Wadham College


Victoria County History



H. E. Salter and Mary D. Lobel (editors)

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'Wadham College', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3: The University of Oxford (1954), pp. 279-287. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63888 Date accessed: 20 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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Circumstances Of The Foundation

Nicholas Wadham, the founder of this college, was born in 1532 of a good Somerset family of Merifield, near Ilminster, and was educated at Oxford, at either Corpus Christi or Christ Church. (fn. 1) In 1555 he married Dorothy, daughter of Sir William Petre of Writtle, Essex, and in 1578 succeeded his father. He was childless, but his means were large, allegedly amounting to about £3,000 a year, with about £14,000 put by during his lifetime. (fn. 2) Apparently he was on bad terms with his relatives, (fn. 3) and decided to devote his money to founding an educational establishment. Wood's story (fn. 4) that his first idea was to found a college for English Roman Catholics at Venice is almost certainly false. There is no other evidence for this, and his final intention was to found a college at Oxford for members of the Established Church, though he died, 20 Oct. 1609, before his scheme materialized. There is among the college archives a copy of an account of an interview between Nicholas and a few close friends and relatives wherein, four days before his death, he set out his intentions for his college. (fn. 5) Many were embodied in the statutes, but it is interesting to know that application was first to be made to St. John's College for the site of Gloucester Hall, and failing that to Jesus College. The former offer failed, as Dorothy was not willing to appoint Dr. Hawley of Gloucester Hall as the first Warden, as he stipulated; it is not known what approach, if any, was made to Jesus College. (fn. 6) On Nicholas's death a trust was created to execute the scheme, and the site of the former Augustinian friary was bought from the city for £600 on 6 March 1609–10, the city securing the right of nominating a fellow and two scholars on the original foundation. The king (fn. 7) himself had written to the town to support the application of Mrs. Wadham.


This consisted of a rough rectangle of about 5½ acres, bounded south by Holywell St. as far as the present no. 33, and west by Parks Road to just short of Wadham Cottages. The southernmost 1½ acres was already let off to a number of tenants and contained at least 18 houses. These were not disturbed, and this part of the site has until recently been let in small lots. The college has now extended its bounds to include four of the Holywell St. houses (nos. 35–9). On 2 acres in the middle the buildings were erected; the northern 2 acres were also let off, but were resumed by the college in 1645 and 1650. The site was extended to the line of the present South Parks Road by the lease (1795) and purchase (1836) of some 3¾ acres from Merton College; about half of this was again sold in 1925 to the Rhodes Trustees. (fn. 8) Almost at once building operations began, and on 20 Apr. 1613 the first members of the new society were admitted to the University.


The precise amount at the foundation is uncertain. The founder seems to imply in the interview of 16 Oct. 1609 that £400 a year derived from land in Essex, with £6,500 to be similarly invested, was to provide endowment, the £600 spent on the site and £11,360 on the buildings being paid by Dorothy out of the life interest she had in her husband's ample estate. She was also generous enough to give the college about £200 of her personal income in 1614 and another £100 in 1615, (fn. 9) the college being in difficulties over a drop of some 30 per cent, in its rentals. (fn. 10) It has always been poor, being rated at £100 in 1682, with Balliol, Jesus, Pembroke, and University, as compared with Christ Church at £2,000, (fn. 11) nor was it able to pay the full stipends as laid down in the statutes until 1733. The first large benefaction came in 1654, John Goodridge, one of the original fellows, bequeathing his land at Walthamstow, (fn. 12) the proceeds to found seven £9 exhibitions. By Humphrey Hody's benefaction of 1736 ten exhibitions of £10, later £15, were founded for the study of Hebrew and Greek. In 1746 £1,500 of Lord Wyndham's benefaction was used to raise the Warden's stipend, and £500 to improve the fabric. Samuel Lisle, Warden (as executor to Mr. Somerscales), founded a £12 exhibition in 1747, and Richard Warner one of £10 in botany in 1775; there were also the Maddox (1716), Pigott (1740), and Gerard (1790) exhibitions. All these, except the Hody, are now amalgamated into one common fund. John Wills, Warden, bequeathed money to raise the Warden's stipend, improve the lodgings, found two £100 exhibitions for fellows and two of £20 for scholars, a divinity lectureship, annuities for retired fellows, and a livings purchase fund (1806). In 1874 three exhibitions were founded by Philip Wright, and in 1877 one by Benjamin Symons, Warden. Other benefactions and endowments for scholarships and exhibitions are Woodward (1899), Heap (1901), Cowell (1920), Pope (1926), Ready (1926), Macleod (1927), Michell (1927), Wells (1930), Bayliss (1930), Pollard (1934), Methuen (1935), Barnett (1936), Theobald (1939), Litton Forbes (1941), Bowman (1945). The Webster Fund (1946) is used for the endowment of a Fellowship in a Classical subject.


The following are in the gift of the college: Fryerning, Hockley, and Little Bromley (Essex), Bourton-on-the-Water with Clapton and Lower Slaughter, and Eastleach with Southrop (fn. 13) (Gloucestershire), Ingoldmells cum Addlethorpe (Lines.), (fn. 14) Fritwell (Oxon.), Limington (Somerset), Earl Soham (Suffolk), Esher (Surrey), and Milton Lilbourne with Easton Royal (fn. 15) (Wiltshire). Formerly also Maperton (Somerset) and Wadhurst (Sussex).


It was the founder's intention that the college should be known by his own name; the royal licence is for a foundation of Warden, 16 fellows, and 30 scholars, more or less, but the statutes actually issued provided for a Warden, 15 fellows, 15 scholars, 2 chaplains, 2 Bible clerks, (fn. 16) and servants. The constitution under the statutes of 3 May 1882 was of a Warden, not less than 8 nor more than 10 fellowships, 1 being held by the Professor of Experimental Philosophy and 1 being for the study of Law, Natural History, or Medicine on the Wills foundation, and 18 scholarships, 5 being on the Hody foundation, 2 for Hebrew, and 3 for Greek. The new statutes of 30 April 1926 do not restrict the number of fellowships, of which one at least must be a professorial fellowship, and one for the study of Law, Natural History, or Medicine on the Wills foundation. There are to be not more than 24 scholarships, besides those provided by Trust Funds.


