Oriel College

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Oriel College is one of the 32 colleges of the University of Oxford. It is the fifth oldest of them. It is located in Oriel Square in Oxford.

Edward II, when fleeing from the Battle of Bannockburn, made a vow to the Virgin Mary that if she saved him he would found an Oxford house in her name. Thus in 1324 Adam de Brome, under the patronage of Edward II founded “The House of Blessed Mary the Virgin in Oxford”. This was confirmed in a charter of 21 January 1326. In 1329, the college received through royal grant a large house known as La Oriole. The present day First Quad stands on its original site. The common name Oriel is in use from about 1349 because of this property. The College remained a small body of graduate Fellows until the 16th century, when it started to admit undergraduates. Nowadays, the Oriel College has nearly 40 Fellows, about 300 undergraduates and some 160 graduates (both men and women).

First quadrangle was rebuilt during the 17th century in the artisan mannerist style. The façade of the east range forms a classical E shape comprising the college chapel, hall and undercroft. The entrance to the Hall is dominated by a grand stepped porch surmounted by an ornate parapet bearing the words “Regnante Carolo”, meaning “When Charles reigns” – it was created during his reign. The portico was completely rebuilt in 1897, and statues of two Kings: Edward II on the left, and probably either Charles I or James I on the right were put there. Above those there is a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Chapel is Oriel’s third one, consecrated in 1642. Despite several restorations, it has mostly kept its original appearance. Behind the altar is Bernard van Orley's painting – The Carrying of the Cross, that belongs to the college’s most notable possessions. In the buildings around the Second Quad there are the library and senior common rooms. The south, east and west ranges of Third quadrangle contain elements of St Mary Hall, which was incorporated into Oriel in 1902. The Rhodes Building was built in 1911. On the High Street is the site of Tackley's Inn; built around 1295, it was the first piece of property that Adam de Brome acquired when he began to found the college in 1324.

To the most famous Oriel alumni belong Nobel laureates and prominent Fellows have included John Keble and John Henry Newman, founders of the Oxford Movement.
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