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Colleges and halls of the University of Oxford

Christ Church

Tom Tower
College name Christ Church
Latin name Ædes Christi
Named after Jesus Christ
Established 1546
Sister college Trinity College, Cambridge
Dean The Very Reverend Christopher Andrew Lewis
JCR president Evelyn Ashton-Griffiths
Undergraduates 426
GCR president Drew Foxall
Graduates 154

Christ Church, Oxford is located in Oxford (central)

Location of Christ Church within central OxfordCoordinates: 51°45′01″N 1°15′21″W / 51.750199°N 1.255853°W / 51.750199; -1.255853
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Boat Club
Christ Church Oxford arms.gif

Christ Church (Latin: Ædes Christi, the temple or house of Christ, and thus sometimes known as The House), is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As well as being a college, Christ Church is also the cathedral church of the diocese of Oxford, namely Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. The cathedral has a famous men and boys' choir, and is one of the main choral foundations in Oxford. It was founded as the Priory of St Frideswide, Oxford, which was a house of the Augustinian canons that was later suppressed as a monastic church under Henry VIII's dissolution of monasteries. It should never be referred to as "Christ Church college."

Christ Church has produced thirteen British prime ministers (the two most recent being Anthony Eden from 1955-1957 and Sir Alec Douglas-Home from 1963–1964), which is more than all other Oxford colleges put together and more than any Cambridge college (and two short of the total number for the University of Cambridge, fifteen).

The college is the setting for parts of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, as well as Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. More recently it has been used in the filming of the movies of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and also the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's novel Northern Lights (the film bearing the title of the US edition of the book, The Golden Compass). Distinctive features of the college's architecture have been used as models by a number of other academic institutions, including the National University of Ireland, Galway, which reproduces Tom Quad. The University of Chicago and Cornell University both have reproductions of Christ Church's dining hall (in the forms of Hutchinson Hall and Risley's dining hall respectively). Christ Church Cathedral, New Zealand, after which the City of Christchurch is named, is itself named after Christ Church, Oxford. Stained glass windows in the cathedral and other buildings are by the Pre-Raphaelite William Morris group with designs by Edward Burne-Jones[1][2]

Christ Church is also partly responsible for creation of University College Reading, which later gained its own Royal Charter and became the University of Reading.

The college has admitted female students since 1978.[3]

Contents

Organisation

Christ Church Cathedral spire and associated buildings

Christ Church, formally titled "The Dean, Chapter and Students of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry the Eighth", is the only college in the world which is also a cathedral, the seat (cathedra) of the Bishop of Oxford. The Visitor of Christ Church is the reigning British sovereign, and the Bishop of Oxford is unique among English bishops in not being the Visitor of his own cathedral.

The head of the college is the Dean of Christ Church, who is a clergyman appointed by the crown as dean of the cathedral church. There is a senior and a junior censor (formally titled the Censor Moralis Philosphiæ and the Censor Naturalis Philosophiæ) the former of whom is responsible for academic matters, the latter for undergraduate discipline. A Censor Theologiæ is also appointed to act as the Dean's deputy.

The form "Christ Church College" is considered incorrect, in part because it ignores the cathedral, although it has historically been deemed acceptable.

Governing body

The governing body of Christ Church consists of the dean and chapter of the cathedral, together with the "Students of Christ Church", who are not students, but rather the equivalent of the fellows of the other colleges. Until the 19th century, the students differed from fellows by the fact that they had no governing powers in their own college.

History

The Hall of Christ Church
The Hall of Christ Church

In 1525, at the height of his power, Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of York, suppressed the Abbey of St Frideswide in Oxford and founded Cardinal College on its lands, using funds from the dissolution of Wallingford Priory and other minor priories. He planned the establishment on a magnificent scale, but fell from grace in 1529, before the college was completed.

In 1531 the college was itself suppressed, and refounded in 1532 as King Henry VIII's College by Henry VIII, to whom Wolsey's property had escheated. Then in 1546 the King, who had broken from the Church of Rome and acquired great wealth through the dissolution of the monasteries in England, refounded the college as Christ Church as part of the re-organisation of the Church of England and made it the cathedral of the recently created diocese of Oxford.

Christ Church's sister college in the University of Cambridge is Trinity College, Cambridge, founded the same year by Henry VIII. Since the time of Queen Elizabeth I the college has also been associated with Westminster School, which continues to supply a significant number of undergraduates to the college. The Dean remains to this day an ex officio member of the school's governing body.[4]

Major additions have been made to the buildings through the centuries, and Wolsey's Great Quadrangle was crowned with the famous gate-tower designed by Sir Christopher Wren. To this day the bell in the tower, Great Tom, is rung 101 times at 9 p.m. Oxford time (9:05 p.m. GMT/BST) every night for the 100 original scholars of the college (plus one added in 1664). In former times this signalled the close of all college gates throughout Oxford. Although the clock itself now shows GMT/BST, Christ Church still follows Oxford time in the timings of services in the cathedral.

