New College

Holywell Street & New College Lane 279555
Open: March to early October - Open 11am until 5pm (last admission: 4.45pm). £3 entry fee; £2 concessions. Access via New College Lane. Admission includes free map and guide. Winter - 2pm until 4pm. No entry fee. Access via Holywell Street. Concessions - Students and senior citizens are given a concessionary rate upon production of a valid card; Bodleian Card holders and Oxford Alumni are permitted free entry, along with one guest; New College Alumni are permitted free entry, along with their family; Residents of Oxford are permitted free entry upon proof of address

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.

Notable Facts:

  • Part of the college was built on an old plague burial ground

  • The name of the College sometimes strikes visitors as odd in an institution more than 620 years old; its origin is that the College's "official" name - the College of St Mary - is the same as that of Oriel College. Hence "the new college of St Mary".

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

New College


A Spoonerism is a play on words in which corresponding consonants or vowels are switched, named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), Warden of New College, Oxford, who was notoriously prone to this tendency. Some of his famous (and possibly apocryphal) quotes from the chapel include "The Lord is a shoving leopard," "It is kisstomary to cuss the bride," and "Mardon me padam, this pie is occupewed. Can I sew you to another sheet?." (Pardon me, madam, this pew is occupied. Can I show you to another seat?) The spoonerism is a now legendary 'slip of the tongue.'

Other gaffes worth mentioning are his angry speech to a student, "You have hissed all my mystery lectures, and were caught fighting a liar in the quad. Having tasted two worms, you will leave by the next town drain," actually intending to say missed history, lighting fire, wasted terms, and down train, respectively. A few more which you can probably work out for yourself include "We must drink a toast to the queer old Dean", "We'll have the hags flung out", "a half-warmed fish" and "Is the bean dizzy?"