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Exeter College was founded as Stapeldon Hall in 1314, by Walter de Stapeldon, Bishop of Exeter and later Treasurer to Edward II. Money from the rectory of Gwinear, Cornwall provided funds for 12 scholars and a chaplain.  The early history of the college can be traced through the Rector’s Accounts from 1324 and the college estates records from 1318. The college was re-founded in 1566 by Sir William Petre, a statesman who served four Tudor monarchs.  He gave estates in Oxfordshire and other counties to fund 8 additional fellowships. The majority of records relate to academic and domestic administration running of Exeter College, the earliest material is the Buttery books collection from 1592.  From the nineteenth century onwards, there is a considerable amount of photographic material, mostly of College societies and sports teams, with the addition of individual alumni albums.  There are also a variety of College club and society records dating from 1860.  The College also holds some collections of private papers which include previous Rectors such as John Prideaux [1610-1642].

Contact us

The College Archives are housed in purpose-built premises at Cohen Quad with controlled environmental storage and a reading room to accommodate researchers. We are aiming to reveal an online catalogue in the near future.

In the meantime, enquiries about the Archives can be sent to or telephone (0)1865 610555. Alternatively you can send queries to the Archivist and Records Manager, Cohen Quad, Walton Street, Oxford, OX1 2HE.

Consultation of the Archives is by appointment with the Archivist. All researchers must abide by the Rules for Researchers and complete and sign a Research Registration Form.

Some interesting pieces from the College archive including historic photos, a poster for a ‘smoking concert’ in 1922, officers of the Essay Club 1914-21, including club president JRR Tolkien, and names of students who matriculated in 1852, including Edward Burne-Jones