Wadham College is remarkable in that it was built in only 3 years, thanks to the efforts of Dorothy Wadham, widow of Nicholas Wadham Esquire, of Somerset, who had decided to devote part of his personal fortune to the foundation of a college in Oxford. Dorothy personally supervised the work, sending her own craftsmen in wood and stone from Somerset and obtaining stone from Magdalen's quarries in Headington. Look for the statues of Dorothy and Nicholas beneath that of James I on the tower of orders, opposite the entrance.The buildings stand much as they did 350 years ago, although the stone has been refaced. Don't miss the hammer-beam hall, third in size after Christ Church and New College. Before the fireplace was inserted in 1826, the hall was heated by a brazier in the middle of the floor, which was then paved with stone.
In the chapel note the colourful and elaborate tomb of Sir John Portman, in a relaxed pose, looking heavenward, complete with several female mourners, cherubim and a shield of arms, all topped off by Father Time with a scythe. There is an unusual lead profile of the soldier, Thomas Joy, killed in 1915 and a simple plaque to Francis Kilvert, the diarist, who was married at Wootton , near Woodstock. Hidden away in a corridor behind the hall and chapel is a memorial to Lord Rochester 'libertine and poet'.
Alumni include: John Wilkins, Warden (who had married Oliver Cromwell's sister), under whose leadership assembled the nucleus of scientists, including Sir Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle and his assistant, Robert Hooke, who became the Royal Society. Also Thomas Beecham, Cecil Day Lewis, Michael Foot, Lord Bullock.
Groups must book in advance and be accompanied by a Blue Badge Guide.
MAIN ENTRANCE - Level ; QUADS - 1st Quad Level. Ramps to gardens ; CHAPEL - Ramp on request over steps and steps to Antichapel