The Building of Cardinal College, Oxford


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The Building of Cardinal College, Oxford



IN 1928 President Allen drew attention to a chest half full of crumpled papers which formerly stood in the Old Bursary at Corpus. It was emptied, and the contents proved to be a miscellaneous collection of documents mainly dating from the 16th and early 17th centuries, none later than 1642. They were generally of the class that might have been lying about in a bursary at that time—accounts, memoranda and letters—and the explanation that most readily suggested itself was that they had been used as packing when some objects were stowed away in the chest and left there when those objects were removed. If this explanation is accepted, those objects were probably the more valuable items of the college plate, the whole of which was surrendered to Charles I in that year, like that of all the other colleges in Oxford; but some articles were redeemed by a cash payment and then disappeared from sight until conditions became more secure1.

Amongst these documents there were some few whose presence in the college seemed accidental in the sense that they had no obvious connection with any college business; and one of these has proved on investigation to be of considerable interest. It is a tattered and mouse-nibbled book of thirty-two leaves containing building accounts, with a cover made out of two leaves of a psalter and strips of manuscript. It is endorsed on the first page in the hand of Brian Twyne ‘An imperfect booke of the expenses of the buildinge of C.C.C. in Oxon but there is a better one in the Tower’2. This note was probably made about 1628, when Twyne arranged the college muniments and supervised the transcription of about 4,400 title deeds of the estates; papers which did not seem of material importance for the history of the estates were put aside as rejectanea and not transcribed, and this is doubtless one so classed by him. He clearly did not read it through; there is no year date and no mention of the building concerned, and so far as the first thirty sheets go the entries might refer to any college; but at the end there is a summary of monies ‘recepta per me Johannem Higdon’ which stamps the document as concerning Cardinal College, of which Higdon was the first dean: this is confirmed by the fact that during the work recorded there was an Easter holiday, when Easter Sunday fell on April 16th, showing the year to have been 1525. A note on the cover in an earlier hand than Twyne’s might have given him a clue, but that the mice had eaten away the most important words and all that remains is

. . . accountes of buylding the
. . . dge3

The greater part of the book is taken up with detailed entries of expendi­ture on building from 28 January to 1 July, 1525, and the entries are classified under the various trades concerned. The first list is of the expenses for purchase and storage of tools and utensils, the total being £32 4s. 8d. Next come the wages of the masons and labourers for hewing stone and setting and making walls; the sum of these is £177 19s. 0d. The expenses of quarrying the stone were £29 14s. 9½d. and the carriage of stone from the quarry cost £45 1s. 8d. There were five lime-kilns, the total expenditure on which was £26 5s. 1id. The next entry is for the wages of the slaters, which do not begin until 13 May and amount to £9 0s. 11d. The wood was obtained from the Abbot of Abingdon and the expenditure on felling trees and squaring the timber came to £42 10s. 8d., while the carriage of wood cost £13 3s. 4d., the making of laths £1 4s. 5d., and the sawing of the boards apparently £19. At this point the total expenditure up to 1 July is summarized as £403 18s. 9½d. After this date there were only fortnightly totals of money handed over to assistants paying the workmen, which come to £872 1s. 21d. It would appear that after 1 July, when the royal licence for the foundation of the college had been received, Higdon turned over the work of paying the workmen to somebody who was probably acting as clerk of accounts to the college, and ceased to enter details.

It is not worth while to print the accounts in full, as they are largely taken up with repetitions of names; and the tattered condition of the book prevents an exact tabulation either of continuity of employment or of expendi­ture. Higdon was not a good clerk, and his entries are not systematically arranged, while alterations, especially in sums, are frequent. Some specimens of the entries for different trades are given: in the first his spelling and scheme are followed as closely as possible, except for expansion of abbreviations and substitution of capital letters: words or figures crossed out in the original are in double brackets, those added above the line in angular brackets; but the chaotic appearance of the page cannot be reproduced in print. In the other extracts the spelling is modernized, except for proper names.

FOL. 3­

‘The masons and Laborars.

Expenses for hewynge stone and settyng and makyng wallys

Payd for caryge off a grynston frome London for the masons use and for the carydge off the masons stuffe frome Abyn­don to Oxforde by Mr. Freres [
xi die Februarii

Payde to [[Johnson the fremason for]] Jonson the master mason for ii wekys [

Payde to John Mawe John Horslay Richarde Rondell for ii wekys xxs

Payde to John Oldam for on weke John [[B]]radley for one weke vis [viiid

Payde to William Jonson for a gryndston and for a box for the moldys us iiiid

Payde to William Jonson for one weke nexte affter the ffeste off the Epiphany cum with Redman and Lubyns to se the platte with the grownde and devysyng the beyldyng [

Payde to William Hobbys and W Brytan laborars for sawyng stone and odur labors for x days at iiiid a day apece [
3a Septimana

xviii Febr. Payde to W Jonson John Mawe John Horsley Ric Rondell John [[B]]radlay Ric Birche John Presgrave Thomas Coke Henry Grassam masons for on weke xxxiiis

