The University 10 most Visited

All Souls College
High Street 279379
Open 2pm - 4:30pm Mon-Fri, Free Admission
Official Website

All Souls College was built in the 15th century for the clergy as a center for prayer and learning by Henry VI. The name comes from a remembrance of the dead from the Hundred Years War with France in the 14th and 15th centuries ("...all souls of the faithfully departed..."). Students of this college are of the highest caliber, and they get elected, they do not apply, though some truly outstanding students can take (sit) exams to try and get in.

Twin Towers in the Great Quad

Don't Miss:
Twin gothic towers in the Great Quad; a large sundial built by Sir Christopher Wren, which sits on the wall of the Codrington library.

Notable Facts:

  • WB Yeats, though not a fellow of the college, loved the chapel and spent much time there. He composed "All Souls Night" in tribute to it.
  • The tradition of the "All Souls Mallard" - At the beginning of each century, on January 14th, the warden leads a procession throughout the college to look for a mythical duck that appeared when the college was first being built, all the while singing the 'mallard song'. The mallard song, however, is not just sung once a century, but twice each year, at the November Gaudy and at the Bursar's Dinner in March.
  • All Souls College is different from all other Oxford colleges in that it has no students. Its members automatically become Fellows (academics who are full governing members of the College).
  • The sundial was designed by Christopher Wren and installed for only £32 and reads, "Pereunt et impautantur" - or - "They (the hours) pass and are set to your account"

Brasenose College
Radcliffe Square 277830
Open 10am - 11:30am for guided tours, 2pm - 4:30pm every day for general public. Admission £1.
Official Website

The college, which dates from the 16th century, gets its name from the unusual bronze door knocker which is shaped like an animal's snout, which now hangs above the high table in the dining hall.

Original Brasenose Door Knocker

Notable Facts:

  • The original door knocker dates back to the 11th century, and was stolen by students from Lincolnshire in 1334. It was only returned to Brasenose in 1890 when the college bought the whole of the thieving school just to reacquire the door knocker.
  • One of the college principals' claim to fame was 'inventing' bottled beer. Alexander Nowell would bottle his beer for fishing trips, and once buried a bottle to keep it cool - which was fizzy when he dug it up.

Famous Attendees:
William Golding - author of Lord of the Flies
John Buchan - author of The Thirty-Nine Steps
Michael Palin - Monty Python
Jeffrey Archer - author

Christ Church
St. Aldate's 276150
Open every day except Christmas. Hall closed between 12pm and 2pm. Cathedral closes at 4:45pm. Admission £4/£3 when cathedral open, £3/£2 when closed.
Official Website

Also known as "The House", it was founded in 1525 by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, and was originally called Cardinal's College. In 1546 Henry VIII took it over and renamed it Christ Church. This college is the largest and most visited of all Oxford's Colleges. In the middle of the College lies Tom Quad, the largest quad in Oxford, and Tom Tower, which was dedicated to Thomas of Canterbury. The upper section of the tower was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1682. The 7-tonne bell in the tower chimes 101 times each night at 9:05pm, the time when the original 101 students were called back for curfew. Since Oxford is 5 minutes west of Greenwich, this is actually 9pm Oxford time.

Christ Church College

Don't Miss:
The Great Hall (the dining hall) will look familiar to any fans of the Harry Potter films, which inspired the set of Hogwarts; dining hall. Actual scenes from the movie were filmed there, and on the grand stars leading to the Hall.

On your immediate right upon entering the Hall, is a portrait of Charles Dodgson (Lews Carroll - famed author of Alice in Wonderland). Look for the large stained glass window, featuring characters from Alice above the fireplace as well as brass characters in the fireplace itself. Upon exiting the Dining Hall, keep your eyes on the portrait of the man in the red robe - he'll surely be keeping his eyes on you!

The Christ Church Gallery contains a modest collection of Renaissance art, the most notable of which features the bibilical Judith holding the severed head of Holofernes.

The Cathedral of Christ Church is the official Cathedral for the diocese of Oxfordshire. It has been Oxford's Anglican Cathedral since the reign of Henry VIII.

Notable Facts:

  • Christ Church has produced 13 British Prime Ministers in the last 200 years. That's more prime ministers than were produced from any other college in Oxford, or of the whole of Cambridge University combined!

Famous Attendees:
John Locke - Philosopher
Charles Dodgson - a.k.a. Lewis Carroll - author
W.H. Auden - Poet
Albert Einstein - physicist
William Penn - founder of Pennsylvania
Sir Christopher Wren - architect

Corpus Christi College
Merton Street 276700
Open 1:30 - 4:30 Mon - Sun. Admission Free.
Official Website

Founded in 1517 by the bishop Richard Fox, this small college has a reputation for being friendly and liberal.

Pelican Sundial

Don't Miss:
In the centre of the Front Quad is a pelican sundial, which can calculate time by the sun and the moon, though since it's set to Oxford Time, it's always 5 minutes off. Pass throught the Front Quad and the Cloisters until you reach the garden at the rear. From here you can see the Fellows Garden, Christ Church Gardens, and the meadows.

