Radcliffe Camera & the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin


The Radcliffe Camera, a large circular building with a lofty dome, was built by James Gibbs between 1737 and 1749 with money bequeathed by John Radcliffe (1650-1714), the famous physician, and was designed to house a library endowed by Radcliffe. In 1860 the Trustees of Dr Radcliffe's will transferred all works on natural sciences to premises in the University Museum, where they formed the nucleus of what is now the Radcliffe Science Library, in South Parks Road.

The Camera itself was first lent to the Bodleian Curators and later, in 1927, the Trustees presented the freehold to the University. The exterior stonework has been cleaned and partly refaced at the expense of the Historic Buildings Appeal.

The Camera now contains two reading rooms, mainly used by undergraduates. Beneath the lawn to the north is an underground book-store, built in 1912, connected with the Camera, and, by a subway, with the Old Library.

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin was the original centre of the university ceremony, libraries and administration. The 62m tower dates from the 13th century. The rest of the church was rebuilt in Perpendicular style in the early 16th century.

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