In 1546, King Henry VIII designated the former church of St Frideswide’s Priory to be both chapel of the newly-named college of Christ Church, and cathedral to the newly created diocese of Oxford. Prior to that, the college had been called Cardinal College followed by King Henry College, and Oxford had sat in the diocese of Lincoln.
Although set in the country’s largest diocese, Christ Church Cathedral is the smallest cathedral in England and unusually, is situated in Christ Church College grounds. The original cathedral building was constructed in the 12th century, and it has been enlarged and improved ever since. The spire was added in the 14th century as were the Lady and Latin chapels and Chapter House. The vaulted roof of the choir was finished in 1500, and significant work was done in the mid 19th century, including the additions of Sir George Gilbert Scott’s rose window, the choir stalls, iron screen and some windows of the Lady and Latin Chapels designed by Edward Burne-Jones. Distinguished pieces of Jacobean furniture in the cathedral are the pulpit and Vice-Chancellor throne.
St Frideswide is patron saint of both Oxford city and the University of Oxford and episodes in her life can be seen in the east window of the Latin Chapel. The original site of her 11th century shrine in St Frideswide’s Priory, is indicated by a brass plate in the floor of the cathedral’s Lady Chapel, and an annual service is held on her feast day of October 19th.
091 Walkers in Christ Church Meadows in the snow