Payde to W Peryn and Robert Wilson laborars abowte the same worke for viii days vs iiiid

4ta Septimana

Payde [[to a]] laborar on daye brekynge wallys for wyndose iiiid

xxv Febr. Payd to Nicholas Newman laborarar for xi days and to John Horslay for v days [

Payde to W Hobbys and W Brytan laborars for xi days viis iiiid

Payde to William Hamond Ric Luys Robert

Jonson Robert Cokkes rughmasons rakyng

vid a day [ ’

The number of workmen employed grew steadily, till on 1 July the pay-roll included the names of 32 masons, 16 rough-layers, and 64 labourers: 3 of the masons and 7 of the labourers had not been at work for the whole of the fortnight then ended. The masons were paid 3s. 4d. a week, with extra money for setting; the rough-layers 6d. a day; the labourers 4d a day and 3d. a night when digging foundations. There are practically no details as to the nature of the work: at a date lost, probably in April, Person, a mason, was employed for a week at Hampton Court making moulds. But at the end there is an interesting entry: ‘Paid to Mr. Redman and Mr. Lubyns master masons for vi days and for iiii days coming to Oxford for every day being at Oxford xiid apiece and everyday riding xvid apiece­xxiis viiid.’ This can be connected with the trip to the quarries at Barrington and Sherborne on 28 June mentioned below.

FOL. 10.

‘Expenses of the quarry and drawing of stone beginning the xvi day of [February]

Paid to John Attkyns for ridding of the quarry for v days vd a day xx[vd]

Paid to Henry Fychytt Henry Attkyns William Whyte for v days vs

Paid to William Styche William Morys Thomas Dykyns for iiii days iiiis

Paid to Richard Rentfre for iii days et di and to Richard Pole for ii days and a quarter xxiiid

Paid to Thomas Oldham for one day and quarter vd

Summa xiiis iiiid’

Similar entries follow for the succeeding weeks: the number of men employed varies from week to week, the maximum being apparently 18, regularly at 4d. a day: payments are included for drawing loads of freestone and of rag to John Attkyns and to Gray; also one to ‘the whelar’ of 6d. for helming of picks and mattocks and beetles, 8 in number.

FOL. 12.

‘Paid for carriage of stone from the quarry xxviii die januarii

Paid to Thomas Smyth Thomas Jhonys John Attkyns viis id’

Most of the entries under this heading are simply names, numbers of loads, and sums paid at 5d. a load; there is one of a payment to ‘Harme for his cart and his servant to carry off sand and stone v days et di vs vid.’ The number of carters employed varied: in the busiest week there were at least 20, who took from 5 to 30 loads. On 2 May there are entries for the carriage of 54 loads of stone and 18 loads of timber ‘from a house besides Saint Mary College’ at 2d. a load.

FOL. 14.

`Costs for making lime’

There were five lime-kilns: the payments for the first run from 28 January to 17 February and include items for cleaving wood, gathering stone (chiefly to ‘diverse women’), burning lime, dressing the pit, and carriage to and from the kiln: William Staunton, who seems to have been in general charge of the work, received pay for 20 days attendance. The entries for the second and third kilns are not dated, but are generally similar: the second was under Thomas Pole, the third under Staunton. The fourth and fifth were not started till after 1 July, and the items are much less detailed: the only name mentioned is John Raynsforde, who was probably responsible for both.

FOL. 16.


xiii Maii Paid to Richard Staunton and his son for vi days to Credston Chaley for ii days et di for slating viiis vid

Paid to Robert Crede, W Partingge serving slaters for vi days iiiis

Paid for a bushel tile pins ixd’

The normal wage for slaters was 6d. a day: one man, Champnes, was only paid 5d.: the ‘servants’ received 4d. The maximum number employed before 1 July was in the period ending 17 June, when there were 8 slaters and 5 servants.

FOL. 22.

‘Expenses for timber in my lord of Abendon woods

Paid to [[a]] carpenter for ii days choosing timber at Cumnar Wood Shawe and Cudston [

Paid for expense in ferry bread and ale for the carpenter and the abbot of Abendon servants in viewing and marking the timber ii days viid

Paid to the abbot of Abyndon servants for their labour in marking the timber iiiid

Paid Thomas Gylam Richard Balle Henry Smyth John Byrde for felling of trees at the Shawe and Cudysten cumma viiis

Item to Gyllam and Balle for xxxvi trees by Mr. Frere vis

xxviii Januarii Paid to Thomas Gylam <5 [[xxd]] iis id> W. Jackys <5 [[xxd]] iis id> Bartylmewe Gyllam <5 et di [[xxiid]] iis iiid ob.> Perse (5 et di [[xxiid]] its iiid ob.> viiis ixd

