Merton

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Founded 1264 by Walter de Merton, Bishop of Rochester. Sister College – Peterhouse Cambridge. Men and Women – Undergraduates 300 Postgraduates 291. The ancient Merton Colleg was founded in 1264 and possesses a formidable reputation as being one of the most hard working and highest achieving. It is one of three claiming to be the oldest college in Oxford, along with Balliol and University College. Merton is centrally positioned by a quiet cobble stone street south of the High Street and conveniently placed for the libraries and university departments as well as the worldly delights offered by the Covered Market. Rapid 13th century building programme The founder of the college was Walter de Merton, Bishop of Rochester and chancellor to Henry III and Edward I – clearly a man of considerable power and influence. Merton was keen that the college should be self-governing and drew up statutes and provided endowments to allow this to happen. Merton retired from royal service in 1274 and invested more time and energy to his project, resulting in a rapid building programme that enhanced the site. By the end of the 13th century, the dining hall, the chapel and the Front Quad had all been finished, but were to witness several waves of alterations in the subsequent centuries. The initial property was not exactly as Merton wanted and he pulled a few strings with the king to obtain more land to form a rough square which was much more satisfactory. The Gothic chapel replaced the ruin that was the old parish church of St John. With doors to both the college and street, it continued to serve the parish until 1891 and was often referred to as Merton Church in contemporary documents. The need to serve two communities may account for the huge scale o... ... middle of paper ... ...to meet the needs of Mertonians, who are determined to play as hard as they work. The annual ‘Time Ceremony’ involves students linking arms while walking backwards around the Fellow’s Quad, drinking port while decked-out in full academic dress. It was created in 1971 to acknowledge the change from British Summer Time to Grenwich Mean Time. Merton scientists tell us the space-time continuum would fracture and cause global chaos if this procedure were not undertaken and I, for one, believe them! Hardship grants are offered to needy students along with more general awards available to any member with a worthy cause. Merton enjoys an enviable position, overlooking Christ Church meadows, which stretch down to the river, all of which creates a very relaxed atmosphere. Do not be fooled! The students that inhabit Merton are among the most talented and hardworking in Oxford.
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