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Christ Church College, Oxford University

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Christ Church College, University of Oxford

St. Aldates, Oxford.

Founded 1524 by King Henry VIII, Re-founded in 1546

Christ Church (Latin: Ædes Christi, the temple or house (ædēs) of Christ, and thus sometimes known as "The House") is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. The college is associated with Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, which serves as the college chapel and whose dean is ex officio the college head.

Like its sister college, Trinity College, Cambridge, it was traditionally considered the most aristocratic college of its university. It is the second wealthiest Oxford college by financial endowment (after St John's) with an endowment of £310m as of 2012.[2]

Christ Church has produced thirteen British prime ministers, which is equal to the number produced by all 45 other Oxford colleges put together and more than any Cambridge college (and two short of the total number for the University of Cambridge of fifteen).

The college was the setting for parts of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, as well as a small part of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. More recently it has been used in the filming of the movies of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and also the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's novel Northern Lights (the film bearing the title of the American edition of the book, The Golden Compass). Distinctive features of the college's architecture have been used as models by a number of other academic institutions, including the National University of Ireland, Galway, which reproduces Tom Quad. The University of Chicago and Cornell University both have reproductions of Christ Church's dining hall (in the forms of Hutchinson Hall and the dining hall of Risley Residential College, respectively). ChristChurch Cathedral in New Zealand, after which the City of Christchurch is named, is itself named after Christ Church, Oxford. Stained glass windows in the cathedral and other buildings are by the Pre-Raphaelite William Morris group with designs by Edward Burne-Jones[3][4]

Christ Church is also partly responsible for the creation of University College Reading, which later gained its own Royal Charter and became the University of Reading.

The college has admitted women as junior members since 1978, with the first female students graduating in 1980.[5]

In 1525, at the height of his power, Thomas Wolsey, Lord Chancellor of England and Cardinal Archbishop of York, suppressed the Priory of St Frideswide in Oxford and founded Cardinal College on its lands, using funds from the dissolution of Wallingford Priory and other minor priories. He planned the establishment on a magnificent scale, but fell from grace in 1529, with the buildings only three-quarters complete, as they were to remain for 140 years.

In 1531 the college was itself suppressed, but it was refounded in 1532 as King Henry VIII's College by Henry VIII, to whom Wolsey's property had escheated. Then in 1546 the King, who had broken from the Church of Rome and acquired great wealth through the dissolution of the monasteries in England, refounded the college as Christ Church as part of the reorganisation of the Church of England, making the partially demolished priory church the cathedral of the recently created diocese of Oxford.

Christ Church's sister college in the University of Cambridge is Trinity College, Cambridge, founded the same year by Henry VIII. Since the time of Queen Elizabeth I the college has also been associated with Westminster School, which continues to supply a significant number of undergraduates to the college.[citation needed] The Dean remains to this day an ex officio member of the school's governing body.[6]

Major additions have been made to the buildings through the centuries, and Wolsey's Great Quadrangle was crowned with the famous gate-tower designed by Sir Christopher Wren. To this day the bell in the tower, Great Tom, is rung 101 times at 9 pm at the former Oxford time (9:05 pm GMT/BST) every night, for the 100 original scholars of the college (plus one added in 1664). In former times this was done at midnight, signalling the close of all college gates throughout Oxford. Since it took 20 minutes to ring the 101, Christ Church gates, unlike those of other colleges, did not close until 12.20. When the ringing was moved back to 9 pm, Christ Church gates still remained open until 12.20, 20 minutes later than any other college. Although the clock itself now shows GMT/BST, Christ Church still follows Oxford time in the timings of services in the cathedral.

King Charles I made the Deanery his palace and held his Parliament in the Great Hall during the English Civil War. In the evening of 29 May 1645, during the second siege of Oxford, a "bullet of IX lb. weight" shot from the Parliamentarians warning-piece at Marston fell against the wall of the north side of the Hall.[7]

Several of Christ Church's Deans achieved high academic distinction, notably Aldrich and Fell in the Restoration period, Jackson and Gaisford in the early 19th century and Liddell in the high Victorian era. During the Commonwealth, John Owen attained considerable eminence.