King Charles I made the Deanery his palace and held his Parliament in the Great Hall during the English Civil War. In the evening of May 29, 1645, during the second siege of Oxford, a "bullet of IX lb. weight" shot from the Parliamentarians warning-piece at Marston fell against the wall of the north side of the Hall.[5]

Student life

As well as rooms for accommodation, the buildings of Christ Church include the cathedral, one of the smallest in England, which also acts as the college chapel, a great hall, two libraries, two bars, and common rooms for dons, graduates and undergraduates. There are also gardens and a neighbouring sportsground and boat-house.

Accommodation is usually provided for all undergraduates, and for some graduates, although some accommodation is off-site. Accommodation is generally spacious with most rooms equipped with sinks and fridges. Many undergraduate rooms comprise 'sets' of bedrooms and living areas. Members are generally expected to dine in hall, where there are two sittings every evening, one informal and one formal (where jackets, ties and gowns are worn and Latin grace is read). The buttery next to the Hall serves drinks around dinner time. There is also a college bar (known as the Undercroft), as well as a Junior Common Room (JCR) and a Graduate Common Room (GCR).

Christ Church's library in the early 19th century.

There is a college lending library which supplements the university libraries (many of which are non-lending). Law students have the additional facility of the college law library, which has received large financial supplements from Christ Church law graduates. Most undergraduate tutorials are carried out in the college, though for some specialist subjects undergraduates may be sent to tutors in other colleges.

Croquet is played in the Masters' Garden in the summer. The sports ground is mainly used for cricket, tennis, rugby and soccer. Rowing and punting is carried out by the boat-house across Christ Church Meadow. The college owns its own punts which may be borrowed by students or dons.

The college beagle pack (Christ Church and Farley Hill Beagles), which was formerly one of several undergraduate packs in Oxford, is no longer formally connected with the college or the university, but continues to be staffed and followed by undergraduates from across Oxford.

Buildings

Christ Church has a number of architecturally significant buildings. These include:

Cathedral Choir

Nave of the Christ Church Cathedral

The Choir, which is unique in the world as both a Cathedral and College Choir, comprises twelve men and sixteen boys together with two organists. Six of the men are professionals (the lay clerks), and six are undergraduates (the academical clerks). The boys, whose ages range from eight to thirteen, are chosen for their musical ability and attend Christ Church Cathedral School.

Throughout its history, the Choir has attracted many distinguished composers and organists - from its first director, John Taverner, appointed by Cardinal Wolsey in 1526, to William Walton. The present director of music (known as the Organist), is Stephen Darlington. In recent years, the Choir has commissioned recorded works by contemporary composers such as John Tavener, William Mathias and Howard Goodall.

The Choir, which broadcasts regularly, has many award-winning recordings to its credit and was recently the subject of a Channel 4 television documentary, Howard Goodall's Great Dates. The film was nominated at the prestigious Montreux TV Festival in the Arts Programme category - and has since been seen throughout the world. The Choir's collaboration with Goodall has also led to their singing his TV themes for Mr Bean and The Vicar of Dibley. They appeared in Howard Goodall's Big Bangs, broadcast in the United Kingdom on Channel 4 in March 2000.

Coat of arms

College arms

The college arms, adopted (as with those of most Oxford colleges) apparently without authority, are those of Cardinal Wolsey, and are blazoned: Sable, on a cross engrailed argent, between four leopards' faces azure a lion passant gules; on a chief or between two Cornish choughs proper a rose gules barbed vert and seeded or. The arms are depicted beneath a red cardinal's hat with fifteen tassels on either side, and sometimes in front of two crossed croziers.

Christ Church Cathedral arms.

Cathedral arms

There are also arms in use by the cathedral, which were confirmed in a visitation of 1574. They are emblazoned: Between quarterly, 1st & 4th, France modern (azure three fleurs-de-lys or), 2nd & 3rd, England (gules in pale three lions passant guardant or), on a cross argent an open Bible proper edged and bound with seven clasps or, inscribed with the words "In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum" and imperially crowned or.

Graces

Christ Church from across Christ Church Meadow


The college preprandial grace reads:

Nōs miserī hominēs et egēnī, prō cibīs quōs nōbis ad corporis subsidium benignē es largītus, tibi, Deus omnipotēns, Pater cælestis, grātiās reverenter agimus; simul obsecrantēs, ut iīs sobriē, modestē atque grātē ūtāmur.
Īnsuper petimus, ut cibum angelōrum, vērum panem cælestem, verbum Deī æternum, Dominum nostrum Iēsum Christum, nōbis impertiāris; utque illō mēns nostra pascātur et per carnem et sanguinem eius fovēāmur, alāmur, et corrōborēmur. Āmen.[6]

A translation reads:

"We unhappy and unworthy men do give thee most reverent thanks, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for the victuals which thou hast bestowed on us for the sustenance of the body, at the same time beseeching thee that we may use them soberly, modestly and gratefully.
And above all we beseech thee to impart to us the food of angels, the true bread of heaven, the eternal Word of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, so that the mind of each of us may feed on him and that through his flesh and blood we may be sustained, nourished and strengthened. Amen."

