Brasenose College

Brasenose College was founded in 1509 by William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln, and Sir Richard Sutton, a lawyer and the first lay founder of a college in Oxford or Cambridge. Before the foundation of the College part of the site was occupied by one of the mediaeval Oxford halls, Brasenose Hall. The name is thought to originate from a 'brazen nose', a bronze door knocker in the shape of a nose.  Famous alumni include Robert Burton, John Buchan, William Golding, Michael Palin, David Cameron and Kate Allen.

The Brasenose Archives are the official administrative records of the college. They are a rich historical resource of college life and its members. These papers and volumes mainly include minutes, ledgers, accounts and correspondence. 

The archive contains a large collection of manorial records and title deeds relating to its estates and property around England (most of which were sold in the 20th century).  There is also a collection of maps, plans and architectural drawings relating to the College buildings, including many drawings by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson. We do hold some records of Fellows, students and staff though these are generally fewer than expected. There is, however, a large collection of photographs of Brasenose members and buildings.

Please note that much of the material at Brasenose has not yet been catalogued to modern standards. The Archivist is in the process of completing this work but many of the archives are only very basically listed in older handlists.


Archivist: Helen Sumping

Opening hours: The Archivist works part-time. Please contact us to schedule an appointment as far in advance of your visit as possible, as we cannot admit visitors without prior arrangement.

Address: Brasenose College, Oxford, OX1 4AJ

Phone: 01865 277826




Further reading:

J. Mordaunt Crook, Brasenose: The Biography of an Oxford College (Oxford, 2008)

F. Madan (ed.), Brasenose Quatercentenary Monographs (Oxford, 1909)

The biographical register for students and Fellows 1509-1909 is the Brasenose College Register (Oxford, 1909)

The Brazen Nose Magazine has been published every year since 1909 and the most recent issues are available online at

Herbert Hurst’s calendar of the older documents in the archives was compiled c.1898-1909. These papers and deeds relate to estates, schools with a college connection, and general college administrative material including finances. This calendar is currently available in paper format only, a copy of which is available to consult at the college.

Calendars of some title deeds can also be found in: R.W. Jeffrey, The Manors and Advowson of Great Rollright (Oxford, 1927)