Trinity College and President’s House

TRINITY differs from the other colleges in that it is entered, not under a gate way tower, but by splendid iron gates, through which a charming view is obtained of the first or new quad rangle . It stands on the site once occupied by Durham College, founded in 1300 for monks from Durham Abbey, a wealthy Benedictine house which did not send its students to Gloucester College. Of its ancient buildings there still remain the library, on the east side of the second quad, the lower part of the hall, the buttery, bursary and common room on the west side, and some lodgings on the north. Durham College held a high position in its day, and several of its wardens were afterwards priors of Durham Abbey, but when the monasteries were suppressed it came to an untimely end, and the Crown assumed possession of the property.

In 1554 Sir Thomas Pope, a Hertfordshire knight, bought up the deserted college . He had received some of the plunder from the monasteries and was anxious to dedicate it to the revival of learning . He restored and extended the buildings for the recep tion of a President, twelve fellows, eight scholars, and wenty commoners, and on Trinity Sunday in the same year opened his new foundation under the name of Trinity College. He bestowed upon it much plate and many manuscripts, printed books and “church stuffe,” among other things a beautiful silver-gilt chalice and paten formerly the property of St Alban's Abbey, which is still in existence and regarded as one of the chief treasures of the college.

Dr Bathurst, elected president in 1664, was a man popular in society, and in his time many gentle men - commoners of high rank resided in the college. Out of gifts he received from them, supplemented by liberal sums from his own purse, he built the chapel with the tower and gateway on the north side of the first quad, the north and west sides of the third or garden quad, after designs by Sir Christopher Wren, and the kitchens.

In the eighteenth century Trinity, like the other colleges, stagnated . In 1713 the Lime Walk was planted and in 1728 the south side of the first or new quad built.

In the nineteenth century it took a leading part in the revival ; and its scholarships began to be held by brilliant students who obtained them after keen competition . Cardinal Newman was ad mitted as a commoner in 1816, and spoke of the college afterwards in terms of affection : “My first College, Trinity, which was dear to me, and which held on its foundation so many who had been kind to me, both when I was a boy and all through my Oxford life.”

In 1883 and 1887 the large block of buildings and new President's lodgings in the first quad were built and the cottages on the Broad and old President's house converted into students' lodgings.

Among the famous names connected with Trinity are: Sir John Denham, Chief Justice Newdigate, Thomas Warton, Poet Laureate, Lord North, Prime Minister, William Pitt, the great Earl of Chatham, Topham Beauclerk, Walter Savage Landor, Bishop Stubbs, Bishop Davidson, Professors Rawlinson, Freeman, and Bryce, W.G. Palgrave, and Sir Richard Burton.


Lang, Elsie M. The Oxford Colleges. London: T. Werner. HathiTrust online version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 8 November 2022.

Last modified 8 November 2022