Radcliffe Camera

Architect: James Gibbs



“Since 1715 the Radcliffe Trustees—all Tory allies of Dr Shippen [the Principal of BNC] —had been accumulating land, item by item. A private Act of Parliament had to be drawn up in 1720-1. Oriel, Magdalen, and University Colleges were all involved; and Brasenose supplied a final piece in the jigsaw puzzle: the 'Principal's Stable and Garden etc.', to the north of St Mary's Church, were sold on Lady Day 1737.' That Spring James Gibbs produced his ultimate design: a sublime rotunda that would change for ever the skyline of Oxford. Its plan tells us something about the circumstances of its conception. Its arcades are aligned not on All Souls, not on the Bodleian, not even directly on the University Church; but directly onto Brasenose. [Crook 140-41]

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Photograph and text by George P. Landow 2012

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