The first statutes consist of thirty-one chapters. (fn. 17) The Warden is to be unmarried (fn. 18) and to be or become a D.D. (fn. 19) He is to be an autocrat, during a vacancy the college being velut apurn examen sine rectore. The fellows are to be chosen from among the scholars. (fn. 20) They need not be in orders, and are to hold their fellowships for not more than eighteen years post completam magistratus sui regentiam. Not more than two of them are allowed to travel abroad for four years, receiving half their stipends during the period. (fn. 21) The scholars (fn. 22) are to be between fourteen and nineteen years old and able to compose a letter in Latin and fairly good verses. (fn. 23) Three are to come from Somerset and three from Essex; the scholarships might be retained for twelve years after the M.A. degree but would be lost on acquiring patrimony or a living of £8 a year. For three scholarships and three fellowships preference should be given to relatives of the founder. (fn. 24) The various officers, sub-warden, dean, &c., are to be elected by the Warden and five senior fellows; they receive small stipends, in addition to their normal emoluments, which are as follows: Warden £100 a year, fellows £20, scholars £10, chaplains and clerks £13 6s. 3d. and £6 13s. 4d. The servants are to consist of a manciple, two cooks, two butlers, a porter, and a barber, the last of whom existed as late as the 1860's. (fn. 25) The Bishop of Bath and Wells is appointed Visitor. The fellows are each to have their own room, the scholars to live three to a room, the remainder to be let to commoners and battellers at £2 each yearly. The books in the library are to be chained and the use of the room restricted to graduates, one of the fellows being appointed librarian at a salary of 30s. a year. The foundress reserved the right to nominate all foundationers during her lifetime, during which period they were to receive only half their normal stipends.

The main tendency of these statutes is medieval; they follow those of New College and Corpus sometimes word for word, and map out the life of the society in an almost monastic fashion. But in some respects they are well in advance of their time, e.g. the allowing fellows to be laymen, and to travel abroad, the restriction of their fellowships to eighteen years, (fn. 26) and the comparatively few restrictions on the appointment of fellows and scholars.

Historical Sketch

As might be expected from the home of the founder, Wadham was, at least for the first 250 years of its existence, a west country college; of the original foundation, 22 out of 34 came from Somerset, Devon, and Dorset. (fn. 27) Robert Wright, the first Warden, was a considerable scholar, but did not retain his post long, resigning in July 1613 owing to the celibacy regulation. (fn. 28) He became Bishop of Bristol in 1622 and of Lichfield in 1633. Of the original fellows, 7 were already M.A., 7 were B.A., and 1 an undergraduate, admitted by favour of the Foundress; 6 out of 15 came from Halls; 3 of the 15 afterwards became Warden. Until her death in May 1618 the foundress kept a strict control over her college; no less than twenty-seven letters written during 1613–18 by her to the college are preserved. 48 members not on the foundation were admitted during the first year, and the yearly admissions average 25 to 30 up to the Civil War. (fn. 29) The 'Whig' traditions which were subsequently to be so distinctive a feature of the college begin at earliest in 1618–19, when it successfully resisted an attempt by the king to nominate a Scottish fellow, and admitted Sir Walter Raleigh's son with ostentatious pride. During the Civil War, when Oxford was the Royalist headquarters, and University life was completely disorganized, the admissions at Wadham fell to three in 1644 and none in 1645. Wadham men were to be found on both sides during the Civil War: seven became colonels in the Royalist army, and the first Warden died in 1643 while defending his palace at Eccleshall for the king; but 2 were members of the Parliamentary Commission to purge the University, one was Colonel Fairfax's lifeguard, one was a regicide and Admiral Blake commanded the Parliamentary navy. The only prominent person admitted during this period was Thomas Sydenham, the physician. (fn. 30) In 1648 Pitt was ejected by the Parliamentary Commission, along with 9 of 13 fellows, 9 of 14 scholars, and 11 of 14 commoners. The numbers, however, soon rose again, and the college entered upon one of its most brilliant periods. The new Warden, John Wilkins, was a distinguished scientist, the 'greatest curioso of the time', (fn. 31) and one of the founders of the Royal Society, which met at Wadham during his wardenship. He is, however, overshadowed by Sir Christopher Wren, the most distinguished so far of all Wadham men, who was admitted as a fellow commoner (fn. 32) in 1649 and became a fellow of All Souls in 1653. Other eminent members were Seth Ward (1649), Thomas Sprat (1651), Samuel Parker (1657), and William Lloyd (1655), who became bishops, John Lord Lovelace (1655) one of the prime movers in the 1688 Revolution, Sir Charles Sedley (1656), and John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1660). Wilkins was succeeded in 1659 by Walter Blandford, one of the fellows not removed in 1648; Nicholas Strangeways, an ejected colleague, returned in 1660; otherwise the Restoration affected the college but little. In 1665 Blandford was succeeded by Gilbert Ironside, whose wardenship of twenty-four years to some extent continued the brilliant traditions of the Commonwealth period. Thomas Lyndesay (1672), who became Archbishop of Armagh, John Pratt (1674), Lord Chief Justice, and Thomas Creech (1677), the translator of Lucretius and other classical authors, were admitted in this period. Ironside became Bishop of Bristol in 1689 and Thomas Dunster was appointed Warden. Under him the college became notorious for its strong Whig leanings at a time when the University was predominantly Tory. Thomas Wyndham (1698) was later Lord Chancellor of Ireland, William Lee (1704) Lord Chief Justice, and Arthur Onslow (1708) became a famous Speaker of the House of Commons, but the college seems to have been sinking into lethargy during the latter part of Dunster's reign. Dunster's immediate successors, Baiter (1719–23) and Thistlethwayt (1723–39), were neither of them very creditable to Wadham; the former, though he afterwards became a (non-resident) bishop, is said to have bribed one of his colleagues £50 to secure his election, while the latter had to resign owing to a scandal and take refuge abroad. The college's distinction as a Whig stronghold was becoming less marked with the withering of Jacobitism, but as late as 1754 John Pester was deprived of his scholarship for wearing political colours at the election and entertaining principles of disaffection towards the Government. Wadham was also becoming a centre of Oriental scholarship, thanks to Dr. Hody's Hebrew exhibitions. The latter part of an uneventful period is covered by three wardenships, those of Lisle (1739–44), who became Bishop of St. Asaph; Wyndham (1744–77), during whose long reign the admissions averaged 9, and in 1762 were 2 only; and Gerard (1777–83). (fn. 33)

