Sunday, 5 June 2011

Oxford Colleges (3)

Christ Church and Magdalen

Christ Church was originally founded by Cardinal Wolsey as Cardinal's College in 1524. The college buildings took over the site of St. Frideswide's Monastery, which was suppressed by Wolsey to fund his college. When Wolsey fell from power in 1529 the College became property of King Henry VIII. Henry re-founded the College in 1546 and appointed the old monastery church as cathedral of the new diocese of Oxford. The new institution of cathedral and University College was named Aedes Christi, which is rendered in English as Christ Church.

The cathedral was originally the church of St Frideswide's Priory. The present cathedral was constructed between 1160 and 1200 AD The nave, choir, main tower and transepts are of the late Norman period. There are architectural features ranging from Norman to the Perpendicular style. The picture below shows the chancel, high altar, and east rose window.

The view looking west down the Nave.

The Victorian stained glass window by Clayton & Bell showing St Michael Window which dominates the North Transept.

Madonna and Child by Rita Phillips. (She was trained by Rosamund De’ Tracey Kelly and at the Frink School of Figurative Sculpture, of which she is a Fellow. After the Frink School closed in 2005, together with Rosemary Barnett, she established the Limpet Sculpture Studio, initially at Leek and now at Hartington.)

Ceiling above the bottom of the staircase leading to the Hall (which wasn't open when we visited).

The Great Quadrangle, more popularly known as Tom Quad, is the largest college quad in Oxford, measuring 264 by 261 feet. Although it was begun by Cardinal Wolsey, he was unable to complete it. Wolsey planned that it would actually be a cloister, and the supports required for this can be seen at short intervals around the quadrangle. The quad was finished when John Fell was Dean. Tom Tower over the main entrance, is on the west side. On the east side is the entrance to Christ Church Cathedral and at the south-east corner is the entrance to the college dining hall. In the centre of the quad, there is an ornamental pond with a statue of Mercury.

This is the view from the south east corner.

Tom Tower is named after its bell, Great Tom. It is over Tom Gate, the main entrance of the college which leads into Tom Quad. This square tower with an octagonal lantern and facetted ogee dome was designed by Christopher Wren and built 1681–82. Wren never came to supervise the structure as it was being erected by the stonemason he had recommended, Christopher Kempster, of Burford.

The view from the north east corner loking along the east side of The Great Quad towards the Hall.

Note the wedding party!

Overall I found the Christ Church experience too commercialised for my taste.

After Christ Church a change of scene and the Grove at Magdalen College is home to a herd of deer.

Magdalen College was founded in 1458 by William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, and Lord Chancellor, on the site of the Hospital of St. John, just outside Oxford’s East Gate. The main Cloister Quadrangle, with its Library, Hall, and Chapel., was built in 1474 -80 . The mason employed was William Orchard, who also worked on the Divinity Schools.

The bell tower is 144 feet high. (also by Orchard) can be seen behind the Cloisters and chapel. It was started in 1492 and completed in 1505.

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