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posed to be older than Wickliffe's; a Parchment Roll containing the Pedigree' of the Royal Family, and the se. veral Branches of it, from King Alfred to Edward VI. with their Arms blazoned, figned by the King at Arms; and several other Curiosities, particularly an ancient Manufcript History of the Bible in French, finely decorated with curious Painting, given by General Oglethorpe, who was a Member of this College; and also a very valuable Collection of the firft Editions of the Clasfics.
They fhew here also the genuine Crofier of the Founder, a Piece of curious Workmanship, little impaired by Time.
This College was founded in the Year 1516, by Dr. Richard Fox, a Native of Ropesley, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, who was successively Bishop of the Sees of Exeter, Bath and Wells, Durham and Winchester, and was likewise Lord Privy Seal to King Henry VII. and Henry VIII. He first intended it only as a Seminary for the Monks of the Priory or Cathedral Church of St. Swithin at Winchester, and obtained a Charter for that End; but altered his Mind by the persuasion of Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter, who engaged to be a Benefactor to the House on condition that he would convert it into a College for the Use of secular Students, after the Manner of other Colleges in the University : Whereupon Bishop Fox caused the first Charter to be cancelled, and obtained another, whereby he was permitted to found a College for the Study of Divinity, Philosophy, and other liberal Arts.
The Statutes for the Government of this Society ordain that the Fellows should be elected out of the Scholars, who are to be chosen from the Counties or Dioceses following, viz. two Surry, three Hampshire, one Durham, two Bath and Wells, two Exeter, two County of Lincoln, two Gloucestershire, one Wiltshire, or (in Defect of a Candidate) the Diocese of Sarum, one County of Bedford, two County of Kent, one County of Oxford, one Lancashire,
Among the Benefactors was Hugh Oldham,Chaplain to Margaret Countess of Richmond, and afterwards Bishop of Exeter who
feveral Estates for the Endowment of it. William Frost, Steward to the Founder; John Clay
mond, the first President of this College ; and Robert Morwent, second President, gave to the College several Portions of Lands.
The present Members of this Society are a President, 20 Fellows 2 Chaplains, 20 Scholars, 4 Exhibitioners, and 6 Gentlemen Commoners.
Visitor! The Bishop of Winchester.
from which it is separated by a small Grove of Elms, and consists of three Courts. The largest, or inner Court, is 110 Feet long, and 100 broad, and was erected in 1610, from whose Appartments on the South there is a pleasant Prospect over the Meadows. The Terrace in the Gardens, formed on the City Wall, is no less well fituated for a Prospect. The Gardens, by their pleasing Variety, are generally much resorted to in Summer.
The Chapel, at the West End of the first Court, is likewise the Parish Church of St. John Baptift de Merton. It is one of the largest and best proportioned Gothic Structures in the University, 100 Feet in Length and 30 in Breadth, and has a very capacious Tower, and AnteChapel. But large as it is at present, it has been thought from its whole Appearance, and from the Form and Manner of the Arches closed up in the Wall of the West End, on each Hand of the great Window, to have been built with a View to a farther Addition of a Nave and SideAifles, the present Building being no more than the Choir, and Cross-Aisle. Such a Design was more easy to be made than executed, and after all, most likely reached no farther than the carrying on the Building, as far as it went, in the Cathedral Manner."
In the Chapel are the Monuments of Sir Thomas Bodley, Sir Henry Saville, Bishop Earle, and some others. In the Ante-Chapel, by the North Door, is that of Mr. Anthony Wood the famous Antiquary. And near the Entrance into the Chapel is a very neat, though small one, for the late Warden Dr. Wyntle.
In the Hall, to which we afcend by a flight of Steps, is a well-imagined Picture, by the late Dr. Wall, representing the Expalfion of idle Monks to make room for the liberal Education of Youth designed by the Founder.
The Library is in the small old Quadrangle, south of the Chapel, and is well furnished with ancient and modern Books, and some Manuscripts.
This Society, confifting of a Warden and about the same Number of Scholars or Fellows as at present, was first placed at Maldon in Surrey, (but with a Provision for the Abode and Residence of the chief Part of them here in Oxford) Anno 1264, the 48th Year of King Henry the Third, by Walter de Merton, sometime Lord Chancellor of England. The Instrument of Endowment, with the Statutes under the Broad Seal, the Founder's, the Bishop of the Diocese's, and that of his Chapter, are at this time in the College Treasury, and deemed to be the first Charter of the Kind in Europe, The Statutes were finally established under the Broad Seal and his own, Anno 1274, the second of the Reign of King Edward the First.
