Oxford College - Keble College. Image courtesy of David Nicholls.

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Keble College

Keble College is one of the University of Oxford’s constituent colleges. It is located on Parks Road, opposite the University Museum and University Parks, and is bordered to the north and south by Keble Road and Museum Road, respectively. The college’s initial focus was on theology. There is now a wide range of subjects available at the college, reflecting the diversity of degrees available throughout the university. In the period following World War II, the trend was toward scientific courses (the proximity to the university science area east of the University Museum contributed to this).

What's the History of Keble College?

The college was founded in 1870 in memory of John Keble, who was a leading member of the Oxford Movement which emphasized the Catholic nature of the Church of England. The best-known of Keble’s Victorian founders was Edward Pusey, an English Anglican cleric. 

Architect William Butterfield designed the new college in Victorian Gothic style, and the foundations were laid on St Mark’s Day (25 April) in 1868.  The college is built of red, blue, and white bricks; the main structure is of red brick, with white and blue patterned banding. The college first opened in 1870 and took in thirty students.

The "Ugliest Building in the World"

The social historian G. M. Trevelyan expressed of the college’s building: “The monstrosities of architecture erected by order of the dons of Oxford and Cambridge colleges in the days of William Butterfield and Alfred Waterhouse give daily pain to posterity.” Sir Kenneth Clark agreed, and called Keble College was “the ugliest building in the world.” That’s not all. Undergraduates at St John’s College started the Destroy Keble Society, which aimed to dismantle the college brick by brick.

The Buildings of Keble College

Keble College contains five quads: Liddon (the largest), Pusey (named after one of the founders), Hayward (named after Charles Hayward), De Breyne (named after Andre de Breyne) and Newman (named after John Henry Newman).

The Original Buildings

The main building is the distinctive main brick complex designed by Butterfield. This designed remained incomplete due to lack of funds and the Chapel and Hall were built later than the accommodation blocks. The Chapel and Hall were both also designed by Butterfield.

Modern Buildings

A section west of the chapel dates back to the 1950s and was added with funds from Antonin Besse. The ABK buildings, which are later additions too, included the college’s memorable, futuristic “goldfish bowl” bar, which opened in 1977. US-born architect Rick Mather also added the ARCO building and the Sloane-Robinson building. 

The H B Allen Centre

The 1.7-acre (6,900 m2) site of the former Acland Hospital was acquired in 2004 and houses an estimated 100 graduate students.

What is it Like to Study at Keble College, Oxford?

Keble College publishes a termly magazine called The Brick with news of student life. The Breezeblock is another publication containing college gossip and a satirical take on college life. 

Upon graduation, each student is given a red brick along with their degree certificates. The Keble Ball is planned by the student committee to coincide with the day-long graduation ceremony in Trinity term week 2.

Keble fields a number of sports teams including successful rugby ones that won the intercollegiate league for five seasons in a row. The Colege also competes annually in Torpids and Summer Eights regattas.

Where is Keble College?

Balliol College is located in Parks Road (OX1 3PG), Oxford. Tel 01865 272727.

Keble College Coat of Arms
Arms: Argent, a chevron engrailed gules, on a chief azure, three mullets pierced.

Can you Visit Keble College?

Yes, Keble College is open to the public. 

  • Open: Daily 14.00-17.00.
  • Charge: Free.
  • Groups: Guided tours and groups of 8 or more must pre book through the Porters Lodge.

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