1902 Encyclopedia > Oxford, England

Oxford
England




OXFORD, the county town of Oxfordshire, a cathedral city, a municipal and parliamentary borough, and the seat of a famous university, is situated at a distance of 51 miles west-north-west from London, in the centre of the south midland district. It lies for the most part on a low ridge between the rivers Thames (locally called the Isis) and Cherwell, immediately above their junction. The soil is gravel lying over extensive beds of Oxford clay. From some points of view the city seems to be surrounded with hills, a line of which runs from Wytham Hill (539 feet) to Cumnor Hurst (515 feet) and Stonesheath (535 feet) on the west of the Thames valley, while on the east Headington Hill approaches still closer, with Shotover (560 feet) behind it. The river bed is about 180 feet above sea-level. Both the Thames and Cherwell valleys are liable to floods, especially in winter and spring.
University and City Buildings.—The view of the city, whether from the Abingdon road and Hinksey Hills, or from the old approach from London by Headington, or from the top of the Radcliffe, is a sight not to be for-gotten. The towers and spires, numerous and yet varied in character, the quadrangles old and new with their profusion of carved stonework, the absence of large factories and tall chimneys, the groves and avenues of trees, the quiet college gardens, the well-watered valleys and encircling hills—all these combine to make Oxford the fairest city in England. The first place in importance as well as grandeur is taken by the buildings of the university, which will be briefly described in order.

First among the institutions ranks the Bodleian Library (see LIBRARIES, vol. xiv. p. 519). This noble home of study consists in the first place of the quadrangle once known as the " Schools "—containing a Jacobean gateway tower, erected 1613-18, which exemplifies the so-called five orders of architecture—and the upper part of an H -shaped building immediately adjoining. In this older part the manuscripts and most of the printed books are preserved; the fabric of the central part of the H dates from the 15th century, when it housed the library given by Humphrey, duke of Gloucester; while the contents and fittings, even to the readers' seats, have been hardly altered since the days of Charles I. The present library, founded by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1602, has since 1610 had the right to receive a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom, and its growth has been accelerated by dona-tions from Selden, Rawlir,son, Malone, Gough, Douce, and others. The modern books are contained in the ad-jacent circular building known as the " Camera Bodleiana" or "Radcliffe," built 1737-49 by James Gibbs with money left by Dr Radcliffe to erect and endow a scientific library. The Radcliffe Library pro-per was removed in 1861 to the New Museum. The height of the dome is 140 feet. The Bodleian at pre-sent gives a home to the Pomfret and Arundel mar-bles, including the famous Parian Chronicle, to a num-ber of models and pictures, to the Hope collection of 200,000 engraved por-traits, and in the tower to the archives of the university.

Divinity School. The Divinity School, immediately be-low the older reading-room of the Bodleian, with its beautiful roof and pendants of carved Caen stone, was finished in 1480, and is still the finest room in Oxford. The Proscholium, a rare ex-ample of an original ambulatory, adjoins it on the

Sheldonian. Ashmolean.


east, and the Convocation House on the west. To the north of these is the Sheldonian Theatre, built at the expense of Archbishop Sheldon from the designs of Sir Christopher Wren, and opened in 1669. The annual Act or " Encaenia," a commemoration of benefactors, accom-panied by the recitation of prize compositions and the conferment of honorary degrees, has almost invariably been held in this building. It contained also the University Press from 1669 until, in 1713, the Clarendon Building, a conspicuous object in Broad Street, was erected to contain the growing establishment, which was finally moved in 1830 to the present Clarendon Press; the Building is now used for university offices. The Ashmolean Museum, which also faces Broad Street, is an unpretentious edifice, the first public museum of curiosities in the kingdom,—founded by Elias Ashmole, and opened in 1683. The nucleus was formed by the collections of John Tradescant, and not till lately has the museum been made to serve a scientific purpose.

