Oxford University - New College. Image courtesy of Cycling Man.

Visiting Oxford > Oxford University > Oxford Colleges

New College

Founded by William of Wykeham in 1379, New College is one of the constituent colleges that make up Oxford University in the United Kingdom. The college’s full name is The College of St Mary of Winchester in Oxford. Following its completion in 1386, however, the name “New College” soon came to be used to distinguish it from the older existing college of St Mary, now known as Oriel College.

The college has been ranked first in both 2017 and 2020 in the Norrington Table, an assessment of the final examination performance of Oxford undergraduates. It has historically ranked highly. Its average Norrington Table ranking over the past decade is third highest.

The college is located in the centre of Oxford, between Holywell Street and New College Lane.

What's the History of New College?

Contrary to what its name suggests, New College is one of the oldest of Oxford University. It was founded in 1379, when William of Wykeham purchased land and applied to King Richard II for a charter. Wykeham declared the college to consist of a warden and seventy scholars in the charter. The coat of arms of the college is one adopted by William Wykeham as well.

Both New College and Winchester College, in Winchester, were founded in conjunction and have striking architectural similarities as they were both designed by master mason William Wynford.

New College was the first Oxford college for undergraduates, the first to be deliberately designed around a main quadrangle, and the first to have senior members give tutorials.

The Buildings of New College

New College is a great example of perpendicular style and, at the time of its foundation, was larger than all of the six existing Oxford colleges combined. It consisted originally of a quadrangle to which several buildings were added over the centuries. 

The Hall

New College’s Hall is the college’s dining room. Because it was so close to the Chapel, Wykeham forbade wrestling, dancing and all noisy games in the hall when he founded the college. He also prescribed the use of Latin in all conversations. The marble floor dates from 1722 and the open oak roof is original. 

The Chapel

The Chapel still has much of the medieval stained glass, which was restored in 2007. The chapel contains works by Sir Jacob Epstein and El Greco.

The City Wall

A building of note in New College is the medieval city wall. When William of Wykeham acquired the land, he agreed to maintain it. 

The Gardens

The Garden Quadrangle is said to be modelled on the Palace of Versailles in France. The grounds include a mound that was arranged in the sixteenth century. The college also has a large herbaceous border running alongside the medieval City Wall.

What is it Like to Study at New College, Oxford?

New College has an active Middle Common Room and a bar located in the Weston Buildings, close to the sports grounds. The Junior Common Room are the body of undergraduates and has a committee of elected and appointed members. They offer social and welfare support, and recreation to all students. 

The college runs several outreach initiatives and seeks to attract students from under-represented groups to apply to the University of Oxford.

New College has a tradition in field sports, mainly rugby and football. The colege also has a choir that in 2009 revived an ancient custom of processing to Bartlemas Chapel for a ceremony and then on to the location of an ancient spring. This ceremony had not taken place in 400 years.

Where is New College?

New College is located on New College Lane (OX1 3BN), Oxford. Tel 01865 279500.

New College Coat of Arms.
Arms: Arms of New College Oxford (arms of William of Wykeham): Argent, two chevronels sable between three roses gules barbed and seeded proper.

Can you Visit New College?

Yes, New College is open to the public. 

  • Open: Easter-Oct 14.00-16.00; Oct-Easter 13.30-16.30.
  • Charge: Adults £8, seniors, under 16s and full time students £7; family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children aged 7 or over) £25. Free to children under 7 years of age, Oxford residents and old members.
  • Groups: Maximum 20 people in a group. Larger groups will need to split.

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