he lectured on some classical author and in the Long Vacation on arithmetic, geometry, and elementary astronomy.

The plan elaborated in these provisions was in effect an uneasy compromise not so much between the medieval and modern college as between a medieval college and a medieval hall. The principal of a medieval hall and his assistants had long, by private arrangement, received fees and performed functions similar to those of the Dean and Lector of the 1566 statutes. But the fellows as a whole remained a student rather than a teaching body, though their studies were prolonged indefinitely.

During the hundred years after these statutes were drawn up, the college increased in importance as a teaching centre, and with this went an increase in the number and emoluments of the college officers: the stipends of the Sub-Rector and Lector were increased by the son of Sir William Petre and beside them appeared as permanent officers the deputy of the Dean with the title of philosophiae moderator, a catechist who was to instruct the youth of the college in religion, and two bursars charged with the domestic administration of the college. Another side of the same development is seen in the founding of scholarships and exhibitions for poor students, of which the first seem to have been those of Sir John Acland (d. 1613), the builder of the dininghall, who left £16 a year for two poor scholars from Exeter School. In 1637 Sir John Maynard (the brother of the catechist of that date), in excusing himself from giving anything for buildings, 'endeavoured his best for the more essentiall part of the colledge' by giving a yearly income of £20 to establish a divinity lecturership, £12 for a lecturer in oriental languages (i.e. in Hebrew), and £8 for some office in the college 'such as is now least rewarded but best deserved'. (fn. 13) The number of college officers was now complete and, in fact, declined after this date.

The first forty years of the 17th century, while this system was being built up, were without doubt the most flourishing years for the college before the 19th century. The numbers increased rapidly: in 1572 there were 91 members of the college besides the fellows (3 masters, 7 bachelors, 61 undergraduates, 7 servitors, and 13 poor scholars); in 1612 there were 183 (134 commoners, 37 poor scholars, and 12 servitors) (fn. 14) —certainly more than in the year 1800. There was a series of distinguished and active Rectors, two of them brought from outside on the recommendation of Sir John Petre and Queen Elizabeth: Thomas Glasier (1578–92), a Christ Church man; Thomas Holland (1592–1612), Regius Professor of Divinity since 1589 and one of the translators of the Bible; and above all, John Prideaux (1612–42), a product of the college, who also became Regius Professor of Divinity and was later Bishop of Worcester. The great increase in the number of records witnesses to the energy of the administration of the college at this time. The college register, which contained notices of elections and other college business, had already begun in 1539, but it is not until the 17th century that there are all manner of records of ordinary administration—Bursar's Books, Kitchen Books, Rules drawn up for the conduct of the Bursar's business (1639), a Survey of the rooms in college (1631–2), of which more will be said in the following article, and a book containing lists of fellows with the names of undergraduates for whom they are responsible (1605–30).

This last document is interesting as evidence of a system of tutors outside the statutory organization of the college but, except for the words pro his ego stipulor, no information is given of the relations between the fellows and their 'pupils'. The teaching was still largely medieval both in matter and method as may be seen from a manuscript of about the beginning of the 17th century in the possession of Lord Petre. It contains a record of Disputationes in Aula—no doubt those of the bachelors presided over by the dean or his deputy, the philosophiae moderator—where questions of Metaphysics, Logic, and Moral Philosophy are dealt with in order, with the frequent quotation of medieval authors. The questions are treated more rhetorically than they would have been in the Middle Ages, and this rhetorical tendency is further illustrated by the exercise books which still remain in the college library, containing Latin speeches, addresses to imaginary juries, and the like. Another indication of the widening of literary studies is the change of name of the praelector Rhetoricae to praelector linguae Graecae in 1628.

The college never thoroughly recovered from the years 1640–60, when the ordinary constitution and elections were suspended and when most of the old fellows were expelled and new ones put in by the Parliamentary Commissioners. The old conditions returned in 1660, externally at least, and it may be only Exeter's misfortune or Wood's malice that he describes the college in 1665 as 'much debauched by a drunken governor'. Certainly the misfortune did not end here. There were financial difficulties in 1675: a visitation (fn. 15) carried out by the Vice-Chancellor and others on behalf of the Bishop of Exeter found that too much was being spent unnecessarily, that adequate accounts were not being kept, and especially that the money spent on new buildings had not been properly accounted for. Fifteen years later the unseemly brawl over Rector Bury's alleged corruption and Socinianism and the alleged incontinence of one of the fellows, though not in itself of much importance, revealed other irregularities and discords by the way. During this time the medieval legacy gradually dwindled. One of the early medieval institutions to disappear was the chest which had been founded in 1316 for loans to members of the college: this vanished from the records in 1641. In 1717 the feasts provided in hall by determining bachelors were commuted for sums of money. (fn. 16) In 1726 the office of Concionator was left vacant and never again filled.

Looking back it is easy to see the radical weaknesses of the Petrean statutes: there was no change in the obligations of fellows commensurate with the change from a limited to a lifelong tenure. The fellows had become in some sort a teaching body while ceasing to be a strictly resident one—for the firm insistence on residence in the original statutes was not repeated in those of 1566, and even college officers might have parishes to attend to. Finally the responsibility for the studies of the undergraduates was loosely divided between the college and the man's personal tutor. In 1733, (fn. 17) under a new Rector, Joseph Atwell, an attempt was made to deal with these evils: no absent fellow was to hold a college office; no one was to hold more than one office unless there was a dearth of suitable candidates; the stipends of the officials were increased, partly by combining the offices of Sub-Rector with that of Reader in Hebrew and the office of Catechist with that of Reader in Theology, and partly by exacting a fee of 5s. a quarter from all undergraduates—fellows and others—to be distributed among the officers of the college, and 2s. 6d. from all bachelors to be given to the Dean; then, to supplement the statutorum defectus et inopia prescriptorum in the matter of studies, the regulations about lecturing and performing exercises were made more strict, and misbehaviour in lectures was to be punished by the imposition of additional work instead of the customary money fines. Yet already in 1739 the Rector and five senior fellows were complaining that notwithstanding these rules 'there appears to have been great neglect in the officers, sometimes by not attending at all, at others by staying up (at lectures) so small a time as to render the exercise of little or no consequence'; they drew up some new rules, particularly as to the length of lectures and the exercises required from the students. It was the last attempt at reform before the 19th century.

