Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

C. R. L. Fletcher:
A Handy Guide to Oxford

Despite its modest title and its style, casual and sometimes verging on jaunty, this is a very good little book, giving an overview of the history, architecture and traditions of Oxford University thru the first quarter of the twentieth century. Not everything is art and politics and religion, mind you: among the traditions are the school's passion for rowing — and standing on a roof in January singing a song in honor of a 15c duck.

The quality was to have been expected: graduating from Magdalen College with top honors in 1880, the following year Charles Robert Leslie Fletcher was elected a fellow of All Souls in 1881, where he would teach for a third of a century before "retiring" — to write several acclaimed (and controversial) books and to run the Clarendon Press for another twenty years. His knowledge of Oxford is intimate, his writing is topnotch, his passion for the University won't be hid; and his book gains in interest and poignancy from the circumstances under which he wrote it, as he explains in his Preface below. Today, England is at war once again to defend her values, standing with my own country and much of the civilized world: it seemed a fitting work to be putting onsite the early summer of 2007.

(For technical details on how the site is laid out, see following the Table of Contents.)

(p5) Preface to the Revised Edition

This little book was specially written as a guide for the wounded, in June 1915, when I was attached to the Third Southern General Hospital, as Tobacconist-in‑chief and Matron's Head Fag. The profits of sale were given to the Fund for supplying Tobacco to the wounded in that Hospital. The language of the book necessarily reflects the temper of those critical years 1914‑16, the present edition is due to persistent requests from various sources that the book should continue to be available, and some slight alterations, omissions and insertions have been made with a view to making it more up-to‑date for those who buy it now.

The Hospital of the early summer of 1915 had already extended beyond the Examination Schools (as the text will show); and there were already beds in the Town Hall, the Masonic Rooms in the High Street, and in New College Gardens; soon afterwards also in the Workhouse on Cowley Road and several other places. There was also an Officers' Hospital in Somerville College, whose students had been temporarily transferred to the northern quadrangle of Oriel College.

C. R. L. Fletcher.

Chapter I: An Excursion to Magdalen College


Chapter II: History of City and University


Chapter III: Merton, Corpus, and the River


Chapter IV: Queen's, University, All Souls, Bodleian Library


Chapter V: New, Wadham, Keble, St. John's, Worcester


Chapter VI: St. Mary's Church, Brasenose, Lincoln, Exeter, Jesus, Trinity, Balliol


Chapter VII: Oriel, Christ Church, Pembroke


Technical Details

Edition Used

The revised edition of 1926, Oxford University Press, London: Humphrey Milford. Since Prof. Fletcher died in 1934, the work has been in the public domain since 2005.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. I run a first proofreading pass immediately after entering each chapter; then a second proofreading, detailed and meant to be final: in the table of contents above, the chapters are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe them to be completely errorfree; any red backgrounds would mean that the chapter had not received that second final proofreading. The header bar at the top of each chapter page will remind you with the same color scheme.

My print exemplar of this little book is one of the best proofread items I've put on site in my ten years online, and I caught only two tiny errors in punctuation: they are corrected in a slightly different color — barely noticeable on the page, but it shows up in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have the printed edition in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode and made apparent in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line p57 ). Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

[image ALT: Again a decorative anchor-shaped tracery of foliage in the Art Nouveau style, two escutcheons: on the dexter side — the left as we look at them — an open book with two crowns above and one below; facing it, an ox with three wavy bars below it. They are the escutcheons of the University and City of Oxford respectively, and the design serves as an icon for this subsite.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is a pair of escutcheons representing Oxford: to our left, the arms of the University, and to our right, those of the City.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Site updated: 22 Oct 08