'Keble, with its brick frontage is an atypical college architecturally, and the empty road of a Sunday morning, with the solitary car disappearing into the distance gave it an old-fashioned feel.' J J Marshall
In the 1840s, John Keble(1792-1866) supported a scheme to found a new college in Oxford that would be open to the less affluent and those wishing to enter the Christian Ministry. When Keble died in 1866, his death provided an opportunity to appeal for the £50,000 considered necessary to build such a college. Within two years, £35,000 had been raised and a 4.5-acre site in Parks Road was bought from St John’s College. The chosen architect was William Butterfield (1814-1900) who, like John Keble, was a follower of the Oxford Movement. The college was built without endowment and entirely by public subscription. It was High Church and unlike other colleges was run by a council. After the Second World War, however, the council put control of the college in the hands of the Warden and Fellows and brought its constitution in line with other colleges, thus enabling it to assume full rights as a constituent college of Oxford University.
Of its treasures, the most famous is Holman Hunt’s painting The Light of the World which hangs in the side chapel and was given to the college by Martha Combe, fellow member of the Oxford Movement and benefactor with her husband Thomas Combe, of St Barnabas Church in Jericho. When the college charged people to view the painting however, the artist was so outraged he painted another two versions, one of which hangs in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
Today, Keble College is one of the largest colleges and subjects range from the academic to music, dance and sport. The acquisition of the 1.7 acre Acland site has enabled it to expand facilities.