Exeter College, Oxford

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Exeter College

Exeter College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England and the fourth oldest college of the University. The main entrance is on the east side of Turl Street. As of 2006, the college had an estimated financial endowment of £47m.[1]



Still situated in its original location on Turl Street, Exeter College was founded in 1314 by Walter de Stapeldon of Devon, Bishop of Exeter and later treasurer to Edward II, as a school to educate clergy. During its first century, it was known as Stapeldon Hall and was significantly smaller, with just twelve to fourteen students. The college grew significantly from the 15th century onward, and began offering rooms to its students. The College motto is "Floreat Exon", meaning "Let Exeter Flourish".

In the 16th century, donations from Sir William Petre, a former Exeter graduate, helped to expand and transform the college. In a clever move by the bursar to fill the new buildings as they were completed, a significant number of noble Roman Catholic students were invited to enroll and take classes at the enlarged college; however, they were not allowed to matriculate. As a result, over time, Exeter College became one of the leading colleges in the University.

In the 18th century the college experienced declining popularity, as did all of Oxford's other colleges. University reforms in the 1850s helped to end this period of stagnation.

Until 1979 the college did not allow women students, but in 1993 Exeter College became the first of the former all-male colleges to elect a woman, Marilyn Butler, as its Rector. When Butler's tenure expired in October 2004, the college elected another woman – Frances Cairncross, former Senior Editor of The Economist – as Rector.


The present Hall was built in the year 1618 with the rest of the college completed by 1710, with the exception of the old gatehouse, Palmer's Tower, which dates from 1432.

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