The revival of the college may be said to date from the appointment as Warden of John Wills in 1783. He is remembered as a great benefactor; he was also the first Warden to be Vice-Chancellor (1792–5) for more than a century. The admissions rose to an average of 14 during 1784–88, though they fell during the years following, no doubt owing to the critical state of European affairs. These left their mark on the college in other ways; though few Wadham men, and none of any note, served with the forces during the wars, the Convention Book has many entries with a war-time flavour. In 1796 £20 was given for the relief of French refugees, (fn. 34) £200 in 1798 as a 'Voluntary Contribution for the Exigencies of the State', (fn. 35) £36 as income tax in 1799, (fn. 36) 100 guineas to the Oxford Loyal Volunteer Corps in 1805, and 6 guineas to the same in 1809. (fn. 37) At the peace celebrations of 1814 10 guineas was given for a dinner for the poor of Oxford, and £5 for a college servants' dinner; (fn. 38) there is no record of those of 1815. During the early years of the 19th century Wadham had a brilliant scholastic tradition, gaining 3 of 7 first classes in Lit. Hum. in 1818, (fn. 39) and winning the Ireland 3 times in the first 10 years of its foundation, and the Newdigate 5 times between 1822 and 1834. This was during William Tournay's wardenship (1806–31); he was succeeded by Benjamin Parsons Symons (1831–71). During his long reign he was the mainstay of Evangelicalism at a time when it was becoming the less fashionable attitude in Oxford, thus reproducing in spiritual matters, and on a much worthier scale, the political position of Wadham under Warden Dunster. Wadham was, however, far from entirely Evangelical at this time, for it included among its members Dean Church of St. Paul's (1832) and Richard Congreve (1837), who as fellow (1849–54) made the college the originating point of English Positivism, Frederic Harrison (1849), E. S. Beesley (1849), and J. H. Bridges (1851) all being Wadham men.

The effects of the first Parliamentary Commission of 1850–5 were less marked at Wadham than most colleges, owing to the foresight of the founder in drawing up the statutes; the only important changes were the abolition of the few local restrictions and the rights of founder's kin, and the throwing open of fellowships to other than previous scholars. In fact, they put the clock back in extending the 18-year term for fellowships to one for life; this and the celibacy qualification for fellows (that for the Warden had been removed in 1806) were abolished by the 1878–82 Commission. Towards the end of Symons's long wardenship the college was less distinguished, but Sir Thomas Jackson (1854), the architect, and Canon Barnett (1862), the founder of the University settlement movement, may be mentioned. With Warden Thorley (1881–1903) we are approaching modern times, but may note in passing the period of the early 1890's, when the late Lord Birkenhead and Mr. C. B. Fry (1891), and Sir John Simon (1892) were all up together as scholars. The numbers have greatly increased; they first reached 100 (undergraduates only) in 1898. They rose rapidly after 1919, the corresponding number in 1925 being 142, or 150 including postgraduate students. In 1936 they had fallen by 20 to 130, but rose steeply with the end of the war in 1945. The number in 1950 was 302.


A statute required newly admitted members to present the college with a piece of plate, of which Wadham thus amassed a considerable amount in a short time. 100 lb. 1 oz. 15 dwt. of silver and 23 lb. 4 oz. of gilt plate were surrendered to the king in 1642–3, ranking Wadham as high as seventh among the colleges. (fn. 40) Even the foundress's own cup (fn. 41) was sacrificed, and of its original plate the college now preserves only that used in the chapel, of which the most interesting pieces are two round-bellied silver-gilt flagons with 1598 hall-mark, almost the last examples of this type of flagon. Inscriptions were often copied on new plate when the old became worn; thus it is that a castor apparently presented by Sir Christopher Wren in 1653, really dates from 1720 or later. Other interesting pieces are a porringer of 1671, with salver-lid, and a punch-bowl of 1704.


Wadham has a large but not very distinguished collection of pictures. It is probably the only one to have portraits of both William III and George I, in keeping with its Whig sympathies. The founders, most of the wardens, and eminent members of the college are represented; portraits specially interesting by reason of their artists are those of Warden Wills, painted while Vice-Chancellor by Hoppner, of James Harris, a member of Dr. Johnson's circle, possibly by Romney, and a crayon drawing in the lodgings of Warden Griffiths, by G. F. Watts. (fn. 42)


The seal is still kept, as provided by the statutes, in a little box with two keys. It is oval in shape, measuring about 2¾ in. by 2 in., and bears figures of Nicholas, in armour, and Dorothy, with an angel holding the crest between and above them, and the inscription Sigillum Collecii Wadhaminensis Oxoniae around the border. (fn. 43)


This was inaugurated with a gift from Philip Bisse, Archdeacon of Taunton, who died Oct. 1613; it was of about 2,000 books devoted mainly to theology. Towards the end of the 18th century three notable bequests arrived, from Alexander Thistlethwayt (1771), containing many foreign, especially Spanish books, from Richard Warner (1775) and from Samuel Bush (1783). The Warner collection, of about 4,400 volumes, is devoted mainly to English literature. It contains some of the most valuable books in the library, including a 'breeches' Bible (1562), all the four folios of Shakespeare, and a first edition of Paradise Lost.

