Oxford University is an umbrella institution for 38 self-governing colleges and students are affiliated to one of these for the duration of their studies. Consequently, there is no campus as such but endless college halls and, in among them, the buildings of the various faculties – Music, History, Engineering, and so on.
Many colleges, such as Balliol and Christ Church, are centuries old. They began as religious institutions and their ornamented cloistered buildings reflect this: quadrangles, chapels, formal gardens, gatehouses and porters’ lodges are frequent features. The newest include Kellogg College, established in 1990, and Green Templeton College, in 2008.
Keble College’s impressive exterior © James Watts, Shutterstock
Tourists may visit the grounds of some university colleges and go inside some halls. The best known – Christ Church, Magdalen and New College, for example – charge nominal fees but there are several colleges that you may enter free of charge. Of these, take a look at St John’s, All Souls and Keble colleges in particular for architectural interest and a view of college traditions. Dates and times of entry for visitors vary between colleges and seasons; most display a board outside the gatehouse indicating whether they accept visitors and when, or you can visit the university website, which provides opening hours and costs for each college.
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