Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

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Christ Church Cathedral is the cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 of the diocese of Oxford
Diocese of Oxford
-History:The Diocese of Oxford was created in 1541 out of part of the Diocese of Lincoln.In 1836 the Archdeaconry of Berkshire was transferred from the Diocese of Salisbury to Oxford...

, which consists of the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. It is also, uniquely, the chapel
A chapel is a building used by Christians as a place of fellowship and worship. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a church, college, hospital, palace, prison or funeral home, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building,...

 of Christ Church
Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church or house of Christ, and thus sometimes known as The House), is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England...

, a college of the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...



The cathedral was originally the church of St Frideswide's Priory. The site is claimed to be the location of the abbey and relics of St Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford, although this is debatable.

In 1522, the priory was surrendered to Cardinal Wolsey, who had selected it as the site for his proposed college. However, in 1529 the foundation was taken over by King Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

. Work stopped, but in June 1532 the college was refounded by the King. In 1546, Henry VIII transferred to it from Osney
Osney Abbey
Osney Abbey or Oseney Abbey, later Osney Cathedral, was a house of Augustinian canons at Osney in Oxfordshire. The site is south of the modern Botley Road, down Mill Street by Osney Cemetery, next to the railway line just south of Oxford station. It was founded as a priory in 1129, becoming an...

 to the see of Oxford. The cathedral has the name of Ecclesia Christi Cathedralis Oxoniensis, given to it by King Henry VIII's foundation charter.

There has been a choir at the cathedral since 1526, when John Taverner
John Taverner
John Taverner was an English composer and organist, regarded as the most important English composer of his era.- Career :...

 was the organist and also master of the choristers. The statutes of Cardinal Wolsey's original college, initially called Cardinal College, mentioned sixteen choristers and thirty singing priests.

Christ Church Cathedral is often claimed to be the smallest cathedral in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, and although it did once hold this distinction there are now smaller cathedrals, as several parish churches were elevated to cathedral status in the 20th century.

The nave, choir, main tower and transepts are of the late Norman
Norman architecture
About|Romanesque architecture, primarily English|other buildings in Normandy|Architecture of Normandy.File:Durham Cathedral. Nave by James Valentine c.1890.jpg|thumb|200px|The nave of Durham Cathedral demonstrates the characteristic round arched style, though use of shallow pointed arches above the...

 period. There are architectural features ranging from Norman to the Perpendicular style and a large rose window of the ten-part (i.e., botanical) type.

Notable burials

  • Bishop George Berkeley
    George Berkeley
    George Berkeley , also known as Bishop Berkeley , was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism"...

    , philosopher (his memorial is in the nave)
  • John Fell
    John Fell (clergyman)
    John Fell was an English churchman and influential academic. He served as Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and later concomitantly as Bishop of Oxford.-Education:...

    , Bishop of Oxford
  • Sir Henry Gage
    Henry Gage (soldier)
    Sir Henry Gage was an English Royalist officer.-Life:He was born at Haling, in Surrey, the son of John Gage and Margaret Copley...

     (1593–1645), buried in the Lucy Chapel off the south transept
  • George Stewart, 9th Seigneur d'Aubigny
    George Stewart, 9th Seigneur d'Aubigny
    George Stewart , 9th Seigneur d'Aubigny was a Scottish nobleman and Royalist commander in the English Civil War...

    , Cavalier
  • Thomas Banks Strong
    Thomas Banks Strong
    Thomas Banks Strong GBE was an English theologian who was Bishop of Ripon and Oxford. He was also Dean of Christ Church, Oxford and served as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University during the First World War....

    , Bishop of Oxford
  • John Underhill (bishop)
    John Underhill (bishop)
    John Underhill was an English academic, involved in controversy, and later bishop of Oxford.-Life:He was born about 1545 at the Cross Inn, Cornmarket, Oxford. He entered Winchester College in 1556, and was elected a fellow of New College, Oxford, on 27 October 1561, being admitted B.A. on 11...

  • John Urry
    John Urry (literary editor)
    John Urry was a noted literary editor and medieval scholar of Scottish family.-Life:Matriculating from Christ Church, Oxford on June 30, 1682, he was elected to a studentship. He graduated B.A. in 1686...


The organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

 is a 43-rank, four-manual
Manual (music)
A manual is a keyboard designed to be played with the hands on a pipe organ, harpsichord, clavichord, electronic organ, or synthesizer. The term "manual" is used with regard to any hand keyboard on these instruments to distinguish it from the pedalboard, which is a keyboard that the organist plays...

 and pedal instrument built in 1979 by Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n firm Rieger Orgelbau
Rieger Orgelbau
Rieger Orgelbau is an Austrian firm of organ builders, known generally as Rieger. The firm was founded by Franz Rieger. From 1873 it was known as Rieger & Söhne, and from 1879 as Gebrüder Rieger, after his sons took over. At the end of World War II, the firm was nationalised by the Czech government...

. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.

List of organists

  • 1530 - 1564 John Taverner
    John Taverner
    John Taverner was an English composer and organist, regarded as the most important English composer of his era.- Career :...