The Library has the only perfect copy of the Latin translation of the spurious letters of Phalaris (Oxford, 1485), and an imperfect Caxton (Boethius) (c. 1479). Other noteworthy incunabula are a volume of St. Jerome's letters (Sweynheim and Pannartz, Rome, 1468), and a Caesar, by Jenson (1471). There are several Aldines, including the Euripides of 1503. The collection of Bibles includes copies of Cranmer's Great Bible (1540), Daye's (1549), the 'treacle' Bible (1568), one volume of the Douai version of 1609, and a 1611 folio of the Authorized Version. (fn. 44)

There are a few interesting manuscripts, including a fine 11th-century Gospels, with 'Winchester School' illuminations, two 13th-century Bibles and an early16th-century Flemish missal. (fn. 45)


1. Robert Wright. Appointed and admitted 20 Apr. 1613. Resigned 20 July 1613. Died Aug. or Sept. 1643.
2. John Fleming. Appointed 2 Sept. 1613. Died 16 Mar. 1616–17.
3. William Smyth. Appointed 24 Mar. 1616–17. Vice-Chancellor 1630–1. Resigned 7 Sept. 1635. Died 6 May 1658.
4. Daniel Escot. Elected 7 Sept. 1635. Died Apr. 1644.
5. John Pitt. Elected 13 Apr. 1644. Deprived by the Parliamentary Visitors, 13 Apr. 1648. Died soon afterwards.
6. John Wilkins. Appointed by the Visitors, 13 Apr. 1648. Resigned 3 Sept. 1659. Died 19 Nov. 1672.
7. Walter Blandford. Elected 5 Sept. 1659. ViceChancellor 1662–3. Resigned 4 Dec. 1665. Died 9 July 1675.
8. Gilbert Ironside. Elected 7 Dec. 1665. ViceChancellor 1687–9. Resigned 7 Oct. 1689. Died 27 Aug. 1701.
9. Thomas Dunster. Elected 21 Oct. 1689. Died 17 May 1719.
10. William Baker. Elected 23 May 1719. Resigned 19 Dec. 1723. (fn. 46) Died 4 Dec. 1732.
11. Robert Thistlethwayt. Elected 22 Dec. 1723. (fn. 47) Resigned 22 Feb. 1738–9. Died Jan. of Feb. 1744.
12. Samuel Lisle. Elected 22 Mar. 1738–9. Resigned 9 May 1744. Died Oct. 1749.
13. George Wyndham. Elected 11 May 1744. Died a May 1777.
14. James Gerard. Elected 5 May 1777. Resigned 19 Nov. 1782. Re-elected 21 Nov. 1782. Resigned finally 5 July 1783. Died 14 Feb. 1789.
15. John Wills. Elected 7 July 1783. ViceChancellor 1792–5. Died 16 June 1806.
16. William Tournay. Elected 19 June 1806. Resighned 14 June 1831. Died 19 July 1833.
17. Benjamin Parsons Symons. Elected 16 June 1831. Vice-Chancellor 1844–8. Resighned 30 June 1871. Died 12 Apr. 1878.
18. John Griffiths. Elected 4 Nov. 1871. Resighned 21 Sept. 1881. Died 14 Aug. 1885.
19. George Earlam Thorley. Elected 11 Oct. 1881. Resigned 25 Mar. 1903. Died 21 Apr. 1904.
20. Patrick Arckley Wright-Henderson. Elected 22 Apr. 1903. Resighned 6 Dec. 1913. Died 7 Jan. 1922.
21. Joseph Wells. Elected 6 Dec. 1913. ViceChancellor 1923–6. Resighned 24 June 1927. Died 28 Feb. 1929.
22. John Frederick Stenning. Elected 24 June 1927. Resigned 30 Sept. 1939.
23. Cecil Maurice Bowra. Elected 3 Oct. 1939. Vice-Chancellor 1951–.


The buildings of this college are of special interest in several ways. The bulk of them, the front quadrangle and the chapel and library wings, date from the foundation period and remain substantially unaltered. Thus they preserve for us the early-17th-century idea of what a collegiate building should be, on a free site (fn. 48) for a new society. They date from a transitional period of English architecture and show a characteristic mixture of Gothic body and Classical ornament, and at the same time are one of the last productions of the craftsman-architect. Finally, the original building accounts are preserved, and give an admirable picture of early-17th-century building practice. (fn. 49)

In spite of their style, there is much evidence against any of the building being of medieval date, with the possible exception of the east boundary wall, and the progress of operations can easily be followed from the accounts, which are in great detail, the employers hiring their labour and buying their material direct, without a contractor.

The accounts contain no payments for furnishing models or drawings, and, as in medieval buildings, the master mason must have been responsible for the design. At Wadham he was William Arnold or Arnoll, who heads the weekly wages list from May 1610 to June 1612 with £1 (latterly 10s.) a week. For six months after his departure Edmond Arnold similarly received 10s. weekly. These wages were paid in addition to special sums for details like windows and pinnacles and are generous; the Arnolds were evidently masons of some reputation, and William, who is styled 'Mr.' at intervals in the accounts and was in command during the more important period of the work, was an architect of merit, judging by his building. He was probably the well-known master-mason of the West Country, who was the architect, amongst other buildings, of work at Dunster Castle, Somerset. (fn. 50)

The total cost, as entered at the end of the accounts book, was £11,360; it includes provision of the chapel and library fittings and the plate.

The city, in selling the site, stipulated that the college should be built within five years, (fn. 51) and entries begin within a month of the purchase. They continue 3 years and 5 months, a remarkably quick rate of building for the period. The stonework, as with all Oxford buildings in Headington stone, has weathered badly, but the walls were well built, and had need to be. They are some 35 ft. high and only 2 ft. 6 in. thick and are not steadied by stone party-walls between the staircases; though the length of unsupported wall along the inner sides of the quadrangle is 184 ft. yet there are no settlements or leaning walls.

The first entries in the accounts are for the payment of £10 8s. to 29 men from Somerset for coming to Oxford. At least 18 of them stayed more or less permanently on the work as masons, of whom there seems to have been a shortage in Oxford at the time, the work at Merton being held up 18 months for this reason. (fn. 52) For some less obvious cause 4 'plows', i.e. teams of oxen, were brought up from Somerset, instead of relying on local resources, which were plentiful enough. During 21–26 May 1610 7 carters, all local men apparently, were paid 1s. 4d. a load (fn. 53) for 49 loads of stone, and the following week 9 carters brought 46 loads as compared with only 8 carried by 'Mrs. Wadham's carriages'. (fn. 54) So the latter were sent back after some 6 months at Oxford. (fn. 55)

The payments for labour, material, and carriage are entered and added up separately. Material was generally worked up on the site in the case of stone (fn. 56) and wood, though oak and elm boarding was sometimes bought, as in 10–15 Sept. 1610, and commodities like slates and iron were naturally bought by the hundred or the pound. Very little attention was paid to seasoning of the wood before fixing, without, however, any serious results. Water transport was used as far as possible, as for the timber from Lord Norreys's estate at Cumnor, which was unloaded at High (Hythe) Bridge, and probably for the carved and moulded stone from Burford which could be brought by water from 'Ensom' (Eynsham).

