Oxford & Christ Church College

photoOxford & Christ Church College by Maureen Nicholas

Sunday 17th April 2016, 3 pm


Maureen Nicholas was born in Lancashire and after university entered Lloyds Bank executer and trustee department and worked in St. James’s street in London. After her son went to preparatory school she took a teacher’s certificate at Sussex university and taught mathematics at Brighton College. During that period she was involved in various organisations in Sussex and did a fair amount of public speaking.

She moved to Oxford in 1979 and lived in Cumnor on the west of the city. She became founder secretary of the Historical Society and, because of the number of academics living there soon became involved with the university and particularly the Bodleian Library. She was part of the group who put the Victoria County History, Oxfordshire, on to the web and found herself speaking at the Senate house of London university. It was around this time that she became a steward of Christ Church taking small groups around the cathedral and sometimes parts of the college. She did this for over 25 years.

The talk will begin with a brief history of the university of Oxford dating back to the end of the eleventh century.. It is the oldest university in the English speaking world. It was after disputes in 1209 that some teachers and students went north east and set up the university at Cambridge; both these seats of learning are collegiate universities and Oxford is made up of 38 colleges and various other institutions and academic departments.

Christ Church, known as the House from its Latin name Aedis Christi, the house of Christ,  was originally founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525 on the site of St. Frideswide’s Priory, but after his downfall it was re-founded by Henry VIII as King Henry VIII’s College. In the course of creating the Church of England he decided to re-found the college in 1546 and make the chapel the cathedral of the diocese of Oxford.. The head of college, the Dean, presides over both college and cathedral.

Wolsey had built a fairly large part of the college including the Hall and a large part of the main quadrangle. The king carried on building and over the centuries the college has become the largest in Oxford.

Christ Church is unique and does not come under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury but the reigning monarch as its Visitor is the only one who comes above the Dean. Like all colleges in Oxford it has its own code and its higher teachers are Students. Of its graduates 13 became Prime Minister of England; one of its students was Charles Dodgson, who under his pseudonym Lewis Carroll wrote the Alice books and at the end of the 20th century part of the first two Harry Potter films were filmed there. A copy of Hall was made to double as the school hall.



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