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Merton College, Oxford University

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Merton College, University of Oxford

Merton Street, Oxford

Founded by Walter de Merton Chancellor of England under Henry Ill & Edward I & Bishop of Rochester, in 1264.

Merton College (in full: The House or College of Scholars of Merton in the University of Oxford) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its foundation can be traced back to the 1260s when Walter de Merton, chancellor to Henry III and later to Edward I, first drew up statutes for an independent academic community and established endowments to support it. The important feature of Walter's foundation was that this "college" was to be self-governing and the endowments were directly vested in the Warden and Fellows.[3] Merton was the first college to be conceived as a community working to achieve academic ends, rather than just a place for the housing of scholars.

By 1274 when Walter retired from royal service and made his final revisions to the college statutes, the community was consolidated at its present site in the south east corner of the city of Oxford, and a rapid Merton College was founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton, Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Rochester. It has a claim to be the oldest college in Oxford, although this claim is disputed between Merton College, Balliol College and University College. The substance of Merton's claim to the title of oldest college is that Merton was the first college to be provided with "statutes", a constitution governing the college set out at its founding. Merton's statutes date back to 1264, whereas neither Balliol nor University College had statutes until the 1280s. Merton was also the first college to be conceived as a community working to achieve academic ends, rather than just a place for the housing of scholars.

Merton has an unbroken line of wardens dating back to 1264. Of these, many had great influences over the development of the college. Henry Savile was one notable leader whose vision led the college to flourish in the early 17th century. of building commenced. The hall and the chapel and the rest of the front quad were complete before the end of the 13th century. Mob Quad, one of Merton's quadrangles, was constructed in the years from 1288-1378 and is claimed to be the oldest quadrangle in Oxford,[4] while Merton College Library, located in Mob Quad and dating from 1373, is the oldest continuously functioning library for university academics and students in the world.[5]

The college is associated with a number of notable people, including four Nobel Laureates and writer J. R. R. Tolkien who was Merton Professor of English Language and Literature from 1945 to 1959.[6] Merton is among the wealthiest colleges in Oxford, and had a financial endowment of £189 million as of July 2013.[7][8] Merton currently ranks first in the Norrington Table.[9]