Merton College

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Merton College, one of the 32 Oxford University colleges, was founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton, England’s Chancellor and Bishop of Rochester. Its full name is: The House of Scholars of Merton. This was the first purpose-built college where students could live and be tutored. It is one of the three ancient colleges founded in 13th century. Merton College is administered by a Governing Body consisting of the Warden and Fellows.

Merton College was set at its present location, in the south east part of the city, by 1274. Parts of the College as the hall, the chapel and the front part of the front quad were built by the end of the 13th century. Except chapel, they have been changed a lot.

The original church of St. John the Baptist was replaced by new one that began to be built in 1290. The south transept was built in the 14th century, the north transept in the early years of the 15th. The great tower was complete by 1450. The chapel served as both college chapel and parish church until 1891. Remarkable are coloured stained glasses depicting apostles and saints, representing Early English Period of architecture. The hall has been widely changed first by James Wyatt in 1790s then by Gilbert Scott in 1874. The only thing that has remained in its original shape is door with medieval ironwork. Front quad is probably the earliest collegiate quadrangle, although having haphazard pattern. Mob Quad is said to set the pattern for future collegiate architecture both in Oxford and Cambridge. The library is located here. The greatest Quadrangle is Fellows’ Quad south of the hall. Sir Henry Savile laid the foundation stone in 1608 and it was finished in 1610. The southern gateway is surmounted by a tower of the four Orders. The Gardens are in the southeastern corner of the old walled city of Oxford. They contain for example a mulberry tree planted in the early 17th century, an armillary sundial, a beautiful lawn, and the old Fellows' summer house.

To the most famous people who studied at Merton College belongs for instance: John Wycliffe (theologian), Thomas Bodley (librarian), William Harvey (physician), David Hartley (Member of Parliament and signatory to the Treaty of Paris), Lord Randolph Churchill (British statesman), T. S. Eliot (poet and Nobel Laureate for literature) or J. R. R. Tolkien (author and Merton Professor of English).
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