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Colleges and halls of the University of Oxford

Keble College

Keble College Chapel - Oct 2006.jpg
College name Keble College
Latin name Collegium Keblense
Named after John Keble
Established 1870
Sister college Selwyn College, Cambridge
Warden Professor Dame Averil Cameron DBE FBA
JCR president Ben Case
Undergraduates 435
MCR president Ricklef Wohlers
Graduates 245

Keble College, Oxford is located in Oxford (central)

Location of Keble College within central OxfordCoordinates: 51°45′32″N 1°15′28″W / 51.758899°N 1.257715°W / 51.758899; -1.257715

Keble College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its main buildings are on Parks Road, opposite the University Museum and the University Parks. The college is bordered to the north by Keble Road, to the south by Museum Road, and to the west by Blackhall Road.

Keble was established in 1870, having been built as a monument to John Keble. John Keble had been a leading member of the Oxford Movement, which sought to stress the Catholic nature of the Church of England. Consequently, the College traditionally placed a considerable emphasis on theological teaching, although this has long since ceased to be the case. In the period after the second World War the trends were towards scientific courses (the major area devoted to science east of the University Museum influenced this) and eventually co-education for men and women from 1979 onwards. As originally constituted it was for men only and the fellows were mostly bachelors resident in the college.

It remains distinctive for its once-controversial[1] neo-gothic red-brick buildings designed by William Butterfield. The buildings are also notable for breaking from Oxford tradition by arranging rooms along corridors rather than around staircases.

Keble is one of the larger colleges, with 435 undergraduates and 245 graduate students.



The best-known of Keble's Victorian founders was Edward Pusey, after whom parts of the College are named. The College itself is named after John Keble, one of Pusey's colleagues in the Oxford Movement, who died four years before its foundation in 1870. It was decided immediately after Keble's funeral that his memorial would be a new Oxford college bearing his name. Two years later, in 1868, the foundation stone was laid by the Archbishop of Canterbury on St Mark's Day (April 25, John Keble's birthday). The college first opened in 1870, taking in thirty students, whilst the Chapel was opened on St Mark's Day 1876. Accordingly, the College continues to celebrate St Mark's Day each year.

William Butterfield, the original architect, a High Churchman himself, produced a vigourous masterpiece of Victorian Gothic, among his few secular buildings, which Sir Nikolaus Pevsner characterized as "manly",[2] and which, Charles Eastlake asserted, defied criticism,[3] but which only slowly gained adherents during the later 20th century. The College is built of red, blue, and white bricks; the main structure is of red brick, with white and blue patterned banding. Sir Kenneth Clark recalled that during his Oxford years it was then generally believed in Oxford not only that Keble College was "the ugliest building in the world" but that the buildings had their polychromatic origins in Ruskinian Gothic.[4]

Senior Common Room

On its construction, Keble was not widely admired within the University, particularly by the undergraduate population of nearby St John's College (from which Keble had purchased their land). A secret society was founded,[5] entrance to which depended upon removing one brick from the College and presenting it to the society's elders. Some accounts specify that one of the commonest red bricks was necessary for ordinary membership, a rarer white brick for higher-level membership, and one of the rarest blue bricks for chairmanship. The hope was that eventually Keble would be completely demolished. As a result, there remains a healthy rivalry between St John's and Keble to this day.

An apocryphal story claims that a French visitor, on first sight of the college exclaimed C'est magnifique mais ce n'est pas la gare? ("It is magnificent but is it not the railway station?"). This is a play on Field Marshal Pierre Bosquet's memorable line, referring to the Charge of the Light Brigade, C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre ("It is magnificent, but it is not war").

Keble were champions of the television quiz show University Challenge in 1975 and 1987.

In 2005, Keble College featured in the national UK press[6] when its bursar, Roger Boden, was found guilty of racial discrimination by an employment tribunal.[7] An appeal was launched by the College and Mr Boden against the tribunal's judgement, resulting in a financial out-of-court settlement with the aggrieved employee.

Keble is mentioned in John Betjeman's poem "Myfanwy at Oxford", as well as in the writings of John Ruskin and in Monty Python's "Travel Agent" sketch.

Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States of America (1981-89) was an Honorary Fellow of the College.