The building was done by day-work and piece-work. The latter begins among the masons as early as 25–30 June 1610, though the less important 'layers' were always paid by the day. The carpenters were almost always paid by piece-work and in running accounts for large works such as the chapel and hall roofs, the slaters, paviers, plasterers, painters, and other trades being paid similarly. To judge by the sums involved such men must have paid their own labourers though of course it is impossible to tell whether the latter received more or less than such labourers as worked for the employers direct.

The first six weeks must have been occupied in clearing the site and putting up sheds, but from 21 May 1610 the accounts proceed regularly. The following week 7 masons set to work, and during June 100 and sometimes 150 loads of stone arrived at the site every week. 'Layers' began work on the walls 11–16 June, and labourers are first mentioned the following week, when 22 persons (including William Arnold) figure on the pay list, besides 15 carters and the 4 ox-teams. In the middle of July comes the first payment for timber, and on 31 July the foundation-stone was laid by the Vice-Chancellor, John King, Dean of Christ Church, in the presence of the mayor (Thomas Harrys) and a large concourse; £6 7s. 10d. was laid out on the festivities. (fn. 57) During August the number of men on the job varied from 25 to 30, and rose to 46 during 10–15 Sept., besides 25 carters and the 4 'plowmen', who between them brought no less than 209 loads that week. After the end of the November the masons' work was suspended owing to the frosts, the layers being dismissed till 21 Jan. 1610–11, but the walls had already risen to first-floor level, and scaffolding was being put up. (fn. 58) No time was wasted: John Blackshaw the carver arrived during December; Thornton, one of the carpenters, was busy putting in floors; and 337 loads were brought in one week.

The first half of 1611 saw rapid progress on the north, west, and south sides of the quadrangle; bricks (for hearths?) were ordered, and stone for the newelstair in the tower and 'the kings picture', the statue of James I, to be set over the hall doorway, though at that time this side of the quadrangle had not progressed beyond the excavations. Centering was being made, and during the first two weeks of May 44 and 66 carters, respectively, were employed. By this time the walls had reached roof-level, with entries for '2 great linternes', beams to carry the gables above the three-story baywindows on the street front. 'Tun' (hollow or tunnelled) 'stones for the Chimneyes', slates and moss, and 'gargel table', the cornice at the base of the roofs, though it has no gargoyles, were also being ordered to complete the chamber sides of the quadrangle. During the summer of 1611 the foundations of the kitchen wing were dug, and a new pay-clerk was appointed, (fn. 59) leading to a general measuring and settling of accounts. During 12–17 Aug. journeymen carpenters, headed by the famous Thomas Holt, appear. Triplet, the slater, was at work from September, which allowed the plastering and plumbing to be begun during the autumn. (fn. 60) A new mason, John Spicer, who was to execute the chapel windows, was appointed 4 Nov. 1611, and William Arnold's wages were reduced from £1 to 10s. (fn. 61)

A severe winter held up layers' work from 29 Nov. 1611 to 24 Feb. 1611–12, but Spicer and William Arnold were kept busy on the chapel and hall (fn. 62) windows, the former with pure Gothic, the latter with Jacobean tracery. Spicer's set cost £6 apiece, but Arnold's only £3 18s. After Christmas 1611 oak and elm boarding was largely bought, to be used in fitting up the chambers, the slating being finished. By the summer of 1612 this part of the college was practically complete, accounts being settled with the glazier and carpenter and the rooms were cleaned.

During the spring of 1611–12 the layers started on the kitchen wing, the end-windows of the hall and chapel were inserted, and progress made with the great arches in the antechapel. Work began on the roofs of the chapel, (fn. 63) hall, (fn. 64) and library (fn. 65) during the summer of 1612. More 'gargell table' was ordered, (fn. 66) and a new slater (Hall) taken on at the end of June. The last important parts of the building to be begun were the cloister (fn. 67) and the frontispiece in the quadrangle, (fn. 68) and with the erection of a vault over the kitchen by John Blackshaw, to render the library fireproof, which was accomplished during the winter of 1612–13, (fn. 69) and the execution by him of the remaining statues, (fn. 70) the masons' work was completed. This is borne out by the fact that no break owing to frost occurred that winter. The carpenters were active at this time: Tesely finished the library roof; (fn. 71) the boarded ceiling, now concealed, was fixed in the chapel; (fn. 72) the louvres on the antechapel and hall were set up; (fn. 73) and floors and doors were fixed in various parts of the college. In the summer of 1612 John Bolton was at work on the richly carved wooden screen in the Hall. In the following year he carved the chapel screen, receiving final payment of a total of £82 at the end of June 1613. The first half of 1613 saw the finishing trades very busy, Medcalfe the plasterer being paid in all £216 £15s. during the period, and the smith (Slatford), painter (Davis), and glaziers (Rudland and Fletcher) also received large amounts. During March representatives of Dorothy Wadham inspected the buildings, (fn. 74) and on 20 April 1613 the first members of the new society moved in. Nine days later (fn. 75) the chapel, though possibly not yet quite finished, was consecrated, the accounts recording the enormous sum of £83 15s. for 'diet'. After this the entries relate mostly to miscellaneous fitments in the kitchen and library, the writing of the statutes and the provision of plate and stationery, and the final settlements with the various trades. The layers left first (24 Apr.), and finally the pavier and painter, during August.

The stained glass in the chapel was inserted in three sections. Robert Rudland of Oxford began work there apparently on the north side, in June 1613, (fn. 76) but the foundress disliked his work (fn. 77) and had him dismissed. The south windows are dated 1616 but are undocumented; we have, however, full information as to the east window (1622). It was executed by a Dutchman, Bernard van Linge, at a cost of £113 17s. 5d. (fn. 78) The pulpit and stalls also are coeval with the building. (fn. 79) The Jacobean altar table came from Ilminster Church, Somerset, in 1889. There is in the antechapel a monument to Sir John Portman, who died in 1624.

At first the Warden was allotted the lower of the two tower rooms and all no. 1 stair except one room. He had left these quarters by 1640, and (fn. 80) by 1674 was living in the present lodging, which is marked in Loggan's print 'Gardiani Hospitiu(m)'. During this period the staircases, according to a diagram made by Samuel Lee, bursar, in 1654, were named instead of being numbered. (fn. 81) The rents charged for rooms varied from 10s. to £6 a year.

