[Disponible en español]

In his letter to a friend still at Rugby, Tom describes St. Ambrose as having "a venerable old front of crumbling stone fronting the street, into which two or three other colleges look also." After one one gets by the porter, whose primary job is to keep "tradesmen, stray dogs, and bad characters generally, out of the college," one encounters a large quadrangle

bigger than ours at Rugby, and a much more solemn and sleepy sort of a place, with its gables and old mullioned windows. One side is occupied by the hall and chapel; the principal's house takes up half another side; and the rest is divided into staircases, on each of which are six or eight sets-of rooms, inhabited by us undergraduates, and here and there a tutor or fellow dropped down amongst us (in the first-floor rooms, of course), not exactly to keep order, but to act as a sort of ballast. This quadrangle is the show part of the college, and is generally respectable and quiet, which is a good deal more than can be said for the inner quadrangle, which you get at through a passage leading out of the other. The rooms ain't half so large or good in the inner quad; and here's where all we freshmen live, besides a lot of the older undergraduates who don't care to change their rooms. Only one tutor has rooms here; and I should think, if he's a reading man, it won't be long before he clears out; for all sorts of high jinks go on on the grass-plot, and the row on the staircases is often as bad, and not half so respectable, as it used to be in the middle passage in the last week of the half-year.

My rooms are what they call garrets, right up in the roof, with a commanding view of the college tiles and chimney pots, and of houses at the back. . . . My rooms are pleasant enough, at the top of the kitchen staircase, and separated from all mankind by a great, iron clamped, outer door, my oak, which I sport when I go out or want to be quiet; sittingroom eighteen by twelve, bedroom twelve by eight, and a little cupboard for the scout. [15-16]

Related Material


Hughes, Thomas. Tom Brown at Oxford [1861] . New York: John W. Lovell Company, n.d.

Last modified 3 October 2012