It contains models, ethnographical collections, English and Egyptian antiquities, and miscellaneous curiosities. The last and not the least of this central group of university buildings is the church of St Mary the Virgin in the High St Mary's, Street, which derives peculiar interest from its long connexion with academic history. Here were held the disputations preparatory to a degree; here, time out of mind, the university sermons have been preached ; and the north-east corner is the ancient seat of the Houses of Convocation and Congregation. Round it were the earliest lecture-rooms, and its bell was the signal for the gathering of the students, as St Martin's for the townsmen. It has memories too of Wickliffe, of Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, of Laud, of Newman, and of Pusey. The tower and spire, of which the height is about 190 feet, date from 1400, the chancel and nave from the succeeding century. The design of the porch was the ground of one of the articles

Plan of Oxford

in the impeachment of Laud. Farther down on the south New side of the High Street (the curve of which, lined with Schools, colleges and churches in its course from the centre of the city at Carfax, leads with beautiful effect to Magdalen tower and bridge) is an extensive building completed in 1882, known as the New Examination Schools, on the site of the old Angel Hotel. The architect was Mr T. G. Jackson, the style Jacobean Gothic. The size and elaborate decoration of the rooms, which form three sides of an oblong quadrangle with an entrance hall opening on the street, well adapt them for the lighter as well as the graver uses of the university.

New Museum. Botanic Garden.

Farther on, and close to the Cherwell, is the Botanic Garden, the first of its kind in England, opened in 1683, the design having been supplied by Inigo Jones. The study of plants is unfortunately carried on at a great distance from the home of the other branches of natural history and science, the New Museum, which was built between 1855 and 1860 in the south-west
corner of the Park. The architects were Deane and Woodward, and the cost about £150,000. In it are gathered the numerous scientific collections of the uni-versity, from the time of Tradescant and Ashmole to that of the munificent donations of Mr Hope. The general plan is a central hall covered by a glass roof resting on iron columns. The lecture-rooms and Radcliffe Library surround this on both floors. The chief adjuncts to this building are to the south-west a laboratory, an imitation of the shape of the Glastonbury Kitchen, to the south a chemical laboratory, and to the north-west the Clarendon laboratory of physical science.

Observatory. Clarendon Press. Taylor Building.

At a short distance to the east in the Park is the University Observatory (1873), consisting of two dome-shaped buildings connected by lecture-rooms (see OBSERVATORY). The Clarendon Press in Walton Street is probably the best appointed of provincial establishments. Founded partly with the profits arising from the copyright of Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, the Press was for long, as we have seen, established in the Clarendon Building. Of the present classical building, completed from Robertson's designs in 1830, the chief part forms a large quadrangle. The south side is entirely devoted to the printing of Bibles and prayer-books. All the subsidiary processes of type-founding, stereotyping, electrotyping, and the like are done at the Press, and the paper is supplied from the University Mills at Wolvercote. Printing in Oxford dates from " 1468" (1478?), but ceased after 1486 until 1585, except in 1517, 1518, and 1519. The first university printer was Joseph Barnes, in 1585. The Press is to a large extent a commercial firm, in which the university has a preponderating influence, as well as prior claims in the case of its own works. It is managed by the partners, and governed by eleven dele-gates. Returning towards the centre of the city by St Giles's, we pass on the right the Taylor Building, partly devoted to the university gallery of pictures, which con-tains more than two hundred and seventy sketches and drawings by Michelangelo and Raphael, besides a Turner col-lection and individual paintings of interest. The rest of the building is divided between the Ruskin School of Drawing and the Taylor Library, which consists chiefly of books in modern European languages. The plan and architecture is Grecian, designed by Cockerell, and completed in 1849. Close by is the Martyrs' Memorial (1841), commemor-ating the burning of Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley. It resembles in shape the Eleanor crosses, and is 73 feet in height; it was the first work which brought Sir George Gilbert Scott into notice.





