Exeter College Oxford University antique print.
The text below is from our daily ‘blog’ on Reach plc’s ‘In Your Area’.
On this 26 March in 1859 the Illustrated London News published the above wood-block engraving of Exeter College, Oxford.
It is the fourth oldest Oxford college with the full title: ‘The Rector and Scholars of Exeter College in the University of Oxford’
Founded in 1314, during the reign of Edward II, its name is derived from the position held by its founder, Walter de Stapledon, Bishop of Exeter.
Initially serving the needs of those wishing to enter the priesthood, it expanded its intake beyond the clergy, including the admission of a number of Roman Catholics
during the eighteenth century, although they were not allowed to matriculate.
Admission of women to the college did not occur until 1979.
However, in 2004 it became the first college to elect a female Rector, Lady Marilyn Butler, followed by another, Frances Cairncross in 2014.
As for its founder, Walter de Stapledon, he met a rather tragic end at the hands of the followers of a woman.
Appointed by the unpopular Edward II ‘Keeper’ of the City of London, he found himself at odds with the Lord Mayor and the population who were supporters of Queen Isabella.
Seeking refuge in St. Paul’s Cathedral proved unsuccessful, for a mob entered the cathedral, beat him and dragged him to Cheapside where he was murdered.
The bishop’s head was chopped off and his body was thrown onto a dunghill “to be torn and devoured by dogs”.
His body was later recovered and buried in the sand of the shoreline of the River Thames next to the bishop’s palace at Exeter House.
Some six months later the Queen ordered his body to be exhumed and taken to Exeter Cathedral for reburial.
Stapledon’s monument may still be seen at Exeter Cathedral in the choir on the north side of the high altar.
It is the cathedral’s most important 14th-century monument.