Wadham College

The marble paving was laid shortly before 1673, (fn. 82) and about the same time the clock was put in; traditionally designed by Sir Christopher Wren, its original works are now on loan to the Museum of the History of Science.

The next work of importance was the building SW. of the main block now known as no. 9 stair. It is said that Wren designed it, but the tradition is quite unfounded and little is known about its erection. Wood (fn. 83) says it was begun in April 1693 and finished 'in the beginning of 1694' (January or March ?). The bursar's accounts for midsummer-Christmas 1693 contain the entry 'of this (total expenses) £335 5s. 10d. was paid towards the new Building'. Other entries definitely stated as relating to the work bring the total to £358 11s., and when other abnormal figures are taken into account the total cost may have been as much as £450. The work was done by separate contracts with each trade, as in 1610–13, but this time the contractors must have bought their own material.

The first mention of the Common Room, which is sited in the original Bursary, occurs in 1690, which is the date of the existing panelling. (fn. 84) The fireplace was inserted in 1787; and sash windows inserted in 1826. (fn. 85)

The bursar's accounts are the only source for the architectural history of the college during the abeyance of the Convention Book (1685–1719). Minor payments to the building trades abound, and besides those referring or supposed to refer to the new building there are 13 of more than £10 during the 35 years, totalling £293 9s. This may perhaps be taken to represent the amount of repair work done by the college during an average period.

The Convention Book is again available from 1719 onwards, but, as might be expected with a building only 100 years old, little work of importance was done for some time. (fn. 86) In 1745 a new staircase, with balustrades and a well, was inserted in no. 7. (fn. 87) Between 1747 and 1776 some of the £2,000 bequeathed by Thomas Lord Wyndham was spent on party walls between the staircases, Lord Wyndham 'having frequently in his life time taken notice of the want of such'. (fn. 88) Some important proposals were put forward in 1773. Though the college was only half as large as it had been in its early years, the buildings were full owing to the discontinuance of 'chumming'. Hence it was decided to allot the garrets, which had previously gone with the rooms immediately below and at this time had no windows towards the quadrangle, to the scholars. The garrets were therefore converted into separate sets as the existing tenancies fell in (fn. 89) (two between 1781 and 1797), the windows on to the quadrangle being made uniform in 1806. About 1773 new and more convenient staircases were inserted in nos. 3 and 4. (fn. 90) In 1776 it was decided to enlarge the capacity of the library by fitting higher stacks and taking in a small extra room. This involved building a new staircase and other complicated alterations, (fn. 91) but it is uncertain how much was actually done, for in 1807 the old arrangement was restored for the modest sum of £97 10s. In 1785 it was proposed to provide the students with a common room of their own, but this resolution was afterwards crossed out, and a junior common room was not instituted till 1888. (fn. 92) In 1797 a stove was put in the hall, and in 1826 the present fireplace was made by Daniel Robertson. (fn. 93) The 'old building' was converted into a brewhouse and bakehouse in 1801. Considerable repairs of a general nature were resolved on in 1806, and to the chapel roof in 1809, at the end of which year £3,000 of Old South Sea stock was sold mainly to pay the builder. In 1809 it was proposed to pay 6 guineas annually for a water-supply. Between 1806 and 1812 a £1,000 bequest of Warden Wills's was spent on improving the lodgings; the staircase, ingeniously contrived on the garden side of the house, the wail being reduced to about 1 ft. 6 in. to contain it, dates from this period.

In 1796 the college had sold the three cottages north of the King's Arms Inn to the University, which erected on the site a 'Bible warehouse', later converted into a stereotype foundry. At the erection of the new Clarendon Press in Walton Street the college repurchased the building and converted it, together with the adjacent brewhouse, into rooms (nos. 10 and 11 stairs), a new brewhouse being built SE. of the college. At Symons's accession to the wardenship in 1831 the lodgings were improved at a cost of £300, and extensive alterations were made in the chapel, with Blore as architect. The present stucco ceiling, painted to resemble oak, was inserted, stone tabernacle work and panelling placed round the sanctuary, the lower row of stalls introduced and the middle row remodelled, all the woodwork stained and varnished, and the pulpit removed to the antechapel. This was completed in 1834, and next year the stained glass windows were rearranged to make room for some Belgian glass presented by Symons. The glass has since been restored to its original order and the pulpit replaced.

In 1856 gas was installed in the college and in 1870 and 1872 the chapel and hall were heated by hot-water systems. More improvements, including the passage between the main building and the cottage, were made to the lodgings in 1871; these were the first Oxford work of Sir Thomas Jackson. In 1874 he, as a fellow of the college, proposed a scheme to improve the back quadrangle by demolishing the Warden's stables, a row of cottages north of no. 37 Holywell Street, and part of the King's Arms Inn. (fn. 94) This was accomplished in part in 1875–6, 1878, and 1890. (fn. 95) In 1885–6 the chapel was again restored, an organ and loft being erected over the main west door, the NW. door, in the passage leading to the garden, again brought into use, and iron ties inserted to counteract Blore's ceiling which was pushing the walls outwards. The cost of these works was £1,189 14s. 4d. (fn. 96) In 1891 the present oak floor in the hall was substituted for flagstone's, and about the same time electric light was installed in the college, which was one of the pioneers in Oxford in this respect. (fn. 97) Some of the heraldic glass in the Hall is the work of Thomas Willement in 1827, but much of the rest dates from 1897 and commemorates Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. A new common room was contrived in the roof above the senior common room in 1911; and in 1916–17, the college being at that time used as a training centre for cadets, the 1828 brewhouse, which had long been derelict, was fitted with baths; this was demolished in 1951. A separate bathroom for the fellows was installed in 1929 under the south end of the hall. After the First World War, owing to the greatly increased numbers, two houses in Holywell St. (nos. 37 and 38) were converted into college rooms in 1919 and 1925. This led to further improvements in the back quadrangle, the goods entrance being moved to Savile Road and the surface levelled. In 1920 the library was heated, lighted, and brought into daily use as a War Memorial, and a tablet was unveiled in the cloister in 1922. Alterations were made in the hall in 1925–6; a floor was inserted to the gallery over the screen, and panelling from the Wadham seat at Merifield, about contemporary in date with the college, placed in the passage behind the screen. Considerable repairs were made to the stonework of the buildings, at a cost of £5,000, between 1926 and 1934. In 1935 the chapel roof was again in a serious state, Jackson's tie rods having proved ineffective; the buttresses along the south side have therefore been raised, corresponding to those on the north, and a concrete beam put in.

