Plan of Main Gateway
(5) The Botanic Garden occupies a site on the
S. side of High Street opposite Magdalen College.
The Garden was founded by Henry Danvers, Earl of
Danby, in 1621. The gateway and enclosing wall were
not finished until 1632–3; the gateways were designed
by Nicholas Stone.
The garden forms a rectangular enclosure of about
340 ft. by 380 ft. with an ashlar-faced wall finished with
a moulded coping. The Main Gateway (Plate 62) is on the
N. side and is a stone structure of three bays finished
with a pediment. On the N. face the middle bay has
a round-headed rusticated arch, with the arms of Danvers
quartering Neville on the keystone; the side bays are
flanked by rusticated Doric columns standing on a
high plinth and supporting a continuous entablature
with small pediments over the side bays enclosed in
the main pediment; in the tympana are shields-of-arms
of the University and St. George. The side-bays
have each a round-headed niche containing later
statues of Charles I and Charles II. The main pediment
has a central round-headed niche containing a bust of
Lord Danby and flanked by cartouches of the Royal
Stuart arms and swags. On the cornice is the inscription "Gloriae Dei opt. max. Honori Caroli Regis. In
usum Acad. et Reipub." and on the frieze is the inscription "Henricus Comes Danby D.D. 1632." The S.
face has a round-headed arch in the middle bay but
the head only is rusticated. The side-bays have each
two tiers of two round-headed niches with imposts
and the lower niches with key-blocks. The front is
finished with a continuous cornice and there is a central
panel, inscribed "Gloriae Dei Opt. Max.," with a
segmental pediment under the main pediment; restored
panels on the side bays bear the first inscription cited
above and in the spandrels between the heads of the
lower niches are incised sun-dials. At the ends the
N. halves have a repeat of the side bays of the N. front;
the S. halves repeat half of the side bays of the S.
front. The gateway has a semi-circular barrel-vault of
stone springing from plain bands over the side-bays;
the side-bays have each four round-headed niches and
a round-headed recess in the middle of the end-walls.
Flanking this gateway are later 17th-century doorways
in the enclosure-wall; they are rusticated and have
moulded architraves and entablatures. The outer arch
is fitted with iron gates, of late mediæval type and
presumably brought from elsewhere.
The E. Gateway is also a stone structure of three
bays finished with a pediment. The middle bay on
both faces has a segmental-headed and rusticated arch
carried above the main cornice and finished with a
segmental pediment forming the middle part of the
main pediment. The side bays have each a large round-headed niche with imposts. On the cornice of the
middle bay on the W. is the second inscription cited
above. On the main pediment to the W. is a carved
cartouche with a coronet and putti. The W. Gateway
is similar to that just described but has no cartouche.
It is fitted with panelled doors in two leaves; each
leaf has two circular pierced panels. In the S. wall is
a central opening flanked by tall panelled piers surmounted by carved vases, all of c. 1700.