Hertford College, Oxford

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Hertford College

Hertford College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. It is located in Catte Street, directly opposite the main entrance of the original Bodleian Library. As of 2006, the college had a financial endowment of £52m.[1] There are 612 students (396 undergraduates and 216 graduates), plus various visiting students from universities all over the world. Some famous alumni include Jonathan Swift, Thomas Hobbes, Evelyn Waugh, William Tyndale and John Donne.



The college was originally founded (on the current site in Catte Street) as Hart Hall in 1282 by Elias de Hertford. In medieval Oxford, halls were primarily lodging houses for students and resident tutors. Another of these Magdalen Hall, was founded in 1448, and later moved to the Hart Hall site in 1822. (Magdalen Hall is quite distinct from the similarly named Magdalen College, which was founded in 1458.) In 1874 the two ancient halls were merged to form Hertford College, largely due to the sponsorship of Sir Thomas Baring. Within only seven years, the college came Head of the River in the annual college boat races.

Many of the great minds of the English Renaissance studied at what would eventually become Hertford College, including the metaphysical poet John Donne, satirist Jonathan Swift, the political theorist Thomas Hobbes, and the first translator of the Bible into English, William Tyndale. What had begun as a residential site subsequently grew during the following centuries. Some of the old architecture remains, including the main door (embossed with floral detail), dating from the seventeenth century, and the Old Library. More recent buildings were due to the great architect of Oxford Thomas Graham Jackson, who built the famous Bridge of Sighs over New College Lane (joining the two parts of Hertford College), the beautiful spiral staircase to the Dining Hall, and the College Chapel which enjoys an excellent acoustic.

In 1974 Hertford became one of the first five co-educational colleges in the university (the others being Brasenose, Jesus, St Catherine's, and Wadham). It now has an almost equal gender balance, with slight variations from year to year. Traditionally seen as a progressive college, in the 1960s Hertford was one of the first colleges to encourage applicants from state schools through the Hertford Scheme, and it has continued to have a higher proportion of students from state schools relative to private schools. The Hertford Scheme had the effect of dramatically raising academic standards within the College.

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