The ancient Merton College was founded in 1264 and possesses a formidable reputation as being one of the most hard working and highest achieving. It is one of three claiming to be the oldest college in Oxford, along with Balliol and University College. Merton is centrally positioned by a quiet cobble stone street south of the High Street and conveniently placed for the libraries and university departments as well as the worldly delights offered by the Covered Market.
Rapid 13th century building programme
The founder of the college was Walter de Merton, Bishop of Rochester and chancellor to Henry III and Edward I ‚Äì clearly a man of considerable power and influence. Merton was keen that the ...view middle of the document...
The Front Quad is reckoned to be the earliest of college quadrangles but its oddly random layout did not find a following among other places of learning. The shape follows the gardens of three houses that were already on site. A slightly later quad built in the 14th century is the Mob Quad, which has, what is now regarded as the traditional quad layout. The library takes up the south and west ranges and is the oldest in Britain that has been in constant use.
After a hearty breakfast on 13 September in the year of 1608 members witnessed the laying of a foundation stone to the grandest of the quadrangles ‚Äì the Fellows Quad. Designed by Sir Henry Savile and completed by 1610 by a team of crack Yorkshire craftsmen. These masons were so impressive they were commissioned to build the Bodleian Library founded by Merton man Sir Thomas Bodley.
An additional quad was built in Victorian times by Oxbridge favourite Basil Champneys, and is known as St. Albans or Stubbins Quad.
Merton supports Parliament during the Civil War
Merton made itself unique among the Oxford colleges when it sided with Parliament, against the king, during the English Civil War. This was as a result of frustrations caused by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was interfering with the fiercely guarded self-rule policy the college believed it was entitled to. Unfortunately for Merton, Oxford became the kings HQ which called for a temporary but hasty retreat to...