Paid to Mr Caro Mr Carpenter for vii days vid a day iiis vid

Paid to Plummer for felling of ii trees at the Shawe iiiid

Paid for felling of lx trees at Cumnar wood by convention xiiis iiid’

Later entries deal with a wider range of work; besides the payments for squaring timber at the woods and carriage of planks, in one case ‘to the New Bridge by the Trinity’, there is on 21 February an item, of which the sum is lost, ‘Paid to Thomas Stone carpenter for vi days and for his servant iii days about the building at Saint Frideswydes and a laborer with him one day’ ; and on 17 June a new source of timber appears in a payment of 26s. 8d. to Harry Clarke ‘and odur’ for felling 160 trees at Fostyll (i.e. Forest Hill) and Studley. Carvers first occur on 18 March: the warden carver was W. Okay, who, like the warden carpenter, received 8d. a day; the other carvers were paid at the same rate as the carpenters, 6d. a day.

FOL. 24.

‘Expenses for carriage of wood’

The charges for carriage of wood per load were, from the Shaw, 1s. 2d.; from Cuddesdon common, 1s., 1s. 2d. and 1s. 4d.; from Cumnor wood to the bridge at Oxford by water, 8d ; from Cumnor wood by land, 10d.; from Forest Hill, 10d.; from the Castle bridge, and for drawing out of the water, 6d. There is a special item on 15 April, half of which is eaten away, ‘for v loads carriage of wainscot and glass from [ ] and for carriage of the same from the barge [ ] and for the carriage of the same from Bert [ ]’.

FOL. 26.

‘Expenses for making laths for every thousand’

Payments under this head were made only in March and April; there are three entries, totalling to 12,000 laths at 2s. a thousand.

FOL. 27­

‘Expenses of sawing of boards planks sheds’

This sheet is half eaten away: the payments were evidently at piece-­rates, but all the sums paid are lost, except one of 4d. for sawing 32 feet. The first item, on 28 January, is tantalising—‘Paid to Thomas Caxton Thomas Dewe and their ser[vants ] planks and broken carvings and of vii dozen et di of [ ]’.

The transfer of responsibility for payments to workmen is recorded at the foot of fol. 27: what is left of the record runs ‘Item I paid to the hands of Mr. David [ ] of July to pay all manner of workmen and [ ] Item to the hands of the same the xxix day [ ] all other charges for ii weeks then p[ast ] an hundred trees of timber’. On the verso of this folio is a list of the sums received from Mr. David and Mr. Frere for the payment of all charges: the dates at the end are mutilated, but as they are regularly expressed to be for the fortnight then past they can be restored. The amounts are: 14 August, £66 10s. ; 28 August, £61 19s. 5½d.; 10 September, £87 2s. 10½d.; 24 September, £111 13s. 9 ½d.; 7 October, £145 1s. 8d. ; [21] October, £115 9s. 11d.; [4] November, £83 1s. 11½ d. ; [18] November, £84 7s. 9d.

On Fol. 30 the first four entries are hopelessly mutilated: they record the receipt of a sum in March from Wolsey by the hand of Robert Carter, another on 4 June through Dr. Stubbes, another on 28 July through Mr. Townley, and another through Dr. Stubbes. Then comes an entry evidently referring to an audit at the end of the year; what remains is ‘Mem. that the ii day of January the books of [ ] Lord’s Grace and upon the sum of Thom. C[romwell ? ] Grace and another with me in the which [ ] allocandum debui cxl [ ] et tunc habui in pecuniis ultimo anno receptis lx [ ] et liber pecuniarum extendebat se ad lxxxv [ ]’. At the foot of the page are items of receipts from Thomas Heanage of 23 January and from Henry Wyatt on 19 January for the new buildings for the next year, the amounts being lost: on the verso the entries of receipts continue, what remains here being the name of the month and the sum received: they are, March, £54 7s. 10d. and £108 13s. 4d.; April, £132 2s. 9d. ; May, £84 9s. and £171 16s. 6½d.; June, £81 5s. 8½ . and £244 19s. 5d.; July, £238 9s. 0½d., £238 5s. 7d., and £187 15s. 9¾d.; August, £184 15s. 8¼ . and £198 18s. 7½d. ; September, £135 7s. and £147 8s. 4d.; October, £160 1s. 8d. and £125; November, £120 1s. 7½d. and £117 5s. 2½d. ; December, £115 5s­

FOL. 32.

The havoc done by the mice has caused the loss of nearly all the sums entered on this page, except for some jottings, partly cancelled, at the head, which include a receipt of £60 from Mr. Morwent, presumably the Vice­President of Corpus, and one of £20 from Mr. Frere on the last day but one of April. The regular entries begin

‘Recepta per me Joannem Higdon

I received of my Lord of Lincoln [

Item of Mr. John Claymonde of rents being in his [

Item of Mr. Frere of rents Saint Frideswydys lands [


Item of Mr. Cromwell by the hands Master Fre[re

Item of divers tenants of Saint Frydyswydys land [s

by my book [

Item recepi a Magistro Thoma Henage apud Hampt[on

Item recepi per manus Thoma

famuli mei

Summa recepta xv[‘

Other receipts follow, from Mr. Thomas Strandwysshe, farmer; Mr. Henage; two from Mr. Cromwell through Mr. Frere, one of £200 being on 26 September; another from Mr. Cromwell and one from Mr. Frere, both on 5 November; one of rents from Mr. Frere; and one from Thomas Hewse for 20 quarters of corn. The receipts for the year are totalled as £1,260 4s. 41d., and the expenses as £1,276.