Such was the Original of this ancient Society, by these Charters, above five hundred Years fince, incorporated, and endowed with almost all the Lands they at this Time poffess, and provided with the fame Statutes by which, without any Alteration or Addition, they are now governed,
Thefe, by the Recourse had to them, were of much Use to the After-Foundations both here and in Cambridge, And with so much Prudence was this College founded, that King Edward the First recommended it to Hugh de Ballam, Bishop of Ely, as a model for his intended Munificence in Cambridge, according to which Peter-House, the first College, was afterwards erected in that University. And farther, it is said of the Founder of Merton College, that though in reality he was the Founder of only one, by Example he was the Founder of all other Colleges.
The Pot-masters in this House are of a distinct and different Foundation, which took Place about an hundred Years after the other. The Number, and their Revenues, have been lince increased by several Benefactors.
Befies the Poft Masters, there are now four other Scholars of the Foundation of Mr. Henry Jackson, late of this Coilege, which commenced in 1753.
In the Election of a Warden, the Fellows choose threo. Persons whom they present to their Visitor, the Archbithoy of Canterbury, who appoints one of them,
The present Members are a Warden, twenty four Fellows, fourteen Poft-Masters, Mr. Jackson's four Scholars, two Chaplains, and two Clerks : the whole Number of Students of all Soris being about eighty.
Visitor. The Archbishop of Canterbury.
HIS Church and College merits the particular
Courts or Squares, viz.-1. The great Quadrangle ; 2. Peckwater Square ; 3. Canterbury Court ; 4. The Chaplain's Court; and some other Buildings.
The stately Weft Front of the great Quadrangle is a magnificent Gothic Building, 382 Feet in Length, terminated at each End with two corresponding Turrets. The great Gate is in the Middle of this Front, and over it a beautiful Tower, enriched with Gothic Or. naments, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, erected by Dr. Fell, and perfectly corresponding to the Taste of the rest of the Buildings. In this Tower hangs the great Bell called Tom, on the Sound of which the Scholars of the Univerfity are to retire to their respective Colleges. The Greatness of the Proportions in the Front, and the Magnificence of the Whole, raise the Admiration of every Spectator, and help him to form an Idea of the great Mind of Cardinal Wolser. In this Quadrangle are the Statues of Queen Anne, Cardi. nal Wolsey, and Bishop Fell; that of the Cardinal, in the South east Corner, is juftly admired as an excellent Piece of Workmanship. The Great Quadrangle is 264 by 261 Feet in the
Clear. The Hall takes up more than half the South Side; we ascend to it by a spacious and stately Stair-case of Stone, cover’d by, a beautiful Roof and supported by a small single Pillar of fine Proportion. This Building is confiderably elevated, and the whole finished with a Balustrade of Stone. The South, East, and Part of the West Sides, with the magnificent Kitchen to the South of the Hall, were erected by the Cardinal. The East and North Sides of this. Quadrangle are taken up with the Dean's and four of the Canons' Lodgings.
In the Year 1638, the North Side of the grand Quadrangle was begun. On the Restoration, this part of the Building was resumed, by the Direction and Encouragement of Dr Fell, then Dean of the College; and finished Anno 1665, when the spacious Terrace-Walk was made, with the Bason, Fountain, and Statue of Mercury in the Centre.
The Hall is by far the most magnificent Rocm of the kind in Oxford, and perhaps one of the largest in the Kingdom. The Roof is framed of Timber, curiously wrought, and fo contrived as to produce a very grand and noble Effect. There are near 300 Compartments in the Cornice, which are embellished with as many Coats of Arms carved and blazoned in their
End of the Hall there is an Ascant of three Steps which run through the whole Breadth ; near which is a beautiful Gothic Window in a Recess, which demands the attention of the Curious.
This fuperb Room is beautified, and improved, by compleating and painting the Wainscot and Roof, and the Addition of a great Number of Portraits of eminent Persons, who were educated at the College, which are disposed in the following Manner.