The colleges may now be described, and for convenience of reference in alphabetical order (see also UNIVERSITIES). A.M Souls. All Souls College (Collegium Omnium Animarum) occupies a central position, with fronts to Radcliffe Square and the High Street. The chief points of interest are the magnifi-cent reredos in the chapel, coeval with the college, but lost sight of since the Reformation until discovered and restored in 1872-76 ; the Codrington Library, chiefly of works onjurisprudence;andtheturrets(1720)designed by Hawksmoor. The west front is due to Sir Christopher Wren. Founded in 1437 by Archbishop Chichele, with sixteen law fellows out of a foundation of forty, the college has always had a legal character which, combined with an almost entire absence of undergraduates, sufficiently marks it off from all the others. The name records the ancient duty of praying for all who fell in the French wars Balliol. of the early 15th century. Balliol College, at present the largest in numbers, is also among the oldest. In 1282 the Lady Dervorgilla, widow of John de Balliol, gave effect to his wishes by issuing statutes to a body of students in Oxford who two years later settled on the present site of the college. The buildings are diverse in style and date, the two most striking being the newest, the chapel built in 1856-57, in modern Gothic, by Butterfield, and the handsome hall erected by Waterhouse in 1876. The King's Hall and College of Brasenose Brase-(Collegium Aenei Nasi) is the combined work of William nose. Smith, bishop of Lincoln, and Sir Richard Sutton. The front quadrangle is among the most regular and, taken in connexion with the Radcliffe and St Mary's church, among the most picturesque in Oxford, remaining exactly as it was built at the foundation of the college in 1509, except that the third story was added, as in several other colleges, in the time of James I. The library and chapel date from the Restoration; the roof of the latter shows some rich wooden fan-tracery. The name is that of one of the old halls absorbed into the new foundation, and probablj signifies brew-house (from bracinum, malt, and -house), but is popularly connected with a brazen knocker above the gate, said to have been brought from Stamford after the migration of the university thither in 1334; it is, however, first found in the 13 th century. Christ Church Christ (Aides Christi), the greatest and most imposing college, Church, and projected on a still larger scale as Cardinal College by its first founder, Wolsey, was established by Henry VIII. in 1525. It is of a peculiar dual character, the cathedral being wholly within its precincts, and partly used as the chapel of the house, while the cathedral chapter shares in the government of the whole society. The dean presides over both institutions. The lower part of the great gate-way known as Tom Tower is Wolsey's design, the upper and incongruous part is by Wren; the large bell, weighing 7 tons 12 cwts., daily gives the signal for closing all the college gates by one hundred and one strokes at 9.5 P.M. The chief quadrangle, measuring 264 feet by 261 feet, was designed to have cloisters. The present classical buildings of Peckwater quadrangle are not of earlier date than 1705 ; the library on the south side was built in 1716-61. The latter contains valuable pictures and engravings not yet sufficiently known, as well as extensive collections of books. The hall (built in 1529), from its size (115 feet by 40 feet), the carving of the oak roof, the long lines of portraits, and the beauty of the entrance staircase, is one of the sights of Oxford. The meadow buildings were erected in 1862-66. It is commonly said that the three great English religious revivals sprang from Christ Church, Wickliffe having been warden of Canterbury Hall, now part of the house, John Wesley a member of the college, and Pusey a canon. Corpus Christi College was founded in 1516 by Bishop Corpus Richard Fox, who expressly provided for the study of Christi. Greek and Latin; nor have classical traditions ever left the " garden of bees," as the first statutes term it. The chief ornament of the college is the library, which is rich in illuminated and early English MSS., and in early printed books. Exeter College may be said to have been founded Exeter, (as Stapeldon Hall) in 1314, by Walter de Stapeldon, bishop of Exeter; but Sir William Petre in 1566 largely added to the original endowment. Most of the buildings date from the present century; the chapel, the propor-tions of which resemble those of the Sainte Chapelle at Paris, was built in 1856-59 by Sir G. Gilbert Scott, the hall in 1818, the Broad Street front in 1855-58. The secluded gardens are beautifully situated beneath the shadow of the Divinity School and Bodleian. Hertford Hertford. College, founded in 1874, is on a site of old and varied history. From the 13th century until 1740 it was occupied by Hart or Hertford Hall; at the latter date Dr Richard Newton refounded the hall with special statutes of his own framing as Hertford College. In 1822 the society of Magdalen Hall, after the fire at their buildings near Magdalen College, migrated thither, and finally the hall was merged in the new college which owes its existence to the munificence of Mr T. C. Baring. The Jesus. Welsh College, Jesus, dates from 1571, having been founded by Dr Hugh Price. Sir Leoline Jenkins, principal at the Restoration, was a conspicuous benefactor. The present buildings are of various dates. The direct connexion with the Principality extends to a moiety of Keble. the fellows and a majority of the scholars. Keble College is a testimony to the wide-felt reverence for the character and principles of the Rev. John Keble, who died in 1866. In his memory the college was founded with a special view to economical life and Christian training, based on the principles of the Church of England. Since its opening in 1870 its growth has been continuous. The buildings are the design of Keble's friend Butterfield; the richly ornamented chapel, the gift of Mr William Gibbs, was completed in 1876, and the library and hall in 1878. The style is Italian Gothic, the material to a large extent red brick relieved by white stone, and in the chapel by marble and mosaics. Bishop Richard Elemmyng founded Lincoln. Lincoln College in 1427, with the object, it is believed, of opposing the doctrines of Wicklifie. Like Exeter and Jesus it boasts a second founder, in Thomas de Rotherham, also bishop of Lincoln, in 1478. The library is of consider-able value, both for MSS. and books. The painted