Christ Church

Christ Church was founded initially by Thomas Wolsey in 1525 as Cardinal College on the site of St Frideswide’s Priory and Canterbury College.  After Wolsey’s fall from grace in 1529, the monarch established King Henry VIII’s College and then, in 1546, Christ Church as both a college of the University and the cathedral for the diocese of Oxford.   It is the largest of the Oxford colleges, and its site includes the Meadow which leads down to the river.  Famous alumni include 13 Prime Ministers, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Robert Burton (author of Anatomy of Melancholy), John Locke, and WH Auden.

The archives for Christ Church are wide-ranging and rich, and include the papers of the Dean and Chapter.  Unusually, there are excellent records of undergraduate study in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and good runs of account books.  Estate records are extensive as Christ Church had an interest in over 180 parishes in England and Wales. There are very few records of Cardinal College, fewer still for King Henry VIII’s College, and none for Canterbury College.  The medieval deeds of Christ Church’s property were deposited in the Bodleian Library in 1927 and are listed in N. Denholm-Young’s Cartulary of the Medieval Archives of Christ Church.  

NB. Diocesan records, including ordinations and faculties, are kept at the Oxfordshire History Centre.


Archivist: Judith Curthoys 

Opening hours: Tuesday - Thursday, 9am – 1pm, by appointment only.

Address: Christ Church, Oxford, OX1 1DP

Phone: 01865 276171




Further Reading:

Judith Curthoys, The Cardinal’s College: Christ Church, Chapter and Verse (London, 2012)

Judith Curthoys, The Stones of Christ Church: the story of the buildings of Christ Church (London, 2017)

Judith Curthoys, The King's Cathedral: the ancient heart of Christ Church, Oxford (London, 2019)

Judith Curthoys, Cows and Curates: the story of Christ Church's land and livings (London, 2020)

Christopher Butler (ed.), Christ Church: a portrait of the House (London, 2006)

H.L. Thompson, Christ Church (Oxford, 1900)

Hugh Trevor-Roper, Christ Church, Oxford: the portrait of a college (Oxford, 3rd ed. 1989)

E.G.W. Bill, Education at Christ Church, Oxford, 1660 - 1800 (Oxford, 1988)

E.G.W. Bill and J.F.A. Mason, Christ Church and reform, 1850 - 1867 (Oxford, 1970)

D Fletcher, The emergence of estate maps: Christ Church, Oxford, 1600 - 1840 (Oxford, 1995)

W.G. Hiscock, A Christ Church Miscellany (Oxford, 1946)

S.A. Warner, Oxford cathedral (London, 1924)

John Blair (ed.), Saint Frideswide’s monastery at Oxford: archaeological and architectural studies (Gloucester, 1990)

H.E. Salter, Cartulary of the monastery of St Frideswide at Oxford (Oxford, 1895 & 1896)

N. Denholm-Young, Cartulary of the Medieval Archives of Christ Church (Oxford, 1931)


Christ Church has not published a biographical register of its members.  However, potted biographies of Christ Church men who died during the two World Wars are included on the cathedral’s website.