Christ ChurchOxford
College & Cathedral
St. Aldates
Oxford OX1 1DP
 

 
Christ Church College
Christ Church is one of the largest colleges in Oxford and is unique in that its chapel is also the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Oxford. The cathedral has a celebrated men and boys' choir, and is one of the main choral foundations in Oxford.
 
Christ Church has some of the most famous and spectacular buildings in the city.  They are a mixture of Tudor, Restoration, Georgian and Victorian architectural styles.
 
One of the most famous landmarks in Oxford is Tom Tower which crowns the gateway in to Christ Church’s Great Quadrangle.  Designed by Sir Christopher Wren the tower houses the bell Great Tom.  It is rung 101 times at 9 pm Oxford time each night and used to signal the closing of college gates throughout Oxford.
 
- Tradition
Tradition is all important in Oxford, particularly at Christ Church.  The 101 strikes represent the College’s original 100 scholars plus one more added in 1664.  Nine o’clock Oxford Time is actually 9.05 GMT/BST.  Although the clock itself now shows GMT/BST, Christ Church still follows Oxford time in the timings of services in the cathedral.
 
Christ Church is the only college in the world that is also a cathedral.
 
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Christ Church Cathedral
In 1527 the Augustinian Abbey of St Frideswide was suppressed by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in order to found a College of Cardinals on its lands.  He extended the priory church and planned his establishment on a magnificent scale.
 
By 1529 Wolsey had been stripped of his powers by King Henry VIII and in 1531 the college itself was suppressed.  The college was re-founded in 1532 bearing the king’s name and title.  After Henry had broken with the Church of Rome in 1546 the college was re-founded again under its present name of Christ Church.
 
The cathedral is the oldest building in the college.  It is a Romanesque gem with the nave, choir, main tower and transepts from the late Norman period. There are architectural features ranging from Norman to the Perpendicular style and a large rose window. The Chancel Vault is a sublime example of late medieval rib vaulting.  Built around 1500, it is made up of 12 lantern shaped pendants that hang miraculously suspended in mid-air, and tiny ribs of stone that intersect along the centre of the vault creating large eight-pointed star shapes - the stars of heaven.
 
The oldest monument is in the Latin Chapel.  It is a reconstruction of the 1289 Shrine of St Frideswide.  It shows exquisitely carved stone faces peeping out from behind foliage. The saint’s relics were a place of pilgrimage until 1538 when the shrine was destroyed.  It has been reconstructed from fragments found within the college.
 
The exact position of the shrine is not known so it has been placed close to a 14th century stained glass window showing St Frideswide.
 
Most of the stained glass windows are by the Pre-Raphaelite William Morris group with designs by Edward Burne-Jones.
 
- Cathedral Choir
There has been a choir at the cathedral since 1526.  The Cathedral Choir comprises twelve men and sixteen boys who attend the Christ Church Cathedral School.  The men are made up of lay and academic clerks, and choral scholars.  The choir is world famous and their recordings are on sale in the cathedral shop.  A little bit of trivia – they are responsible for the Vicar of Dibley TV series theme.
 
Opening Hours
Every day except Christmas Day (25 December)
The Cathedral closes for choir practice every day at 16:45 hours.
 
Visitor Information
 
Google Map - Christ Church