Wadham College, Oxford

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Wadham College

Wadham College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, located at the southern end of Parks Road in central Oxford. It was founded by Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham, wealthy Somerset landowners, during the reign of King James I. As of 2009, it has an estimated financial endowment of £66 million[1] and ranks 9th in the Norrington Table.[2]



The college was founded by Dorothy Wadham in 1610,[3] using money left by her husband Nicholas Wadham for the purpose of endowing an Oxford college. In a period of only four years, she gained royal and ecclesiastical support for the new college, negotiated the purchase of a site, appointed the west country architect William Arnold, drew up the college statutes, and appointed the first warden, fellows, scholars, and cook. Although she never visited Oxford, she kept tight control of her new college and its finances until her death in 1618.

Notable members of the college in its early years include Robert Blake, Cromwell's admiral and founder of British sea-power in the Mediterranean, the libertine poet and courtier John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester and Christopher Wren. Wren attended the meetings of scientifically-inclined scholars which were held by Warden John Wilkins (Cromwell's brother-in-law) in the college in the 1650s. Those attending formed the nucleus of the Royal Society at its foundation in 1662. Arthur Onslow (1708), a great Speaker of the House of Commons, and Richard Bethell, who became Lord Chancellor as Lord Westbury in 1861, were members of the college. Two 20th-century Lord Chancellors, F. E. Smith (Lord Birkenhead) and John Simon, were undergraduates together in the 1890s, along with the sportsman C. B. Fry; Sir Thomas Beecham was an undergraduate in 1897, though soon abandoning Oxford for his musical career. Frederick Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell, who was Churchill's scientific adviser during the Second World War, was a fellow of the college. Cecil Day-Lewis, later Poet-Laureate, came up in 1923, and Michael Foot M.P. in 1931. Sir Maurice Bowra, scholar and wit, was Warden between 1938 and 1970. Among recent members have been Dr Rowan Williams, the present Archbishop of Canterbury, author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg and novelist Monica Ali.

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