Corpus Christi College, Oxford

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Corpus Christi College

Corpus Christi College (corporate designation The President and Scholars of the College of Corpus Christi in the University of Oxford) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1517, it is the 12th oldest college in Oxford, with an estimated financial endowment of £58m as of 2006.[1]

The college, situated on Merton Street between Merton College and Oriel College, is one of the smallest in Oxford by student population, having around 230 undergraduates and 120 graduates. It is academic by Oxford standards, averaging in the top half of the university's informal ranking system, the Norrington Table, in recent years, and coming second in 2009-10.[2]

The college has had for a long time a reputation as specializing and excelling in Classics, due to the emphasis placed upon this subject since its founding; to this day it takes more students to study Classics (and its joint schools) each year than any other single subject.[3]

The college's historical significance includes its role in the translation of the King James Bible. The college is also noted for the pillar sundial in the main quadrangle,[4] known as the Pelican Sundial, which was erected in 1581 by Charles Turnbull. Corpus achieved notability in more recent years when teams representing them won University Challenge on 9 May 2005 and once again on 23 February 2009, although the latter win was later disqualified.[5]

The Visitor of the College is ex officio the Bishop of Winchester, currently Michael Scott-Joynt.




The college dates its founding to 1517 when its founder, Richard Foxe, the Bishop of Winchester, established the college statutes.[6] Letters patent were granted by Henry VIII in the previous year,[7] and building work had started as early as 1512.[8] Foxe had initially stated that he intended the college as a lodge for monks from St Swythun's Priory in Winchester; however, under the influence of the Bishop of Exeter (and friend of Foxe) Hugh Oldham it became a humanist enterprise, dedicated to the study of the classics. The library, founded at the same time as the college, was 'probably, when completed, the largest and best furnished library then in Europe'.[9] The scholar Erasmus noted in a letter of 1519 to the first President, John Claymond, that it was a library 'inter praecipua decora Britanniae', and praised the fact that it was a 'biblioteca trilinguis' (trilingual library) containing, as it did, books in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.[10] The important Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives taught at Corpus during the 1520s while tutor to Mary Tudor, later Mary I of England.

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