Gloucester College, Oxford

Gloucester College, Oxford, was a Benedictine institution of the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, from the late 13th century until the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. It was never a typical college of the University; in that there was an internal division in the college, by staircase units, into parts where the monasteries sending monks had effective authority.[1] The overall head was a Prior, later changed to a Prior Studentium, and finally a Principal.[2]

Gloucester College
University of Oxford
Gloucester Hall in 1675
LocationPresent day Worcester Street
Coordinates51°45′18″N 1°15′49″W / 51.75497°N 1.26370°W / 51.75497; -1.26370
Closed1542 (annexed to St John's)
1714 (refounded as Worcester College)
Named forSt. Peter Abbey, Gloucester
Previous namesGloucester College (1283-1542)
Gloucester Hall (1542-1714)
Gloucester College, Oxford is located in Oxford city centre
Gloucester College, Oxford
Location in Oxford city centre

It later became Gloucester Hall, an academic hall and annexe of St John's College and was again refounded in 1714 as Worcester College by Sir Thomas Cookes.

History edit

15th century gateway of Gloucester College bearing the arms of the abbeys of Winchcombe, St Albans and Ramsey
Surviving 15th century buildings of Gloucester College, with the arms of various abbeys above the doors

The initial foundation was from 1283. John Giffard gave a house, in Stockwell Street, Oxford.[3] There was early friction with the local Carmelites.[4] This was a donation to the Benedictines of the province of Canterbury. Control of the 13 places for monks fell to the abbey of St. Peter, Gloucester.[5] The first prior was Henry de Heliun.

Pope Benedict XII in 1337 laid down, in the bull Pastor bonus, that 5% of Benedictine monks should be university students.[6] The bull also led to the title of Prior being changed to Prior Studentium, elected by the students themselves. But from the middle of the fourteenth century onwards there was an alternative, at the University of Cambridge.[7] There were also the Benedictine Durham College, Oxford, and Canterbury College, Oxford. Even though the catchment area after 1337 included the Province of York, numbers of students were never high, one reason being the cost of living in Oxford (which the home monastery had to meet). After the Black Death, Gloucester College was closed for a time. In 1537 it was found to have 32 students.[8]

At the Dissolution the property passed to the English Crown, then to the Bishop of Oxford in 1542,[9] who sold it to Sir Thomas White. White was the founder of St John's College, Oxford, and Gloucester Hall, as it then became, was treated as an Annexe to St John's College.

The penultimate Principal of Gloucester Hall, Benjamin Woodroffe, established a "Greek College" for Greek Orthodox students to come to Oxford, part of a scheme to make ecumenical links with the Church of England.[10] This was active from 1699 to 1705, although only 15 Greeks are recorded as members.

The status of Gloucester Hall changed in the 18th century, when it was refounded in 1714 by Sir Thomas Cookes as Worcester College, Oxford. Oxford's Gloucester Green, which was opposite the old College, and the Gloucester House building within the current college preserve the name.

Head of House edit

The lodgings of the Head of House


  • fl. 1283–1292 Henry de Heliun/Helm
  • 1302 William de Camme
  • 1356 Walter de Cham'

Prior Studentium

  • 1366 Adam Easton
  • 1376 –1377 Everard
  • 1381 John Welles
  • 1389 Simon Suthereye
  • 1393 William Barwe
  • 1401–1407 John Fordham (resigned c. 1410)
  • c. 1414–1417John Wethamstede
  • c. 1417–1423 Thomas Ledbury
  • c. 1425–1426 Edmund Kirton
  • fl. 1429–1431 John Bevere
  • c. 1439–1442 Thomas Knyght (alleged)
  • 1446 William Wroughton
  • 1451 Mag. Tully
  • 1452 Richard Ryngstede
  • 1492 John Kyllyngworth
  • 1502 Dr. Stangwell/Stanywell
  • c. 1512 John Wynnyscombe/Wynchecombe
  • 1522 Thomas Barton
  • 1522–1528 John Newbolde
  • fl. 1526–1529 Anthony Dunston/Kitchin
  • c. 1530 Humphrey Webley
  • 1534–1535 Andrew Alton
  • 1537 Robert Joseph
  • 1538 Thomas Wellys[11][12]


Alumni edit

Those who studied at the college and hall include:

Gloucester College (1283–1542) edit

Gloucester Hall (1542–1714) edit

Notes and references edit

  1. ^ David Knowles, The Religious Orders in England vol. II (1955) p. 14 calls it "something of a patchwork" and (p. 17) "a loose confederation of small groups rather than a college".
  2. ^ Appointed by the Abbot of Malmesbury, but there was a regent master appointed by the provincial Benedictine presidents. (Knowles p. 14)
  3. ^ Stockwell Street no longer exists, but it "ran northwards from the Castle along the line of the present Worcester and Walton Streets" (Nicholas de Stockwell, Oxford History).
  4. ^ This persisted into the 16th century.The House of White Friars, Victoria County History, 1907.
  5. ^ Houses of Benedictine monks: Gloucester College, Oxford', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2 (1907), pp. 70–71 Date accessed: 23 January 2007.
  6. ^ Knowles p.15.
  7. ^ Knowles p. 17.
  8. ^ Leach, Arthur Francis (1911). "Schools" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 365.
  9. ^ Jericho Echo Online.
  10. ^ Tappe, E. D. (1954). "The Greek College at Oxford, 1699–1705" (PDF). Oxoniensia. 19: 92–111.
  11. ^ Pantin, William Abel (1946). "Gloucester College" (PDF). Oxoniensa. 11–12: 65–75.
  12. ^ "Houses of Benedictine monks: Gloucester College, Oxford".
  13. ^ "Gloucester Hall and Worcester College", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3: The University of Oxford (1954), pp. 298–309. URL: Date accessed: 17 April 2012.