In 1951 work was begun upon a large new building to the south-east of the college, the architect being H. G. Goddard. The building is on the site of the brewhouse and other outbuildings, as well as on the land behind no. 36 Holywell and Wadham Place cottages. Nos. 35 and 36 Holywell were brought into the college in 1947 and the 'back quadrangle' is now substantially enlarged and includes the Holywell Houses, nos. 35–8.

The gardens, like the buildings, are considered among the best in Oxford.

The present lawn in the front quadrangle dates from 1809; Loggan shows what looks like a set of lawns in his plate of 1675, (fn. 98) but they cannot have been there in 1761 when it was decided 'to new gravel the Quadrangle'. (fn. 99)

Two small formal gardens formerly existed between the college and the street, as shown by Loggan (1675) and Williams (1733); they probably dated from Warden Wilkins's time, and were removed in 1805 when the wall in front was replaced by an 'Iron Palisade', shown in Ackerman's plate. (fn. 100) This palisade was replaced in 1822 by one of lighter design, (fn. 101) which in its turn was removed in 1925. The obstruction maintained by the college in Parks Road was removed by the city in 1871.

The area to the north of the building was let in 1611 for 36 years to John Burroughes, and was resumed by the college in 1645, (fn. 102) when the west part was granted to the Warden and the remainder, the present fellows' garden, to a private lessee, from whose successor, it was resumed in 1650, and laid out with parterres, yew hedges, and a figure of Atlas on a mound, as shown by Loggan and Williams, at a cost of £72 13s. (fn. 103) This arrangement lasted till 1753, when 'the Statue of Atlas having been blown down by the High Winds, and broke all to pieces', the fellows' garden was newly laid out. In 1777 the ground between the chapel and library, intended by the foundress as a cemetery but little used for that purpose, was appropriated for the Warden and fellows. This was thrown into the rest of the gardens by the removal of the walls of a lane which had formerly existed along the north side of the buildings, in 1795, and at the same time the college leased from Merton the piece, about 3¾ acres in extent, north of the original property and extending to the present South Parks Road. At that time, according to Symons, it was uninclosed, and was brought to its present condition by the Warden, to whom it was appropriated. Cox (fn. 104) bears this out by stating that the mound along the east side was 'entirely created' by Warden Tournay, so that the tradition that it is a relic of the fortifications of the Civil War is unfounded. (fn. 105) The next year, 1796, the gardens were laid out in their present arrangement 'recommended by Mr. Shipley, the Duke of Marlborough's Gardener'. (fn. 106) The complicated question of the lease from Merton College was settled in 1836, when the fee simple was bought for £1,600; (fn. 107) the northern portion of the new extension, comprising about 2 acres, was sold in 1925 to the Rhodes Trustees.


