Oxford Inscriptions: Sheldonian Theatre

Sheldonian Theatre

CAROLUS II D • G • MAG • BRI    [Shield]    FRAN • ET HIB • REX FI • DEF

[Charles II, by the grace of God King of Great Britain,
France, and Scotland, Defender of the Faith]

The above inscription runs along on the rear of the Sheldonian Theatre (which is the side that faces Broad Street).

The Sheldonian Theatre was built in 1664–9 and was the very first work of Sir Christopher Wren (then Savilian Professor of Astronomy at the University). It was commissioned by Gilbert Sheldon, who provided £14,500 towards it and subsequently became Chancellor of the University in 1667.

It was designed as a place for “the enactment of university business”, as well as ceremonies which had previously taken place in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. In addition, the Oxford University Press operated from a large room over the ceiling until it moved into the purpose-built Clarendon Building next door in 1713.

More on the Sheldonian Theatre

Stephanie Jenkins, 2013