windows in the chapel were procured from Italy in the Mag- 17 th century. Magdalen College is the most beautiful Men. and the most complete in plan of all the colleges. The extensive water-walks in the Cherwell meadows, the deer park, the cloisters with their ivy-grown walls and quaint emblematic sculptures, the rich new buildings of pure Gothic, and, above all, the tower, combine in this conspicuous result. William Patten, better known as William of Waynflete, bishop of Winchester, established the college in 1456 for a president, forty fellows, and thirty scholars with chaplains and a full choir. The cloister quadrangle was first built in 1473, and the chapel in 1474-80; the latter has a decorated interior, an altarpiece of Christ bearing the Cross similar to that in Bolton Abbey, and painted windows. The tower, of exquisite proportions and harmony of detail, was commenced in 1492, and reached its full height of 145 feet in 1505 ; it stood for a few years isolated as a campanile. The custom of singing a hymn on the top at 5 A.M. on May-day has been kept up by the choir since the time of Henry VII. The meadow buildings date from 1733. The muniments and library are valuable, the former containing some 14,000 deeds, chiefly of religious houses suppressed at the Reformation. The high-handed attempt of James II. to force a president Merton. on the college in 1688 is matter of history. Merton College is in a very definite sense the oldest; the earliest extant statutes were given in 1264 by Walter de Merton, and before 1274 it was settled in Oxford. The statutes were a model for all the more ancient colleges both in Oxford and Cambridge. The founder's special intention was to benefit the order of secular priests, and the first century of his society was more prolific of great names than any similar period in any college. The fine chapel, which is also the parish church of St John the Baptist, rose gradually between 1330 and 1450, the tower belonging to the later part. The hall, of the 14th century, was thoroughly restored in 1872. The library, built about 1349, is the oldest existing library in England. To the east lie the quiet well-wooded gardens, still bounded New. on two sides by the city wall. New College, or more pro-perly the college of St Mary Winton, is the magnificent foundation of William of Wykeham, who closely connected it with his other great work Winchester School. Its name is still significant, for the first statutes marked a new departure, in the adaptation of monastic buildings and rules to the requirements of a less fettered body of students; and they, like those of Merton, were imitated by succeeding societies. The foundation-stone was laid in 1380, and the hall, chapel, and front quadrangle are of that period, except that the third story of the latter was added in 1674. The chapel is noteworthy for the west window, designed by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and the Flemish windows on the south side; the roof was renewed in 1880. The tower is built on one of the bastions of the city wall, and faces the new buildings in Holywell Street, erected in 1872-75. The gardens and cloisters are among the most picturesque sights of Oxford, the former encom-passed on the north and east by the city wall, still almost perfect. Oriel College was founded by Adam de Brome Oriel, in 1324, and reconstituted by Edward II. in 1326. The present buildings chiefly date from the first half of the 17th century. The Tractarian movement is closely connected with the college of Newman and Keble. Pembroke College (1624) derives its name from the Pem-chancellor of the university at the time when it was broke. established by Richard Wightwick, partly by means of a legacy from Thomas Tesdale. The library contains many memorials of Dr Johnson, who was a member of the college. Queen's College, so called from its first patroness, Queen's. Queen Philippa, was founded in 1340 by Robert de Eglesfield, whose name is commemorated yearly in the custom of presenting a needle and thread ("aiguille et fil," a rebus) to each fellow on New-Year's Day. The present buildings are not older than the Restoration, while the front dates from the middle of the last century, and the west part of the front quadrangle was rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1778. The interior of the chapel, which is classical in style, with an apse, exhibits some fine wood-carving and windows. Queen's possesses the largest and most valuable collegiate library of printed books, chiefly owing to the munificence of Bishop Barlow in 1691 and of Dr Robert Mason in 1841. On Christinas Day a boar's head is brought into the hall to the accompaniment of an ancient carol. St John the Baptist's College was the St John's, work of Sir Thomas White, a London merchant, in June 1555. Archbishop Laud was closely connected with it, and built, almost entirely at his own expense, the second quadrangle, including the library; his body rests within the college. The chapel and other parts of the buildings belonged to the earlier foundation of St Bernard's College. The large gardens are skilfully laid out in alternate lawns and groves. Trinity College, founded in February 1555 Trinity, by Sir Thomas Pope, was the first post-Reformation college and the first established by a layman. The library is the original one of Durham College, in which Richard de Bury's books were deposited in the 14th century. The gardens are extensive, including a fine lime-tree avenue. University College, the proper title of which is the Great Uni-Hall of the University (Collegium Magnse Aulse, Universi- versl*y-tatis), is generally accounted the oldest college, although its connexion with Alfred is wholly legendary. It received the first endowment given to students at Oxford in 1249 from William of Durham, but its first statutes date from 1280, and its tenure of the present site from about 1340. None of the present buildings are older than the 17 th century. The detached library was built in 1860. Wadham College was founded in 1610 by Dorothy Wadham. Wadham, in pursuance of the designs of her husband Nicholas, who died in 1609. The college buildings, made of exceptionally firm stone, have been less altered than those of any other college. The chapel exhibits a surpris-ingly pure Gothic style considering its known date, the early part of the 17th century. The meetings held in this college after the Restoration by Dr Wilkins, Bishop Sprat, Sir Christopher Wren, and others directly led to the institution of the Eoyal Society. The gardens lie to the north





