Hertford College, Oxford

From Academic Kids

Hertford College
Established 1282
Sister CollegeNone
Principal Sir Walter Bodmer
College Cat Simpkins
Undergraduates 360

</div> Hertford College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. It is located in Catte Street, directly opposite the main entrance of the original Bodleian Library.



The college was originally founded as Hart Hall in 1282 by Elias de Hertford. In medieval Oxford, halls were primarily lodging houses for students and resident tutors, and thus did not have the same status as fully-fledged colleges. Many of the great minds of the English Renaissance studied at what would eventually become Hertford College including the metaphysical poet John Donne, the social theorist Thomas Hobbes, and the first translator of the Bible into English, William Tyndale. The first attempt to establish Hart Hall as a full college would come in the late 18th century, but the proposal ran into funding problems. The buildings were subsequently taken over as Magdalen Hall (not related to the similarly named Magdalen College whose separate Hall had been incorporated into the University as a college years before)1. In 1874, the combined Hart Hall/Magdalen Hall was finally re-established as a full college, largely due to the sponsorship of Sir Thomas Baring. Within only seven years, the college came Head of the River in the annual college boat races.

Hertford was one of the first five co-educational colleges in the university. It has an almost equal gender balance with a slightly higher proportion of women to men. Traditionally seen as a progressive college, in the 1960s Hertford was one of the first colleges to encourage applicants from state schools, and has a significantly higher proportion of students from state schools relative to private schools.

More recently the college has benefited from its firm financial footing. With an aggressive buying policy, its library collection has become one of the largest amongst the colleges and contains over 40,000 volumes. Among these are many rare seventeenth century manuscripts and an original edition of Hobbes' Leviathan given as a personal gift to the college where he prepared his best-known work. Students are accommodated for the full three years either on the main site or on college-owned property primarily in North Oxford and the Folly Bridge area. A new Hertford Graduate Centre fronting the Thames has also been built near Folly Bridge and was opened in 2000. The college playing fields include a pavilion with facilities for most major team sports; its shared boathouse has been recently rebuilt, and the college has a new student gym. Despite its reputation for a relaxed atmosphere Hertford has featured well in exam results, often finishing among the top ten university-wide.

The College Site

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Bridge of Sighs in Hertford College

The main college consists of three quadrangles: Old Quadrangle, New Quadrangle and Holywell Quadrangle.

The Old Quadrangle (Old quad or OB (old building) quad for short), as the name suggests, is the oldest and the original quadrangle. It incorporates the lodge, library, chapel, hall, bursary and other administrative buildings. It is also home to many of the studies of senior fellows and tutors. Old quad is the only Hertford quadrangle to have a lawn in the centre, in the traditional college style, and its flower embossed gate dates from the sixteenth century. The lawn is off-limits during Michaelmas and Hilary terms but freely traversable during Trinity term. Senior fellows of the college are granted the privilege of being able to walk across the lawn all year round.

The New Quadrangle (New Quad or NB quad for short) is connected to the Old Quadrangle via the famous Hertford Bridge, also known as the Bridge of Sighs, which was designed by Thomas Jackson. New quad is primarily composed of undergraduate housing and associated facilities. With views of the Sheldonian Theatre the MCR (Middle Common Room) 'Octagon' incorporates part of a sixteenth century chapel built into the old city wall. It is also situated in New quad and is off limits to all undergraduates except those enrolled as mature students.

Holywell Quadrangle backs directly onto New quad, and the two are connected by an arched corridor that also contains the steps down to Hertford's subterranean bar, the only fully student-run bar in Oxford. Holywell is almost exclusively first-year undergraduate housing and therefore contains the JCR (Junior Common Room). The Baring Room occupies the highest level of one of five staircases in Holywell and is named after the benefactor whose funding aided Hertford's classificatory transition from a hall of residence to a fully fledged college.

Fellows of the College

Famous Former Students

Subjects Taught

As of 2005, Hertford teaches degrees in most of the courses and combinations permitted by the University, including: Archaeology and Anthropology; Biochemistry; Biological Sciences; Chemistry; Classical Archaeology and Ancient History; Classics; Computer Science; Earth Sciences; Economics and Management; Engineering Science; Engineering and Computing Science; Engineering, Economics and Management; English; English and Modern Languages; Experimental Psychology; Fine Art; Geography; History (Modern); History (Modern) and English; History (Modern) and Modern Languages; History (Modern) and Politics; Human Sciences; Law; Mathematics; Maths and Computer Science; Maths and Philosophy; Modern Languages; Music; Oriental Studies; PPE; Philosophy and Theology; PPP; and also Theology. Recently the Times Good University Guide has described Hertford as being strong in most subjects and known particularly for its English, Law and Geography courses.

External links


  • Note 1: Goudie, Andrew (ed.), Seven Hundred Years of an Oxford College: Hertford College, 1284-1984, Oxford Press (Oxford, c1984).

Colleges of the University of Oxford

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Arms of the University

All Souls | Balliol | Brasenose | Christ Church | Corpus Christi | Exeter | Green | Harris Manchester | Hertford | Jesus | Keble | Kellogg | Lady Margaret Hall | Linacre | Lincoln | Magdalen | Mansfield | Merton | New College | Nuffield | Oriel | Pembroke | Queen's | St Anne's | St Antony's | St Catherine's | St Cross | St Edmund Hall | St Hilda's | St Hugh's | St John's | St Peter's | Somerville | Templeton | Trinity | University | Wadham | Wolfson | Worcester

Permanent Private Halls at the University of Oxford

Blackfriars | Campion Hall | Greyfriars | Regent's Park College | St Benet's Hall | St Stephen's House | Wycliffe Hall


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