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Lincoln College, Oxford

Colleges and halls of the University of Oxford

Lincoln College

College name The College of the Blessed Mary and All Saints, Lincoln
Latin name Collegium Lincolniense
Named after Richard Fleming (Bishop of Lincoln)
Established 1427
Sister college Downing College, Cambridge
Rector Prof. Henry Woudhuysen
Undergraduates 308[1] (2011/2012)
Graduates 299
Location Turl Street

Lincoln College, Oxford is located in Oxford city centre

Location of Lincoln College within central Oxford

College website
Boat Club website
Blazon see below

Lincoln College (in full: The College of the Blessed Mary and All Saints, Lincoln) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Lincoln was founded in 1427 by Richard Fleming, then Bishop of Lincoln. It is the ninth oldest of Oxford University's colleges.

It is situated on Turl Street in central Oxford. As of 2014, it has a financial endowment of £88 million.[2]

Notable alumni include John Radcliffe, Howard Florey, Edward Abraham, Norman Heatley, Nevil Sidgwick, John Wesley, John le Carré, Rachel Maddow and Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss).


  • History 1
    • Founding 1.1
    • 18th century 1.2
    • Rivalry 1.3
    • Modern day 1.4
  • Architecture 2
    • Chapel 2.1
    • Library 2.2
  • Academic links 3
  • Grace 4
  • Coat of Arms 5
  • Student life 6
    • Accommodation 6.1
    • Junior Common Room 6.2
    • Middle Common Room 6.3
  • People associated with Lincoln 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9



Richard Fleming, founder

Richard Fleming founded the College in order to combat the Lollard teachings of John Wyclif. He intended it to be "a little college of true students of theology who would defend the mysteries of Scripture against those ignorant laymen who profaned with swinish snouts its most holy pearls".. To this end, he obtained a charter for the College from King Henry VI, which combined the parishes of All Saints, St. Michael's at the North Gate, and St. Mildred's within the College under a rector. The College now uses All Saints Church as its library and has strong ties with St Michael's Church at the North Gate, having used it as a stand-in for the College chapel when necessary.[3]

Despite insufficient endowment and trouble from the Wars of the Roses (for their charter was from the deposed Lancastrian), the College has survived thanks to the efforts of its fellows and the munificence of a second Bishop of Lincoln, Thomas Rotherham. Richard Fleming died in 1431, and the first rector, William Chamberleyn, in 1434, leaving the College with few buildings and little money. The second rector, John Beke, secured the College's safety by attracting donors. By 1436, the College had seven fellows. John Forest, Dean of Wells and a close friend of Beke's, donated such an amount that the College promised to recognise him as a co-founder; it did not keep this promise. His gifts saw the construction of a chapel, a library, hall and kitchen.[4] After a pointed sermon from the incumbent rector, Thomas Rotherham was compelled to give his support and effectively re-founded it in 1478, with a new charter from King Edward IV.[5]

18th century

John Wesley, former Fellow

In the 18th century, Lincoln became the cradle of missionary chaplain in 1735. Indeed, he took to signing his publications as "John Wesley, Sometime Fellow of Lincoln College".[6] A portrait of him hangs in the Hall and a bust overlooks the front quad. The room where he is believed to have worked is also named after him and was renovated by American Methodists at the beginning of the 20th century.[7]


As is common with Oxford colleges, the College has a long-standing rivalry with neighbour Brasenose College (which was also founded by a later Bishop of Lincoln). The two colleges share a tradition revived annually on Ascension Day. The story goes that, centuries ago, as a mob chased students at the University through the town, the Lincoln porter allowed in the Lincoln students but refused entry to the Brasenose member, leaving him to the mercy of the mob. An alternative is that a Lincoln man bested a Brasenose man in a duel. Either episode resulted in the Brasenose student's death, and ever since, on Ascension Day, Lincoln College has invited in members of Brasenose College every year through the one door connecting the two colleges, for free beer as penance. Since the nineteenth century, the beer has been flavoured with ivy so as to discourage excessive consumption.[8]

Modern day

Academically, Lincoln has been one of the top ten in the Norrington Table each year since 2006 (excluding 2010 and 2011).[9][10]

In 1958, the College was the first in Oxford or Cambridge to provide a Middle Common Room exclusively for the use of graduate students.[11][12] Lincoln has also admitted women since the 1970s. The MCR is now located in the Berrow Foundation Building, which was inaugurated in 2014.[13]

