Oxford University - The Queen's College. Image courtesy of Pjposullivan.

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The Queen’s College

The Queen’s College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford founded in 1341 by Robert Eglesfield in honour of the wife of King Edward III of England, Queen Philippa of Hainault.

Queen’s College is distinguished by its predominantly neoclassical architecture and  includes buildings designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir Christopher Wren.

With an endowment of £291 million, the college is the fourth-wealthiest college in the country (after Christ Church, St. John’s, and All Souls).

What's the History of The Queen's College?

The Queen’s College was founded in 1341 by Robert de Eglesfield (d’Eglesfield) as “Hall of the Queen’s scholars of Oxford“. Robert’s aim was to provide clergymen for his native Cumberland and Westmorland (both part of modern Cumbria) and provide charity for the poor.

The college’s coat of arms is that of the founder and was adopted by d’Eglesfield because he was unable to use his family’s arms, being the younger son.

The college gained land and patronage in the mid-15th century, allowing it to expand to 10 fellows by the end of the century. By 1500, it had started to take paying undergraduates (typically sons of the gentry and middle class), who paid the fellows for teaching. 

Provost Henry Robinson obtained an Act of Parliament incorporating the college as “The Queen’s College” in 1585. The college had a good reputation and flourished until the 1750s, when standards dropped. The statutes were revised in 1859, removing the northern preference for fellows and most of the students.

The Buildings of The Queen's College

The Front Quad

The main entrance leads to the front quad, which was built between 1709 and 1759. There are symmetrical ranges on the east and west sides, and at the back of the quad is a building containing the chapel and the hall. In the cupola above the college entrance is a statue of Caroline of Ansbach, wife of George II. The foundation stone of the screen wall is visible from the High Street.

The Back Quad

A second and older quad is placed to the north of the hall and chapel. The west side consists of the library and the east side is the Williamson building, which was originally built to a design by Christopher Wren but has been largely rebuilt.

The Chapel

The chapel has a popular Frobenius organ in the west gallery, installed in 1965. The earliest mention of an organ is 1826. The Chapel Choir has been described as “Oxford’s finest mixed-voice choir” and performs termly concert. The chapel has stood unchanged since it was consecrated by the Archbishop of York in 1719.

The Library

The Upper Library was built at the end of the 17th century and is used as a silent reading room. On display in the middle of the library are two eighteenth-century Senex globes and an orrery from the same period. The open cloister below the Upper Library was enclosed in the 19th century and now houses the bulk of the lending collection.

The Annexes

Queen’s is able to provide accommodation for all of its undergraduates in the main building and annexes nearby. 

What is it Like to Study at The Queen's College, Oxford?

Queen’s College is an active community performing strongly in intercollegiate sport competitions. It also hosts triennial Commemoration balls. The Old Taberdar’s Room is a traditional wood-panelled room, furnished with comfortable sofas and chairs open for use by all members of the college. 

The Junior Common Room (JCR) consists of the collective body of undergraduates and the Middle Common Room (MCR) for the postgraduates of the college. 

The college has a playing field less than a mile from the main buildings, a football and a hockey pitch, hard tennis courts, a netball court and a pavilion. Queen’s College shares a rugby pitch nearby with University College. The Queen’s College is also host to a mixed-voice Chapel Choir. The singers include Choral Scholars and volunteers.

Where is The Queen’s College?

Balliol College is located on High Street (OX1 4AW), Oxford. Tel 01865 279120.

The Queen's College Coat of Arms
Arms: Argent, three eagles displayed gules, beaked and legged or, on the breast of the first, a mullet of six points of the last.

Can you Visit The Queen’s College?

Yes, The Queen’s College is open to the public by appointment only. Entrance is free. Groups only; must be accompanied by a Blue Badge Guide booked through the Visitor Information Centre.

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