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The Archive holds over 1,800 catalogued items in a range of formats, including parchment, paper, bound volumes, photographs and engravings, together with a small but growing amount of audio-visual material.

The administrative archives of Exeter College, Oxford generally began with its foundation in 1314 and the Gwinear deed of appropriation. Earlier deeds dated from 1240 are located within the early halls section of the College site.  All records that begin from the 14th century include charters, estate deeds, governance documents, benefaction books and account records. During the 16th century earlier records of Domestic staff and accounts still survive, followed by the beginnings of Academic and Rector papers from the 17th Century.  During the 18th century the current Chapel was built and records from this period survive including plans, accounts and correspondence. From the 19th century to the present day the Archive consists largely of the College’s business and estate records with increasing quantities of records relating to students, Fellows, societies, sporting activities, and Exonian alumni. Discover more at Exeter College’s archive catalogue.

Most questions about the past life of Exeter College can be answered by consulting the publication Exeter College: the First 700 Years by Frances Cairncross.  A short overview of Exeter College’s history is available here.

Much information about the history of the University, the other colleges and of Oxford generally can be found on the informative website of the Oxford Archivists’ Consortium. The site also includes a helpful glossary of the idiosyncratic terminology often used in Oxford colleges.

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.

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 for academic researchers is by appointment with the Archivist. All researchers must complete and sign a research registration form (also available in Word) and abide by the rules for researchers (see page 2 of the 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