Christ Church, founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525, and arguably the grandest college in the University of Oxford, has been the subject of only one previous history. Now Judith Curthoys, the college archivist, presents a new and fascinating account of this unique institution - a joint foundation of college and cathedral with its own peculiar constitution.
Despite having been described as like cream ('rich, thick and full of clots'), Christ Church has never been just a refuge for the elite, and over the centuries it has produced a dazzling list of famous and learned men and (since 1980) women. We learn of its traditions and its eccentricities: from its early emphasis on prayer and discipline to the intricacies of its early plumbing; and from its strong associations with music, architecture and art to its battles (both ancient and modern) with student drunkenness.
We learn too of the sometimes extraordinary power and influence of the Dean, the college's head, and at times of the reigning monarch too - Charles I even made it his headquarters during the Civil War. Above all, we see not an ivory tower, but a great institution that has survived all the vicissitudes of English history; adapting to, and often influencing, the constant tide of social, political, academic and ecclesiastical change.