Wor- and east. Worcester College, which has recently cele- cester. brated the sexcentenary of its first building in 1283 as Gloucester Hall, was at first a place of study for Benedictines from all parts of the country, until it was dissolved at the Reformation, when the buildings passed to the see of Oxford. In 1560 the founder of St John's College reopened it as St John the Baptist's Hall, but after changing fortunes, and an attempt in 1689 to form it into a college for students of the Greek Church, it came in 1714 into the hands of the trustees of Sir Thomas Cookes, who founded the present college. The garden front still retains the antique style of Gloucester Hall, looking over the extensive gardens and pond. The other buildings rose at various periods in the 18th century, while the splendid interior decoration of the chapel, with its profusion of marble, inlaid wood, and painted panel-work, designed by Burgess, was completed in 1870. Halls. Until Laud's time the number of private halls was con- siderable; by him five only were allowed to survive:— Magdalen Hall, now merged in Hertford College; St Mary Hall, founded in 1333, now destined to be absorbed into Oriel, as New Inn Hall into Balliol, and St Alban Hall into Merton; and St Edmund Hall, which, though closely connected with Queen's College, is likely to maintain a separate existence. City The public buildings of the city, as distinct from the

build- university, do not require a detailed notice. The town-lng°" hall dates from 1752, the corn exchange and post-office from 1863 and 1882 respectively. The chief hospital is the Radcliffe Infirmary, opened in 1770, and due to the same liberal benefactor who has been mentioned in con-nexion with the Radcliffe Library, and who left funds for the erection of the large and important Radcliffe Obser-vatory, completed in 1795. There are two ladies' halls, Lady Margaret's and Somerville, and High Schools for boys and girls. Port Meadow is a large pasture to the north-west of the city, which has belonged from time immemorial to the freemen of the city. An extensive system of drainage has been recently carried out, involving the formation of a sewage farm at Littlemore. Water is supplied from large covered tanks on Headington Hill, into which the water is forced from reservoirs at New Hinksey. The University Park, comprising 80 acres, is beautifully situated on the banks of the Cherwell.

