Oxford in Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Radcliffe Square, the historic heart of Oxford University has been called the finest square in Europe (Pevsner). It was created by the university authorities in the 1730s by demolishing the medieval houses to make a 'university forum'. It is dominated by the central Radcliffe Camera (1737-48), Oxford's most magnificent classical building ('camera’ means 'room' in Italian).
On the far side is the University church of St Mary the Virgin, where academic meetings and ceremonies were held from c. 1200 onwards. On the right (west) side of the square is Brasenose College, built in 1509. To the north is the Bodleian Library quadrangle (1613-19), while the 18th century North Quad of All Souls College (founded in 1438) makes up the east side of the square.
John Radcliffe – doctor and benefactor
Radcliffe Square was conceived by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor but only took shape after the death in 1714 of Dr John Radcliffe.
Radcliffe had studied at University College and became a doctor to the wealthy élite, including King William Ill, Queen Mary and Queen Anne. He donated £40,000 toward building a library in the middle of the proposed square and another £100 a year for buying books.
The Radcliffe Camera - a library in the round
Hawksmoor supplied designs for a circular, domed building
Known to Oxford students as the ‘Rad Cam', the building now contains two reading rooms, used primarily by undergraduates.
Beneath the lawn to the north is an underground book-store, built in1912, which connects the Camera via a subway to the Old Library.
A real Gothic college and a 'mock' one
Brasenose College, built mainly from 1509-18, takes its name from the brazen nose' bronze door knocker that once adorned its gates. Among its former students are the television presenter, Michael Palin, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and a highwayman, John Clavell!
Its Tudor-Gothic style echoed the architecture of All Souls College which was extended by Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1716-34 as a backdrop to the new square. Through the imposing iron gates you can see two fanciful Gothic towers. These serve no purpose but are testimony to Hawksmoor's genius for enlivening the urban landscape. You can also glimpse the college's sundial through the gates; this is reputed to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
To the left of All Souls' iron gates, massive church-like windows are those of
Sticks, Chalk & Cherries
Part of All Souls College was once a cherry orchard bought from the parish of St Mary the Virgin.
Once a year the congregation of St Mary's mark the boundaries of their parish by 'beating the bounds'. They draw with chalk on the boundary marks and hit them with sticks. After a hard morning's beating they are given cherry cake by All Souls in remembrance of the orchard.
( photo captions )
A portrait of Dr John Radcliffe (1652-1714). Looking up at the domed ceiling inside the Radliffe Camera, 1971. A model of Nicholas Hawksmoor's 1720s design for Radclife Camera, held at the Bodleian Library. An 18th century engraving showing the Radliffe Camera and Square. Books being loaded onto a horse and cart outside the Radliffe Camera, 1956.
Location. 51° 45.234′ N, 1° 15.229′ W. Marker is in Oxford, England, in Oxfordshire. Marker is at the intersection of Catte Street and New College Lane, on the right when traveling south on Catte Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Oxford, England OX1 3BW, United Kingdom.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Early University (about 150 meters away, measured in a direct line); The High Street (about 180 meters away); George Claridge Druce (about 210 meters away); Great Jewry (approx. 0.4 kilometers away); The Crown (approx. 0.4 kilometers away); This Stone (approx. 0.4 kilometers away); Oxford Martyr’s Memorial (approx. 0.4 kilometers away); William Wilkinson (approx. half a kilometer away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Oxford.
Also see . . . Explore Oxford. (Submitted on October 5, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Categories. • Education •
Credits. This page was last revised on October 5, 2018. This page originally submitted on October 5, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 33 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 5, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.