In 2007, the College took the rare step of unveiling a commissioned portrait of two members of staff who were not fellows or benefactors of the College, in commemoration of their work. Chef Jim Murden and Butler Kevin Egleston have worked in the College's Kitchen and Buttery for 33 and 28 years respectively, as of 2010. Noted artist Daphne Todd was commissioned for the painting, who has had such notable sitters as HRH the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Spike Milligan.[14]


The College's front quad

According to Nikolaus Pevsner, Lincoln College preserves "more of the character of a 15th century college than any other in Oxford". This is mainly because both the facade to Turl Street and the front quad are still of only two storeys (although the parapets and battlements are of the 19th century). The College also owns most of the buildings across Turl Street from the college proper, in whole or in part, which chiefly contain student accommodation. The creeper that covers the College's front quad walls is virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), dark green in the summer, through to scarlet in autumn, whilst being bare in winter.[15]

There are three quads: the Front Quad (15th century), the Chapel Quad (1608–1631) and The Grove (19th century), as well as a number of irregular spaces. Unlike many other colleges, all of the architecture of the college proper is mediaeval stone and there is no modern accommodation annexe. To quote the Lincoln College Freshers' Handbook, "Unlike most colleges, we have no grotty sixties annexe to spoil all the pretty bits".[16] The college bar, Deep Hall (or Deepers), is immediately below the great hall and used to be the college beer cellar. It is one of the oldest parts of the college, and the pillars inside it are perhaps the oldest feature of the college. The wine cellar is accessed through Deep Hall, and extends completely beneath the Grove.

The College is known as being the setting for many literary works. C. P. Snow was inspired for his novel The Masters by the story of Mark Pattison, a fellow at Lincoln, whose enthusiastic hopes for Lincoln were frustrated by older, more conservative fellows of the college; Snow's story transposes the story to a Cambridge College.[17] It has also been the setting for three episodes of Inspector Morse. Recently, Lewis has used Turl Street in front of the College for filming. Lincoln College is the setting for much of the action in Heresy by S J Parris, an historical crime novel.


Chapel quad
East window of the chapel

The college

  • Lincoln College Website
  • Junior Common Room Website
  • Middle Common Room Website

External links

  1. ^ "Undergraduate numbers by college 2011–12". University of Oxford. 
  2. ^ Lincoln College - Annual Reports and Statements 2014
  3. ^ "St Michael's at the North Gate at Lincoln College". 
  4. ^  
  5. ^ "A 15th Century History of Lincoln College, Oxford". 
  6. ^ "An 18th Century History of Lincoln College, Oxford". 
  7. ^ "The Wesley Room, Lincoln College". 
  8. ^ Ivy Beer on Ascension Day', Brasenose College"'". 
  9. ^ "A compilation of Norrington Table scores from various sources, 2000–2007". 
  10. ^ "The official Norrington Table". Oxford University. Retrieved 17 February 2008. 
  11. ^ "Lincoln College MCR website". 
  12. ^ "Lincoln College MCR on the Lincoln College website". 
  13. ^ "Lincoln College MCR on the Lincoln College website". 
  14. ^ "Lincoln honours loyal partnership". Lincoln College News (Baseline Oxford): 9. August 2008. 
  15. ^ "Message from the Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford". 
  16. ^ Freshers' Handbook 2008, p.5
  17. ^ "A 19th Century History of Lincoln College, Oxford". 
  18. ^ a b "The Chapel at Lincoln College, Oxford". 
  19. ^ Susan Moore (April 1998). "Doctrine and life, colours and light combine to celebrate the glory of God in the restored chapel of Lincoln College.". The Field (IPC Media). 
  20. ^ "Lincoln College Library at OULS". 
  21. ^ "Lincoln College Library Information". 
  22. ^ "A History of Lincoln College Library". 
  23. ^ Visiting Students', Lincoln College Website"'". 
  24. ^ "Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English Summer Sessions". 
  25. ^ The Lincoln College Grace, from the Office of the Butler, Lincoln College
  26. ^  
  27. ^ "Lincoln College JCR". 
  28. ^ "Lincoln College JCR Constitution". 
  29. ^ "Lincoln College JCR Committee". 
  30. ^ Exhibition at Lincoln College, Oxford (March 2009)
  31. ^ The Rule Book of the Lincoln College Debating Society 1872–1920, on display at Lincoln College (March 2009)
  32. ^ "Lincoln College MCR on the Lincoln College website". 
  33. ^ John Laird, ‘Alexander, Samuel (1859–1938)’, rev. Michael A. Weinstein, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, Retrieved 2 March 2009
  34. ^ Paul Langford, ‘Green, Vivian Hubert Howard (1915–2005)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition, Oxford University Press, Jan 2009, Retrieved 2 March 2009


Years after the success of his Vivian H. H. Green. At least one other recent Lincoln Rector, Sir Maurice Shock, enjoyed a prior career in British intelligence, although there is little evidence to substantiate the college's reputation as a recruiting ground for spies.[34]

Lincoln was the first college in Oxford (or Cambridge) to admit a Jewish Fellow, the Australian-born philosopher Samuel Alexander (appointed 1882).[33]

The current Rector of Lincoln College is Henry Woudhuysen.

