New College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Its official name, College of St Mary, is the same as that of the older Oriel College; hence, it has been referred to as the "New College of St Mary," or simply "New College." One of the bigger colleges, it stands in Holywell Street, "behind" The Queen's College.
Despite its name, New College is one of the oldest of the Oxford colleges, having originally been founded in 1379. It was founded by William of Wykenham, Bishop of Winchester. The college was originally founded to educate priests for the parish of Winchester. In 1348 the Black Death claimed the lives of many priests in the parish, and William intended to replace them quickly.
As well as being the first Oxford college for undergraduates and the first to have Senior members of the college give tutorials, New College was the first college in Oxford to center on a main "quadrangle," with student rooms, a dining hall, a library, and study rooms within the square ring of buildings and gates. The porters there will tell you that the reason why the huge doors on both entrances have much smaller cut-out doors is because the college was designed and built to fortify against any outside attackers. The quadrangle design inspired many of the later colleges, perhaps most strangely St. Catherine's College, Oxford because Arne Jacobson was an ardent admirer of "the Oval" or oval-shaped lawn in the old quad.
The College grounds are amongst the largest and most beautiful in Oxford. The Cloisters and the Chapel are of particular note, as is the old City Wall (around which the College is built). The gardens are equally impressive and include the decorative Mound (which originally had steppes, but is now smooth with one set of stairs. Visitors and students enjoy standing at the bottom of the stairs facing the Mound and clapping, listening to the sharp echoes). The college is also in possession of a respectable collection of silver, and a notable "unicorn horn" (really a narwhale tusk).
Notable former students
Chapel of New College, Oxford
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Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04