Something must now be said about the material circumstances of this phase of the college history. The first period had been marked by the smallness of new benefactions: the second was marked by their liberality. Petre's benefaction amounted to £90 19s. 3¼d. a year, of which £79 11s. 2d. was absorbed by the creation of new fellowships, additional payments to old ones, and some small payments which he enumerated. Throughout the 17th century there was a stream of new gifts, but these were mainly for building purposes, and while they did much to alter the appearance of the college they had little effect on its constitution. Sir John Maynard might find that these buildings were not the 'more essentiall part' of the college, but socially the college of the 17th and 18th centuries is scarcely conceivable without them and his views were not shared by most donors. About £6,500 was contributed by various benefactors between 1616 and 1710 for the new buildings: the effect of these gifts in adapting the college to its new class of students and to the tastes of the 17th century will be described in the following article.

III. Since 1856. The changes, both external and internal, which bring in the third period of the college history go back to the early years of the 19th century. Of the internal changes the most important was the rise in numbers. These had fallen in the 18th century, and the room book (fn. 18) of 1767 reveals that about a quarter of the college was then unoccupied. This state of affairs continued for the next twenty years, but by 1798 instead of 16 or 17 sets of rooms being vacant this had been reduced to 7; in 1818 none was empty; by 1833 it was necessary to build new sets of rooms, and the period of the modern expansion of the college had begun. The entrance books tell a similar story: in the 1770's the yearly entrance was very erratic, varying from 8 to 20 and with an average of 13; in the 1820's the numbers are not only more stable but the average is just double that of fifty years before. In 1850 there were 139 members of the college in statu pupillari and the annual entrance was rather over 40. There was some decline in the 1850's, but the numbers then remained fairly steady until they began to increase again in the years immediately before 1914. Besides the increase in numbers in the early years of the 19th century, the student body was losing that connexion with Devon and Cornwall which the fellows still retained: until the end of the 18th century, most of the undergraduates came from the western counties, but already by 1820, the ordinary entrants were not specially connected with the west country or with any one part of England. This fact alone largely accounts for the abolition of territorial qualifications for fellows and scholars (in the modern sense of the word) which was accomplished in the statutes of 1856.

External influences were no less important in making necessary some modifications in the statutes. Exeter, like other colleges, was greatly affected in these years by the rivalry between political reform and religious tradition, and the attitude of the college towards the reform of its statutes well illustrates the views of the fellows on this question. The statutes which were produced in 1856 (fn. 19) as a result of these discussions and conflicts are at least as interesting as those of 1316 and 1566, but whereas the two previous codes were each in operation between two and three hundred years, the statutes of 1856 scarcely lasted thirty years without radical alteration, and in many ways they betrayed their lack of substance from the beginning. They were intended as a compromise between liberalism and secularism, perhaps even as a harnessing of liberalism to religious purposes: but they turned out to be only a stage in a rapid change, over which the college had no control. The college took the opportunity to make its own statutes in 1856; those of 1881 and 1923. which supplanted them were made for it. Thus from 1881 the development of Exeter is strictly parallel to that of the other colleges: secularization; the admission of scientific study beside the strictly literary, logical, and theological courses of the past; the transformation by which, from being a student body making somewhat inadequate provision for teaching, the fellows became a teaching body making some provision for 'research'—these main lines of development of the last sixty years are the same at Exeter as elsewhere, though Exeter took no lead in the change. All its energies in constitutional change had been exerted during the years 1853–6.

The Act passed in 1854 'for the good government and extension of the University of Oxford' required colleges either to remodel their statutes in the interests of 'personal Merits and Fitness' or to accept the changes proposed by a body of University Commissioners. Already, in the previous year, the college had resolved that it was 'desirable to consider the apparent difficulties affecting the practical observance of the statutes' and had approached Gladstone (at that time Member of Parliament for the University and Chancellor of the Exchequer) to see what powers were likely to be granted by Parliament to overcome these difficulties. (fn. 20) When the Act was passed in the next year, Exeter, Lincoln, and Corpus were the only colleges which took up the task of making their own statutes. While they were being made, Exeter was in close touch with Gladstone and the statutes of 1856 reflect in a small sphere the liberal but unsecular views which he maintained in politics. (fn. 21) The college made no objection to the throwing open of fellowships or to the creation of open scholarships. The fellowships were opened to general competition and were to be awarded on examination. The number of fellows was reduced from 25 to 15 and with the revenues set free 22 scholarships were founded, (fn. 22) in part limited to men from the west country, in part without any territorial limitation. The eagerness of the governing body to co-operate in increasing the educational efficiency of the college appeared in the setting up of an 'Educational Council' among the fellows, to 'regulate the studies of the undergraduate members', to 'adapt these to the requirements of the University Examinations', to direct the lectures in college, and to examine candidates for admission as commoners 'in respect of intellectual sufficiency'. But the fight came over the question of secularization. Most colleges accepted the Commissioners' plan for retaining only a certain proportion of the fellows in Holy Orders and allowing the rest to continue as laymen; but Exeter objected to this and carried its point that (fn. 23) 'inasmuch as the college is a Theological foundation and the Fellows therefore have been enjoined to study theology, the Fellowships shall be vacated on the Fellows not taking Holy Orders' after completing fifteen years from the date of election. The only exception to this rule was that fellows employed as tutors might continue as laymen. The college tried to insert a paragraph depriving any fellow of his fellowship who contradicted 'the Christian faith by word or writing' as held by the Church of England; but this was rejected by the Privy Council and the college had to be content with a general clause depriving any obstinate heretic or anyone who ceased to be a member of the Church of England. As a counter-balance to this the obligation on the Rector of being in Holy Orders was now made formal while previously it had only attached to his position as vicar of Kidlington.