  • 1564 - 1611 Bartholomew Lant
  • 1611 - 1613 Matthew White
  • 1613 - 1630 William Stonard
  • 1630 - 1682 Edward Lowe
  • 1682 - 1690 William Husbands
  • 1690 - 1691 Charles Husbands
  • 1691 - 1718 Richard Goodson (snr)
  • 1718 - 1741 Richard Goodson (jnr)

  • 1741 - 1776 Richard Church
  • 1776 - 1790 Thomas Norris
  • 1790 - 1807 William Crotch
    William Crotch
    William Crotch was an English composer, organist and artist.Born in Norwich to a master carpenter he showed early musical talent . The three and a half year old Master William Crotch was taken to London by his ambitious mother, where he not only played on the organ of the Chapel Royal in St....

  • 1807 - 1825 William Cross
  • 1825 - 1846 William Marshall
  • 1846 - 1882 Charles William Corfe
  • 1882 - 1892 Charles Harford Lloyd
  • 1892 - 1909 Basil Harwood
    Basil Harwood
    Basil Harwood was an English organist and composer.-Life:Basil Harwood was born in Woodhouse, Gloucestershire on 11 April 1859. His mother died in 1867 when Basil was eight. His parents were Quakers but his elder sister Ada, on reaching 21 in 1867, converted to the Anglican Church...

  • 1909 - 1926 Henry George Ley

  • 1926 - 1928 Noel Edward Ponsonby
  • 1929 - 1932 William Henry Harris
    William Henry Harris
    Sir William Henry Harris was an English organist and composer, affectionately nicknamed 'Doc H' by his choristers.Harris was born in Fulham, London and died in Petersfield. He was a chorister of Holy Trinity, Tulse Hill...

  • 1933 - 1955 Thomas Armstrong
  • 1955 - 1970 Sydney Watson
    Sydney Watson
    Sydney Watson OBE was an English church musician. Watson studied at Keble College, Oxford and at the Royal College of Music. He was the Organist of New College, Oxford from 1933 and left in 1938 to become Musical Director at Winchester College where he stayed until 1946...

  • 1970 - 1981 Simon Preston
    Simon Preston
    Simon John Preston CBE is an English organist, conductor, and composer.- Early life :He attended the Canford School in Wimborne in Dorset. Originally a chorister at King's College, Cambridge, he studied the organ with C. H...

  • 1981 - 1985 Francis Grier
    Francis Grier
    Francis Grier is an English choral and vocal classical composer and psychoanalyst.He was a chorister at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle , music scholar at Eton College, and organ scholar at King's College, Cambridge, then Assistant Organist and then Organist of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford...

  • 1985 - present Stephen Darlington
    Stephen Darlington
    Stephen Darlington is a British choral director and conductor, and president of the Royal College of Organists from 1999-2001.During the early 1970s Darlington was organ scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, studying under Simon Preston...

Assistant organists

  • William Walond 1753
  • Arthur Herbert Brewer
    Herbert Brewer
    Sir Arthur Herbert Brewer was an English composer and organist. As organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1896 until his death, he contributed a good deal to the Three Choirs Festival for 30 years....

  • Sidney Thomas Mayow Newman 1924 - 1928
  • Ivor Christopher Banfield Keys 1938 - 1940
  • Alec Wyton 1943 - 1946 (afterwards organist of St Matthew's Church, Northampton)
  • Ivor Christopher Banfield Keys 1946 - 1947
  • Harrison Oxley
    Harrison Oxley
    Thomas Frederick Harrison Oxley was a British organist, who was appointed Organist of St Edmundsbury Cathedral aged 24. At the time, he was the youngest cathedral organist in the country...

     1953 - 1955 (formerly assistant organist of St. Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham, afterwards organist of St Edmundsbury Cathedral)
  • Anthony Crossland 1957 - 1961
  • Nicholas Cleobury
    Nicholas Cleobury
    Nicholas Cleobury is an English conductor.He was organ scholar at Worcester College, Oxford, conductor of Schola Cantorum of Oxford and held assistant organist posts at Chichester Cathedral and Christ Church, Oxford before turning to orchestral and operatic work...

     1972 - ????
  • Simon Lawford 1986 - 1990
  • Stephen Farr 1990-1996?
  • David Goode 1996 - 2001

See also

  • List of cathedrals in the United Kingdom
  • Christ Church, Oxford
    Christ Church, Oxford
    Christ Church or house of Christ, and thus sometimes known as The House), is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England...

    : more information on the College and the Cathedral
  • Bishop of Oxford
    Bishop of Oxford
    The Bishop of Oxford is the diocesan bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Oxford in the Province of Canterbury; his seat is at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford...

  • Diocese of Oxford
    Diocese of Oxford
    -History:The Diocese of Oxford was created in 1541 out of part of the Diocese of Lincoln.In 1836 the Archdeaconry of Berkshire was transferred from the Diocese of Salisbury to Oxford...

  • Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England
    Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England
    The medieval cathedrals of England, dating from between approximately 1040 and 1540, are a group of twenty-six buildings which together constitute a major aspect of the country’s artistic heritage and are among the most significant material symbols of Christianity. Though diversified in style, they...

  • English Gothic architecture
    English Gothic architecture
    English Gothic is the name of the architectural style that flourished in England from about 1180 until about 1520.-Introduction:As with the Gothic architecture of other parts of Europe, English Gothic is defined by its pointed arches, vaulted roofs, buttresses, large windows, and spires...

  • Romanesque architecture
    Romanesque architecture
    Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

  • Church of England
    Church of England
    The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

External links