'With the children playing on the left, this reminded me of a Dutch painting.' J J Marshall
The history of Christ Church begins in 1524 when Cardinal Wolsey obtained permission from the Pope to dissolve St Frideswide Priory and erect a college in its place, to be called ‘Cardinal College’. Three sides of what is today known as Tom Quad were virtually finished, when in 1529, Wolsey fell from power and King Henry VIII took over. The college was renamed King Henry VIII’s College until in 1542 the new diocese of Oxford was created and the former Priory church was designated cathedral of the diocese and also chapel of the new college of Christ Church. The cathedral is still unique in being both a cathedral and a college chapel.
Tom Quad was completed in the 1660s and is the largest quad in Oxford. Its central circular basin was installed as a reservoir for the college and the statue (a lead copy of Giovanni da Bologna’s Mercury) was placed on a pedestal designed by Lutyens, in 1928. Tom Tower which sits over the entrance to the college, was built in 1681 by Christopher Wren to house Great Tom, the loudest, and at over 7 tons in weight, the heaviest of Oxford’s bells. It is rung 101 times each night to signify the original number of scholars at Christ Church, and at 9.05pm (originally Oxford time and not GMT). Today, Christ Church and its Great Hall, are also known as one of the locations for the Harry Potter films.
The Venetian Gothic ‘Meadow Buildings’ that look out on to Christ Church Meadow, were added between 1862 and 1865. The meadow comprises 37 acres of land, and is bordered on its south side by the River Thames. Cattle and deer graze there, and herons can also be seen.