Astoft

The architecture of

Trinity College, Oxford

Click on photos to enlarge.
Notes in italics from Oxfordshire by Jennifer Sherwood and Nikolaus Pevsner (1974)
Yale University Press, New Haven and London.


Founded about 1286 as Durham College and refounded in 1555 after the Reformation as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity.



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The GATE TOWER of the college .. and the immediately adjacent chapel are of 1691-4. The gateway has Ionic pilasters; above is a large arched window with very unusual decoration. ... The raised stage ends in a balustrade with statues of Geometry, Astronomy, Theology, and Medicine. The CHAPEL has four big arched windows, the arches on pilasters, and the bays are separated by large pilasters. Top balustrade and urns. ... 


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Trinity chapel is one of the most perfect ensembles of the late C17 in the whole country. ... Panelling, stalls, screen, reredos, all is there, all of wood, veneered, with much use of juniper, and the carving in lime, as usual. The ceiling also belongs, with its stucco and the Ascension and two smaller panels painted by Pierre Berchet. Stucco between the window arches too. The carving of the reredos is so exquisite that one hesitates to think of anybody but Grinling Gibbons himself, but there is no evidence of his appearance ... Big segmental pediment, its centre jumping back, and on it two reclining figures. ...


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The gate tower and chapel are at the north end of Front Quad. Also in this quad are a detached house and a range both of 1883-7 by Sir T.G. Jackson, in his characteristic style, i.e. mainly with C17 motifs, but also in this case with gables derived from Elizabethan Kirby, and all put on thick.


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Through the gate tower, Durham Quad received that name because this was Durham College. But how little of it can be recognised. Only the E range is essentially that built in 1417-21 ... In this E range is the Old Library. The upper windows to the quad are a C19 alteration.


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Garden Quad started life as a single building, designed by Wren and put up in 1668. It survives, but nobody would recognise it. It is the N range and originally had two storeys, a large mansard roof with dormers, cross-windows, and a three-bay pediment. The shell niche and the recess below were there, and they were even then not enough of an accent. How much less is that so now that the Wren design has been repeated opposite in a S range and in addition in a W range to make this a quad of three ranges, open to the garden. Furthermore, a third storey was put on in 1802, and no pediments accepted. ... In the quad four fine C18 lead vases.


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East of the Front Quad a modern quad where one finds oneself in the C20 additions to the college - the library of1925-7 by J. Osborne Smith, a neo-classical block of only five bays and one storey, with attached columns - American McKim style.


Trinity College Website

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