the Virtual Tour of Brasenose College

Beyond the Chapel we reach the New Quad (1886-1911). Extension of the College had been intermittently considered for nearly two centuries, and grandiose plans for a complete rebuilding by Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir John Soane survive. In the event action was delayed until the educational boom and material prosperity of the high Victorian era combined to give it impetus, and the scheme for a new quad covering almost the whole S. area of the Brasenose site was entrustedto T. G. (later Sir Thomas) Jackson.

The result must rank, along with the Examination Schools and the front range of Hertford College, as Jackson's best work in Oxford. Recent cleaning of the building has displayed to better effect the variety and finesse of his design, besides its aura of Victorian high-mindedness. Note especially the deliberate asymmetry of the features, following the fashion of the time, and the angled gate-turret, a sample of the architect's Romantic manner. Best of all is the outside frontage to the High Street with its elaborate foliated decoration. Much of the carving exhibits the influence of a late phase in the Gothic Revival known as the Arts and Crafts Movement.

The new buildings replaced a variety of others which had stood on the site. Two were former halls whose names can still be seen as designations of staircases: Broadgates and Amsterdam, the latter more celebrated as a one-time asylum for petty criminals. Through the archway and passage in the S.E. wing lie two further stairs with distinctive names: Stamford House and St. Mary's. Stamford House used to be a private residence opening onto the street outside; St. Mary's, though substantially modem, incorporates some features inherited from older houses which once fronted the ancient passageway beside the University Church.

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University of Oxford

 

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