1 T. G. Jackson, Wadham College., pp. 6–7 for discussion of this point.
2 Wood, Colleges and Halls, ed. Gutch 1786, p. 592.
3 Wood's Diary, quoted in Jackson, op. cit., pp. 8, 9.
4 Though Dorothy had Catholic sympathies there is every sign that Nicholas was an Anglican, at any rate in his late years (Jackson, op. cit., pp. 9–12).
5 Ibid., pp. 12–13.
6 Wood, Colleges and Halls, p. 592. There is no reference to these offers among the archives in the college muniment room (referred to without citation).
7 Oxf. Council Acts (O.H.S.) p. 197.
8 Oxford City Properties (O.H.S.) pp. 358–63.
9 Foundress's letters of 3 Feb. 1613–14, 12 June 1615.
10 From £548 11s. 3d. in 1613 to £377. 9s. 1d. in 1615 (Jackson, op. cit., p. 78, note 2).
11 Wood, Life (O.H.S.), ii, 565.
12 Since sold. This property gave the name to Wadham Road, Walthamstow.
13 Alternate, formerly Southrop only.
14 Alternate.
15 Alternate.
16 They fell into abeyance between 1872 and 1874, after which their duties were taken over by the scholars (Convention Book, 7 Dec. 1874).
17 a There is an abstract in Jackson, op. cit., chap. v.
18 Repealed by Act of Parliament in 1806.
19 This condition is said to have been inserted at the request of the society. It is not in the copy of the statutes autographed by Dorothy, who apparently was not ayerse to lay wardens as well as fellows, another example of modernity, and stipulated a doctorate in any of the faculties. It was abolished by the 1882 commission.
20 On the morrow of St. Peter's Day, a reference to Mrs. Wadham's maiden name.
21 A similar provision it to be found in the statutes of Corpus and St. John's.
22 The scholars were formerly, like the fellows, chosen on 30 June, later on St. Nicholas's Day, a reference to the founder's Christian name.
23 Carminaque saltem mediocriter componere noscant, qualifications similar to those at Corpus.
24 Abolished by the 1855 commission. Several pedigrees to prove 'founder's kin' are preserved in the college muniment room.
25 Wells, Wadham College, p. 28 note.
26 This requirement had its drawbacks in removing Wadham fellows from Oxford about the time when they might have begun to take a prominent part in University affairs. The college has produced comparatively few University professors or others academically distinguished.
27 Jackson, op. cit., p. 65.
28 Foundress's letter of 15 Apr. 1613.
29 Gardiner, Registers of Wadham College (quoted for all information as to numbers and dates of admission up to 1871).
30 This rests on his own statement, quoted in Wells, op. cit., p. 57 note; there is no mention of his admission in the college records.
31 Evelyn's Diary, ed. Bray, 1829, i, 278, gives a most interesting account, though too long to quote, of Evelyn's visit to Wilkins at Wadham, and the rarities he was shown in the gardens.
32 A class of student, now obsolete, which had the privilege of dining at the fellows' table.
33 He resigned in 1782, but was immediately re-elected.
34 Convention Book, 7 Apr. 1796.
35 Ibid., 7 Feb. 1798.
36 Ibid., 19 Apr. 1799.
37 Ibid., 1 Jan. 1805, 3 Mar. 1809.
38 Ibid., 28 June 1814.
39 Among them was Richard Bethell, then only 17 years old, afterwards Lord Chancellor as Lord Westbury.
40 Jackson, op. cit., pp. 203–4.
41 The so-called 'foundress's cup' is an 18th-century copy of a mid-17th-century original, and is thus twice removed from its original pretension. See Jackson, op. cit., pp. 207, 208.
42 See Mrs. Poole's article in Cat. of Oxford Portraits (O.H.S.), iii, 209–34, for further details.
43 Jackson, op. cit., p. 52.
44 H. A. Wheeler: A Short Catalogue of Books printed before 1641, now in Wadham College Library, 1929.
45 For further information see notes by Gordon Duff in Jackson, op. cit., pp. 198–200; also Wells, op. cit., pp. 209–12.
46 Gardiner, op. cit., i, 5.
47 These dates are given in Hearne, Remarks and Collections (O.H.S. 1906) viii, 148. They are not in the Convention Book.
48 For the history of the site from 1542 to 1610 see Oxford City Properties (O.H.S.) Appendix V.
49 The college possesses a full transcript of these accounts, together with an elaborate and scholarly introduction to and analysis of them by T. Jackson. The following account is based upon this volume.
50 Ex inf. H. M. Colvin.
51 Wadham College MSS., no. 15.
52 Merton College Register, quoted in Jackson, Wadham College, p. 31 note.
53 Rather more than 1 ton: Jackson, op. cit., p. 38 note.
54 These loads, however, were twice as large: Jackson, ibid.
55 Accounts, 5–10 Nov. 1610.
56 e.g. payments 2–7 July 1610, &c., for sledges (hammers), wedges, &c. That much of the stone came from Headington seems proved by the gift of books to Magdalen College for the use of their quarries (at Open Magdalen below Shotover?), 17–22 Dec. 1610.
57 30 July–4 Aug. 1610.
58 3–8 Dec. 1610. Hurdles were used instead of planks for the workmen to move about on.
59 At the end of 10–15 June 1611 is the note: 'Coverston's accounts accounts [sic] ended.' The handwriting remains unchanged, and the present accounts book is a transcript, made after the completion of the work.
60 23–8 Sept. 1611 onwards.
61 19 Oct. 1611.
62 Arnold's set are all described in the accounts as hall windows, but more than half of them are in the antechapel or the bursary (now the senior common room).
63 30 June–4 July 1612. This must refer to its framing, the capitals for the pillars not being paid for till 31 Aug.–5 Sept. 1612.
64 30 June–4 July 1612.
65 6–11 July 1612.
66 19–26 July 1612.
67 10–17 Oct. 1612. Last entry is 9–14 Nov, 1612.
68 12–19 Sept. 1612 onwards.
69 22–8 Nov. 1612. The centering was struck 11–16 Jan. 1612–13.
70 22–7 Feb. 1612–13 onwards.
71 9–14 Nov. 1612.
72 13–19 Dec. 1612.
73 22–8 Nov. 1612.
74 22–7 Mar. 1612–13. £7 16s. was paid for their 'diet'.
75 Wood, Colleges and Halls, ed. Gutch 1786, p. 594.
76 28 June–3 July 1613.
77 Foundress's letter of 28 Mar. 1614, 'I would have you also to end with yo(u)r old Glazier that there may be noe more brabbling with him' (Jackson, op. cit., p. 161).
78 Ibid., pp. 163–7. They were extensively repaired in 1742 at a cost of £97 8s. 6d.
79 They are probably the 'wenscot' for which £30 was paid 7–12 Sept. 1612.
80 Chamber Book (marked 'No. 21' on cover) shows that a Mr. Dymoke was in part of the lodgings in 1626 (p. 60), and that in 1640 a Mr. Manning vacated the tower chamber (p. 69). See Jackson, op. cit., pp. 143–4.
81 The names were Buller's (after a decayed relative of the foundress) and Prince's (no. 1 stair), North Bay, North Crest (the Warden's Lodgings), Foundress's, University (no. 2), Chapel (no. 3), Hall (no. 4), College, Founder's (no. 5), South Crest, South Bay (no. 6), Chaplain's, Tower (no. 7).
82 Wood, Life, ed. Clark, 1891, i, 432.
83 Ibid., p. 593 note.
84 Bursar's accounts, MidsummerXmas, 1690.
85 Jackson, op. cit., pp. 148–9.
86 Convention Book, 29 July 1742. A list of subscribers to these repairs has been preserved.
87 Ibid., 29 May 1745. The carpenter's bill for the ensuing half-year was £56 3s. 9d.
88 For this reason the college is still far from soundproof.
89 Jackson, op. cit., p. 137.
90 This is alluded to in the Convention book, 8 July 1773; the date of the alteration is not stated. The present arrangement allows an extra room to each set above the ground floor.
91 Convention Book, 15 May 1776.
92 Wells, Wadham College, p. 200 note.
93 This very late date for abandoning the open hearth in the centre of the hall may be paralleled at Cambridge, where it is said to have existed at Trinity College till 1866 (Willis and Clark, Arch. Hist. Univ. Camb. iii, 555).
94 A proposal to convert this into college rooms was lost (Convention Book, 7 Feb. 1889).
95 Jackson, op. cit., pl. iv.
96 MS. book made by Jackson, now in college library, p. 424.
97 Exact date unknown; authority of late Dr. J. Wells.
98 Convention Book.
99 He also shows the ridge of the tower roof running east and west instead of north and south as now; this may be one of Jackson's 1889 alterations, but it is not mentioned in his specification.
100 History of the University of Oxford, 1814, p. 161.
101 Oxford Guide, 1822 ed., p. 98.
102 Convention Book, 30 July 1645.
103 Ibid., 17 July 1650.
104 Recollections of Oxford, 2nd ed. 1870, pp. 195–6 note.
105 The site of the fortifications is now proved by the discovery of De Gomme's plan of 1644 (Oxoniensia, vol. I).
106 Convention Book, 7 Apr. 1796.
107 Ibid., 22 Jan. 1836.

Jesus College
Pembroke College