The diocese of Oxford now includes the three "home counties" of Berkshire (originally in the diocese of Wessex, then till 1836 in that of Sherborne or Salisbury), Buckinghamshire (until 1845 under the see of Lincoln), and Oxfordshire (formerly in the dioceses of Dorchester, Winchester, or Lincoln). The patents for the formation of the bishopric bear dates of 1542 and 1546. The Cathe- cathedral, already mentioned as part of Christ Church, drai. wag a£ first tjjg church of St Frideswide, begun so far as the present buildings are concerned in about 1160, and forming " a fine example of Late Norman and Transitional work of early character." The nave is pure Norman; the choir, with its richer ornament and delicate pendants, is the Transitional part; the present remarkable east end, having a circular window over two smaller round-headed ones, is believed to be a restoration of the original design. Part of the western end of the nave was destroyed by Wolsey to allow the large quadrangle to be formed. Within the cathedral the most noteworthy objects are the 15th century " shrine of St Frideswide," the modern reredos, and the bishop's throne, a memorial of Bishop Wilberforce. The stained glass is of different styles. The octagonal spire, 144 feet high, is of a peculiar pitch. The chapter-house on the south side of the nave, and the fine doorway leading from it to the cloisters, are early 13th-century work. Of the numerous parish churches some have already been noticed. All Saints' was built early in the 18th century, from designs by Dean Aldrich, in a classical style, but with much originality of detail; St Philip and St James's and St Barnabas's are among the most recent, the latter being in imitation of Italian style with separate campanile. The Roman Catholic church of St Aloysius in St Giles's was opened in 1875.