It was by these measures that the college sought to preserve what was thought to be its original character, while making the changes necessary for teaching efficiency. But even if they had been allowed to preserve this balance, the fellows themselves lost their enthusiasm for it. Boase notes, with satisfaction, that they 'welcomed the inevitable change' of the later part of the century and were ready to anticipate the changes imposed in 1881. Further research into the history of the college brought the reassuring knowledge that the clerical character of the college was an innovation of the 17th century and that the college of the 14th century could scarcely have been more secular. So what had been achieved in 1856 was abandoned without a struggle and apparently without regret. The attempt to preserve the religious character of the college by statute quickly broke down: already in the statutes of 1881, which followed the Universities Act of 1877, the obligation on fellows to take Holy Orders or even to be members of the Church of England was abolished; attendance in chapel ceased to be compulsory (statutably at least) for members of the college; and from 1923 the chaplain was no longer necessarily a fellow. Meanwhile the process of organizing the fellows of the college as a teaching body continued: the 'Educational Council' of 1856 which preserved the distinction between the teaching and non-teaching fellows disappeared in 1923; while, with the obligation of all ordinary fellows to teach, the special duties of the tutors became more and more nominal and the fellows of Exeter became in the main, as in other colleges, a body of secular, professional teachers.

The Library. (fn. 24)

The Library has two important manuscripts:

1. The Bohun Psalter, also known as 'The Mass Book of King Henry VII's Queen Elizabeth and King Henry VIII's Queen Katherine', illuminated manuscript bearing on folio 1 the inscriptions:

Thys book ys myn
Elysabeth ye quene.
Thys book ys myn
Katherine the qwene.
[Coxe xlvii.]

2. 14th-century manuscript containing Calendar, Psalter, Canticles, Athanasian Creed and Litanies, 'bene pictus et auratus'.
[Coxe xlvi.]

It also possesses some rare printed books and bindings of which the following are the most notable:

The Statutes of the Stannary Court printed at Tavistock in 1524. Unique.

Tyndale's New Testament (Antwerp 1534–5), one of only three copies known.

Miles Hogarde's Assault of the Sacrament, 4° R. Caly 1554 [S.T.C. No. 13556]. Only copy in England.

Kelmscott Chaucer, numbers 1 and 2, William Morris's and Edward Burne-Jones's own copies. Wotton bindings presented by Sir William Petre:

(a) St. Augustine, Opera Omnia, 10 vols. in 8.
Basel: Froben: 1541–3, fol.

(b) St. Jerome, Opera, 9 vols. in 4.
Paris: C. Guillard: 1546, fol.

(c) Vitruvius, Architectura.
Lugduni: 1552, fol.


The college possesses the following outstanding pieces of English 16th-century gold and silvergilt work and 17th-century silver:

1. The gold Cup and cover given by George Hall, Bishop of Chester. It has two handles, and is decorated in repousse with lozenge-shaped gadroons, and engraved with flowers and an inscription.

2. A silver-gilt Ostrich Egg Cup with cover. The base is engraved with ostriches, and scrolls with inscriptions. The egg rests on the stem of three ostrich legs, and is supported by hinged bands engraved with shields of arms and mottoes. The cover has three plumes, dolphin brackets, and at the top an ostrich.

3. A Cocoanut Cup and cover.

4. *Two chalices, 1610; given by George Hollwaye.

5. *Two flagons, 1628, given by Hon. John Robartes, student of Exeter, 1625, 2nd Baron Truro.

6. Two altar candlesticks, 1600–50, Spanish; given by Amelia Jackson, wife of Rev. W. W. Jackson, Rector, 1887–1913.

*The college was allowed by Charles I to retain these pieces when, in 1642, it was compelled to hand over all its objects in precious metal to the Mint in Oxford.


For a list of portraits, see Mrs. Lane Poole, A Catalogue of Oxford Portraits, ii, 64–78: with one alteration, that the portrait of John Prideaux (op. cit., p. 67, no. 12) is no longer a copy, but is now the original, previously at Laycock Abbey; and one addition, the portrait of R. R. Marett, Rector, 1928–43, by Henry Lamb.


Pointed oval 60 mm. by 38 mm. In upper centre the Virgin and Child in a canopied niche supported by fluted columns. Below, in the centre, the kneeling figure of the founder Walter Stapeldon, Bishop of Exeter, holding in his right hand a pastoral staff* and facing sinister, flanked by (on dexter) two keys, wards upwards, and addorsed, and (on sinister) a sword upright. In the base a shield of arms: two bends nebuly.

Legend (partly worn but probably): S. Rectoris Et Scholarium de Stapeldon [? Hal] Oxon.

The background of the seal is diapered. On the reverse is a small ring at the top of the seal, being 4 mm. in diameter. The present 'stamp' now in use has the legend: S. Rectoris et Scholarium de stapeldon hal' oxon

Rectors (fn. 25)

