Oxford History: The High


The Queen’s College


The High Street frontage of The Queen's College, shown above, is Grade I listed (List Entry No. 1183496).

The college is named after Queen Philippa, the wife of Edward III, and was was founded by her chaplain, Robert Eglesfield, in 1340/1. It was extensively rebuilt in the eighteenth century.

The Universal British Directory of 1791 has this to say about what was then the “modern architecture” of the college:

Opposite to University College, on the north side of the High-street, stands Queen’s College. The front, which is formed in the style of the Luxembourg Palace, is at once magnificent and elegant. In the middle of it is a superb cupola, the construction of which is by some thought too heavy for the rest. Under it is a statue of the late Queen Caroline.

The first court is one hundred and forty feet in length and one hundred and thirty in breadth. A beautiful cloister surrounds this court except on the north side. Over the western cloister are the provost’s lodgings, which are spacious and splendid. The north side is formed by the chapel and hall, and finely finished in the Doric order. In the centre, over a portico leading to the north court, stands a handsome cupola, supported by eight Ionic columns.

The chapel is one hundred feet long and thirty broad. It is ornamented, in the Corinthian order, with a beautiful ceiling of fretwork. The windows are all of fine old painted glass, viz. 1518; that over the altar excepted, representing our Lord’s Nativity, which was executed by Mr. Price, A.D. 1717. The most remarkable are two on the north side of the Last Judgment, and two on the south of the Ascension. These, with the rest, were removed hither from the old chapel. There is an Ascension in the roof by Sir James Thornhill.

The hall is fitted up in the Doric order, and has an admirable proportion. It is sixty feet long and thirty broad, with an arched roof of a correspondent height. It is furnished with portraits of the founder and benefactors. Over the screen is a handsome gallery intended for music, and as a vestibule to the common room, to which it leads.

The north court is one hundred and thirty feet long and ninety broad. On the west stands the library, which is of the Corinthian order. Under the east side of this edifice runs a cloister; its west side is adorned with statues of the founder and benefactors, and other pieces of sculpture. The room within is highly finished. The book-cases, which are of Norway oak, are decorated with well-wrought carving; and in the ceiling are some admirable compartments of stucco.

The whole area on which this beautiful college, which is one entire piece of well-executed modern architecture, stands is an oblong square, three hundred feet in length and two hundred and twenty feet in breadth; which, being divided by the hall and chapel, is formed into the two courts just described.

At the time of the 1901 census, the Queen’s porter, Henry Crapper, lived in the lodge on the High with his wife.

Below: The Queen's College in c.1905:

The Queen’s College

Official website of The Queen’s College

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 18 April, 2018

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