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Site and buildings

Chichele was able to acquire an enviable site for his college on the corner of High Street and Catte Street, and immediately to the east of St Mary the Virgin, where much University business was then conducted. The College buildings, like its statutes, were modelled to a considerable degree on those of New College. However, the narrowness of the site-frontage on the High meant that the original hall (unlike that of New College which was a prolongation of the axis of its chapel), had to be awkwardly placed (with its kitchen and offices) at the east end of the chapel and at right-angles to it. The east, south and west ranges of the front quadrangle accommodated the forty Fellows on two floors in chambers for two or three with small studies leading off them. The Warden's quarters probably included the room on the first floor of the gate-tower and certainly the rooms to the east of it. The second and third floors of the tower were used as the college treasury and for storage of records. The T-plan chapel formed the north range of the quadrangle and was consecrated in June 1442; as at New College, the original college library took up much of the upper floor of its east range. The windows of both chapel and library had contemporary painted glass by John Prudde and John Glasier, some of which still survives in the antechapel. Battlements were added to the front quadrangle in 1510, and its lofts were brought into occupation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Its once cusped window heads have been squared off and some unobtrusive dormers have been added in recent years, but otherwise the quadrangle is unusual among Oxford colleges in retaining its original appearance.

Only two substantial additions were made to the college buildings before the beginning of the eighteenth century. Between 1460 and 1515 a cloister was constructed to the north of the chapel, with its west wall along the line of Catte Street, and in 1550-3 a range of buildings was erected on land acquired on the High immediately to the east of the original quadrangle. This range provided more ample accommodation for the Warden, who moved eastwards into it from his earlier more spartan quarters in the front quadrangle. This development may be connected with the post-Reformation possibility of a married Warden - though the first such (Robert Hovenden) was not elected until 1571.