1318–19 John Parys.
1322–5 Stephen de Pippecote.
1325–6 John de Sevenaysshe.
1326–7 John de Kelly.
1327–30 Richard de Pyn.
1333–44 Henry de Tiverton.
1334–5 William Dobbe.
1336–7 William de Polmorva.
1344 John de Blankeswille.
1354–June 1357 Robert de Trethewy.
1357–Spring 1359 John Halle.
May—Oct. 1359 John Wiseburg.
1359–65 Robert de Clyste.
1365–6 Robert Blakedon.
1367 ? John Otery.
1368–9 Thomas de Kelly.
1370–1 William Franke.
1371–2 John Dagenet.
1373–4 Robert de Lydeford.
1374 Martin Lydeford.
1374–5 John More.
1375–7 Thomas Worth.
1377–8 Thomas White. (fn. 26)
1378–9 Richard Browne.
1379–March 1380 Lawrence Stevine.
March—Oct. 1380 William Talkarn or Talcaryn.
1380–4 William Slade.
1385–9 Thomas Dyre.
16 Oct. 1389–2 April 1390 Thomas Hendyman or Hyndeman.
2 April 1390–1 Richard Mark or Marks.
14 Oct. 1391–3 Helias Stoke.
11 Oct. 1393–4 Robert Marschel.
1395–1399 John Gynne.
11 Oct. 1399–1400 John Jakys.
1400–1 Richard Penwyne.
1401–2 Geoffrey Prentys.
1402–4 John Cowling.
1404–5 John Schute.
1405–6 Thomas Noreys.
1406–7 William Penbegyll.
1407–8 William Fylham.
1409–11 William Grene.
1411–13 Walter Trengoff.
1413–14 Benedict Brente.
1415 William Fylham.
1416–17 John Alwarde.
1417–18 Henry Whitehead.
1418–19 John Alwarde.
1419–22 Ralph Morewyll.
1422–4 Edmund Fitchet.
1425 John Colyforde.
1425–32 William Palmer.
1433–40 John Rowe.
1440–1 John Rygge.
1441–2 John Lyndon.
1442–3 John Westlake.
1443–7 (fn. 27) John Evelyn.
1449–53 Richard French.
1453–7 Walter Windsor.
1457–9 William Mogys or Mogas.
1459–60 William Thomas.
1460–4 William Baron.
1464–70 John Phylypp.
1471–4 William Major.
1475–14 March 1478 Richard Bradleghe.
14 March–14 July 1478 William Mylplaysh.
4 July 1478–9 John Orelle or Oryal.
1479–80 William Meryfeld.
1482–4 James Babbe.
1485–7 John Smythe.
1487–8 Thomas Ruer.
1488–20 Dec. 1494 Richard Panter.
Lent-Oct. 1495 Richard Roberd or Roberts or Robyns.
1495–9 John Atwell.
1499–1501 Thomas Michell.
1501–1502 John Rugge or Rigge.
1503–4 Gerendus Raffe.
1506–8 William Bery or Bury.
1512–Summer 1514 (fn. 28) Symon Todde.
1515–16 John Rugge or Rigge. (fn. 29)
27 Mar. 1518–8 Oct. 1519 Thomas Vyvyan.
1519–21 William Smythe.
14 Dec. 1521–6 Oct. 1526 Philip Bale.
1526–9 Edmund Fletcher.
1529–31 John Bere.
1531–4 John Pekyns.
1534–6 John Bery or Bury.
1537–9 John Dotyn.
25 Oct. 1539–42 John French.
17 Oct. 1542–9 Oct. 1543 Henry Laurence.
17 Oct. 1543–6 Augustine Crosse.
17 Oct. 1546–53 (fn. 30) William More.
1553–5 William Corindon or Corydon or Corndon.
17 Oct. 1555–6 Stephen Marks.
17 Oct. 1556–17 Oct. 1557 Philip Randell.
17 Oct. 1557–17 Oct. 1559 Robert Newton.
18 Oct. 1560–6 John Neale.

Perpetual Rectors

Whitsuntide 1566–deprived 12 Oct. 1570 John Neale.
31 Oct. 1570–resigned 4 Oct. 1578 Robert Newton (see above).
21 Oct. 1578–d. 9 Mar. 1592 Thomas Glasier.
24 Apr. 1592 (fn. 31) –d. 17 Mar. 1612 Thomas Holland.
4 Apr. 1612–resigned 3 Aug. 1642 John Prideaux.
23 Aug. 1642–d. 2 Apr. 1649 George Hakewill.
7 June 1649–deprived 1 Sept. 1662 John Conant.
18 Sept. 1662–resigned 30 Apr. 1666 Joseph Maynard.
27 May 1666–deprived 26 July 1690 Arthur Bury.
15 Aug. 1690–d. 18 Feb. 1716 William Paynter.
8 Mar. 1716–d. 19 July 1730 Mathew Hole.
6 Aug. 1730–resigned 29 Jan. 1733 John Conybeare.
17 Feb. 1733–resigned 3 Mar. 1737 Joseph Atwell.
11 Apr. 1737–d. 16 May 1750 James Edgcumbe.
5 June 1750–d. 29 Sept. 1771 Francis Webber.
22 Oct. 1771–d. 28 Mar. 1785 Thomas Bray.
15 Apr. 1785–d. 6 July 1787 Thomas Stinton.
23 July 1797–d. 19 Dec. 1807 Henry Richards.
7 Jan. 1808–d. 13 Oct. 1819 John Cole.
6 Nov. 1819–d. 7 Aug. 1838 John Collier Jones.
1 Sept. 1838–d. 27 Feb. 1854 Joseph Loscombe Richards.
18 Mar. 1854–d. 23 Mar. 1887 John Prideaux Lightfoot.
15 Apr. 1887–resigned 25 Mar. 1913 William Walrond Jackson.
15 Apr. 1913–resigned 19 Sept. 1928 Lewis Richard Farnell.
10 Oct. 1928–d. 18 Feb. 1943 Robert Ranulph Marett.
26 Sept. 1943– Eric Arthur Barber.


The present buildings of the college fall into three groups which date from, and whose disposition and plan helps to Characterize, the three phases in the history of the college described above.

