Special Collections

Christ Church houses several exceptional collections of manuscripts, music, rare and early printed books and pamphlets, all of which are freely available for research. This video about accessing Special Collections in Oxford colleges will give you an idea of what to expect from your visit.

The collections, built up over centuries by purchase, gift and bequest, contain many unique items and cover all subject areas, but they are particularly strong in:

  • Theology and liturgy
  • Classics
  • Numismatics
  • Early science and medicine
  • Natural history
  • Voyages and travels
  • Pamphlet literature from the 16th-20th centuries
  • Hebrew studies. 
  • Pre-1700 manuscripts of English and Italian music and pre-1700 printed music
  • Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)
  • The Brady Collection of Theatrical Ephemera
  • The Lord Portal Collection


We welcome enquiries about the collections from members of Christ Church, alumni and external researchers. Please contact us at library@chch.ox.ac.uk.


Information for Readers

Opening Hours

Monday-Friday: 10.00-13.00 and 14.00-16.30.


Essential Information

Special Collections is open to all members of Christ Church and to external readers. Please note that all readers are requested to book their visit in advance. To arrange your visit please contact us at library@chch.ox.ac.uk, at least two working days in advance of your preferred date, and include the following information:

  • Library catalogue references for the items you would like to view. You may request a maximum of six items at any one time. To request and consult items, please use SOLO for printed books or use the separate catalogues listed here https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/library-and-archives/catalogue
  • The preferred day of your visit, and whether you would like to visit in the morning (10.00-13.00), afternoon or both (14.00-16.30). We will then confirm your visit with you



If you are a member of Christ Church teaching staff, we are also very happy to discuss developing special collections seminars for you and your students.


Further Information

Our Special Collections are usually consulted in the Upper Library, which is accessed via a flight of stairs. There is, unfortunately, no lift inside the Library. If you have any access requirements please contact Library staff and make them aware.

If you are not a member of Christ Church please report to the Tom Quad porters’ lodge on St Aldates, and they will direct you to the Library.

To help us protect our collections food and drinks are not permitted in the Upper Library. There is no cafe or refreshment facilities on site however, there are coffee shops and cafes nearby.


Digitised versions of many of the items held in the Special Collections are available on our Digital Library https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/library-and-archives/digital-library.  

For news about events and work on Special Collections, please look at our Exhibitions and Research.

For further information, please read Guidelines and Rules for Special Collections.