Canterbury Quad

Passing in front of the library, you will enter the last area on your visit to Christ Church, Canterbury Quadrangle. Built on the site of the medieval Canterbury College, after which the quad takes its name, Canterbury originally housed the most privileged undergraduates at Christ Church.  Today, rooms in Canterbury are mainly used by university tutors as studies and as the location for tutorials.

Shortly after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the 1530s, the hall, chapel and other buildings of Canterbury College were acquired for the new Oxford foundation.  Canterbury College already had a rich history: founded in 1363 as a place of study for the monks of Christ Church priory, the college’s alumni include Sir Thomas More, of Utopia fame.  But during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the focus of the college was upon Tom Quad and its development.

With the eighteenth-century redevelopment of Christ Church came the need to renovate Canterbury, for the splendour of the newly rebuilt Peckwater and the Library was somewhat undermined by the rather shabbier Canterbury lodgings. Courtesy of a generous benefactor, Richard Robinson, alumnus of Christ Church who had become the Archbishop of Armagh, the redevelopment of the Canterbury area was able to commence. The old medieval buildings were demolished and a new quad, designed by the English architect James Wyatt, was completed by 1783. Robinson insisted that the best rooms in it should always be allotted to noblemen and gentlemen commoners. Thankfully, Robinson’s demands have since gone unheeded. 

Since the 1960s, Canterbury has also provided access to Christ Church Picture Gallery. Designed by the architects Powell and Moya, and opened in 1968, the gallery houses Christ Church’s remarkable collection of artistic treasures, which includes drawings by Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. Visitors are advised to check online for gallery opening times and plan their trip accordingly - they will not wish to miss this splendid collection.

Upon exiting Canterbury gate, you will find yourself in Oriel Square. From here, you have ready access to a number of Oxford’s finest sights. Straight ahead of you is Merton Street, on the right-hand side of which is an entrance to Christ Church Meadow. To your left can see the spire of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, and behind it, though not visible, the Radcliffe Camera and the Bodleian Library. Please ask any of the custodians for directions to any other sights, they will be happy to assist.