I. The Medieval Buildings. From the first period (down to the new statutes and benefactions of Sir William Petre) there remains only a fragment: one staircase of three stories and an entracne gate (known as Palmer's Tower, and marked T in the Plan, p. 115), which was formerly the main entrance into the college and now contains the 1939–45 War Memorial. In this period the college faced out into the lane beneath the northern wall of the city; the buildings, as they are still shown in the 16th-century drawings of Bereblock and Agas, stretched for some 150 ft. along this lane, occupying the three tenements with which the college had been endowed in 1315 by Bishop Stapeldon and his clerk Peter Skelton; behind this façade were arranged on an irregular plan the hall, the chapel, and the library. The library is the only one of these buildings about whose erection we have any exact information, which we owe to the building account of 1383 still in existence. (fn. 32) There had been a library before this date, for in 1375 the Rector accounted for 3s. 4d. for straw for covering the library; but the building of 1383 was the one which continued in use as the library until 1624 and, after being divided up into rooms, it stood until 1708. There is a picture of it in Loggan's view of the college of 1675, a building running from north to south in the east side of the present quadrangle. The library itself was on the first floor with two chambers underneath it; it was lighted by seven small windows on either side, and there was a 'great window' at one end and possibly at both. Its length cannot be determined with precision: in Loggan's view it appears to be about 50 ft., but of these 25 were due to Bishop Stafford in the early 15th century. The task of building it in 1383 took from about Easter to Michaelmas and cost £57 13s. 5½d. Running at an angle from the library was the chapel, which was already built in the lifetime of Bishop Stapeldon: a licence was obtained from the Bishop of Lincoln for building it in 1321 and another for the consecration in 1326. Bishop Stafford made a new porch at the west end about 1404 and Rector Palmer lengthened it at the east end about thirty years later. In 1624, when a new chapel was built on the present site, it was turned into the library and remained in use until it was destroyed by fire in 1709. (fn. 33) The hall jutted out behind the main buildings into the middle of the present quadrangle. Here it remained until it was replaced by the present hall in 1618: part of it continued to disfigure the quadrangle for several years after this, but it was finally destroyed. The rest of the site was occupied either by independent buildings like Checker Hall to the north of the south-west corner, or by outhouses of various kinds and a tennis court which occupied part of the site of the present hall. Bishop Stafford, who was responsible for so many improvements, had also provided the college with an entrance in Turl Street.


Although so little now remains of the buildings of this period a very clear picture of the state of the college before its transformation in the 17th century can be obtained from a survey of the college made by Rector Prideaux in 1631–2. (fn. 34) The rebuilding of the college had already begun, but it had not yet obliterated the old plan, and the survey was made by one who remembered the days before these improvements. Although by his day the attempt to cope with greatly increased numbers by trivial and scattered additions had changed confusion into chaos, it is probable that some of his criticisms would have applied to any previous period in the college history: the lane into which the college faced was 'a stinking unpitched cart-way', a 'depraved and incommodious place'; the rain-water 'in most great gluts of rayn did overflow the colledg that there was no passag in it', and it was not until Doctor Prideaux's time that the nuisance was somewhat abated by the building of a drain through the city wall into the ditch beyond. If this was the condition of the front part of the college, that of the back was even worse: 'at the entrying in, at the right hand, before the lower chamber was a peece of an old wall, and then an enclosure with pales before the tower windows, full of bones, filth and nettles'. Some of these evils were the work simply of nature and neglect, but the worst certainly came from the greatly changed conditions of the college for which no adequate provision had been made. There were, in 1572, 112 members of the college and it is possible that the buildings of that date could hold so many; but this was only achieved by the addition of 'cock lofts' on every possible building. The most notable example of the method and effect of these additions was the old library. On top of the 14th-century building there was a two-storied wooden 'Nest' erected by the enterprise of the head butler of the college, Thomas Bentley, at the end of the 16th century. What had been a work of private enterprise was also a source of private profit: the butler had the revenues of it for a term of years. Bentley in his turn leased the building to Lord John Petre, who had the rent during his lifetime and left the unexpired lease to the college. It is not surprising in these circumstances that six chambers and nineteen studies were confusedly crowded into the available space. Elsewhere it was the Rector or fellows themselves who made additions to their rooms, no doubt to accommodate their pupils: Prideaux had built new rooms 'when the Earle of Carnarvan, John Roberts, sole son to the Lord Roberts, the Lord Wharton and Sir Thomas Wharton his brother, with Mr. Lorenzo Carye the Lord Faulklands sonne were togither pupills under him'; Richard Carpenter, a fellow from 1596 to 1606, had a room with two studies, to which he added a cockloft containing eight studies overhead; and other fellows were responsible for similar extensions. Rector Prideaux might well turn with relief from this confused scene of private improvements and private rights, which had made it that 'the whole colledg was but a confused number of blynd streets', to the new type of benefactor who took in hand the heroic work of planned reconstruction, who gave in a princely fashion and reserved nothing for himself.

II. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. The hall was the earliest of the new enterprises. The old hall had, according to Prideaux, long been unable to entertain the company and, like the other buildings, it had been fitted with its complement of lofts, over the screen at the west end. Even so, it was inadequate, and an old member, Sir John Acland, gave £800 to make the new hall, where previously there had been only an outhouse and two 'patched' studies. The block of rooms (known as Peryam's Building, and marked P in the Plan, p. 115) adjoining the hall, which was built at the same time (1618), is perhaps even more important in the architectural history of the college. For it was the first block of living-rooms on the new model, which was to be followed for the next hundred years: outside it was solid and magnificent and inside it contained an orderly arrangement of chambers with two small studies opening into each. This was followed by the building of the new chapel on the north side of the quadrangle in 1623–4, at the cost of £1,400, of which £1,200 was given by George Hakewill, a former fellow and later Rector of the college. (fn. 35)

The chapel was destroyed in 1856, but scattered fragments of the woodwork are still in existence. (fn. 36) As has already been described, the medieval chapel now became the library, and the old library, still with its monstrous wooden superstructure, was turned into living-rooms. No further building was undertaken until after the Restoration, though there is evidence that the college was still collecting money to continue its plans. In 1668 it gained a narrow strip of land along Turl St. on lease from the city, and in 1672 the buildings to the north of the Turl St. entrance to the college were built. In 1699 a similar acquisition at the south-west corner of the college allowed the closing of the quadrangle from the Turl St. entrance to the hall. This period in the rebuilding of the college was closed by the demolition of Bentley's Nest and its ancient substructure in 1708 (known as Armagh Building, and marked A in the Plan, p. 115), and the erection in its place of two staircases, on the new plan.

The quadrangle thus formed, with the exception of the north side where the chapel and Rector's house stood, still exists and remains the centre of the college. The buildings, though extending over almost a century, are uniform in plan and appearance: each block had one staircase of four stories, of which the top one consisted of attics; the other three floors each had two sets of rooms consisting of a large bedroom and two or three studies opening into it. This plan of attaching studies to a large chamber was already being carried out in the 16th-century additions to the college; but if the plan was old, the orderliness was new, and in the new order there is a sign of the changed relations between the college and its junior members. They were no longer primarily the pupils of a fellow who arranged for their accommodation as best he could by paring away his own space and addingattics over his head; if not yet regarded as the most important part of the college, they were yet sufficiently a part of it for the college to include them in a single plan for all its members. The accommodation in college was not greatly altered as a result of all this labour: about 100 people could be lodged in the new buildings and perhaps 30 more in what remained of the old. But the disordered additions which Prideaux describes had in their own way made provision for the increased numbers of the college. The great change was in the roominess, convenience, and dignity of the new buildings: there were no doubt many poor rooms in the attics and in the old quarters, but these were now hidden from view and not strewn about in conspicuous disorder. Looking into the college from the main entrance in 1708—the main entrance, which was now on the site of the old postern on Turl St.—there was already scarcely more of the medieval college in view than is now to be seen. The old Rector's house was still there in the north-east corner, but the original row of tenements and the original chapel were hidden from view by the most recent additions.

III. The Nineteenth Century. The new building of the 19th century began modestly to meet the needs of slowly increasing numbers, but in its later phase, which synchronized with the drawing up of the new statutes, it became the symbol of a cause. The first important addition to the college since 1708 (fn. 37) was the building on Broad St., between the present Tower and the Ashmolean, of a block of rooms in 1833–4. (fn. 38) The architect was a local man, H. J. Underwood, who was also employed to reface the Turl St. front of the college and who added thus the Gothicdetail and oriel windows which are still to be seen. His Broad St. building has a small but distinct place in the development of the college. It is here first that the 17th-century plan of tiny studies, of bedrooms shared by two or three undergraduates, of rooms barely furnished with tables, benches, and sometimes 'a place to put books in fasted to the wall', was replaced by the bedroom and sitting-room sets of the modern college: this was the beginning of the progress in luxury which Boase looked back on as one of the distinguishing marks of the college of his day. In taste too, while the Underwood building shows no violent break from the 17th century, it has the Gothic ornament on fire-places and windows which made a revolution in the appearance of the college twenty years later.

With the calling in of George Gilbert Scott in 1854 a much more ambitious phase in college building began, in which practical considerations had only a secondary place. It was just at this moment that the college was drawing up and fighting the battle for its statutes, and the two subjects alternate in the minutes of college meetings between 1853 and 1856. On 28 June 1853, six days after the resolution to consider alterations in the college statutes, it was decided to rebuild the chapel on the site of the library and to select either Butterfield, Carpenter, or Scott to make a design for it; by July 1854 the plan had grown into a decision to rebuild the chapel and library on their existing sites, where they were to 'form the main features of a design which should embrace the removal of the Rector's House, of St. Helen's and Prideaux's buildings and the erection of a new house of the Rector and a new Tower and Buildings to the West of it facing Broad Street'. This was the plan which was given effect. The desire to rebuild the chapel seems to have been the central motive and to have determined the rest of the plan: the great difficulty was that the 17th-century chapel was thought to be too short, but could not be lengthened without destroying the Rector's house. Hence the alternatives of either building it on the site of the library or on the existing site with the consequent destruction of the Rector's house, were first discussed. But gradually as the plan grew, both the Rector's house and library, as well as the chapel, were destroyed to make way for new buildings. But this plan was not easily decided on: despite previous resolutions, we still hear in 1856 of 'repeated debates' about the site of the new chapel. Meanwhile, in the autumn of 1854, work had already been begun on the western half of the Broad St. front. In June 1856, on the same day as the Privy Council approved the new statutes, Scott's design for the new chapel was accepted. During this and the following years the tower and gateway in Broad St., the library, the Rector's house, and the living-rooms abutting on the Broad St. buildings and completing the quadrangle to the north of the chapel were built in rapid succession, the work of the same architect. In Oct. 1859 the chapel was consecrated and the plan, which had grown so greatly since the first decision of 1853, was complete.

These additions scarcely had the effect which was intended for them: the elaborate entrance on the Broad St. front led into a purely 19th-century and Gothic quadrangle; but when all was finished, space was very limited and the workmanship uneven. The chapel, whose height was just tolerable when seen from the old quadrangle, was out of all proportion to the size of the northern quadrangle and the arrangement of the buildings wasted even such space as there was. These buildings therefore never had the unity and have never become the centre of the college like the 17th-century ones: they remain rather the symbol of an enthusiasm as temporary as that which guided the drawing up of the statutes at the same date, but they could not so easily be overset by Parliamentary Commissions.

At the end of the 1939–45 war, considerable alterations were made to the Rector's Lodging. The back of the Lodging facing the Rector's garden was altered from the Gothic style to one more in keeping with the adjacent 17th-century Old Ashmolean. It was also found possible to isolate and expose Palmer's Tower in its original form. Within the old Gateway at the foot of Palmer's Tower was placed the memorial to the members of the college who fell in the 1939–45 war. The architect for all these alterations was T. Harold Hughes.

The following is a list of the existing college buildings, arranged chronologically, with the date of erection, and the names of architects, benefactors, &c. The Roman numerals refer to the periods in the history of the college distinguished above.

Ia. Palmer's Tower: 1432, built at the expense of William Palmer (Rector 1425–32). The sole surviving piece of the medieval college. The Benefactor's Book says that he gave £100 for this work.

