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New College

New College


Founded in 1379 by Bishop of Winchester, William Wykeham, its official name is 'St Mary College of Winchester in Oxford' but is usually called 'New College' to distinguish it from the other college dedicated to the Virgin, commonly called 'Oriel College'. Look out for images of the Virgin Mary, usually flanked on her left by William of Wykeham, in his Bishop's mitre, and by the Angel Gabriel on her right.

Built on a vacant site - possibly a rubbish dump, just inside the city walls, the Bishop had to undertake to keep the walls in good repair. To this day they are 'inspected' every 3 years by the Lord Mayor and councillors. As a result they are almost the last surviving vestiges of the former encompassing City Wall.

New College was the first college to be planned and laid out to meet all student and master needs in one place - on the quadrangle format, protected by high walls. Accommodation, meals in Hall, lecture/disputation space, a chapel and storage place for valuables - with strong iron-clad windows - the Muniment tower- were all in one secure area, with Warden's rooms over the entrance to keep watch over comings and goings. There was also a latrine with 52 seats, over a cavernous cess pit. It is said that in the 17th century cartloads of dung from this pit were transported to the new Botanic Garden to provide a fertile growing medium for the medicial plants. Its continuing use with modern washroom facilities probably makes New College's loos the longest in continuous use in Britain - maybe even the world? The Bell Tower, of somewhat rougher stone, was added later.

William of Wykeham's aim in founding the college was to re-stock England with clergy and administrators - to run the country - since so many had perished in the Black Death. He created a 'feeder' school at Winchester so that young men would progress, after taking Holy Orders, to higher degrees in theology, law or medicine.

New College is famed for its:
Chapel :look for the ornate tracery windows - and recurring image of William of Wykeham with the command that we pray for him. Also Jacob Epstein's statue of Lazarus in the antechapel.
Dining Hall, largely unchanged except for the absence of a central fire,
Gardens - particularly lovely in spring, and featuring a decorative 'Mound',
Cloisters - designed to facilitate study by natural light and the setting for the' ferret scene' in 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'
World-famous choir, again part of Wykeham's foundation. You are welcome to attend Evensong during University terms (free).

Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)Smoking not allowed

Opening details

Easter - Mid Oct 11.00 - 17.00 (via New College Lane Gates)
Mid Oct - Easter 14.00 - 16.00 (via Holywell Street Gates)
The information given is intended for guidance only. Opening hours are subject to functions, examinations, conferences, holidays etc., and charges are subject to review.

You are advised to check opening times and admission charges in advance.


Easter - Mid Oct : 11.00-17.00 Adults £3.00, Children £2.00 (via New College Lane Gates)
Mid Oct - Easter: 14.00-16.00 Free entry (via Holywell Street Gates)
Entry is free to Oxford residents.
Maxumum 10 people in a group.


The Bursar

01865 279555


Holywell Street,

  • Self-assessed Accessibility Information




See location of New College on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: SP 517064  Lat: 51.75390 Long: -1.25241

New College Lane, OX1 3BN


  • Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)
  • Smoking not allowedSmoking not allowed

Self-Assessed Accessibility Details


  • Main entrance - level. Quads - level. Hall - 20 steps. Chapel - ramp available over 2 steps.

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