Oxford Inscriptions: Halley’s Observatory

Edmund Halley, New College Lane


Savilian Professor of
Geometry 1703–1742
lived and had
his observatory
in this house

This plaque is fixed to the wall of 7 New College Lane, the official residence of the Savilian Professor of Geometry since the eighteenth century.

It commemorates Edmund Halley, who was Savilian Professor of Geometry from 1703 to 1742.

Wikipedia: Edmond Halley

As well as a mathematician, Edmund or Edmond Halley was an astronomer, geophysicist, meteorologist, and physicist, and a friend of Isaac Newton. He computed the orbit of Halley's Comet, which was named after him as a result. In 1720 he was also appointed Royal Astronomer at Greenwich Observatory.

When the Radcliffe Observatory was built in the 1770s, the post of Radcliffe Observer was coupled to the astronomy professorship, and as a house was provided at the Observatory, the University thereafter sublet the astronomy professor's house itself. It is now a New College house (below): the plaque to Halley can be seen to the left of the front door.

It is jointly Grade II listed with No. 6 to the right (List Entry No. 1369401). The restored rectangular structure on the roof is believed to have been used by Halley as an observatory.

Halley's house

Stephanie Jenkins, 2013