Christ Church is one of the colleges of Oxford University and sits in the heart of the city. Founded in 1546, today it is a key part of a very modern university, offering a home, undergraduate teaching and graduate supervision to over six hundred students. Its academic staff cover almost all subjects taught at Oxford. It stands out for its size, the beauty of its buildings, and its welcoming atmosphere, as well as the distinguished research and teaching that goes on within its walls. It is unique in another way too: it is a cathedral as well as a college.
Christ Church today is a busy academic community with many more students (about 450 undergraduates and 150 Graduates) and many more academic subjects being studied than was the case when it was founded in the 16th century.
Christ Church was originally founded by Cardinal Wolsey as Cardinal’s College in 1525. The college buildings took over the site of St. Frideswide’s Monastery, which was suppressed by Wolsey to fund his college
The monastery dated back to the earliest days of Oxford as a settlement in the 9th Century AD. When Wolsey fell from power in 1529 the College became property of King Henry VIII. Henry re-founded the College in 1546 and appointed the old monastery church as the cathedral of the new diocese of Oxford. The new institution of cathedral and university college was named Aedes Christi, which is rendered in English as Christ Church. It is due to its ecclesiastical function that Christ Church’s principal, the Dean, is always a clergyman.
During the English Civil War (1642-1646) King Charles I lived at Christ Church. He held his Parliament in the Great Hall and attended services in the Cathedral. After the war and the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the College was rewarded for its loyalty to the House of Stuart by being able to raise enough money to complete the main quadrangle (Tom Quad).
A former student, Sir Christopher Wren, was commissioned to design a new bell tower in 1682, which houses the bell, Great Tom, from which the tower and the quad get their names.
The Dean who supervised this work, John Fell, was an unpopular man inspired the famous verse, “I do not love thee Dr Fell; The reason why I cannot tell; But this I know and know full well, I do not love thee, Dr Fell”.
Sitting right in the heart of Oxford but bounded by its Meadow and the Rivers Cherwell and Isis, Christ Church is architecturally stunning. The Cathedral is a Romanesque gem and is entered from Tom Quad (the largest in Oxford and Wolsey’s work). Christopher Wren’s Tom Tower is the college’s most famous feature and an Oxford landmark. Striking additions in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries complete what is not simply a panorama but a place for living and working.
Christ Church has had many students who have subsequently gone on to achieve considerable fame. Among these are the philosopher John Locke, religious leaders John Wesley and William Penn and the writers W.H. Auden and Lewis Carroll. Albert Einstein studied at Christ Church briefly in the 1930s. The College also has a close connection with government. Christ Church has produced 13 Prime Ministers and numerous Cabinet ministers, Bishops and civil servants.
The House’s most celebrated political alumnus is William Gladstone who was Prime Minister 4 times during the 19th Century. More recent members include the comedy writer Richard Curtis and the composer and broadcaster Howard Goodall.
Christ Church Today
The dual life of church and college continues to complement each other after 500 years, forming a unique community in the centre of Oxford. Since 1980 Christ Church has been co-educational, admitting women, who now make up half of the student body.
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El Christ Church (en latín: Ædes Christi, el templo o la casa de Cristo, y algunas veces conocido como The House), es uno de los colleges más grandes que constituyen la Universidad de Oxford en Inglaterra. Además de ser un college, el Christ Church es la iglesia catedral de la Diócesis de Oxford, llamada Christ Church Catedral, Oxford. La catedral tiene un famoso coro de hombres y niños, y es una de las principales fundaciones corales de Oxford. Fue fundado como el Monasterio de St. Frideswide (Santa Fredesvinda), Oxford; casa de monjes agustinos, pero fue desalojado por Enrique VIII de Inglaterra, durante la Disolución de los monasterios.
El Christ Church se ha visto tradicionalmente como el college más aristocrático de Oxford. Ha producido trece Primeros Ministros (los dos más recientes son Anthony Eden desde 1955 a 1957; y Sir Alec Douglas-Home desde 1963 a 1964), que es más que cualquier otro college de Cambridge u Oxford (y a sólo dos del número total de los que han salido de Cambridge: 15). Sin embargo hoy en día la proporción de estudiantes provenientes de las escuelas públicas y privadas está bastante igualado, algo típico en la mayoría de los colleges de Oxford.
El college es el emplazamiento de las novelas Brideshead Revisited de Evelyn Waugh, a sí como de Alicia en el País de las Maravillas de Lewis Carroll. Más recientemente ha sido usado para rodar las películas de Harry Potter y la adaptación de la novela de Philip Pullman Luces del Norte (estrenada en cines con el título Americano La brújula dorada). Diferentes características arquitectónicas del college han sido imitadas en otros edificios, incluyendo la Universidad Nacional de Irlanda, Galway, que reproduce el Tom Quad. La Universidad de Chicago y la Universidad Cornell que ambas tienen reproducciones del comedor del Christ Church.
En julio de 2007, el college tenía un presupuesto estimado en 250 millones de libras.