History.—The legends connecting the city with Brute the Trojan, Mempric, and the Druids are not found before the 14th century, and are absolutely without foundation. The name, which is found in the 16th century as Oxenaford, and in the 11th as Oxenford, the Welsh (more modern) Mhydychain, pioints to a ford for oxen across the shallow channels of the divided river near Folly Bridge, though many on theoretical grounds connect the first part of the word with a Celtic root signifying water, comparing it with Ouse, Oseney, Exford. and even Isis. The nucleus of the town was probably a nunnery, afterwards a house of secular canons, founded in honour of St Frideswide in or before the 9th century, on the site of the present cathedral. After the peace of Wedmore (886) Oxford became a border town between Mercia and Wessex, and coins of Alfred with the legend OKSNAFOEDA (on some types OESNAFOEDA) seem to prove that a mint was established there before the close of that century. The earliest undoubted mention of the city is in the English Chronicle under the year 912, when Edward the Elder made London and Oxford a part of his own kingdom of W essex. To this period probably belongs the castle mound, still a conspicuous object on the New Road .between the railway stations and the city, and similar to those found at Warwick and Marlborough. The subsequent notices of Oxford in the Chronicle before the Conquest prove the rapidly increasing importance of the place, both strategically as the chief stronghold of the valley of the upper Thames—as when the Danes attacked and burned it in 1009 and Sweyn took hostages from it and Winchester in 1013—and politically as a meeting-place for gemots in which the interests of north and south England were alike affected. Witenagemots were held there in 1015, when two Danish thegns were treacherously murdered; in 1036, when Harold was chosen king ; and in lOf 5. In 1018, when Cnut first became king of all England, he selected the same spot for the confirmation by Danes and English of " Edgar's law." But the murder of King Edmund in 1016 and the death of Harold in 1039 seem to have given rise to the saying that it was ill-omened for the kings of England to enter or reside at Oxford. The Domesday survey of Oxford (c. 1086) is more than usually complete, and from it we gather that about six-sevenths of the town was held in equal proportions by ecclesiastical owners, by Norman followers of the king, and by citizens, one-seventh being in the king's hands. The priory church of St Frideswide, and the churches of St Mary the Virgin, St Michael, St Peter in the East, and St Ebbe are mentioned ; from other sources it is known that St Martin's at Carfax was in existence, and not less than seven more before the close of the century. It is a curious fact that, while two hundred and forty-three houses (domi) paid tax, no less than four hundred and seventy-eight were waste (vastm), and even of the mansiones one hundred and ninety-one were habitable and not fewer than one hundred and six waste. Oxford grew steadily when governed by the strong hand of Robert d'Oili (1070?-1119 ?). The existing remains which may be attributed to his building are the castle tower containing the church of St George and a crypt, the crypt and part of the church of St Peter's in the East, and the tower of St Michael's ; but it is known that he repaired other churches and built bridges. His nephew founded the abbey of Oseney, for Augustinian canons, in 1129. During the 12th century Beaumont Palace, built by Henry I. outside the north wall of the city, was a favourite royal residence, and the birthplace both of Richard I. and of John. In the charter granted by Henry I. the privileges of the town rank with those of London, and a large Jewry was formed near the site of the present town-hall. The flight of the empress Matilda from the castle over the ice-bound river to Abingdon in 1142, when besieged by Stephen, is a well-known incident. If we may trust the Oseney Chronicle it is in 1133 that we find the first traces of organized teaching in Oxford, the germ of the great university which was destined to far outstrip the city in privileges, wealth, and fame (see UNIVERSITIES). During the 13th century parliaments were often held in the town, notably the Mad Parliament in 1258, which led to the enactment of the "Provi-sions of Oxford." But this time also witnessed the beginning of the long struggle between the town and university, which produced serious riots, culminating on St Scholastica's day in 1354, and finally subjected the former to serious curtailment of its powers and jurisdiction. History has preserved the names of several heroes in the struggle for civic independence, but the issue was never doubtful, and the annals of the city in succeeding centuries admit of briefer narration. The religious orders found their way early Oxford :—in 1221 the Dominicans (whose settlement near the site of the present gas-works is still attested by Blackfriars Street, Preacher's Bridge, and Friar's Wharf); in 1224 the Franciscans (who built their house near Paradise Square); soon after 1240 the Car-melites (near Worcester College, to which Friar's Entry led); and in 1252 the Austin Friars, who settled near what is now Wadham College. The greater orders were not less firmly established, —the Cistercians at Rewley Abbey (de Begali loco, founded about 1280), the Benedictines scarcely later at Gloucester Hall and Durham College, now Worcester and Trinity Colleges respectively. In the 13th and 14th centuries, as the university grew, an increasing number of students gathered in Oxford, filling the numerous halls and swelling the size, if not the wealth, of the place. The total of students in Henry III.'s time was placed at thirty thousand in con-temporary records seen by Thomas Gascoigne, but this can only be an exaggeration or a mistake. The town was frequently ravaged by plagues, and generally shared in the exhaustion and iuactivit}' which marked the 15th century. The Reformation was unaccom-panied by important incidents other than those which affected the university and the see ; but after the troubles of Mary's reign Oxford again began to revive under the personal favour of Elizabeth, which was continued by the Stuart kings. In the civil war Oxford becomes suddenly prominent as the headquarters of the Royalist party and the meeting-place of the king's parlia-ment. It was hither that the king retired after Edgehill, the two battles of Newbury, and Naseby ; from here Prince Rupert made his dashing raids in 1643. In May 1644 the earl of Essex and Waller first approached the city, from the east and south, but failed to enclose the king, who escaped to Worcester, returning once more after the engagement at Cropredy Bridge. The final invest-ment of the city, when the king had lost every other stronghold of importance, and had himself escaped in disguise, was in May 1646 ; and on June 20 it surrendered to Fairfax. Throughout the war the secret sympathies of the citizens were Parliamentarian, but there was no conflict within the walls. In October 1644 a destructive fire burnt down almost every house between George Street and St Aldate's church. Charles II. held the last Oxford parliament in 1681, the House of Lords sitting in Christ Church Hall, the Commons in the Schools. In the first year of George I.'s reign there were serious Jacobite riots, but from that time the city becomes Hanoverian in opposition to the university, the feeling coming to a head in 1754 during a county election, which was ultimately the subject of a parliamentary inquiry. The public works which distinguish the last century have been already men-tioned ; the general history of the city proper presents few features of interest. Since the first railway (from Didcot) in 1844 its rate of progress has been accelerated, and it has at length vindicated for itself a vigorous and independent municipal life.