The first part of the grace is read by a scholar or exhibitioner of the House before formal Hall each evening, ending with the words Per Iēsum Christum Dominum nostrum ("Through Jesus Christ our Lord"). The remainder of the grace, replacing Per Iēsum Christum, etc., is usually only read on special occasions:

There is also a long postprandial grace intended for use after meals, but this is rarely used. When High Table rises (by which time the Hall is largely empty), the senior member on High Table simply says Benedictō benedīcātur ("Let the Blessed One be blessed", or "Let a blessing be given by the Blessed One"), instead of the college postprandial grace:

(The Bible clerk reads from the Greek Testament.)
Omnipotens et misericors Deus, qui donis Tuis nos exsatiasti, effice ut quicquid per nos fieri aut prætermitti velis, diligenter observemus, mandata Tua universa prompto atque fideli obsequio obeuntes, per Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Versicle: Domine, salvam fac Reginam.
Response: Et exaudi nos, quando invocamus Te.
Deus in cuius manu sunt corda regum; qui es humilium consolator, fidelium fortitudo, protector omnium in Te sperantium, da Reginæ nostræ Elizabethæ populoque Christiano ut Te Regem regum, et dominantium Dominum, agnoscant semper et venerentur, et post hanc vitam regni Tui æterni fiant participes ; per Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Deus, a quo derivatur omnis munificentia et bonitas, debitas Tibi gratias agimus, quod felicis memoriæ Regem Henricum eius nominis octavum, ad Ecclesiam hanc fundandam animaveris; et rogamus pro sancta Tua misericordia, ut cum nos hoc tanto beneficio adiuti, ad laudem Tui nominis profecerimus, una cum omnibus qui iam in Domino dormierunt, beatam resurrectionem, et æternæ felicitatis præmia consequamur, per Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Christ Church references

"Midnight has come and the great Christ Church bell
And many a lesser bell sound through the room;
And it is All Souls' Night..." — W B Yeats, All Souls' Night, Oxford (1920)

"The wind had dropped. There was even a glimpse of the moon riding behind the clouds. And now, a solemn and plangent token of Oxford's perpetuity, the first stroke of Great Tom sounded." — Max Beerbohm, Chapter 21, Zuleika Dobson (1922)

"I must say my thoughts wandered, but I kept turning the pages and watching the light fade, which in Peckwater, my dear, is quite an experience – as darkness falls the stone seems positively to decay under one's eyes. I was reminded of some of those leprous facades in the vieux port at Marseille, until suddenly I was disturbed by such a bawling and caterwauling as you never heard, and there, down in the little piazza, I saw a mob of about twenty terrible young men, and do you know what they were chanting We want Blanche. We want Blanche! in a kind of litany." — Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (1945)

"Those twins / Of learning that he [Wolsey] raised in you,
Ipswich and Oxford! one of which fell with him,
Unwilling to outlive the good that did it;
The other, though unfinish'd, yet so famous,
So excellent in art, and still so rising,
That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue." — William Shakespeare, Henry VIII

"By way of light entertainment, I should tell the Committee that it is well known that a match between an archer and a golfer can be fairly close. I spent many a happy evening in the centre of Peckwater Quadrangle at Christ Church, with a bow and arrow, trying to put an arrow over the Kilcannon building into the Mercury Pond in Tom Quad. On occasion, the golfer would win and, on occasion, I would win. Unfortunately, that had to stop when I put an arrow through the bowler hat of the head porter. Luckily, he was unhurt and bore me no ill will. From that time on he always sent me a Christmas card which was signed 'To Robin Hood from the Ancient Briton'" — Lord Crawshaw, House of Lords Hansard, Tuesday 8 Jul 1997

Deans of Christ Church

Cardinal College

King Henry VIII's College

Christ Church

Notable members

British prime ministers


Listed alphabetically by surname (or peerage if best known by that).

Arts and media
Politics and government
Philosophy
Theology
Viceroys and Governors General
Academia
Science
Other

See also Category: Alumni of Christ Church, Oxford and Students (i.e. Fellows) of Christ Church, Oxford

References

  1. ^ Edward Burne-Jones Southgate Green Association "His work included both stained-glass windows for Christ Church in Oxford and the stained glass windows for Christ Church on Southgate Green."
  2. ^ PreRaphaelite Painting and Design University of Texas
  3. ^ Christ Church, Oxford. [http://www.chchgcr.com/gcrhistory/
  4. ^ http://intranet.westminster.org.uk/lists/whoswho/governors.asp
  5. ^ Varley, Frederick John (1932). The Siege of Oxford: An Account of Oxford during the Civil War, 1642-1646. Oxford University Press. pp. 128. 
  6. ^ Adams, Reginald (1992). The college graces of Oxford and Cambridge. Perpetua Press. pp. 62–64. ISBN 1-870882-06-7. 
  7. ^ http://www.oxfordchabad.org/templates/articlecco_cdo/AID/457396

External links

Main Website

History of the cathedral

Cathedral website

Other sites

Virtual Tours








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