In addition to the payments to the workmen, there are sundry memoranda on odd pages of the book; the more important of these are­

(FOL. 19). ‘Mem. that the xxviii day of June Mr. Redman Mr. Lubyns and I did bargain with John Warde of Little Barenton in the county of Glocetur and bought of him an hundred ton of stone of Barentonn quarry to be delivered ready stapled before the Feast of Saint Michael next and he to have for every ton xxd. of the which he received the payment pre manibus xls.

Item the same day we did bargain with Richard Merytt and Robert Taylor of Sherborn for an hundred ton of Sherborne quarry stone price the ton at the quarry xviid to be delivered ready stapled as much as they can before Michaelmas and the same day the said Richard Merytt received xxs pre manibus.’

(FOL. 20 verso). ‘xvii Junii Paid to Lewys Haukyns of Barton of the Water for cccc rudestone xxs.

i July Paid to John Davys of Rryshynton in the county of Glocyter for the carriage of x load slate—xxs.

Paid by the hands of Mr. Frere for the carriage of v load slate—xs.’

(FOL. 23 verso). ‘Mem. that in the presence of Mr. Roger Lay and Harry Hall I bought half an acre of quarry of Fyshe of Marston for iiili vis viiid and paid to him in part of payment vis viiid and to pay the residue at the next court at Hedyngton when he shall make his surrender vis viiid

Item solutum xxiii Junii in presentia Henrici Hall xxs.’



The identification of Dr. John Higdon’s first account for the works of Cardinal College throws new light upon the methods adopted for the design and erection of England’s last mediaeval building of first-class rank. Writing about 1855, when next to nothing was known of Wolsey’s architects, Charles Knight wrote4: ‘The best architects of the age were collected together to erect the buildings’, and the newly identified account with other original authorities renders it possible to name those architects and to learn something of their procedure. Though the title of ‘architect’ is not used, the wording of the account is explicit to the effect that William Jonson, Redman and Lubyns were ‘devysyng the beyldyng’ and seeing ‘the platte with the grownde’ in January, 1525. Devising is undoubtedly used in the sense of architectural design, and ‘platt’ is well known as the 16th century equivalent of the modern plan drawn to scale prior to the setting out of the building.

It is to be noted that there is no suggestion that either Wolsey himself or the administrative chief, Dr. Higdon, took part in the design, and it can be shown that all three of the men whose names are mentioned were qualified masons, while two of them were already of very high standing. The Christian names of ‘Mr. Redman and Mr. Lubyns master masons’ do not appear here, but they occur in another account5 covering the period 16 January, 1525 to 19 December, 1527 as ‘John Lubbyns and Henry Redemayne master masons of the foresaid werks’. The joint architects can thus be identified with two of the King’s master masons, men at the head of their craft.

John Lubyns, whose name occurs also in the spellings Lobbens, Lobyns, Lebons, and Lovyns, was associated in 1506 with Robert Vertue and Robert Janyns, when the three men, described as ‘the King’s three Master Masons’, submitted to Henry VII an estimate of the cost of works for his new chapel at Westminster Abbey6. On 20 May in the same year Robert Vertue made his will7,’ sealing it ‘in the presence of Robert Janyns John Lobyns the King’s Master Masons . . .’.

In 1525 ‘Mr. Lubbyns’ was being paid an annuity of £10 from the issues of the monasteries suppressed by Wolsey8, in addition to the sum of 12d. a day which he drew when working on the college, which was raised to 1s. 4d. as a travelling allowance during his journeys to and from London. While work on Cardinal College was proceeding, Lubyns and his warden William Jonson undertook work by contract for Balliol College. The contract of 20 February, 1527/8, specified that ‘Master John Lobbens master of my lorde Wa(rkes) and William Jonsons fremason’ were to work or cause to be wrought three heads of windows of four lights and one (window ?) of four lights, and the head of the east window (of Balliol Chapel) of five lights. Lubyns and Jonson were to receive £14 3s. 4d. for the work, and the Master and Fellows of Balliol undertook to pay for the carriage of the stones. After Wolsey’s fall Lubyns continued to work for the Crown and as late as 1537 he was being paid £3 6s. 8d. for half-a-year’s fees, and ‘paper Riall for platts’ was bought for his use; at this time he was working at Hampton Court9.