Oxford grew up, as has been seen, on the slope leading from the ford near Folly Bridge to Carfax. Its earliest trade must have been twofold, partly with London by way of the Thames, and partly with the west by the ford, No Roman road of importance passed within three miles of the future town, and the Chiltern Hills prevented a direct road to the metropolis. The first mention of townsmen is " seo buruhwaru" in the English Chronicle sub anno 1013, and of its trade in the toll paid to the abbot of Abingdon by passing barges from the 11th century (Abingdon Chron., vol. ii. p. 119). When the Domesday survey was made all the churches except St Mary Magdalen were within the line of walls. Mr James Parker estimates the population at that time to have been " not more than 1700," occupying one hundred and ninety-one mansions and two hundred and forty-three houses. By the close of the 11th century the castle had been partly built, and the walls enclosed a space roughly of the shape of a parallelogram, its greater length lying nearly east and west, dominated by the castle at its western extremity. In Elizabeth's time, as Ralph Agas's view shows, nine-tenths of the city was still intra-mural. In 1789 the population was about 8300, but more than half lived outside the walls ; in 1831, 20,650 ; in 1881 the municipal borough comprised 35,264, the local board district 38,289, exclusive of about 3000 members of the university. The chief extensions have been towards the north, including both the fashionable quarter beyond the parks and the poorer suburb of Jericho, and. on the south-east, where St Clement's and Cowley St John have greatly increased. The newly built low-lying districts of Oseney town with Botley to the west, and Grandpont with New Hinksey to the south, are comparatively unhealthy, contrasting in that respect with the houses rising on Headington Hill. The trade of the city has always been varied rather than extensive ; there has never been a staple produce, and the few manufactories are of recent introduction. Oxford being an agricultural centre has an important market, but the alternations of university terms and vacations affect the steadiness of general business. The first charter known is one of Henry I., not now extant, mentioning a merchants' guild (gilda mercatoria). That of Henry II. specially connects the citizens with London, quia ipsi et cives Londinenses sunt.de una et eadem consuetudine et lege et libértate. They were to be butlers with the latter at the king's coronation—a privilege still retained by their representative. The earliest governing body was the mayor and burgesses ; aldermen were added in 1255, and the full institution from 1605 until 1835 consisted of a mayor, two bailiffs, four aldermen, eight assistants, and twenty-four common council men, together with a high steward, recorder, town-clerk, and inferior officers. At present the government is in the hands of a high steward, recorder, sheriff, and corporation, the latter consisting of a mayor, ten aldermen, and thirty councillors. For the election of the last two classes the city is divided iuto five wards. There is a local board of forty-seven members and a school board of seven. From the earliest times the city has been represented by two burgesses in parliament.

The chief authorities for the general history of Oxford are the works of Antony Wood, viz., the Hist, and Antiqu. of the University, 1792-96 (in Latin, 1674), Hist, and Antiqu. of the Colleges and Halls, 17S6-90, and the Ancient and Present State of the City, 1773 ; and Ingram, Memorials of Oxford, 1837 and 1847. There are good local directories and guides. Of a more special kind are James Parker's sketch of the early History of Oxford, 1871; Turner, Selections from the Records of the City, 1879; Phillips, Geology of Oxford, 1871; and the accounts of All Souls, Exeter, and Magdalen Colleges by Burrows, Boase, and Bloxam respectively. The Oxford Historical Society publishes works hearing on the history of the place. The history of the university will be found under UNIVERSITIES. (F. M.*)



The above article was written by: Falconer Madan, M.A., Sub-Librarian of the Bodleian Library, Oxford.



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