College life

The College publishes a termly magazine called The Brick which is sent to Keble alumni to update them on College life. Students publish an irreverent spoof version on the last Friday of each term, also named The Brick, recording college gossip.

Keble students enjoy a vibrant social life[8] , with a wide range of student run societies.[9] Keble fields a number of sports teams and has flourishing choral and dramatic societies. Keble's rowing and rugby teams have been successful, winning the 2007 and 2009 rugby Cuppers and being awarded the highest ranked blades in the 2007 Summer Eights regatta. The Keble Women's football team also won Cuppers in 2007, and continue to dominate the college league competition. Furthermore, Keble has a large Dancesport contingent, winning the cuppers competition in 2007 and 2008.

College buildings

The best-known of Keble's buildings is the distinctive main brick complex, designed by Butterfield. The design remained incomplete due to shortage of funds: the Chapel and Hall were built later than the accommodation blocks to the east and west of the two original quadrangles and the warden's house at the south-east corner. (The Hall and Chapel were funded by a large donation from William Gibbs of Tyntesfield.)

A section west of the Chapel was built in a different style in the 1950s with funds from Antonin Besse. Later still other significant additions have been added, most notably the modern, brick Hayward and de Breyne extensions by Ahrends, Burton and Koralek. The de Breyne extension was made possible by a generous response from the businessman André de Breyne and other fund-raising efforts. The ABK buildings included the college's memorable, futuristic bar, opened on 3 May 1977 and recently refurbished and expanded. In 1995, work was completed on the ARCO building by the renowned US-born architect Rick Mather. This was followed in 2002 by another similarly styled building also designed by Mather, the Sloane-Robinson building.

The College contains four quads: Liddon (the largest), Pusey, Hayward and Newman. All the gardens have recently undergone a landscaping project finished in 2006/07. The original fellows garden was lost in the programme of extension, as were a range of houses on Blackhall Road.

In July 2004 the College announced the purchase of the former Acland Hospital for £10.75 million. This 1.7-acre (6,900 m2) site, situated a couple of minutes walk from the main college buildings, currently houses an estimated 100 graduate students but will in time be redeveloped to provide double the number of rooms. The College previously owned a number of houses scattered across Oxford, but these were sold following the purchase of the Acland site.

The Light of the World

Keble owns the original of William Holman Hunt's famous painting The Light of the World, which is hung in the side chapel (accessed through the chapel). The picture was completed in 1853 after eight years of work, and originally hung in the Royal Academy. It was then given as a gift to the college. Hunt originally wanted the painting to be hung in the main chapel but the architect rejected this idea, as a result he painted another version of the painting which is in St Paul's Cathedral, London. This copy was painted by Hunt when he was nearly 70.

List of Wardens

The current Warden of Keble College, Professor Dame Averil Cameron was appointed Warden in 1994 and was the first woman to hold this role (the College first admitted female undergraduates in 1979). Dame Averil will retire from her post at the end of the 2009/10 College Year, when Sir Jonathan Phillips will assume the role in Michaelmas 2010.[10]

Notable members of Keble

Arts and media
In fiction
  • Horace Rumpole - the famous fictional barrister gained a third in law at Keble in the 1950s

See also


  1. ^ In 1875, a writer in The Guardian dismissed Butterfield's Chapel as "fantastically picked out with zig-zag or checkerboard ornamentation", to which Butterfield responded stoutly in print, citing his East Anglian and Cotswold precedents: Paul Thompson, William Butterfield, 1971, noted in a review by J. Mordaunt Crook in The English Historical Review 1974.
  2. ^ J. Sherwood and N. Pevsner, Oxfordshire (Buildings of England) 1974.
  3. ^ Eastlake, A History of the Gothic Revival "Chapel of Baliol College, Oxford", p 261f.
  4. ^ Rosemary Hill, God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (Yale University Press) 2009:3.
  5. ^ "Jack Nory - Columns" (Official Student Newspaper). The Oxford Student. 
  6. ^ "Oxford college guilty of race discrimination".,,1455086,00.html. 
  7. ^ "Employment Tribunal (Reading) case no. 2701126/04". 
  8. ^ "Vibrant social life". 
  9. ^ "Student run societies". 
  10. ^ "Sir Jonathan Phillips elected new Warden of Keble". 

External links



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