Worcester College was founded in 1714, the result of a bequest of £10,000 from Sir Thomas Cookes to the University for the establishment of a new college. The amount was insufficient to cover the costs of both building and maintaining a college from scratch so Worcester College was founded on the site of Gloucester Hall, itself established on the site of an earlier institution (Gloucester College, a Benedictine college founded in 1283 which perished with the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539). As a consequence of this small original endowment Worcester has always been one of the poorer colleges in the University, but lack of funds for building work immediately after the foundation has ensured the survival of many of the medieval buildings of Gloucester College. Famous alumni include: Richard Adams, Russell T. Davies, Samuel Foote, Elena Kagan, Sir John Masterman, Rachel Portman, and Thomas De Quincey.
The College Archives comprise the administrative records of Worcester College and its estates (almost entirely sold in 1919), as well as some records of student clubs and societies. There are also personal papers of a small number of former Provosts, Fellows and undergraduates, including the papers of Sir William Henry Hadow (Fellow 1890-1909) and Sir John Cecil Masterman (Provost 1947-1961). There are two notable exceptions: the George Clarke collection of early printed books, pamphlets, prints, drawings and manuscripts (including Sir William Clarke’s Civil War papers), and the papers of Charles Henry Olive Daniel (Provost 1903-1919) are held in the College Library; enquiries about these should be directed to the Librarian, Mark Bainbridge, at email@example.com. Further information about the Library’s special collections can be found at http://www.worc.ox.ac.uk/visiting/library/special-collections.
There are no records relating to Gloucester College in the Archives. A very small number of documents relating to Gloucester Hall have survived in the papers of Byrom Eaton (Principal 1662-1692) and Richard Blechinden (Principal 1712-1714).
Archivist: Emma Goodrum
Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday 9.30 – 1.00 and 2.00 – 3.30 (by appointment only).
Address: Worcester College, Oxford, OX1 2HB
Phone: 01865 288348
Jonathan Bate and Jessica Goodman (eds), Worcester: Portrait of an Oxford College (London, 2014).
C. Henry Daniel and W. R. Barker, Worcester College (London, 1900).
Dame Lucy Sutherland, ‘The Foundation of Worcester College, Oxford’, Oxoniensia XLIV (1979) pp. 62-80.
‘Gloucester Hall and Worcester College’ in H. E. Salter and Mary D. Lobel (eds) A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3, the University of Oxford (Victoria County History, London, 1954), pp. 298-309.