IIa. The hall and block of rooms adjoining its east end: 1618; Sir John Acland (d. 1613) contributed £800 towards the hall; Sir John Peryam £560 for the living-rooms which were therefore called 'Peryam's Mansions'.

b. The two staircases and rooms to the north of the Turl St. entrance. The lease of a narrow strip of land necessary for this building was obtained from the city on 8 May 1668. (fn. 39) Wood, Colleges and Halls (ed. Gutch, iii. III), says that most of it was built in 1672 but that the half at the west end of the chapel was not completed until 1682. No doubt the financial difficulties mentioned above hindered the work. There were many subscribers.

c. The Turl St. tower and buildings south of it, filling the gap between the building of 1672 and the hall: 2 July 1700–2 Nov. 1703. The lease of the land to square the site was obtained 11 Aug. 1699 (Oxf. City Properties, p. 272, O.H.S.). The subscribers again were numerous.

d. The two staircases and rooms on the east side of the quadrangle, on the site of the old library: 1708–10. There were many subscribers: Narcissus Marsh, Archbishop of Armagh, gave £1,000.

IIIa. The Underwood Building to the east of the tower on Broad St.: Aug. 1833–May 1834; architect, H. J. Underwood; cost, £3,574 11s. 3d.

b. The building on Broad St. to the west of the tower: Oct. 1854–5; architect, George Gilbert Scott; cost, £3,997.

c. The small wood and plaster building between the chapel and the city property (which now belongs to the college); 1856. The windows of 'Prideaux's Building', part of the Rector's house which had to be removed when the chapel was built, were used in this.

d. The tower and gateway in Broad St.: 1856; architect, G.G. Scott.

e. The chapel: foundation stone laid 29 Nov. 1856; consecrated 18 Oct. 1859; architect, G. G. Scott; cost, £7,950.

f. The library: 1856–7; architect, G. G. Scott.

g. Rector's house and rooms adjoining it to the north: 1857; architect, G.G. Scott.

h. The staircase and rooms between the chapel and the Broad St. buildings: begun during the Long Vacation 1858; architect G.G. Scott.