The academic Middlemarch.

From 1954-72 the Rector of the college was Walter Fraser Oakeshott, most famous for discovering the Winchester Manuscript of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur in 1934 while an Assistant Master at Winchester College, and after whom Lincoln College's largest performance space is named.

Notable former students of the college have progressed to careers in academia, business, politics and sports. Alumni include; John Radcliffe (renowned physician after whom the Radcliffe Camera, Radcliffe Infirmary, Radcliffe Observatory and John Radcliffe Hospital are named), Howard Florey (who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 for his role in large scale production of penicillin), Edward Abraham and Norman Heatley (biochemists also instrumental in the development of penicillin), Nevil Sidgwick (chemist), John Wesley (theologian) John le Carré (author), Steph Cook (Olympic gold medalist), William Davenant (poet), Edward Thomas (poet), Rachel Maddow (political commentator and author) and Dr. Seuss (cartoonist).

People associated with Lincoln

The Lincoln MCR is the oldest (founded in 1960) of the Oxford MCRs. With around 350 graduate students in residence each year, the MCR organises a full and varied programme of meetings, social events and sporting activities during term time and vacations. The MCR is located in the Berrow Foundation Building.[32]

Middle Common Room

The JCR was founded in 1854 as the Lincoln College Debating Society but was renamed in 1919 (although it continued to be referred to by its former name for some time after). From 1886, the society provided members of the Common Room with tobacco and cigarettes from its funds, as well as tea and coffee;[30] however, "The President shall have the power to stop smoking while the Torpid [a rowing eight entering a regatta in Hilary Term] and the Eight [an eight entering a regatta in Trinity Term] are in training."[31] Tobacco and cigarettes are no longer available from the JCR, but tea and coffee are to be found in the JCR kitchen, along with a vending machine.

The JCR is run by an Executive of seven officers, headed by the President, which is ultimately responsible for the JCR, whilst the JCR Committee comprises thirty-four members and fulfils a wide range of duties, all aimed at the general improvement of the lives of and facilities available to the undergraduate body of the College.[29] Shabana Mahmood, the MP for Birmingham Ladywood, served as JCR president in 2000-1. JCR meetings are held three times a term, in 2nd week, 5th week and 8th week of each.

Due to Lincoln's small numbers and tightly knit community, its Junior Common Room (JCR) plays a greater role in student life than do the JCRs of most other colleges. JCR elections, held in Trinity and Michaelmas Terms, attract one of the highest turnouts of any Oxford college. The JCR, like all JCRs in Oxford, is both a communal room for undergraduates (with a television, kitchen, vending machine, daily newspapers, a DVD library and sofas) as well as the name of the body that represents said undergraduates to the senior members of College and on a university-wide basis.[27] All undergraduate members of the College are automatically members of the JCR, unless they specifically express a desire not to be a part of it. Honorary membership to others is sometimes extended, but have limited rights compared to other members.[28] Every year, Lincoln JCR collaborates with the JCRs of the other Turl Street Colleges (Exeter and Jesus) in holding the Turl Street Arts Festival, a week long event consisting of music, plays, comedy nights, hall-swaps, and special talks.

Junior Common Room

On Museum Road near Keble College is a further accommodation complex, consisting of the Edward Abraham Centre (constructed in the early 21st century, containing apartment-style accommodation, teaching facilities and the College's archives) and 12 terraced houses (the latter officially called Lincoln Hall, but most commonly referred to simply as 'Mus Road'). A number of outlying houses make up the remainder of the housing stock.