Of Henry Redman a great deal is known, and he was apparently the principal architect of all Wolsey’s works, as well as holding important offices under the Crown. Coming of a family which had moved to London from the neighbourhood of Ramsey Abbey in Huntingdonshire, Henry was the son of Thomas Redman, master mason of Westminster Abbey from 1505 to his death in 151610. Henry visited King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, with William Vertue, brother of Robert, in 1509, when they were given rewards for their advice11, and two years later he was surety for Vertue’s performance of a contract to vault part of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor12. In 1516 he succeeded his father as master mason of Westminster Abbey, and designed the chancel, tower and porch of St. Margaret's Church, built between 1516 and 152313.

Redman with William Vertue and Humphrey Coke the carpenter produced a ‘platte’ for work at Eton College in 1516, consisting of the west side of the court and Lupton’s Tower14, built two towers at Greenwich for the King in 1518/1915, and on 12 September, 1539, was granted the office of king’s master mason jointly with William Vertue16, who had held the office alone since 1510. In the following year Redman had an additional patent as chief mason of Windsor Castle, at 6d. a day17. Meanwhile he had been master mason in charge of Wolsey’s great works at York Place from 5 February, 1514/15, and there appears to be no doubt that he was at the same time in full charge of the work at Hampton Court, the extant accounts showing that the two jobs were administered jointly18.

Wolsey’s buildings at Hampton Court were nearing completion in 1522, but at York Place as at Cardinal College work was continuous up to his downfall on 24 October, 1529. At Oxford the position at the end of two years’ work was described in a letter of 29 December, 1526. The buildings, thanks to the exertions of ‘Mr. Lovyns, Mr. Redman and Mr. Coke’ (Humphrey Coke the famous master carpenter) were far advanced; some lodgings on the west and south sides of the quadrangle were ready for occupation, and the lower part of the gatehouse built. The kitchen was finished, the Great Hall begun, and the walls of the cloister and the proposed chapel on the north side of the court level with the ground19.

It is evident that it was the intention of Redman and Lubyns to make a clean sweep of the old buildings of St. Frideswide’s Convent, and only Wolsey's fall saved what we now have left to us. The monastic church was only retained (in part) pending completion of the new chapel, for which a timber roof was being made at Sonning in 1528, when over £300 was spent on ‘the newe makinge and carvinge of the vaute of the churche Rouff of the saide Colleage as for the empcions and prouysions of all maner stuffs requisite and neccessarye for the same’20. During 1529 scaffolds were actually prepared for the taking down of the old steeple21, and much as we may regret the incomplete state in which the cardinal’s college has come down to us, there is consolation in the lovely church which was almost miraculously saved.

Accounts show that the hall roof was being made by contract, £102 3s. 4d. being spent in 1528 ‘for workinge and kervynge the Halle Rouff of the sayde Colleage with catars spannderells orbes lyntells and other ornaments so Garnysshede by conuencion’22 while the final account in October, 1529, discloses items of £113 for ‘Celyng & kerving the hall’ and £26 16s. for ‘Paynting & gylding the hall and greffith for the femorall’23 (i.e. the fumerole or louvre in the roof, which forms so prominent a feature in the background of Holbein's portrait of Wolsey and in Bereblock's view of 1566).

The designer of the hall and chapel roofs was Humphrey Coke, the greatest carpenter of the time, who was a master carpenter in the royal service from 1496 to his death in March, 1530/3124. He was a noted designer, having drawn the plans for the Eton College cloister in 151025, and collaborated with William Vertue and Henry Redman there in 1516. At Oxford Coke had designed the timber-work of Corpus Christi College, built in 1516-18. Much of the structural carpentry at Corpus was made by the contractor Robert Carow, presumably identical with the ‘Caro’, master carpenter, who appears as warden of the Cardinal College carpenters in the present account. Unlike Lubyns, Redman, and Coke, who were visitors, Carow was an Oxford man; he first appears as a surety for William Patenson, Principal of St. Edmund Hall in 1503, in 1507 was renting from Magdalen College a house called the Grammar Hall (now covered by Nos. 42 and 43, High Street)26, in 1511-14 contracted with Oriel College to rebuild Buckley Hall, was a councillor of Oxford from 1516 to 1529 and a bailiff in 1516 and 152627; in 1524 he was taxed 5s., appearing in the parish of St. Peter-in-the-East as Robert ‘Karewe’, with two taxable servants, James Lynche who paid 2s., and Richard Selatter, who paid 4d., and on 19 September, 1525, presented his account for a small repair to the South Bridge of Oxford28.

The position of the two wardens, William Jonson the mason and Robert Carow the carpenter, is of interest as Jonson at any rate took a part in devising the buildings, and ‘Caro’ is at first named the master carpenter. Normally the warden acted as the master’s assistant, or rather as his deputy while the master was absent29, but here Jonson seems to have been employed as a site architect30. Redman died on 10 July, 1528, and was buried at Brentford; on the 11th Thomas Heneage wrote to Wolsey that the King ‘has shown Mr. Herytage such buildings as he desires at Tittenhanger and is sorry for the death of Mr. Redman, his mason’31. Wolsey also had good cause to be sorry, but Lubyns and Coke were left to carry on the work.