Notable Facts:

  • Bishop Richard Fox went blind before the buiding of the College was completed. Supposedly, students walked him around the small front quad 23 times to make it seem bigger than it actually was.

Lincoln College
Turl Street 279800
Open: 2pm - 5pm Mon - Sat, 11am - 5pm Sun. Free Admission.
Official Website

Founded by Bishop Richard Fleming in 1427, Lincoln College is now one of the best preserved of the medieval colleges. Fleming intended the college to be 'a little college of true students of theology who would defend the mysteries of Scripture against those ignorant laymen who profaned with swinish snouts its most holy pearls'. The hall maintains its original roof, including a gap where smoke would escape.

Front Quad

Don't Miss:
Stained glass windows in the chapel; Former rooms, now a chapel, or John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, who studied at Lincoln at the turn of the 18th century.

Famous Attendees:
Theodore "Dr. Seuss" Geisel - writer and cartoonist
John Wesley - theologian and founder of methodism

Magdalen College
High Street 276000
Open: October 1 - June 21 1pm - 6pm or dusk (whichever is earlier), June 22 - Sept 30 12pm - 6pm. Admission £3 / £2.
Official Website

Whatever you do, do not pronounce this college "mag-da-lin" unless you want to blow your cover as a tourist - Magdalen College is pronounced "mawd-lin." Founded in 1458 by William of Waynflete, the bishop of Winchester, Magdalen is Oxfords wealthiest, and arguably most beautiful college, with its own deer park and beautiful cloisters, of whose gargoyles supposedly inspired CS Lewis' stone statues in The Chronicles of Narnia. On the far right of the grounds, a bright blue wrought iron gate leads to Addison's Walk, a pretty riverside path.

Magdalen College seen from Addison's Walk

Notable Facts:

  • Every May 1st (May Day) at 6am, the college choir sings from the top of Magdalen's bell tower. This tradition - to celebrate the coming of summer - began in the late 15th century. Nowadays, students and townspeople use it as an excuse to drink all night the night before and hurl themselves (sometimes naked) from Magdalen Bridge into the Cherwell river, which is only about 3 feet deep at best, causing all sorts of serious injuries.

Famous Attendees:
Oscar Wilde - author
Sir John Betjeman - poet laureate
Dudley Moore - actor
CS Lewis - author
J. Paul Getty - American Industrialist

Merton College
Merton Street 276310
Open: Mon - Fri 2pm - 4pm, Sat - Sun 10am - 4pm. Admission Free.
Official Website

One of the original three colleges of Oxford, Merton College founded in 1264. On the far right of the college lies Mob Quad, the oldest college quad, dating back to the 14th century. At the back of the college stands part of the old city wall. The Old Library, which is off Mob Quad, is the oldest medieval library in use - some books are still chained up (an ancient method of preventing theft).

If visiting Oxford in the summer, be sure to check out a Shakespeare play in the gardens, or attend a candlelit concert in the evenings.

Merton Front Quad

Notable Facts:

  • Don't wear high heels or spiked running shoes if planning to tour the library. In order to preserve the ancient floor, anyone with unsuitable footwear will be forced to remove them and wear slippers!

Famous Attendees:
JRR Tolkien - author
TS Eliot - author
Kris Kristofferson - actor and musician

New College
Holywell Street & New College Lane 279555
Easter to early October 11am - 5pm Admission £2. Access via New College Lane gate.
Winter months 2pm - 4pm. Admission Free. Access via Holywell gate.
Official Website

One of the more unusual colleges of Oxford, it was built around a section of the old city walls, giving the college a castle-like appearance. At the far end of the grounds is a large mound that was once the burial ground during the time of the Black Death. While here, visit the chapel, which has 14th century stained glass, and Sir Jacob Epstein's disturbing statue of Lazarus.

New College Gardens

Notable Facts:

  • If you stand in front of the mound and clap your hands, it squeals.

Famous Attendees:
Virginia Woolf - author
John Fowles - author
Dennis Potter - TV writer
Hugh Grant - actor
Reverend Spooner (a warden of the college) - inventor of Spoonerisms

Oriel College
Oriel Square 276555
Open: 2pm - 5pm every day. Admission Free.
Official Website

Founded n 1326 by Adam de Brome, Rector of St. Mary's, the college's full name is actually "The House of Blessed Mary the Virgin in Oxford commonly called Oriel College, of the Foundation of Edward the Second of famous memory, sometime King of England ". Oriel has always been known for its high intellectual standards.

Oriel College Front Quad

Notable Facts:

  • Oriel College was the last college of Oxford to admit female undergraduates.

Famous Attendees:
Sir Walter Raleigh - explorer
Matthew Arnold - poet, critic

St. John's College
St. Giles 277300
Open: 1pm - dusk every day. Admission Free - Quad and gardens only.
Official Website

Dating back to 1437, the College's famous Canterbury Quad is a splendid example of Baroque architecture. Stick to the quad and the gorgeous gardens, which stretch all the way to Parks Road, and avoid looking at the disappointing modern buildings to the left of the entrance which serve as accommodations for the students.

St. John's Quad

Famous Attendees:
Tony Blair - British Prime Minister
Philip Larkin - poet
Robert Graves - novelist and poet
Kingsley Amis - novelist and poet