  • 1. The Registrum Collegii Exoniensis of C. W. Boase (Oxford Historical Society, 1894) is an excellent collection of materials for the history of the college until the middle of the 19th century; the long introduction is somewhat confused in arrangement but full of information to which the History of Exeter College by W. K. Stride (1900) adds nothing of importance. The 1st edition of Boase's book (1879) retains some of its value for the documents printed in it. In what follows the terms 'scholar' and 'fellow' are used interchangeably until 1856; after that date 'scholar' is reserved for the junior members of the college who hold scholarships and are not members of the governing body. The original documents of the college are referred to as occasion arises but, since there is no system of classification in the archives, an exact reference is often impossible.
  • 2. A full account of the site of the college and its acquisition is in Boase, pp. viii–xxvii.
  • 3. In 1477–8 the income of the college was £64 6s. 11d.; in 1478–9, £88 4s. 9½d. (this includes £20 14s. 5d. from Menheniot); in the years 1482–6 there is a rise to the neighbourhood of £120–30, after which the income returns to normal. There was building going on at the time and gifts for this purpose may account for the increase.
  • 4. This sum was made up as follows: tithes of Gwinear £26 13s. 4d., of Long Wittenham £26, of Menheniot £20; Oxford property £8 17s. 8d.; property outside Oxford £1 11s. 0d.
  • 5. The chief source for the financial condition of the college during this period is the series of Rectors' Accounts described below (p. 108). Boase prints the earliest and some samples of later ones in his first edition, pp. 170–82, and gives summaries of these in his second edition, pp. 340–8.
  • 6. They are printed by F. C. HingestonRandolph, Register of Walter de Stapeldon (1892), pp. 304–10.
  • 7. The earliest accounts are on pieces of parchment stitched end on end, but very soon they begin to be written on large skins which contain the account for the whole year. From 1566 they are written in books.
  • 8. Only a handful of the medieval MSS. of the college have survived the fire of 1709 and other dangers, but some of these can be identified with books which are mentioned in the accounts. The great Hugh of Vienne given by Roger Keys exists still as nos. li-lxviii among the MSS. In 1484 sums were still being paid for its completion: Lent 1484, 'xxvis. VIII d. a M. Johanne Combe pro complecione operis Hugonis de Vienna'; Autumn 1484, 'xxxs. Johanni Bray pro ligacione et illuminatura 20rum voluminum operis Hugonis de Vienna, xxd. pro incathenacione eorundem in Libraria'. MS. xxi is certainly the volume assigned to the college in 1418 by the executors of Thomas Plymiswood, concerning which there is this note in the accounts: Winter 1418, 'XXIII d. circa dominum Walterum Abraham et pro cena et i pari cerotecarum dato sibi et Waltero Fysher quando M. Johannes Saunder et ipsi assignabant nobis Dictamina Lincoln, cum sermonibus et Mandatis eiusdem pro anima M. Thome Plymmyswode': MSS. xxi and xliii came from the same donor and are among the gifts of his mentioned in the accounts. MS. xxviii, which has the inscription 'Emptus scolaribus de Stapleton Hall cum bonis magistrorum Henrici Whitefield et Johannis Landreyn. Oretis igitur pro utroque', is the volume which was bought for five marks in the summer of 1389.
  • 9. Register of the University of Oxford, ed. C. W. Boase, vol. i, pp. xxi—xxv (O.H.S. 1885).
  • 10. In Essays presented to R. L. Poole, ed. H. W. C. Davis (1927), pp. 421–35.
  • 11. Printed in Boase, 1st edit., pp. 182–4.
  • 12. The statutes are not among those printed for the University Commissioners in 1853. There are two 17th-century copies, signed by Petre and the Bishop of Exeter in the college archives.
  • 13. There is a copy of his letter in the College Register.
  • 14. See Boase, 1st. edit., pp. xcvi–xcvii. A. Clark, Wood's Life and Times (O.H.S., 1895), vol. iv, p. 151 gives the numbers for 1605 (165), 1611 (188), 1612 (206)—these figures include the Rector and fellows.
  • 15. The decrees of the Visitors are in the College Register under the date 9 Jan. 1675.
  • 16. College Register, 20 Feb. 1717.
  • 17. Boase prints the regulations of this date 17 Feb. 1733 and the supplement of 1739 in his 2nd edit., pp. 350–6.
  • 18. There should be three vols. of Room Books covering the years 1737–1818, but I could only find two, covering the years from 1767.
  • 19. Printed in Ordinances and Statutes framed or approved by the Oxford University Commissioners in Pursuance of the Act, 17 and 18 Victoria, Chapter 81 (Oxford, 1863).
  • 20. See College Register 1853, 22, 23, 24 June: there were college meetings on each of these days to consider the matter.
  • 21. The correspondence between Gladstone and the successive Rectors Richards and Lightfoot is preserved in the archives. He wrote a eulogistic letter to the Rector in July 1856, when, after many difficulties, the new statutes had been approved by the Privy Council: 'You and your college have manfully put yourselves in the van of improvement under the Act: you have had to go through fire and flood for the public advantage of all similar foundations: I am concerned to think how much of anxiety the period must have brought you, but I rejoice to see that you have come out of it neither scorched nor drenched.' The aims of the college seem, in a modified form, to have been those of one of the most influential of its fellows, William Sewell (fellow 1827–62; tutor 1831–53). He wished to restore the University to that popular position which it had lost since the Middle Ages and to make it at the same time a bulwark against the anti-religious and secularizing forces of the time. This led him to pour contempt on those whom he conceived to represent these forces—the Parliamentary Commissioners in particular. But at the time of the Commission he had ceased to be a resident fellow and the College did not take up his intransigeant attitude.
  • 22. In 1831 the college had already provided four scholarships on its own initiative, but the Commissioners remarked that while Exeter educated one-twelfth of the undergraduates of Oxford it 'by no means gained honours in the same ratio'. (Report of the Oxford University Commissioners (1852), p. 198.) When these words were published, however, the College was already entering a period of considerable scholarly distinction, and among the undergraduates were William Morris and E. Burne-Jones (both matriculated 2 June 1852).
  • 23. Letter dated 24. Apr. 1855 in the bundle of 'Correspondence of the Rector with the University Commissioners 1854–5'.
  • 24. I am indebted to J. P. V. D. Balsdon for the following notes.
  • 25. Under the statutes of Stapeldon the Rector's year of office ended on the sixth day after Michaelmas and a new one was then elected. The list is based on the information in Boase.
  • 26. His work was done by a succession of Vice-Rectors, John Henry, Richard Browne, William Slade, Henry Beamond.
  • 27. Boase adds in brackets 'till 1449' without explanation.
  • 28. Perhaps also on 12 Apr. 1511.
  • 29. Not the same as the one above.
  • 30. Register 17 Oct. 1549: 'non licuit ut electio novi Rectoris iuxta consuetum collegii morem celebraretur. Regiae maiestatis authoritas obstabat quominus id fieret, nam aestate proxime antea praeterlapsa a Regis legatis sive (ut loquontur) visitatoribus constitutum est, ut Guilielmus Morus, qui tunc temporis Rector erat, postea non annuum et arbitrarium gereret magistratum 5ed perpetuum …'
  • 31. He was finally elected after a disputed election between him and N. Mercer.
  • 32. The building account is printed in full in Boase's 1st edit., pp., 178–9 and summarized in 2nd edit., pp. 344–5.
  • 33. The date of the fire is given as 2 Dec. 1709 in the College Register.
  • 34. Boase printed part of this survey from a later copy in 2nd edit., pp. 311–20, but the original has since come to light and is in the college archives together with a modern copy by the Rev. W. G. Cruft.
  • 35. For this purpose the city in 1623, at the request of the king, granted to the college a long lease of the lane between the college and the city wall, about 90 yds. in length, at 20s. a year. In 1846, long after the lease had come to an end, the college acquired the freehold for £2,000 (Oxf. City Properties, O.H.S., p. 273). In 1623 this lane, which continued Ship St. eastward, had been blocked by the building of the Bodleian, and was no longer a thoroughfare; hence the condition which Prideaux described. The northern half of the chapel was on the site of the road.
  • 36. Hakewill's chapel, of which there are representations in Vallance's Old Colleges of Oxford, was condemned as 'debased Gothic'; it was of the same date and style as Lincoln Coll. chapel, but, unique among college chapels, it had an aisle as well as a nave. Much of its woodwork still survives. A portion was used in panelling the hall of the Rector's house in 1809. Parts of its screens and some of its stalls were given in 1875 and 1888 to Long Wittenham, one of the college livings; other stalls were given to Merton, another college living; the great doors of the chapel, bearing Hakewill's arms, are in a courtyard of the manor-house of Weston-onthe-Green; the largest portion was acquired for Wick Hall, Radley, and the base of the pulpit was given to the college by Dr. John Johnson, Printer to the University, to form a table in the Common Room. Much was shipped to America. See an article by E. Greening Lamborn, Notes and Queries, Sept. 1944.
  • 37. There was some building in the later part of the 18th century, but it has left no trace on the plan or appearance of the college. The old library, which had been burnt in 1709, was patched up until 1778, when it was replaced by a classical building after the design of the Rev. William Crowe: this was pulled down in 1856 to make way for the present library. There was considerable rebuilding of the Rector's house in 1798 and 1800–2, but this also was destroyed in 1857.
  • 38. The Broad St. front was acquired from the city in 1773 and 1850 (Oxford City Properties, O.H.S., pp. 281, 283). Finally in 1931 the college bought from the city the corner house for £17,000.
  • 39. Oxford Council Acts, 1665–1701, ed. M. G. Hobson (O.H.S. 2nd Ser., vol. ii, 1939).