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Funding the building - January 1606

Written by Judith Curthoys, posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Document of the Month - January 2020

Christ Church Archives, DP ii.c.1, f.6

Document - Christ Church Archives, DP ii.c.1, f.6In 1566, when Queen Elizabeth I came to visit Christ Church, the costs were absorbed completely by the Dean and Chapter so, when she stayed for the second time, in 1592, Christ Church was firm, and insisted that the expenses were shared with the other colleges and the University.

A system was set up which divided costs by the relative wealth of the various colleges and so, by the time James I stopped by in 1605, the accounting was smooth and the costs proportionate.

James arrived at Woodstock on 21 August and, six days later, entered Oxford – newly scrubbed and painted for the occasion.  It was quite a day; all the students had lined up in their Sunday best to greet the monarch, there were sermons at St Mary’s church, speeches in the town hall, a Greek oration outdoors at Carfax, and a drama performed at the gates of St John’s College.  After a service in the cathedral – accompanied by two treble cornetts purchased especially, James and his queen retired to the deanery for a well-earned rest before another day of plays, music and dance, as well as formal and academic business.

The bill for the king’s visit came to £177 6s 6½d of which £105 (about £22,000 today) was reimbursed to Christ Church by the University. Dean John King, who had only just been appointed, and the Chapter must have looked around them and saw that Peckwater Quad, much as it is today, had been under scaffolding for five years or so, being rebuilt and renovated to make it more suitable for the demands of modern early seventeenth-century academic residents.  Nearly all the University’s donation to the coffers - £93 9s ½d was spent on completing the work on the Quad.


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