From the architects it is time to turn to a consideration of their design, the latest and finest example of the Gothic college disposed about a quad­rangle. Like most mediaeval buildings it was laid out on the basis of a simple unit length, the perch of 161 feet. The walls surrounding the great court were set out on a square of 17 perches and out of this a cloister walk one perch wide was to be taken, leaving 15 bays on each side of the garth and thus maintaining a focus of interest by means of the central bay. This masterly effect has been wasted for four centuries owing to the non-completion of the cloister, which makes Tom Quad seem over-vast and lacking in interest. The cloister would have been similar to that built at St. Stephen’s, West­minster, in 1526-8 by Redman and William Vertue, but on a larger scale. It was in fact to have been almost the largest cloister in the country, exceeded only by such an exceptional work as the great cloister of the London Charter­house, nearly 300 feet square. But whereas the Charterhouse was planned for a community of only 24 monks each with his own cell and garden, Wolsey’s foundation was to have consisted of 160 persons.

The design for Cardinal College was the apotheosis of that plan of the ‘closed quadrangle’ which took its rise, so far as university colleges are concerned, at New College, begun in 138032. The total period of development included only a century and a half, and ran parallel to the process of sym­metrical rationalization undergone by the plan of the larger houses within the same period. Mr. Walter Godfrey33 has stressed the fact that the quad­rangular hospital or almshouse plan was based on that of the Carthusian monasteries with their separate dwellings, and that the colleges of vicars choral and of chantry priests are to be grouped with this Carthusian family of buildings. Among the earliest specimens of the type are the College of Chantry Priests at Cobham in Kent, founded by John, Lord Cobham, in 1362, and the Vicars’ Close at Wells, founded by Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury in the following year. At Wells only the gatehouse with hall above it, the porch of the staircase, and the kitchen are original, and it is uncertain how far the present arrangement of the houses corresponds with that adopted by the original architect, who was presumably William Wynford. It is true that Wynford did not take up the post of consultant master mason to Wells Cathedral until the beginning of 136534, but some time generally elapsed between the founding of such a project and the start of actual building works. At Cobham it is known that the work did not begin until about 1370, and there the designer was almost certainly Henry Yevele, the King’s master mason, who acted as architect for Lord Cobham in other instances35. It seems highly significant that at this time Yevele had been called in by Sir Walter Manny in connexion with the building of the London Charterhouse36, for the little college at Cobham contains in miniature the same elements which were employed on a grand scale for the immense Carthusian monastery in London.

Yevele and Wynford were colleagues in the King’s service, and shortly after William of Wykeham’s founding of New College they both appear in his company at Farnham Castle on 16 April, 138137. Both of them had been associated with Wykeham in the early 1360’s when he had been one of the clerks of the royal works, and Wynford probably owed his position at Wells to the fact that Wykeham became provost of the cathedral. Wynford was later, in 1388-93, to design Winchester College for Wykeham, as well as the remodelling of Winchester Cathedral nave from 1394, and in 1393 both Wynford and Yevele were visiting Wykeham and dining with him repeatedly38. There is thus considerable ground for the supposition that the college plan as we know it sprang from the interplay of ideas between the two greatest archi­tects of the late 14th century. Yevele, struck with the unusual requirements of the Prior of the Charterhouse, realized the possibility of adapting the plan to suit other circumstances, as at Cobham, and a few years later Wynford developed the principle with greater elaboration for New College. It is quite possible that Yevele collaborated in this, for while New College Chapel is in Wynford’s style, the tracery of the hall windows bears a close resemblance to that employed by Yevele at Westminster Hall, in the nave aisles of Canter­bury Cathedral, and elsewhere. The New College bell-tower, built in 1396, resembles Yevele’s famous Westminster clock-tower of 1365, and the still existing town belfry of St. Albans, possibly built by Yevele’s junior colleague Thomas Wolvey.

The fully developed Oxford plan, derived from New College, included a cloister, a transeptal ante-chapel, and chapel and hall forming a continuous range. At Wolsey’s old college, Magdalen, which had been designed and built in 1474-80 by William Orchard the great Headington mason39, the cloister surrounds the main court, the gatehouse is in the west side, while chapel and hall occupy the south range. This plan was followed at Cardinal College on a larger scale, but the chapel was to be opposite the hall, probably to permit of its occupying a whole range, and rivalling in length King’s College Chapel. The chapel’s span may have been 33 feet, as at York Place and Hampton Court; if the wooden vault which was being made at Sonning in 1528-9 partly survives as the framework of that now spanning the chapel at Hampton Court40, it certainly owed much to the masonry vault of the choir of St. Frideswide’s, whose general design it closely follows. The fact that the vault of St. Frideswide’s has a span of only 20 feet is very possibly the reason why this beautiful and recent work (c. 1500) was doomed to destruction. The choice of timber as the material for roofing the new chapel was doubtless determined by the consideration that a stone vault of a span over thirty feet would demand flying buttresses and pinnacles which would have broken the unity of the great quadrangle.