The college is one of relatively few in Oxford to guarantee all undergraduates three years of college-owned accommodation. Similarly, virtually all graduate students are provided housing for the duration of their studies. The college's housing stock is extensive and centrally located. About 80 students live on the three quads described above, with over 100 more living in rooms above the shops on the other side of Turl Street. These include the Mitre rooms, formerly guest rooms of the Mitre Inn, which has been owned by the College since the 15th century. The accommodation was incorporated into the College in 1969, but the restaurants were left to the inn. Lincoln House, directly across from the College, was constructed in 1939 as an annexe. There were at one point vague plans for a bridge over Turl Street connecting the annexe to the College proper; these never materialised beyond a fantasy. Further accommodation is provided at Bear Lane (across High Street). Donors Emily and John Carr gave to the College numbers 113 and 114 on the High Street, with land extending back to Bear Lane, which the College still owns and constitutes the Bear Lane accommodation.[26]


Student life

Tierced per pale, Barry of six argent and azure, in chief three lozenges gules, on the second bar of an argent a mullet pierced sable; Argent, thereon an escutcheon of Gules two lions passant guardant or, on a chief azure the Blessed Virgin Mary ducally crowned seated on a throne issuant from the chief, on her dexter arm the infant Jesus and holding in her sinister hand a sceptre, all gold: the escutcheon ensigned with a mitre azure garnished and stringed or; Vert, three stags statant two and one or.

The blazon is:

The College arms incorporate (1) the arms of Bishop Richard Fleming, the founder; (2) the arms of the See of Lincoln; (3) the arms of Bishop Thomas Rotherham, the second founder.

The College Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms

"Most gracious Father, who by thy providence rulest, in thy generosity feedest, and by thy blessing preservest all that thou hast created; bless us, we beseech thee, and these creatures for our use, so that they may be hallowed and of benefit to us, and we, strengthened thereby, may be rendered fitter for all good works; to the praise of thy eternal name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."[25]

Translated, this is rendered:

Benignissime Pater, qui providentia tua regis, liberalitate pascis et benedictione conservas omnia quae creaveris, benedicas nobis, te quaesumus, et hisce creaturis in usum nostrum, ut illae sanctificatae sint et nobis salutares, et nos, inde corroborati, magis apti reddamur ad omnia opera bona; in laudem tui nominis aeterni, per Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum, Amen.

The College grace is read aloud at every formal hall, usually by a student. To encourage readers, students who read the grace twice in a term receive a bottle of wine. The College grace is in Latin:


Lincoln College has visiting undergraduate student arrangements with Middlebury College, Simon's Rock College of Bard, Drew University, and National Taiwan University.[23] The College also has ties to Middlebury College in the form of that college's Bread Loaf School of English. The Bread Loaf School runs a summer graduate course using Lincoln's facilities during the University of Oxford's long summer vacation.[24] A clock donated by Middlebury stands in the Porters' Lodge.

Academic links

Its library holds some 60,000 books and is a popular place for graduates and undergraduates alike to work, especially given that it is open until 2.00 a.m. most nights compared to the earlier closing time of the Bodleian and faculty libraries.[20] It is kept up-to-date by regular purchases, and welcomes suggestions for books pertinent to studies.[21] The upper reading room, or Cohen Room, has an elaborate plastered ceiling and the Senior Library (downstairs) holds some of the college's older books, including pamphlets from the English Civil War period, Wesleyana, and plays dating from the late 17th and early 18th centuries, as well as a small collection of manuscripts. The science library is also to be found downstairs. Access to the library is generally restricted to current students and staff at the college, although alumni may use the library if acceptable justification is provided.[22]

Perhaps the college's most striking feature, its library, is located in the converted 18th-century church of All Saints, handed over to the college in 1971. All Saints church tower is a notable feature of Oxford's skyline, one of the city's "Dean of Christ Church Henry Aldrich designed a new church; it is thought, however, that on some of the later features of the church, the work of Nicholas Hawksmoor, one of Britain's great Baroque architects, is to be found, namely on the tower and spire. The tower has a full peal of eight bells, which are regularly rung.

A view with Lincoln College Library Tower, formerly All Saints Church
All Saints Church, now Lincoln College's library, on the High Street


Much of the chapel was restored in a project beginning in 1999, having been deemed to be in unacceptable disrepair in the early 1990s, when a drive for funds to this end began. The black slate and white marble tiles were repaired, cleaned and replaced where necessary, whilst most of the age damage was to be found in the woodwork, which was suffering greatly from poor ventilation and having been laid directly on to earth, resulting in worm and wet rot. Cracks in the enamel of the windows were also repaired where most obvious and disfiguring. The renovations were done in the hope of preserving the chapel's 17th-century character as much as possible,[19] and indeed, the chapel has remained much unchanged since the wooden figurines (of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Moses and Aaron) were placed on the front pews and the carved ceiling was installed in the 1680s.[18]


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