New College entrance (between former Nos. 86 and 87)

New College tower

Part of a Grade II Listed Building: List Entry Number 1300697. (The tower is jointly listed with Scott’s block to the west and Basil Champneys’ block to the east.)

The 1772 Survey of Oxford lists a gateway measuring in width 4 yards 1 ft 3 in between the houses numbered 86 and 87 Holywell Street. This was the back entrance to the college, which then lay in its entirety to the south of the city wall.

Alfred Robinson, Bursar and Fellow of New College, died of influenza on 22 February 1895 at the age of 53, and Jackson's Oxford Journal reported on 22 June 1895 that a fund to erect a memorial to him had already reached over £2,200. The object of this fund was a marble memorial tablet in New College Antechapel and  a portrait by Professor Herkomer to hang in the college Hall, but the balance was to go towards a tower over the Holywell entrance to the college. In 1896–7 Champneys duly built the Robinson Tower in Clipsham Stone, and fitted in an extra two staircases on the right to join up with Scott’s new buildings to the west.

Inscription on Robinson's Tower

Above: The inscription over the entrance inside the Robinson Tower reads: “Ad diuturnam memoriam Alfredi Robinson AM huius Collegii Columinis haec Turris aedificata est AD MDCCCXCVIII” (To the lasting memory of Alfred Robinson, MA, pillar of this College, this Tower was built in AD 1898”). In the middle are the college arms with the motto MANNERS MAKYTH MAN.

Below: The Robinson Tower with inscription from inside New College:

Robinson Tower from New College

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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