The (Senior) ‘Common Room’ refers both to a physical space and to the body of senior members of the House – a private association, formally independent of Christ Church, that exists to facilitate social and professional engagement between Members, and between Members and the broader Christ Church community.
In the physical sense, common rooms emerged in Oxford colleges in the late seventeenth century, as spaces to which academics might withdraw after dinner to converse with colleagues or to entertain guests. The Christ Church Common Room owes its origin to a benefaction of Dr Richard Busby (Ch:Ch: 1626), then Headmaster of Westminster School, by whose agreement with the Dean and Chapter of 9 June 1667 the space under the Hall still occupied by the Common Room was ‘set apart and applied … to the use of the Masters Students and others of this house for their Publick fires, & such like occasions’.
In the institutional sense, the nineteenth century Common Room was the principal agency for engaging with non-resident members of the House – with respect, for example, to electing the two Members of Parliament for the University. It was also the forum in which the Students met to plan the reforms ultimately embodied in the Christ Church (Oxford) Act 1867, by which the Governing Body was expanded to include the Students in addition to the Dean and Chapter. Common Room membership is now offered to members of the Governing Body, Honorary and Emeritus Students, Research Fellows, and Lecturers, as well as to certain Honorary and Associate Members.
The Common Room intranet page will go live in due course; in the interim, Members may find the following links useful: