image for Literary Landmark item typeLibrary Murals at Oxford Union

Oxford union library - Pre-Raphaelite murals

Oxford union library - Pre-Raphaelite murals


View the world-famous Pre-Raphaelite murals in the Oxford Union Library. Entrance via Library Reception.

Pre-Raphaelite Murals
The Pre-Raphaelite murals in the old Library at the Oxford Union were painted between 1857 and 1859 by a team of young artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. The paintings depict scenes from the Arthurian legends.

The ceiling
The ceiling design is by William Morris. it was painted in 1857 and subsequently restored by Morris in 1875 to a modified design.

The Old Library was built in 1857. It initially had a dual role as both debating chamber and library. When the current debating chamber was completed in 1878 the older building was then used solely as a library.

Since its foundation, the Union has maintained a library for the use of its members. One of the largest lending libraries in Oxford, it is of particular relevance to students studying Classics, English, History, Law, PPE and Theology. In recent years, the Science section has been expanded. The library takes a number of academic journals and has a significant reference collection, which would be of special interest to researchers on 19th Century Britain.

Postcards and a booklet about the murals are on sale in the library. Photography is not permitted in the Old Library.

Opening details

The murals and ceiling may be viewed when the Library is open.

During term-time the Library is open Monday-Friday 9:30am-7:00pm, Saturday 12:00 noon-4:30pm.

During vacations, the Library is normally open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm. The exceptions are a week at Christmas, a week at Easter and two weeks following the August Bank Holiday, when the Union buildings are closed.


There is a charge of £1.50 per person for visitors who are not members of the Oxford Union Society.

Also at this Venue


Frewin Court,

Literary Link, £1.50



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