The hall was the first college hall of palatial scale, and the main gate, instead of following the simple Oxford type, adopted the turreted tradition of the royal works, a tradition which had earlier found acceptance at Cam­bridge. The plan and design of Cardinal College were thoroughly grounded in the English tradition, and it would hardly be necessary to stress this were it not that J. H. Parker instituted a comparison with the plan of Cardinal Ximenes’ college of San Ildefonso at Alcala de Henares41, designed between 1500 and 1508 by Pedro Gumiel; in point of fact the borrowing, if borrowing there was, must have been in the opposite direction, for the surviving buildings at Alcala are those designed in 1543 by Rodrigo Gil de Ontanon, who totally destroyed Gumiel’s work and substituted a building of pure Renaissance character.

It has been thought that foundations discovered in the old cloister-garth of St. Frideswide’s represent the project of a detached tower belonging to the new foundation, and in accord with the precedent of Magdalen this is highly probable. Since the completion of these foundations would have entailed the destruction of three still existing bays of the old cloister, little work can have been done. The tower, about 26 feet square at the base, was intended to have pairs of buttresses at each angle, and would probably have been of the same type as the contemporary tower of Abbot Lichfield at Evesham.

One remarkable feature of the present buildings, which may belong to the design of Lubyns and Redman, is the vault of the great staircase ; this magnificent fan-vault was not put up until 1640, by one ‘Smith an artificer from London’, but as was suggested by the late F. E. Howard42, the builder probably worked from the old small-scale drawings and only had to supply the detail, which is uninspired and repetitive. Smith may perhaps have been identical with the John Smith of London who carved statues and en­richments for the great gate of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 161543. The fan-vault which Wren inserted under Tom Tower closely resembles a type employed by Redman and Vertue at St. Stephen’s Cloister and elsewhere, though the central opening for the raising of Great Tom is fantastically encircled by a wreath of laurel.

Possibly some of the drawings prepared by Redman and Lubyns still exist in obscurity, but even should they be lost for ever it would be a worthy and pious work if Christ Church were to erect the great cloister-walk the drawings must have shown. All the main particulars are known and magni­ficent examples of the architects’ fan-vaults are left to supply the missing detail; let it be frankly a copy, not of the letter, but of the spirit of the old fan-vaults, as Street’s nave at Bristol copied the spirit of his Gothic pre­decessors and transformed a truncated fragment into a noble cathedral. Thus might be realized at last the special glory of the great plan which Redman and Lubyns brought to Oxford in January, 1525, and with their colleague William Jonson set out on the site44; the crown of that building whose founda­tion was laid on 16 July, a fortnight after Dr. Higdon, accompanied by Lubyns and Redman, had ridden up into Cotswold to arrange for deliveries of stone. Mutilated as it is, we have here the last ripe fruit upon the tree of Gothic architecture, and a diligent and loving completion would best evidence respect for the intentions of the first Founder and the great architects he employed45.


1 For the history of the college plate during the Civil War, see T. Fowler, History of Corpus Christi College, O.H.S., xxv (1893), p. 200.

2 The ‘better one’ to which Twyne refers is the first college account book (now Arch. D.2), which begins at the formal institution of the President and Fellows in March, 1517, and contains entries in respect of building work done after that date. It is certainly much better than Dean Higdon’s daybook in calligraphy and arrangement.

3 The mice were probably Christ Church mice: no other documents found in the chest are similarly nibbled. The neglected condition of the Cardinal College deeds at Christ Church in the 17th century is described by Anthony Wood (quoted in preface to Turner and Coxe, Calendar of Charters and Rolls in the Bodleian Library) . The daybook may have been thrown out as waste paper about 1600, and bought as such with other documents by the Bursars of Corpus: their accounts show purchases of paper and parchment in that year for binding old accounts and making new books, and one set of rolls going down to 1592 was till recently wrapped in a deed conveying the site and buildings of London College to the Dean of Cardinal College from the Master and Fellows of Balliol College. John Barcham, the Junior Bursar of Corpus in 1600-1, was probably in charge of the tidying-up of the Bursary, as notes in his hand are found on several of the bundles; he was a keen collector of books and coins, and may have thought the daybook of Dean Higdon worth preservation.

4 Old England, i 175.

5 P.R.O., E. 101/479/11, extracts from which appear in Letters & Papers of Henry VIII, iv, pt. ii, 3676.

6 L & P. Hen. VIII, 1, 142

7 P.C.C. 13 Adeane, quoted by W. J. Williams in ‘The King’s Master Masons’, Ars Quatuor Coronatorura, xliii, 1930­

8 L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, pt. 1, 1138.

9 V.C.H. Middlesex, ii, 372.

10 R. B. Rackham, ‘The Nave of Westminster Abbey ‘, Proceedings of the British Academy, 1909 ; Will, Westminster Peculiar, 108 Wyks.

