Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

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Christ Church Cathedral

Cathedral Church of Christ

Oxford, Oxfordshire

Status: cathedral
Cathedral, Christ Church, Oxford, from the cloisters. - - 187944.jpg
Crossing tower and spire from the cloisters
Church of England
Diocese of Oxford
Location: 51°45’0"N, 1°15’17"W
Romanesque, Gothic

Christ Church Cathedral is the cathedral of the Diocese of Oxford, which covers the counties of Oxford, Buckingham and Berkshire. It is also the chapel of Christ Church College, part of the University of Oxford. This dual role as cathedral and college chapel is unique in the Church of England.[1]

The Cathedral is within Christ Church College and access is through the collage, which again renders the cathedral unique as it is not publicly accessible.


The choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
The choir, looking towards the organ and entrance

The cathedral was originally the church of St Frideswide's Priory. The site was historically presumed to be the location of the nunnery founded by St Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford, and the shrine now in the Latin Chapel, originally containing relics translated at the rebuilding in 1180, was the focus of pilgrimage from at least the 12th until the early 16th century.[2]

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. Work stopped, but in June 1532 the college was refounded by the King. In 1546, Henry VIII transferred to it the recently created see of Oxford from Osney. 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 was the organist and also master of the choristers. The statutes of Cardinal Wolsey's original college, initially called Cardinal College, mentioned 16 choristers and 30 singing priests.

Christ Church Cathedral has been said to be the smallest cathedral in the Church of England, and although it once was, there are now smaller cathedrals which were once parish churches elevated to cathedral status in the 20th century.[3]

The nave, choir, main tower and transepts are late Norman. There are architectural features ranging from Norman to the Perpendicular style and a large rose window of the ten-part (which is to say botanical) type.

Dean and Chapter

The cathedral is led by the Dean. The Chapter includes the Sub-Dean, the Regius Professor of Divinity (Canon Residentiary), the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity]] (Canon Residentiary), the Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology (Canon Residentiary), the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History (Canon Residentiary), the Archdeacon of Oxford, and the Continuing Ministerial Development Advisor (Diocesan Canon)



The organ is a 43-rank, four-manual and pedal instrument built in 1979 by Austrian firm Rieger Orgelbau.[4]


The main choir, the Christ Church Cathedral Choir, consists of 12 men (6 professional "lay-clerks" and 6 student "academical clerks") and 16 choristers (boys aged 7 – 13), and is directed by Stephen Darlington. They sing in university term time, at Christmas and Easter, and have an extensive touring and recording programme.

Former choristers include the composer Sir William Walton.

The cathedral is also served by the Cathedral Singers, a group which consists of volunteers. They are usually in residence outside of term time when the choristers and academical clerks of the main choir are on holiday.

The college choir sings every 1–2 weeks in term time and is made up of current undergraduates and postgraduates from the college.


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford)


Cathedrals of the Church of England

Province of York: BlackburnBradfordCarlisleChesterDurhamLiverpoolManchesterNewcastle upon TynePeelRiponSheffieldSouthwellWakefieldYork

Province of Canterbury: BirminghamBristolBury St EdmundsCanterburyChelmsfordChichesterCoventryDerbyElyExeterGibraltarGloucesterGuildfordHerefordLeicesterLichfieldLincolnNorwichOxfordPeterboroughPortsmouthRochesterSt AlbansSt Paul's (London) • SalisburySouthwarkTruroWellsWinchesterWorcester