11 King's College accounts : I owe this information to the kindness of Mr. Arthur Oswald.

12 Sir W. St. J. Hope, Windsor Castle, ii, 383.

13 H. F. Westlake, St. Margaret’s, Westminster, p. 13.

14 R. Willis amd J. W. Clark, Architectural History of the University of Cambridge, i, 418.

15 L. & P. Hen. VIII, iii, pt. ii, 1533

16 Ibid., ii, pt. 1, 458.

17 Ibid., 933.

18 P.R.O., E.101/474/7, 8.

19 L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, pt. ii, 2734.

20 P.R.O., E.101/479/9.

21 L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, pt. iii, 6748(8), quoting from Gutch, Collectanea Curiosa, i, 204.

22 P.R.O., E.101/479/9.

23 P.R.O., S.P.1/55, f. 233b.

24 For a short account of Coke, see John H. Harvey, ‘The Medieval Office of Works’ in Journal Brit. Archaeol. Assoc., 3rd ser., vi (1941) .

25 Willis and Clark, op. cit., 1, 415.

26 A. B. Emden, An Oxford Hall in Mediaeval Times, pp. 168, 277.

27 W. H. Turner, Records of the City of Oxford (1880), pp. 14, 15, 20-22, 28, 31-2, 64 ; W. A. Pantin, ‘Tackley's Inn’, Oxoniensia, vii, 83, 89.

28 J. E. Thorold Rogers, Oxford City Documents, O.H.S., xviii (1891), 69 ; W. H. Turner, op. cit., p. 54.

29 For the position of the mason’s warden, see `The Articles and Points of Masonry’ in the 14th and 15th century Regius and Cooke MSS., printed in D. Knoop and G. P.Jones, The Mediaeval Mason (1933) pp. 261-9; and in D. Knoop, G. P. Jones, and D. Hamer, The Two Earliest Masonic MSS.

30 It is interesting to note that in Journal Royal Inst. of Brit. Architects, 3rd Ser., li (Mar., 1944), 109, T. P. Bennett writing on ‘War Expenditure in the Organization of Building Contracts’, states ‘So far there has been no parallel in architecture—yet the necessity for a site architect is quite as great as that of a site engineer.’

31 L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, pt. 11, 4497. Mr. Herytage was doubtless Thomas Herytage, many of whose accounts for Crown works have recently been discovered at Oxford; see W. H. Godfrey in London Topographical Record, xviii, 48-50, and Bodl. MS. Eng. hist., b. 192.

32 There was an apparently independent development of the closed court at Cambridge, where Corpus Christi College may have been built between 1352 and 1377, but the irregularity of this Cambridge plan shows it to have been the chance outcome of circumstances, not a consciously evolved architectonic scheme. The later regular Cambridge courts were clearly influenced by Henry VI’s study of Wykeham’s foundations, and by the royal college of St. Stephen in Westminster Palace whose original cloister was built soon after 1396.

33 ‘Abbot’s Hospital, Guildford, and its Predecessors’ in A. W. Clapham and W. H. Godfrey, Some Famous Buildings and their Story, p. 220.

34 Hist. MSS. Comm., Wells, 1, 267.

35 C. Hussey in Country Life, 4 and 11 Feb., 1944. Cf. D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, An Introduction to Freemasonry (1937), p. 79.

36 G. S. Davies, Charterhouse in London (1921), pp. 9 f., 15 f.

37 As witnesses to a homage rendered to Wykeham in person in the chapel of Farnham Castle; Crondal Records (Hants Record Soc., 1891), p. 42.

38 Their names occur during the summer of 1393 among those of guests served with meals in the margin of Wykeham’s Household Account Roll now at Winchester College. I am indebted for this extremely interesting information to the discoverer, Mr. Herbert Chitty. Cf. J. H. Harvey, Henry Tevele (1944) pp. ix, x, 46, 53, figs. 42-45­.

39 D.N.B., s.v. ORCHARD, William.

40 I am indebted for this suggestion to Sir A. W. Clapham. The suggested total width of 96 feet for the chapel, based on excavations made in 1893, can hardly be taken seriously.

41 J. H. Parker, Domestic Architecture in England (1859), iii, 272.

42 F. E. Howard, ‘Fan Vaults’, Archaeological journal, lxviii (1911), 18.

43 Willis and Clark, op. cit., ii, 487, 488 n.

44 For this process of setting out in mediaeval times, see D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, ‘Latlaying the Groundwork’ in Miscellanea Latomorum, September, 1937.

45 On the subject of Wolsey’s building works and the careers of his architects I have written in greater detail in a paper to appear in Journal Brit. Archaeol. Assoc., 3rd ser., viii.


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